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Decision Virginia Archive 8/08- 7/12

Posts Tagged ‘George Allen

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.

Allen looks to coalesce Tea Party support with Johnson endorsement

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The name Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin)  probably doesn’t mean much to the average voter in Virginia. But U.S. Senate candidate George Allen (R) wasn’t necessarily looking to impress the “average” voter when he announced Johnson’s support of his campaign and then brought him on the stump with him Friday in Richmond.

Johnson is a wealthy businessman who ran a largely self-financed campaign to sweep long time liberal Senator Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin) from office. Johnson received a great deal of support from the Tea Party and is happy to be associated with the movement. A fiscal deficit hawk, Johnson supports deep spending cuts and is strongly opposed to the health care reform act and the federal stimulus.

Allen has a lukewarm connection with tea partiers in Virginia. One of the most prominent tea party leaders in the Commonwealth, Chesterfield’s Jamie Radtke decided to run against him in the upcoming republican primary.  He has had a mixed success appealing to local tea party groups as he looks to seal up the nomination.  Allen rarely appeals directly to the tea party but once said he was an “original member” of the tea party.

Allen’s biggest problem with the Tea Party comes from his last time in the Senate. Six years of supporting largely Republican led proposals that bumped up the federal debt and is a period of time that hard-core Tea Party members are very critical of.  Johnson’s visit to Virginia it allowed his critics to remind voters about that time in office. Both Radtke on the right and the democrats on the left were all to eager to dredge up the past.

Radtke released a very critical web video that called Allen out for his support for “40,000 earmarks”.  Web videos rarely have widespread appeal, but Radkte got a big bump when PolitiFact Virginia chose to rate the claim.  Their “mostly true” rating pushed the video to a much wider audience. (It was in our PolitiFact Virginia report this week on NBC12).  Democrats meanwhile had a field day pointing out the mixed message Allen has had with earmarks, saying he was “proud” of the ones he had brought back to Virginia and said they were ok, as long as they were accompanied by detailed information as to who proposed them.

Johnson worked to rein in the criticism of Allen in event today at Bill’s BBQ in Richmond. He strongly supported the former governor and senator’s leadership skills. Johnson argued that while progress is being made in Washington, real change hasn’t occurred because the Congress needs more people with Allen’s experience and ability to bring people together. He also said that Allen’s first go around in Washington was much different than things are now.

“Last time George Allen was in the senate we had manageable deficits,” said Johnson.  “Nobody liked them at all, but at least they were manageable.”

Despite the lack of rousing support from the Tea Party, there is simply no evidence that Allen is suffering. The few polls taken on the GOP primary show him with very large leads and he is neck and neck with his democratic opponent Tim Kaine in just about every poll.  It is clear that Allen’s effort to reach out to that wing of the party is subtle.  When we asked him about what role they will play in his election, he said they were important but went out of his way not to single them out.

“We are getting good support from a lot of folks,” Allen said, he went on to say, “We are welcoming every one to the A- Team.”

This won’t be the end of Allen’s effort and it will likely continue beyond the primary.  The Republican nominee, no matter who they may be, will want the passionate support of the Tea Party to help push them over the hump come November in what is destined to be a razor thin election.

See clips from our interview with Johnson and Allen below:

The full release from today’s Allen event with Johnson can be found after the jump:

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ryan Nobles

April 20, 2012 at 10:59 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:

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Kaine campaign unearths footage of Allen in 2000 calling for disclosure

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Despite George Allen‘s resistance to come to come to some sort of an agreement on campaign deal to end “secret money” in the Virginia senate race, The Kaine campaign is not ready to back down.  Today they released a web video with news clips of Tuesday’s coverage of the challenge and included a clip from Allen’s 2000 run for senate, where he talks about the importance of disclosing the source of campaign funds.

The clip is a segment from a debate between Allen and then incumbent Sen. Chuck Robb (D).

“We need disclosure so we know who is contributing to these campaigns,” said Allen.  “And I think that the people of Virginia ought to know who is making those contributions.” 

Here is the Kaine web video, the clip from the debate hits at at about :34 seconds.

Yesterday, Allen said that is was hard to take Kaine’s claims of transparency seriously when he was recieving funds from out of state labor groups like the AFL-CIO which often pick candidates without the full consent of their membership. Today the National Republican Senatorial Committee echoed that charge. His campaign also argued that an agreement like this is impossible and was nothing more than a ‘Washington political stunt.”

Meanwhile, Politico is reporting that Kaine himself will soon benefit from a SuperPac of his own. A group of democratic consultants have formed the PAC and expect to launch soon.

“If Tim Kaine is truly serious about restoring transparency and accountability in our campaign finance laws, why does he support a mandatory union donation system in which hard-working men and women in Virginia have money stripped from their paychecks every month without their say?” asked Brian Walsh, an NRSC spokesman.

Lily Adams Kaine’s press secretary said  “It is unfortunate that George Allen’s inside-the-beltway mentality has caused him to now abandon Virginia’s long-held principle of campaign disclosure after he publicly embraced it multiple times.”

Written by Ryan Nobles

March 14, 2012 at 3:57 pm

Kaine, Allen spar over third party spending

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By: Ryan Nobles – bio | email

It was a spark first lit back in December during the first, and so far only, debate for U.S. Senate from Virginia. I asked former Senator George Allen (R) his opinion of third-party spending in his race especially after the Citizens United Supreme Court decision.

Here is the entire exchange unedited:

In case you missed it.. or didn’t feel like watching the video, Gov. Tim Kaine challenged Allen to tell the third party groups to stay out of Virginia.

At the post-debate in the press gaggle, Allen essentially closed any door that he might be open to teaming up with Kaine on a no-SuperPac pledge. After a few months, and the day after a new pro-allen SuperPac launched, the Kaine team decided to embrace Allen’s stance that he supports the way Virginia handles campaign finance. Essentially, unlimited donations but full disclosure where those donations are coming from.

Kaine sent Allen a letter asking him to have the two campaigns meet to carve out a plan to keep third-party “secret” money out of the Virginia senate campaign.

More from my story on NBC12.com:

RICHMOND (WWBT)- A unique proposal in the race for U.S. Senate, Tim Kaine is asking his likely opponent George Allen to team up to ask third-party groups, with secret donors to stay out of Virginia.

This proposal was borne out of a question I asked during a debate in December as part of our “Buying a Voice” segment.

The Allen camp calls Kaine’s idea: “A Washington political gimmick”

Despite being 10 months away from the election third-party groups are pouring cash into Virginia. Tim Kaine told me that Virginians deserve to know where the cash is coming from.

“If you won’t agree to no SuperPacs,” said Kaine “At least we should all be to agree no secret money.”

Kaine thinks Allen should be on board with the plan, based on what he said in the December debate.

“I’ve always been an advocate of ‘disclosure and freedom,’ said Allen.

In a response to Kaine’s request, Allen said it was “Hard to take (Kaine) seriously” because he took a sizeable donation from the AFL-CIO despite hoping to represent a right to work state.

The republican said most union members have no say over where their dues go when it comes to supporting candidates.

…read the full story on NBC12.com

Governor Kaine only spoke to NBC12 about his proposal. Our full interview with him can be found below:

See the transcripts of the letters from both campaigns after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ryan Nobles

March 13, 2012 at 9:53 pm

Buying a Voice: U.S. Chamber attacks Kaine

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The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has been very active in the 2012 election cycle. Their 3rd party political action committee has paid particular focus to the U.S. Senatate. Recently they launched this ad attacking former Governor Tim Kaine (D).

The Chamber of Commerce is a group most people are familiar with, but the name is one that many organizations at many different levels take on. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is a pro-business national organization that tends to support mainly conservative and republican candidates.

The Washington D.C. based group is now front and center in the U.S. Senate race in Virginia.  The man they have decided to attack is former governor Tim Kaine. The ad specifically attacks Kaine’s support for President Obama’s health care reform plan. Showing clips of the one-time DNC chair, praising the president’s leadership.

The “Chamber of Commerce” seems like a local group, something that stands up for local businesses and local communities, but the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is pretty far removed from Main Street Virginia. They are a national umbrella organization, with members big and small from all over the U.S..

So far their third party spending arm has spent $3 million on T.V. ads across the country. Every single cent has been spent attacking democrats.

The ad is being shown in so many places that the Virginia Chamber of Commerce went out of their way to make sure voters knew they were still neutral in the race.  In a statement their CEO Barry DuVal said they do not plan to endorse in the race for senate and that the Virginia Chamber is “a non-partisan, business advocacy organization.”

In addition to the ad attacking Kaine, The U.S. Chamber has also produced a similar ad praising his likely general election opponent former senator George Allen.

That ad is funded by the same group pushing the anti-Kaine ad.

Politifact Virginia rated the claims in the ad attacking Governor Kaine as “false“.  Our report on the U.S. Chamber can be found below:


Here is where we got our info:

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s web site can be found here.

The Center for Responsive Politics looks into the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s political spending can be found here.

The PolitiFact Virginia report on this ad can be found here.

Written by Ryan Nobles

February 27, 2012 at 7:11 pm