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, July 28, 2009

Excellent Proposal

I have been pretty tough on the McDonnell campaign in the past, but I think they hit a home run last week with their new comprehensive transportation plan. It can be found here.

While I am sure not everyone agrees with every point on this proposal, I think having a plan for transportation has to be a cornerstone to any GOP platform in order to win back the suburban communities of northern Virginia and Hampton Roads (and a lesser extent Richmond metro).

The biggest advantage McDonnell has over Deeds is that he can claim being a suburbanite who understands what NOVAians face every day. Rolling out this proposal proves he recognizes transportation as a top issue that warrants attention. I think this is something that has been lacking in past statewide campaigns for the GOP.

This combined with the "Bob's for Jobs" campaign theme, I am starting to be very confident that McDonnell will pull this one out.

The next thing I am interested in seeing is if Deeds comes out with any major campaign proposals or platforms, or whether he takes the Kaine strategy of "vote for me b/c things are good".

Monday, July 20, 2009

Fundrace 2009

An interesting dynamic is already developing in the 2009 governor's race. So far, McDonnell has raised $10.7 million through 6/30/09, compared to Jerry Kilgore having raised $8.6 million through 6/30/05. While this seems like a positive, the question is whether the party committees are front loading their contributions.

Kilgore's 3 largest donors were the RGA ($2.87 million), RPV ($1.64 million), and RNC ($886,000); with all but $352,000 coming in the late stages of the campaign to fund TV ads and mail. This means only 4% of his funds came from the major party committees in the early going; while the rest came from major donors, PACs and individuals.
Compare that to McDonnell who has already received $1.98 million from RGA and $1.5 million from RNC. This represents 32% of all receipts.

One of the reasons for this is the lack of major donors so far in this campaign. For example, Philip Wendel gave $193,500 to Kilgore through this period; while he has given $20,000 to McDonnell.
Alpha Natural Resources gave Kilgore $82,500 through 6/30 (they also gave Kaine $10,000); while they have given McDonnell $5,000 (and Deeds $11,000) so far.
In fact, the only major donor that has matched their previous performance is Walter Curt at $100,000 in both 2005 & 2009.

Another problem is the fundraisers. Kilgore had a fundraiser at Dwight Schar's McLean residence with President Bush that raised $3 million. Bob McDonnell will not have that luxury, but Creigh Deeds will get the opposite in the form of a joint fundraiser of President Obama and DNC Chair Kaine. In addition, Deeds will get the fundraising ability of Senators Warner and Webb as well as the 3 very powerful congressmen in the VA democratic delegation, compared to Kilgore having John Warner, George Allen, as well as 8 GOP Congressmen (most of which in high ranking positions). The only high-profile person Bob will have is Eric Cantor.

Everyone agrees contributions will be tougher to come by with the economic climate the way it is. Additionally, money will likely pour in from all over the country as the various party loyalists try to launch a "re-emergence" by winning the VA and NJ governor's races. Even so, with the current fundraising ability of the democrats; I fear McDonnell could lose the money war if he cannot raise from individuals and PACs and relies entirely on out-of-state money.

And as I have said before: When the Republicans lose the money war, they lose the election...

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Broadband Stimulus Story

The following is guest posted by "The Geek Squad"

While all the focus of the media and blogs these past few months has been about health care reform, another important issue is slowly moving its way through the FCC and Congress. From banks, to the automobile industry, health care, to now the internet. Our government is in the process of shelling out over $7 BILLION dollars in grants as part of the economic stimulus package to phone, cable, and internet providers. OR ARE THEY?
A little over half of the money is set to go towards ‘broadband infrastructure investment over the next two years’, specifically in un-served and underserved areas of the country to both promote broadband usage and to also sure-up public safety communications. This part sounds all well and good.
However, like every other needless service government provides, there is a catch, one that may cause some of the biggest phone, cable, and internet providers (Cox, Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, etc) to say ‘no’ to any of these grants and all of this seemingly ‘free’ government cheese.
The catch; anyone receiving any of this grant money must adhere to the strict net-neutrality guidelines laid forth by the federal government and the FCC. (Sounds pretty similar to the caveats associated with TARP Funds, remember?)
First off, “net-neutrality”, is a mis-coined term, one that is supposed to describe the ability of all data that travels over the internet to be ‘equal’. Achieving complete and total equality though is impossible. Every network needs to be, and currently is, managed. Network management practices provide consumers with safe, reliable, and high quality broadband services to access the internet. The difference here is, do you want your government managing and regulating your internet or your private internet provider?
It should be noted that it is already illegal for any provider block, interfere, or degrade any access to the internet. Consumers can already go anywhere they want on the web, use any tool and software they want, access any content they want, and use any service online they’d like. Everything is available to everyone. What’s does the government think is not equal or not being made available to the public?
I guess one answer to that question, is internet service to rural areas, but instead of buying-off companies with our tax dollars to lay rural broadband infrastructure, the federal government should simply pause, and wait for the private sector with its own money to build it. In the past 10 years, private company investment in broadband networks has tallied over $850 million. Over the past four years, broadband connectivity has skyrocketed to up over 300%, totaling more than 100 million wired, wireless, and satellite broadband connections in the United States. Did you catch that?
Internet connectivity is increasing by over 300%, on a 10-year $850 million investment from private internet companies over the past 4-years. Our government wants to now spend over $7 BILLION this year. What’s the definition of ‘overkill’? Is it any wonder our national deficit is out of control.
I guess we should expect a 2,460% increase in broadband usage over the next couple years. I doubt it though.

Yet another great example of why another stimulus will be about as successful as the last one.