Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform,
stirred up Virginia politics last week with a simple
device that clarified a new political reality in the
state. The era of liberal Democrats running as
Republicans for state offices is over.
device was a poster titled Virginia’s Least
Wanted. It included pictures and names of the 19
Republican delegates and 15 Republican senators who
voted for the largest tax increase in the history of
Virginia earlier this year, enabling it to pass
through the Assembly.
each name and picture are two boxes that can be
checked. One says “Retired” and the other says
“Defeated”. As Norquist explained at a press
conference in Richmond on September 14, the poster
reflects his commitment to work for the defeat of
every one of these tax increasing “Republicans”
in upcoming elections.
establishment circles expressed astonishment at this
brazen display of active participation in the
political process. But rest assured Norquist is not
alone in his goal.
Virginia Club for Growth pledged earlier this year
to work for the defeat of every one of these
Republicans as well. And this is not a pledge for
just one election cycle. The Club will work for
their defeat in each and every election in the
future until a box can be checked off for every name
on the poster.
the Club will be helping to distribute Norquist’s
poster statewide. Our goal is to distribute at least
100,000 of them by the time of the primaries next
We Must Fight
are two basic reasons for this long term commitment
to remove the tax increasers from office. First is
that the tax increase was large and completely
unnecessary. The increase raised revenues a whopping
$1.38 billion over just the first two years,
featuring an 11 percent increase in the state sales
tax. The state’s own official budget website shows
that this tax increase was used to finance an
enormous increase in state spending of 13.3 percent
in the new state budget. Moreover, without the new
revenues from the tax increase, state spending would
still have increased a healthy 10.6 percent.
all the talk about the absolute need to raise taxes
to close a state budget deficit was just an
elaborate fairy tale. There never was any state
budget deficit. Taxes were increased so state
spending could be increased by an out of control 13
percent instead of 10 percent. Taxpayers are not
going to get wage increases of 13.3 percent over the
next two years. So the state spending increase
is excessive and out of control.
Mark R. Warner told us that we had to increase taxes
to avoid losing the state’s AAA bond rating. But
no bond agency told the Governor he had to raise
state spending by 13.3 percent. This was another
fairy tale from a Governor whose collected state
papers at the end of his term will rival Aesop’s
the newly adopted budget, state spending during
Warner’s term will increase by 26 percent (FY2002
to FY2006. From 1998 to 2006, state spending will
have increased by a runaway 70 percent. Yet, when
the Assembly was considering the tax increase last
year, Governor Aesop and his various jesters told us
the state was starved for funds, budgets had already
been cut to the bone, and so we had to raise taxes.
quality of their analysis was reflected in a
response to Norquist’s press conference by the News
Leader newspaper in the Shenandoah Valley. They
people are intelligent enough to know that
governments, whether they’re federal, state or
local, run on money, not magic beans, not promises
of growth, not surpluses. They are aware that this
money comes from taxes paid by citizens that are
necessary in order to fund the infrastructure and
services people have come to expect as part of a
decent quality of life. Good schools, efficient,
well-equipped police forces, responsive fire and
rescue teams, and a host of other things – some
vital, others less so – aren’t free.”
would have been a good response, if Norquist had
called for abolishing all state taxes. But what he
is objecting to is the largest tax increase in the
history of Virginia, adopted to support runaway,
uncontrolled state spending. So the next time the
editorial writers of the News Leader – Gary
Stout, David Fritz, Cindy Corell, Jim McCloskey,
Dennis Neal, and Macon Rich – feel the urge to
write about taxes and economics, perhaps they should
just lie down until the fever passes.
Think They Can Play the Voters for Fools
second reason for the long term commitment to remove
the tax increasers is that the process by which the
tax increase was adopted involved a complete
negation of the democratic process in the state and
gross disrespect and abuse of the voters.
Challenge me if you think you can, but I will show
below that voters in Virginia have lost democratic
control over state taxes and spending. The tax
increase was not adopted in accordance with the will
of the people, but rather was dictated to the people
by a Big Business/Big Government coalition in what
amounts to a highly sophisticated, money grabbing
with Mark Warner's election campaign of 2001. When
Warner’s opponent Mark Earley charged in that race
that Warner would raise taxes, Warner denounced him
as a scurrilous, low politician for making this
false charge without any foundation. He did so,
indeed, in ad after ad financed out of the vast
personal Warner fortune. Warner said, “The fact is
that I will not raise taxes. My plan states
it. I've said it throughout this campaign."
also said during the 2001 campaign, “It's going to
be tough to manage the budget without raising taxes
[as Wilder did], but I'm going to do it,"
also said, most dishonestly of all, "The old
style of politics, of saying anything to get
elected, is not what we need. Instead, as a
businessman, I will clean up the budget mess in
Richmond, restore accountability, and -- no matter
how many times my opponent may say otherwise -- I
will not raise your taxes."
just two years after he was elected, Warner proposed
a tax increase of $1.1 billion, the largest in the
state’s history. Obviously, Warner thinks the
voters can be played for fools.
Warner was not alone in this dishonorable conduct.
he tax increase that was enacted earlier this year
was actually 25 percent larger than Warner
originally proposed. That was because of the conduct
of the Senate Republican leadership, and in
particular Senate Finance Committee Chairman John
led a dozen Republicans, half the Republicans in the
state Senate, to cosponsor a bill that proposed to
raise taxes by an insultingly silly $3.9 billion.
They proposed to raise the state sales tax by 22
percent. They proposed to raise income taxes by 15
percent. They proposed to raise gas taxes by 20
percent. Overall, they proposed an increase in the
state budget of 20 percent. Even Howard Dean never
proposed anything so far left in Vermont.
that was not all. Chichester and the Senate
Republican leadership also said they would shut down
the state government and not pass any budget if they
didn’t get their tax increases. Because of this
far out, extremist stance by Chichester and his
Senate allies, the final compromised tax increase
was, as mentioned
25 percent larger than Warner even asked for.
these far-left tax policies were not what Chichester
and his allies were offering the voters when they
faced primary challenges the summer before last.
Chichester’s campaign literature asked voters to
“Join his campaign for lower taxes.” His
literature also alleged that he was a “Leader in
the fight for lower taxes.”
a campaign letter, Chichester said, “You can
always count on me to support our shared Republican
principles of smaller government, lower taxes…”
He told the Richmond Times Dispatch (May 9,
2003), “I’m certainly not going to favor raising
Chichester’s primary opponent Mike Rothfeld
charged, correctly as it turns out, that Chichester
was plotting a massive tax increase with Warner,
Chichester said Rothfeld was “hallucinating.”
another campaign piece, Chichester said, “I’m
focused on a conservative agenda of keeping taxes
low and holding the line on spending.” In still
another campaign piece, Chichester said that his tax
policy would be, “Hold the line on taxes during
tough economic times and then provide additional tax
relief when times are good.”
short, Chichester campaigned like he was Ronald
Reagan. But just a few months after he was elected,
he sought to govern like he was, well, actually, to
the left of Howard Dean. The same dishonorable
conduct was followed by Russ Potts, Tommy Norment,
Emmett Hanger, and other Senate Republicans when
they were running for office.
voters wanted to vote against these high taxes, who
were they supposed to vote for? They thought they
had voted against tax increases by electing large
Republican majorities in the state House and Senate,
including Chichester and his mendacious band of
thieves. Indeed, they thought they had voted against
tax increases when they voted for Mark Warner.
the voters actually voted against the tax increase
enacted earlier this year. Just over a year earlier,
we had referenda in the two most populous areas of
the state, Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads, on
the sales tax increase that the Assembly has now
passed. Even though the tax greedy special interests
spent $2.5 million in each area to fool the voters
into supporting the increase, the people voted it
down by landslide margins of 63 percent to 37
percent in Hampton Roads and 55 percent to 45
percent in Northern Virginia. If the opponents had
$2.5 million to spend in each area, we would have
beat those referenda by 75 percent to 25 percent.
just a year after the people had spoken, the tax
increasers went down to Richmond and voted it
through anyway. So much for respecting the will of
the people. But, again, these tax increasers only
have contempt for the will of the people. They only
respect the opinions of the Big Money special
interests that contribute to their campaigns.
opinion outlets in the state, like the Daily
Press in Newport News and the Virginian-Pilot,
openly applaud this duplicitous, dishonorable
conduct as just smart politics. They should
reconsider just what ideological stance they are
promoting these days. Liberals are for
democracy and government by the people.
Democracy in Virginia
next year’s state elections, we will have the
chance to restore democratic accountability and
control over taxes and spending in Virginia. That is
why the Virginia Club for Growth is looking to
support primary challengers to each and every one of
the tax increasing legislators listed on
the first primary has already effectively been held.
The sudden, surprise retirement of Congressman Ed
Schrock forced the Second Congressional District
Republican Committee to choose a new candidate. Two
were considered: state Sen. Ken Stolle, R-Virginia
Beach, who stood with Chichester to force the tax
increase through, and state Del. Thelma Drake,
R-Norfolk, who voted against the tax increases. The
Committee overwhelmingly chose Drake, who was
supported by the national Club for Growth,
Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform, and other
taxpayer groups across the state.
Ken Stolle had fought against the tax increases
instead of supporting them, he would be settling
into his office this January as a new Congressman
from Virginia, for he would surely have been chosen
as the more senior political leader from the region
in that heavily Republican district. But now he will
be facing a primary challenge in 2007 just to keep
the state Senate seat he has. This is known among
the grassroots as “Stolle’s Folly.”
there is another measure of grassroots Republican
party sentiment to note, and an ominous development
for future primaries. The state Republican party has
already adopted new rules banning Democrats from
voting in Republican primaries. Moreover, the U.S.
Supreme Court has already held that state parties
have the constitutional right to adopt such rules.
This change will apply to the primaries starting in
2007, when all state Senators will next be up for
means that the liberal Democrats in Republican
clothing, known at the grassroots as RINOs, will no
longer be able to survive Republican primaries with
the votes of left-wing public employee union
members. In other words, good bye Chichester, good
bye Stolle, good bye Potts, good bye Norment.
Republican State Central Committee, which adopted
the new rules earlier this year, knew exactly what
they were doing – sealing the fate of the tax-increasing
senators who betrayed the party grassroots. Indeed,
Ken Stolle himself showed up to argue against the
new rules. Leading the argument for the new rules
– state Sen. Ken Cuccinelli, R-Centreville. When
the votes were counted, Stolle managed to win a
total of 3 votes against the proposal.
there was the morning news poll run by Newsradio
1140 WRVA in Richmond on September 17.
Listeners were asked who they thought was out of
touch with the wants and needs of Virginia, Grover
Norquist, or the tax increasing Republicans. The
final tally showed that 29 percent thought Grover
was out of touch. But 70 percent thought the tax
increasing Republicans were out of touch.
daresay that sentiment at the Republican grassroots
is running nine to one against the tax increasers.
That doesn’t mean they will lose every primary
challenge. It is all about communication –
getting the truth out – and that costs money. The
tax increasers are already collecting huge sums from
the Big Business and Big Government special
interests with their hands in the public till. Many
will use that money for splashy ads and mailers
telling voters again how they will fight for lower
taxes, that they never voted for higher taxes (like
Emmett Hanger is already saying), and that any
opponent who says otherwise is a liar. That is why
we have pledged to fight through more than one
like Ken Hutcheson, the campaign manager for the
gubernatorial race of Attorney General Jerry
Kilgore, are already arguing that it is
inappropriate for the grassroots to participate in
the political process through these primary
challenges. Our participation and challenges will
divide the Republican party, he says. Apparently,
his boss Kilgore has already decided to endorse all
Republican incumbents for reelection, even the tax
it was the 15 senate Republicans and the 19
Republican delegates who abandoned the Republican
grassroots, and voted for the largest tax increase
in state history, who have divided the party, not
Grover Norquist. It must be said, though, that
divided is a bit of a grandiose word for what is
going on, because the only people in the party
besides Kilgore supporting the tax increasers are
their families and personal friends (and not even
all of them).
Kilgore is going to stand with these tax increasers
next year and support their reelection, that is his
choice. But he should not then expect the Republican
grassroots and taxpayer groups to support him in the
general election. He will have to look to the public
employee unions for that.
have the right to fight for what we believe in, and
participate in the political process to support
those who share our beliefs and oppose those who
don’t. And you can be sure that is what we are
going to do.
names of the state senators and delegates on
Norqiust’s poster are listed below. The Virginia
Club for Growth is again looking for candidates to
support in primary challenges against these
incumbents next year:
John H. Chichester
Emmett W. Hanger, Jr.
Charles W. Hawkins
Thomas K Norment, Jr.
Russell Potts, Jr.
Frederick M. Quale
Frank M. Ruff, Jr.
Kenneth W. Stolle
William C. Wampler
Martin F. Williams
L. Preston Bryant
Charles W. Carrico, Sr.
William Fralin, Jr.
Riley E. Ingram
Walter A. Stosch
Joe T. May
David A. Nutter
Glenn G. Oder
Vincent F. Callahan, Jr.
Robert D. Orrock, Sr.
Del. Harry Parrish
James H. Dillard, II
Thomas Davis Rust
S. Chris Jones
Harvey B. Morgan
Gary A. Reese
Edward T. Scott
September 20, 2004
article was originally published in "Policy
Commentary" by the Virginia Club for Growth.