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Decision Virginia Archive 8/08- 7/12

Posts Tagged ‘Eric Cantor

Primary day in Virginia

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Greetings from beautiful Orange, VA!

Decision Virginia is coming to you this morning from James Madison’s Montpelier. My family and I are guests of the Center for the Constitution, where I am helping produce a series of educational videos on the Constitution. While I am moderating the panel discussions on the Bill of Rights, which will later be part of an online video course through the Close Up Foundation, Karey and the kids are exploring the incredibly beautiful grounds. Including the gardens which are right behind President Madison’s home.

Montpelier is a terrific, perhaps hidden secret in the Commonwealth. It is an easy jaunt from Richmond and there is quite a bit for the kids to do. Our kids are little and my wife has been able to find plenty of places for them to run around and have fun. Their favorite part has to be when the fireflies seem to erupt from the lawn in a fantastic show each evening. Plus the bugs are easy to catch.. even for my 1 and half year old. (Don’t worry we let them all go. No fireflies were hurt in the making of this blog post.)

Unfortunately our little retreat from reality must come to an end this afternoon as we shuffle back down I-64 so I can be home in time to cover today’s Virginia Senate/Congressional Primary. It is a primary that has been largely ignored by the general public, but features two of Virginia’s most prominent politicians, former senator and governor George Allen and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

I have reported a bit on both races. Check out my story on Cantor’s challenge from Tea Party activists Floyd Bayne, and my story about George Allen’s ability to wade through a volitale electorate.

Despite the incredibly important impact this primary could have on the Virginia political scene, there is little evidence that many people will participate. Virgina hasn’t had a Senate primary in recent memory and the last few congressional primaries in other districts have offered minimal interest from the voting public. The expected low turnout would appear to be a to the advantage of the Cantor and Allen, who have built-in name recognition and get out the vote mechanisms that would be successful in a little watched primary. Astute political observer Beau Cribbs points out that voter turnout in the 2006 Virginia Democratic Primary was only 3.45%.

However their opponents would argue that low turnout may be to their advantage, because while their supporters may be a smaller portion of the electorate, are more passionate and willing to brave a rainy day to get out to the polls.

Regardless, Cantor and Allen have not taken anything for granted. Both conducted a voting blitz in the closing days of the primary and have been filling up mailboxes and the emails of their identified supporters. While a win is a win, not winning by a large margin could be perceived by their detractors as a sign of vulnerability heading into November.

Cantor and Allen will be together to celebrate the election results in downtown Richmond tonight.

If you are planning to vote today, the State Board of Elections has put out this handy guide with information on what you need to know to make sure your vote counts.

The questions right now is turnout. How many people will pay attention to today’s vote? I am going to put the voter turnout over/under at 9%. Will it be better than that? (My guess is a little over statewide, a little less in Cantor’s district).

Give me your thoughts in the comments or on my facebook page or tweet me your guess.

We will have complete coverage of the returns tonight on NBC12.


Written by Ryan Nobles

June 12, 2012 at 8:47 am

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.

Cantor faces primary challenge

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It may be nothing more than a speed bump on his way to 7th term in Congress and the further consolidation of his power as the House Majority Leader in Washington, D.C. Regardless for the first time in his career, Rep. Eric Cantor has a primary challenge.

It isn’t a serious challenge. His opponent, Floyd Bayne, has run against him before. He picked up 6% of the vote as an independent, essentially Tea Party candidate in 2010. Bayne doesn’t have much money and there is no polling data to suggest that he could pull off the impossible on June 12th. But on that day, in an election that could see less 5% of registered voters showing up, Bayne hopes anything is possible.

Here is my story on Cantor’s primary challenge from NBC12:

It may seem early, but a group of candidates are in a sprint to Election Day. It’s not the November election, but the June primary that will decide who is on the ballot. It usually brings out a very low turnout, but this year, there are some big names on the ballot including one of the most powerful politicians in America.

In two weeks House Majority Leader Eric Cantor will be on the ballot hoping to secure his party’s nomination, in a GOP primary.

“I think everyone should be taking elections seriously,” said Cantor during a visit to the Libbie Market in Richmond on Tuesday.  “This is our God given gift as citizens of America.”

Cantor doesn’t seem worried about June 12th or Floyd Bayne who hopes to de-rail his march to another term.

The difference in their two campaigns is stark. Cantor, the second most powerful member of the House of Representatives brought national TV crews to Richmond. Tuesday evening, Bayne spoke to a small group of Tea Party activists in Henrico.

“We’ve gone to every meeting, Tea Party, Republican Party that will have me, and you just gotta get people out to vote,” Bayne said.

Bayne isn’t drawing big crowds but he might not need them. In 2008, less than 5% of registered voters came to the polls in congressional primaries.

“You just get out there and knock on doors and get boots on the ground,” Bayne said.

Cantor may not be worried, but he isn’t ignoring Bayne. He sent his supporters a letter reminding them to vote on the 12th and signs with a similar reminder have popped up around Richmond.

read and see the story on NBC12.com

Bayne talked to us extensively about his primary challenge. Extended clips from the interview are below:

Rep. Cantor also talked about his work to help small business and his view of the primary. That interview can be found below:


Written by Ryan Nobles

May 29, 2012 at 11:45 pm

Rubio to Richmond to raise cash for Cantor

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Rising republican star and Tea Party favorite, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) will be in Richmond this week to headline a fundraiser for Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Henrico). Cantor is the House Majority Leader.

The “Cantor Campaign Breakfast” will take place Friday morning at the Richmond Convention Center.

Rubio is a darling of the conservative right and beat back former Gov. Charlie Crist in a contentious republican primary before easily being elected to the Senate in 2010.  Interestingly, he is considered on the shortlist to be asked to run for vice president with the eventual GOP, in part, because of his popularity in a vital swing state.

Of course along with Rubio on that short list for VP is Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell (R).

Details on the event can be found below:

WHAT:  Eric Cantor Campaign Breakfast with special guest Senator Marco Rubio

WHEN:  Friday, March 2nd at 8:00 AM ET

Where:  The Greater Richmond Convention CenterExhibit Hall B

Fifth and Marshall Streets

Richmond, Virginia

Cantor challenges president to support the GOP’s “bold” ideas

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Congressman Eric Cantor isn’t expecting much from tonight’s State of the Union.  In an interview Tuesday prior to the speech, Cantor made it clear that the Obama agenda has been unsuccessful and it is time for him to change course.

“It’s the president and Harry Reid who don’t necessarily share our view that have to change things,” he said.  “They want to keep going like we’ve always done.”

Cantor employed the use of one word numerous times in our interview and in various other interviews prior to the speech: “bold”.  The Henrico Congressman believes that best describes the difference between the House Republican agenda and the White House.

“We believe that we have some bold ideas for growth and for removing the onerous sort of red tape that strangles small business people,” he said. “We believe we have bold ideas to get the fiscal situation straight here in Washington, so we can see economic growth.”

Cantor is open to compromise on things like the tax code and reducing regulatory burdens on small business owners. But he made it clear, its time for the president to come to them.

“We should try to and deliever on some results for the American people and not just be about the election.”

Here is an extended clip from our interview:


Speaking of the presidential election, despite some reports, Cantor told me that he has not considered endorsing yet in the republican primary. But he did outline some of the characteristics he is looking for in a candidate. 

“There are and there is a need for bold ideas right now,” he said. “People want to believe in America again.”

While Cantor did not even open the door to putting his support behind one specific candidate, he was not afraid to say (not surprisngly) that it is time for President Obama to go.

“It’s time I think, for America to try something new,” he said. “And that is what this election is about.”

An clip from his answer on the presidential election is below:


Written by Ryan Nobles

January 24, 2012 at 9:26 pm

Cantor, Warner make trips overseas

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Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Henrico) and Sen. Mark Warner (D-Virginia) are making the most of Congress being out of session. The two are both in the midst of lengthy trips overseas. Cantor is touring the Middle East, while Warner is spending his time in India.

Today the press offices from both lawmakers gave us an idea of what their bosses were up to.

In Qatar, Cantor made a trip to VCU’s branch campus in the Arab country.  The VCU facility was the first of a series of American collegiate branch campuses to make a home in Qatar’s “Education City.” Cantor toured the facility and met with Dean Allyson Vanstone.

Cantor also visited with the men and women serving in Qatar at the Al Udeid Air Force Base. You can read more about Rep. Cantor’s trip on his legislative blog. You can see more pictures of his visit here.

Meanhile on the other side of Asia, Sen. Mark Warner was involved in a unique event. He and a group of Senators toured an NBA camp in New Deli, India designed to encourge Indian young people to get active and fit. Warner who is well over 6 feet tall, even participated in a jump ball with a former NBA star. Of course that star was the shortest player in the history of the NBA. 5′ 3″ Muggsy Bogues.

You can see more photos from Senator Warner’s trip here.

Written by Ryan Nobles

January 9, 2012 at 11:39 pm

Cantor and Obama administration trade shots over payroll tax cut

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By: Ryan Nobles – bio | email

It is a new topic, but for the most part the same old conflict. President Obama wants to boost taxes on the wealthy, Republicans in the House of Representatives are resisiting tax hikes of any kind. The topic this time around is the exstention of a cut to the payroll tax. It will sunset on December 31st unless the GOP and the White House can come up with a deal.  Right now the two sides are very far apart.

Tuesday night. House Republicans passed a measure that would extend the payroll tax cut and extend unemployment benefits. But it also opens the door to the approval of the controversial Keystone XL project. President Barack Obama has already promised to veto the measure.

I spoke one on one with Ken Salazar, the U.S. Secretary of the Interior on this topic. His full interview can be found below. But first my story on the debate and Rep. Eric Cantor‘s role in the process from NBC12:

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WWBT)-  Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are still sparring over how much they’ll take from your paycheck!  Tuesday night,  the House of Representatives passed a plan to extend a payroll tax cut.

But its passage is only symbolic as democrats have vowed to defeat the proposal in the Senate and President Barack Obama has threatened a veto.

It is a new battle, but the same old war. The president wants to hike taxes on the rich, republicans don’t like that idea.

Meanwhile, the amount of money in your paycheck hangs in the balance.

In a normal period of American governance, the sound of a bill passing would signal progress. But in 2011 it is anything but.

“Because you can’t be for the middle class, you can’t be for keeping taxes low and be against our middle class tax relief and jobs creation act,” Said Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Henrico), the House Majority Leader.  

Read and see the full story on NBC12.com

My full interview with Secretary Salazar can be found below:

Extended clips from Rep. Eric Cantor can be seen here:

Written by Ryan Nobles

December 14, 2011 at 12:26 am