Elephant Ears

This blog is dedicated to the political happenings in the Valley and Southwest Virginia. As the the name implies, this blog will have posts based on what is heard by this elephant's (GOPer's) ears. It is also a great treat to get while at the county fair or a carnival.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Nothing to Talk About

Sorry to everyone for not posting, but I haven't really seen anything to talk about lately. None of the races have really heated up, especially since everyone is still digesting the primary results.

About the only thing going on is the race for RPV Chair. On that front, it looks like the conservatives want Charlie Judd to be both RPV Chair and Exec Director. The moderates are apparently leaning more toward former LG John Hager. I also know Va Beach Chair Chuck Smith is running, but I don't know how much support he has.

Hopefully things will get more exciting as we move through the summer.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Primary Fallout

Due to some upsets and the results of the GOP primaries, we should take a look at where some of the races stand now that we know who the candidates are.

Stosch is unopposed, so he will win in a strongly Republican district.

Quayle has opposition, but he will be much stronger than Ramsey would have been. He should win this seat without too much problem.

Hanger will likely win, since its a strongly GOP district; and the libertarian I assume is pro-choice (which is pretty much the kiss of death in western Va).

Holtzman-Vogel should do well in the 27th, since the district is pretty strong GOP; but there could be a potential race if Tate's charges turn out to be false and she gets blamed for it. The dem seems to be weak here though, so she still might be ok (plus she will have massive fundraising ability).

Ralph Smith will have a race, even in a good Republican district; but ultimately he will probably win. More on this race later.

Trisha Stall is the big question mark. The 1st district is only marginally Republican, but there isn't the liability of being downticket this year. The dems appear to have a credible candidate, so there will be alot of money spent here. Stall will likely have a much tougher race than Williams would have had, but she can still win. This race has the potential to become one of the more competitive races this year.

I will do more in-depth analysis on each race as we get closer to the general election.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


I did not expect the night to go like this.
Walter Stosch and Emmett Hanger won their races, but by much closer margins than I expected.
Trisha Stall defeated Marty Williams, which wasn't 100% unexpected, but still wasn't predicted by very many.

The biggest upset of the night goes to Ralph Smith. I don't know of anyone who predicted that he would win, especially since turnout was reasonable. His staff and campaign should be commended on their unbelievable job.

Now we must all circle the wagons and take on the dems in November. The Senate is gonna be very tough to defend.

Primary Day

Let us know whats goin on in the primary races.

What is everyone hearing?

UPDATE: The 27th race is experiencing staggeringly low turnout. Tate may still have a chance here (although Jill is probably still in a good position).
The race in the 24th has pretty high turnout, which should favor Hanger. It appears alot of people are calling it for him.
The race in the 22nd looks like it will end at around 7% districtwide, with the heavier turnout in the Roanoke Valley. Here again, the higher turnout should help Bell.
The word in the 12th is that the Massie votes should give Blackburn an edge. We will see how it shakes out.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Blogs and the Primaries

One of the most interesting aspects to the GOP primaries this year has been the involvement of the blogs. From what I have seen, most all blog endorsements have been made in favor of the three challengers: Blackburn, Smith and Sayre.

The race in the 24th probably has the most blog interaction; with an entire contingent "carrying the water" for Sayre on their own blogs as well as crossposting and contributing to Bloggers for Sayre. We have even seen some latercomers come in defense of Hanger, but most label them at least somewhat hostile toward some GOPs.

The big question right now in Republican circles is whether blogs are truly relevant on our side of the political spectrum. The dems can make the arguement that they are effective in their party, since many attribute Jim Webb's nomination and subsequent election to his blogger friends. They also can take credit if Donald McEachin defeats Senator Benny Lambert and/or if Henry Light defeats Del. Johnny Jonnoau. They were also instumental in keeping the death penalty ads and "macaca" in the limelight during the 2005 and 2006 statewide campaigns.

Conversely, the GOP blogs almost all supported Sean Connaughton in 2005 and he was unable to secure the party's nomination. A good number of blogs also supported the ousting of several GOP delegates in 2005, with only one succeeding (and Craddock was defeated in the general election). Furthermore, the GOP blogs have been unable (or ineffective at) turning the tide of the death penalty ads in 2005's gubentorial election and the "macaca" incident in the Senate race of 2006; which both resulted in Republican defeats.

If none of the challengers are able to achieve electoral success this around, what does that say about the GOP blogs' effectiveness? If however, one or all the challengers win, I think alot of their success will be credited to the blogs (especially Sayre).

On a different front, what will come of the SWAC bloggers? While Spank the Donkey has been around for awhile, most of the others almost seem as if they were created to devote themselves toward Scott Sayre's election. If he is defeated tomorrow, will they stay in the blogsophere? If so, will they be as active as they are now?

I think tomorrow's election results will show whether the blogs are a truly effective force in changing public opinion, or at the very least swaying the GOP faithful in elections. This could almost be considered a "watershed election" for the Republican blogosphere.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

GOP Primary Overview

As we enter the final hours of the primary campaigns in the GOP incumbent challenges, I want to give an overview of what I think will happen in the races and how they are connected.

To begin, I want to point out that I think the 3 major primary races (12th, 22nd and 24th) all have one thing in common: "grassroots" vs. "establishment". In all three races, the challengers have argued that they don't need as much money b/c they have grassroots support and don't need it. The incumbents argue that their position and seniority will help their districts and that's the main reason they should be re-elected.

As a result of this phenomenon, the races' outcomes will largely be determined by turnout. The supporters of challengers Blackburn, Smith and Sayre are very active and motivated and will all be at the polls on Tuesday no matter what. This is the single biggest advantage the challengers have right now. The number of votes each of these candidates will receive is probably a relatively fixed number. For example, if Sayre has 4000 people who are going to vote for him, he will likely get 4000 votes whether there are 4200 votes cast or 42,000.

This is both a blessing and a curse, since obviously they are at the mercy of the electorate. If most people choose to not show up on primary day, one or all of these challengers may be able to pull off an upset. If however people do show up, they have no chance to win the GOP nominations. Conversely, if weather is bad (which it looks like a potential for scattered showers in the districts on Tuesday) or if people think the nominations are sewn up; turnout will be extremely low and put the challengers in position to capture their respective district nominations.

I think most right now would give the edge to the incumbents in all these races, simply because incumbents usually do not get ousted in primaries. Whats more, they have all significantly outspent their opponents in their respective races.

That being said, margin of victory is the bigger question. While most believe these contests will be relatively close; I disagree. While anything can happen; I think that we will likely see these 3 incumbents all receive at least 60% of the vote in their primaries. If there is bad weather in these districts, that number may fall some; but I think most people have misinterpreted the electorate in these races. Many more people than just committee members and GOP activists will vote (contrary to popular belief) which will give a large base of voters for the incumbents.

I reiterate the fact that if turnout is extremely low (under 2%) that the challengers may get in striking distance; but I honestly believe the incumbents will all be victorious when the votes are counted Tuesday night. I also want to point out that this is not an endorsement of Stosch, Bell and Hanger; but simply a prediction based on what I know and think will happen. Throughout these primaries I have tried to stay as neutral in my coverage as possible while still giving a good analysis of what I think will happen.

Tomorrow I will have a final post before the primaries on the blogosphere's influence on this political process.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Finance Reports in the 12th

The race in the 12th is unbelievable. The amount of money being spent in this race is just staggering. The reports look like this...

Walter Stosch: $1,007,122 ($254,873 this period)
Joe Blackburn: $241, 595 ($91,376 this period)

Cash on Hand:
Walter Stosch: $307,570
Joe Blackburn: $85,589

Stosch has more cash on hand than Blackburn has raised. I wouldn't think Stosch will finish spending all the money, he has already spent almost a million bux, so its hard to say.

As to my prediction, I can't imagine the scale of the upset this would cause if Blackburn were to win. When was the last time an incumbent was defeated when outspending their opponent 4-1; especially when that 4-1 is a million dollars?

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

22nd Primary Finances

Unlike the race in the 24th; the 22nd is seen by most as a longshot of an upset. Brandon Bell is favored, and the financial reports explain that.

Brandon Bell: $253,199 ($54,706 this period)
Ralph Smith: $59,518 ($10,097 this period)

Cash on Hand:
Brandon Bell: $38,033
Ralph Smith: $14,397

Bell commands a 4-1 spending advantage, because Smith has never gotten much traction here. Also, almost half of Smith's funds are from his personal donations and mayoral campaign account.

I think this would be the biggest upset in Virginia State Senate history if Smith were to knock off an incumbent in a primary being outspent 4-1. I don't think that upset is gonna happen.

Stosch-Blackburn financials will looked at later tonight or tomorrow.

UPDATE: Bell has received an additional $25,800 in donations since the filing. Looks like a potential for a big ad blitz or something like that in the next few days in the Roanoke area.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Fundrace in the 24th

The finance reports are out, and there is more bad news for Senate challenger Scott Sayre. After having Del. Landes and Congressman Goodlatte endorse his opponent incumbent Senator Emmett Hanger; now he is in deeper trouble.
The financials look like this:

Emmett Hanger: $232,321.38 ($87,864 this period)
Scott Sayre: $152,707.71 ($85,504.76 this period)

Cash on Hand:
Emmett Hanger: $111,364.22
Scott Sayre: $30,999.84

As you can see, Hanger is crushing Sayre by almost a 4-1 margin going into the home stretch. In fact, over half of Sayre's fundraising this period came from a $50,000 donation from millionaire GOPer Walter Curt (I only bring this up since the Sayre folks made a big deal out of the 25k Hanger received from Jimmy Hazel's Leadership for Va PAC last period).

Sayre better hope the grassroots can really deliver, if he has any hope of winning this one.

I will do analysis of the other races later tonight or tomorrow.

UPDATE: Hange has received an additional $30,000 from Leadership for Va PAC. I guess Jimmy Hazel doesn't want Walter Curt to beat him out on contributions here.

Monday, June 04, 2007

24th Update

As you all have probably seen, Del. Steve Landes and Congressman Bob Goodlatte have now publicly thrown their support behind Sen. Hanger in the 24th district GOP primary. While many would argue neither of these are huge surprises (Landes was Hanger's LA back in the day, while Emmett's daughter is Goodlatte's Chief of Staff), they still carry a good bit of weight; and add to the list of elected officials supporting Hanger. I have even seen some arguements that Hanger's polling must be strong in order for these guys to come out behind Emmett (of course, the exact opposite could be just as easily be argued as well).

Whats more, is now a new pro-Hanger blog has been launch called Teddy's Truth. "Teddy Roosevelt" has made some interesting accusations and pointed out some interesting developments that could indicate a trend in this race. He says that one of the 24th's GOP chairs who endorsed Sayre, runs a blog but all the anti-Hanger posts have now been taken down.

I will have more on this race, specifically how the blogosphere plays a role, when we get a little closer to June 12.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Gillespie Leaving RPV?

According to a Politico article, RPV Chair Ed Gillespie may be taking the White House counselor's job in the near future.

It is my understanding that he would probably have to give up RPV Chairman if he took that.

Hopefully we will have more on this soon.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Henrico GOP Primary Effects

An interesting dynamic is developing in the Richmond suburbs right now. As you all know, there is a Senate primary in the 12th which makes up part of Henrico and Goochland counties. There is also a GOP primary for the 72nd district being vacated by Del. Jack Reid.

Intially it appeared James Massie III would sweep into the seat with no opposition. Instead, two more candidates have entered the fray. An article on the race from the RTD is here.

The 2 other candidates are James Wheat III, the Wheat First securities dealers family member; and Bill Subramaniam, an Indian immigrant and successful neurologist.

Wheat is being accused of essentially being a democrat trying to get a GOP nomination, since he endorsed Tim Kaine in 2005. That would be a possibility since the seat is pretty heavily GOP.

Subramanian is not getting much attention right now, but would probably be considered a non-establishment candidate, who just wants to see change in the party. He also has an interesting radio ad out about him being an immigrant who achieved the American Dream, just like the settlers at Jamestown.

At any rate, Massie is part of the Marcus & Allen machine. That being the case, he most likely was already going to been the benefactor of getting all the Joe Blackburn votes coming to him in this primary.

From what I see, most all the votes that Wheat and Subramanian bring to the polls will likely be voting for Stosch. While I still think Massie has the nomination in the bag, these other candidates could prove to be spoiler for Backburn if Stosch ends up winning by a small margin.

Of course, if the race is a blowout on either side; this won't have an effect.