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Decision Virginia Archive 8/08- 7/12

Posts Tagged ‘Bill Bolling

Five reasons George Allen has bucked the uprising

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It is now less than a week before voters go to the polls in Virginia primaries and the most marquee match up of them all has turned out to be anything but exciting. One time senator and governor George Allen will be on the ballot next Tuesday in a primary that his campaign has for the most part publically ignored. Despite a relentless attack from three conservative opponents, there is nothing that indicates that the primary vote will be anything but an easy day for Allen.

It is not from a lack of trying. Each of the candidates has the make up to mimic the kind of uprising that politicians like Allen have faced in other states. Establishment republican candidates like Sen. Dick Lugar in Indiana, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in Texas and Sen. Orrin Hatch in Utah have either lost primaries or been faced into difficult runoff elections or primary votes they were not expecting. Their difficult times are all the result of conservative/tea party support that has coalesced at the right time to push the establishment candidates in to a difficult position.

Despite having all the ingredients for the same type of scenario in Virginia, Allen has survived and arguably thrived as he coasts to the nomination, setting the stage for a one on one titanic showdown with fellow former Gov. Tim Kaine in November.

Why? I’ve come up with five reasons:

1- Divide and Conquer
The fatal mistake the conservative/tea party made came early in this primary campaign. They couldn’t come up with one candidate. By facing three other candidates, Allen has successfully split the loyalty of a small, but active group of voters that would have to be together in order to be successful. Del. Bob Marshall is a hero with social conservatives. Former Tea Party leader Jamie Radtke is popular with the libertarian, fiscally conservative wing (although she is socially conservative herself). Bishop E.W. Jackson is a talented speaker and is able to excite a crowd, but by battling two other challengers, he has been unable to gain any traction.

The lack of outsider unity in challenging the establishment is what drove businessman Tim Donner out of the race. It was something he told me last summer was a necessity in overcoming Allen’s immense natural advantages.

“It is clear that a single challenger to the establishment candidate George Allen will emerge in this race,” he said. He went on to say that if was not him he’d get out-of-the-way. “I will not do anything to impede the conservative movement, and impede the movement of grass-roots conservatives.”

Donner got out, but the other three candidates never came together, and he ended up endorsing Allen.

2- Securing the base
One thing George Allen never forgot about was his base. The base helped him get elected governor and senator and despite losing in 2006, they were still there for him in a losing effort. Allen knew that it was the base that would guarantee him the nomination in 2012.

While his opponents spent a lot of time reaching out to “non-traditional” political groups, like the tea party, Allen appeared at every traditional GOP event that would have him. Women Republican Club Teas, Golf outings for legislators seeking re-election, Congressional Committee meetings. If grassroots republicans were meeting, Allen was there. There was no meeting he was above and many of those still volunteering at these events were raised on his campaigns for governor and senator. They were all too happy to have him and continue to support him.

Allen’s rock solid support from the base was most evident when the influential righty blog Bearing Drift offered their formal endorsement Monday night.

3- Raising money
No matter how hard these candidates tried, there was just no possible way for them to overcome the ability of a former governor and senator to raise money. Money not just from Virginia but from across the country. The massive cash advantage allowed Allen to hire a great deal of full-time staff. It allowed him to travel the state with ease, build a state infrastructure and take away any type of advantage his opponents could hope to muster.

Granted, in the toppling of establishment candidates, the momentum of the movement overwhelmed significant cash advantages. But in Virginia that momentum never materialized and Allen was able to stifle any appearance of it with spending.

4- No high-profile endorsements
Or perhaps this should say.. “no high-profile endorsements of anyone but Allen”. Allen quickly gobbled up the endorsement of Gov. Bob McDonnell, Rep. Eric Cantor and Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling. He successfully (at least for now) kept the unpredictable Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli out of the race and even earned the support of high-profile tea party favorites like Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI).

Meanwhile, his opponents stumbled over opportunities to get national voices to endorse their campaign and bring with it the attention that could lead to money and momentum. Former Alaska governor and Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin, who has offered her support in a few of these races, has seem disinterested in joining the fray, despite her similarities with Radtke. South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint has been noticeably absent. Radtke thought she had the endorsement of influential republican blogger Erik Erickson, only to have it taken away after an embarrassing conflict at Erickson’s annual Red State event.

This category is in flux because one of these endorsements could still come in with less than a week to go. But the chances of it having a game changing impact at this point are slim.

5- Hard work
This category might be best illustrated through a personal anecdote. It was December of 2010, a cold night in South Richmond. Former Senator George Allen was scheduled to appear at a forum on education with former DPVA chair Paul Goldman. I had received a press advisory so I thought it would be worth it to check it out. Allen had not announced his plans to run, but everyone assumed he was going to. Keep in mind this was just a little less than two years before the 2012 election.

I got to a small community center on the south side and there was no one there. Literally. The doors were locked. We had to be let in by a night janitor. We thought we were in the wrong place. He told us no, there was something happening, but we were just a little early.

About 20 minutes later, a few people trickled in. By the time it was time for the event to start, there may have been 20 people in attendance. Allen was among them. A one time governor, senator and even potential candidate for president came in ready to wax poetic on his thoughts on school choice and private/public education partnerships to a group about the size of a small church choir. We talked for a bit about his potential campaign, and then we left. He stayed. The event was scheduled to go for two hours, on a weeknight, three weeks before Christmas.

I said to my photographer Jerry Brown as we were leaving “there is NO way this guy is not running.”

Of course he was, and of course he knew what it was going to take to win. This is not to suggest that any of Allen’s opponents have not been working just as hard. I believe they actually are. But the difference between Allen and his contemporaries in other states is that they assumed that being who they were was enough to win. 2006 was clearly a wake up call for a man who did not really know what it was like to fail and its clear he doesn’t want something like that to happen again.

Now, I firmly believe that we truly have no idea what could happen on Tuesday and I am confident to leave the outcome to the voters. The point of this post was to illustrate why I believe Allen is in a strong position to win. The hardest part for this Virginia political heavyweight is that the hard work hasn’t really begun. If he is fortunate to get past this initial test, he has the biggest fight of his political life ahead of him.

Just one of the many reasons it will be the most watched race in the country.

Budget battle continues with partisan lines drawn

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If you thought the election of 2011 was settled, think again. Virginia is in the middle of bitter partisan fight at a State Capitol historically known for its bi-partisan cooperation. It all tracks back to last November and an election that did not clearly hand power to a single party in the Virginia Senate. As a result, every controversial vote has come down to hectic, last-minute deals. Deals that often aren’t known until the vote is finally taken on the Senate floor.

While the battles over social issues are over, democrats are holding on to the one remaining power they have left to play, their vote on the budget. Republicans cannot use Lt. Governor Bill Bolling‘s tie-breaking vote to pass the budget. Therefore, their 20 votes are enough to stop the $85 billion spending plan in its tracks. It’s allowed them to whittle away at GOP priorities and inject their limited voice into the Virginia government agenda.

It was a tactic that was successful and despite some chirping from newspaper editorial boards, it went largely unnoticed by the public. Tuesday’s vote to stall the budget for the third time, for a third different reason takes the argument into new territory. Last week the Gov. Bob McDonnell led Virginia Department of Transportation warned that they will start scaling back projects on May 1st, just a few weeks away. Localities are waiting on funding decisions that could be the differences between staffing teachers and police officers or going without. It is a showdown that could leave the reputation of both sides at risk.

Here is my story from NBC12 on where things stand right now:

RICHMOND (WWBT)- The threat of a Virginia government shutdown is growing after democrats at the State Capitol refused to pass a state budget.

This is the third time senate democrats have stood their ground, for the third different reason.

The division between democrats and republicans seems to be growing wider, and the time left to pass a budget is growing shorter. If the two sides don’t resolve their differences, state government as we know it is in big trouble.

It is a warning governor Bob McDonnell first sounded weeks ago. He repeated it again Tuesday.

“Everything from teacher funding to current VDOT projects will be slowed or potentially postponed,” said the governor.

Without a passed state budget, the government can’t operate. The current budget ends June 30th. It is a date fast approaching with no tangible sign of agreement to be found.

“They are the problem,” said McDonnell.

No agreement, but plenty of blame to go around.

“This is the most fiscally irresponsible act that I’ve seen during my career,” said McDonnell.

But democrats like Sen. Don McEachin (D- Henrico) believe the republicans are blowing things out of proportion

“There are those who want to scare the public and say the government will shut down,” said McEachin. “That is not the case.”

McEachin is among the most vocal hard line democrats. A group that three different times has used their 20 votes to block the budget from moving forward.

….read and see the rest of the story at NBC12.com.

Governor Bob McDonnell kept his composure, but was clearly angry with the democratic vote:

Meanwhile Henrico Senator Don McEachin doesn’t appeared worried about the budget timeline:

Written by Ryan Nobles

April 17, 2012 at 11:29 pm

Stewart gets jump on unsettled 2013 field

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By: Ryan Nobles – bio | email

Despite being in the midst of a contentious and serious battle for the 2012 federal elections. Virginia politicos are preparing for what could be an incredibly competitive 2013. Several candidates on both sides are either publicly or quietly mulling a run for statewide office. At this point the most of the conversations are speculative and the large field that currently exists will certainly be widdled down by the time voters are actually forced to make decisions. However with the active and ambitious crop being discussed heated primaries and/or state party conventions are almost certain.

Republicans are already dealing with a holy war at the top of their ticket between Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and Lt. Governor Bill Bolling. The Bolling- Cuccinelli feud may be only part of what the GOP will be dealing with. A number of candidates are considering runs for Lt. Governor and Attorney General that if they hold it could mean competitive nominating contests on all levels.

A particularly interesting battle is setting up in the republican Lt. Governor’s race. Wednesday, the ambitious Chair of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors Corey Stewart formally entered the race. Stewart is well-known in political circles, in part because of the numerous times he has tossed his name into prospective statewide races only to back away. Most recently Stewart seriously considering running for the open U.S. Senate seat. He even went as far to say some pretty critical things about former Senator George Allen, who he later endorsed.

On First at 4, Stewart told me that the timing was right for him to run statewide this time.

“We’ve been able to reduce taxes, we’ve cut spending by more than $143 million dollars (in Prince William County) instituted some good budgetary reforms while still putting a lot more money into transportation, and I’d like to do the same thing for the Commonwealth of Virginia,” he said.

Stewart won’t be alone in the race for the state’s second spot. Pete Snyder, the wealthy technology entrepreneur and ally of Governor Bob McDonnell is also mulling a run. Snyder is getting quite a bit of face time in his role as the Virginia GOP’s chief fundraiser. He appeared on First at 4 a couple of weeks ago.

The republicans also have several candidates considering a run for Attorney General, the most prominent, Harrisonburg Senator Mark Obenshain and Charlottesville Delegate Rob Bell.

But too many candidates for not enough positions is not a problem exclusive to republicans. multiple candidates are lining up on the democratic side. State Senator Chap Petersen has already set up a PAC and has said he plans a gubernatorial run. Former DNC Chair Terry McAuliffe is widely expected to make another run. This is of course if the long running rumor that Senator Mark Warner would like to come back to Richmond, turns out to be just a rumor.

The lower parts of the ticket aren’t quite lined up as orderly as their counterparts on the republican side, but prominent democrats are being floated in those positions as well. Among them, Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney Michael Herring and former Delegate Ward Armstrong. Update: Friends of Loudon Democratic Senator Mark Herring emailed to remind me that he has officially begun exploring a run for Attorney General.

There are other names being whispered as well. Former candidate for Lt. Governor Michael Signer and his close friend former Rep. Tom Perriello both have been suggested as statewide candidates. Henrico Sen. Don McEachin ran for Attorney General before and could be thrown into the mix and a new rising start, Alexandria Del. Charniele Herring hasn’t formally talked about running statewide, but was a key voice in the battle over abortion in this year’s General Assembly session and might be a name brought up in the future.

So much of this talk is just that talk. Names thrown into the air to see what the reception is to gauge the possibility of investing, time, energy and quite a bit of money into running statewide. That is what make’s the Stewart announcement so significant. He is all in. More than a year before anyone will be forced to make a decision about who they would like as their nominee.

Will getting out first pay off? Stewart is betting it will. It is a question we won’t know the answer to, until we get through the first brutal election still in front of us.

Our full interview with Chairman Stewart can be found below:

Stewart’s full announcement can be found after the jump:

Read the rest of this entry »

Priebus comes to Richmond as RNC kicks off anti-ObamaCare ad campaign

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 Just a few days after they launched a robo-call campaign targeting Virginia seniors, the Republican National Committee is back, this time launching a series of TV ads in Richmond attacking President Barack Obama on health care reform.

Chairman Reince Priebus came to Richmond Wednesday to talk about the impact Republicans believe the Affordable Care Act will have on Virginia. Priebus was joined by Lt. Governor Bill Bolling, VA Victory Chairman and potential candidate Pete Snyder, RPV Chair Pat Mullins and Dave Napier a Shockoe Bottom business owner.

The overwhelming impression that the GOP is hoping to leave is that the potential for a federal mandate may start with health care, it could lead to many other things.

“You’ve got Barack Obama who believes that government can be a European sized huge entity that can tell you what insurance to buy, what foods to eat, what you should wear,” Priebus said. “And we believe there has to come to end with this government overreach.”

But democrats aren’t shying away from their association with the program that republicans love to refer to as “ObamaCare”.  Richmond Del. Jennifer McClellan (D) said that her side is ready and willing to be on the side of health care reform.

“It has helped millions of americans and Virginians who have health insurance who otherwise wouldn’t,” said McClellan  “A lot of us are one illness away from being poor.”

It could be the issue that decides the election. We are a long way away from November but both sides seem prepared to draw a clear line between “for” and “against” and let the voters decide.

The RNC ad that is already running in the Richmond market can be found below.

Reaction to Capitol protest arrests sparks partisan divide

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Republicans and Democrats have picked sides in a battle over the response by State and Capitol Police to an abortion rights protest that led to several dozen arrests on Saturday. Democrats spent Monday attacking the decision by Capitol Police to call in State Police reinforcements to break up what they describe as a peaceful protest. In press releases, on social media and on the floor of the House and Senate, democratic leaders evoked strong language as they expressed their displeasure with police in riot gear breaking up the protest and forcibly removing protestors from the steps of the Capitol.

Many of these democrats found a way to lay much of the blame on Governor Bob McDonnell.

Fairfax Senator Chap Petersen (D), a potential candidate for statewide office said the response was overblown.  “We are a free society.  This is a public square,” he said from the Senate floor.  “People have a right to protest, without harassment or intimidation.”

Democratic Party of Virginia Chairman Brian Moran took it a step further. He intertwined the response to the policies of the McDonnell administration and continued to push the narrative that McDonnell himself may have called for the State Police to act in the fashion that they did.

“While I cannot say whether or not the Governor authorized or had knowledge of this weekend’s regrettable arrests,” Moran said.  “There is no question that this unfortunate situation could have been avoided by a leader with the courage to resist the extreme elements of his own party and focus on making life better for Virginia families.”

But McDonnell forcefully defended his role in the Capitol Square showdown. When asked directly by our Andy Jenks if he ordered the State Police to break up the protest the governor did not mince words.

“Absolutely not. See, that’s the problem. And that’s been the problem for about a month up here,” McDonnell said. “People saying things of which they have no direct information. And saying things that are just flat not correct.” McDonnell said he was at the CAA basketball tournament during the protest and did not learn what occurred until well after the situation had ended.

But while McDonnell defended his own role, Lt. Governor Bill Bolling and GOP members of the House and Senate attacked democrats for their criticism of law enforcement. Bolling, a candidate for governor in 2013, said that they “owe Capitol Police an apology” for the way they assailed them on the floor of the General Assembly.

Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment (R) explained that leaders of the House and Senate had worked with Capitol Police to develop a contingency plan in the event that protests in the 2012 session threatened the civil assembly of the legislature. He said those plans were agreed to by republicans and democrats. He contended that the police were just doing their job and hinted that democrats were encouraging the partisan divide as a way to avoid talking about the stalled budget process.

“There are some in this body, that have done everything that they can to exacerbate the tarnishing of that public image based social issues to try to deflect what they are not doing in other issues.”

And as the rhetoric heats up, the ultrasounds before abortions, which sparked the protest, remains sitting on Governor McDonnell’s desk waiting for the final salvo in what has been a divisive fight over social issues.

A fight that has drawn clear lines between republicans and democrats and in most cases, where you sit on those issues seems to be directly linked to how one views the response to the weekend protests.


See Ben Garbarek‘s report on NBC12 on those arrested on Saturday, which includes an explanation from Capitol Police as to why they responded in the way they did.

Written by Ryan Nobles

March 6, 2012 at 8:24 am

Virginia Senate Democrats poised for budget showdown

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Social issues have dominated the headlines in Virginia for this General Assembly session, but the budget is quickly expected to become a serious and perhaps damaging fight. Here is my preview of what could go down Friday at the State Capitol:

Thursday night, we reported on the Democrats plan to block the budget process in an attempt to get more power in the Virginia Senate. Here is my story from NBC12.com:


RICHMOND (WWBT)- After weeks of toxic social issues dominating the headlines, a behind the scenes budget battle has bubbled to the surface, and with it, threatening claims about what it could lead to.

Think back to your high school civics class.

It takes three parts of government to pass legislation: the house, the senate and the governor. Thursday senate democrats made a bold move, voting down the budget, thereby stalling the spending plan. If a compromise is not struck, Virginia’s government could be shut down.

It came after a day of rowdy protests, which had nothing to do with budget. Democrats made a tactical move, voting down the senate spending plan.

Afterward, shocked republicans, one by one called the move historic, but not in a good way.

“So it’s a sad day for the senate in my judgment,” said Sen. Walter Stosch (R-Hanover), the senate republican’s chief budget architect.

“To then have them vote against the budget for no justifiable reason is an incredible act of political hypocrisy,” said Lt. Governor Bill Bolling (R-Virginia)

Republicans see the move as blatantly political, designed to force the GOP’s hand and get them to agree to share power.

read and see the full story on NBC12.com.

I will be at the Capitol today for the fireworks. Keep an eye on my twitter feed and for updates here on Decision Virginia.

Written by Ryan Nobles

February 24, 2012 at 10:33 am

Despite judges ruling, Senate democrats plead for power sharing

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By: Ryan Nobles – bio | email

It has been a rough couple of weeks for democrats hoping to hold on to power in the Virginia Senate. First, on election night they lost two seats and were within a razor-thin margin in a third. That third seat, once held by Sen. Edd Houck, meant the difference between a 21-19 majority and a 20-20 tie.  Instead of Houck asking for a recount and hoping for a different outcome, the veteran lawmaker conceded guaranteeing a 20-20 tie in the Senate.

That meant that Lt. Governor Bill Bolling held the tie breaking vote and that democrats were now in the minority. But democrats were not ready to give up. Led by Sen. Don McEachin (D-Henrico), they filed a lawsuit in Richmond Circuit Court, requesting that they be given the opportunity to share power with the GOP. Today, Judge Beverly W. Snukals denied that request.

Now with the elections over and an unsuccessful legal challenge behind them, the democrats are left with only one option. Beg the now official majority party to share power.

“I call on the Republicans to respect the will of the voters and past history,” said McEachin. “The senate is evenly divided, 20-20 so committees and responsibilities and power should be divided to reflect that even split, just as the Republicans said in 1996.” 

Not surprisingly, the republicans don’t appear to be interested in offering democrats committee chairmanships and evenly distributing members of both parties in those committees.

“It is my hope that Senator McEachin and the Senate Democratic Caucus will realize the futility of pursuing this matter further and begin to prepare appropriately for the important work of the upcoming session,” said the incoming Senate Majority leader Sen. Tommy Norment (R-James City)

McEachin has not ruled out further moves, “both legal and procedural”, but did not go into specifics. He even pointed to a recent Public Policy Polling survey that he claims shows that Virginians want power sharing in the Virginia Senate.

“Over half of respondents, 55%, believe that power should be shared in the Virginia State Senate,” said McEachin. “These voters, constituents of both Democrats and Republicans, recognize that the Election day results created an evenly divided Senate and, therefore, the Senate should organize in a way reflective of those results.

Republicans, though don’t seem moved by McEachin’s argument. Republican Party of Virginia Chairman Pat Mullins welcomed the Circuit Court’s ruling and told the democrats to back off what he called their “sore loser suit”.

“Hopefully, Democrats will accept the judgement of Virginia’s voters – and now the courts – with a measure of grace,” said Mullins.

Despite McEachin’s persistence, the leader of the Virginia Senate democrats appeared to agree with republicans in the days after the election results came in. Sen. Dick Saslaw admitted in a conference call that all the decisions regarding who runs in the Senate were in the republican’s hands.

“They got a tie breaking vote,” said Saslaw. “If you got 20 plus 1 on a vote you pretty much don’t have to share anything!”

Written by Ryan Nobles

December 16, 2011 at 4:36 pm