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The Club for Growth

Phillip Rodokanakis



Winning on Principles


Jerry Kilgore ran an unprincipled campaign and lost. Bill Bolling ran a principled campaign and won despite Kilgore's top-of-the-ticket loss.


"Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others." --Groucho Marx


Groucho Marx might as well have been Jerry Kilgore’s campaign manager--no one would have known the difference.


To political insiders and pundits, one of the greatest mysteries of 2005 is Kilgore’s blind allegiance to his campaign manager, Ken Hutcheson. Kilgore got a lot of grief from a number of conservative Republicans for keeping Hutcheson on the top spot of the campaign team.


Hutcheson was anathema to most conservatives. In 2003 he managed the campaign of state Senator Chichester, R-Northumberland -- affectionately known in this column as Sir John, and to others as as Commissar Chichester -- who was the architect and primary enabler of the 2004 tax increase.


Hutcheson also managed the campaigns of several other stealth Republicans, such as State Sen. Russ Potts, R-Winchester, who ended up running against Kilgore as an “independent Republican.”


None of these red flags seemed to bother Kilgore in any way. Worse, when the cries for Hutcheson’s removal were reduced to a steady drumbeat, Kilgore circled the wagons and stuck with “Hutch” all the way to his infamous defeat.


While Kilgore’s political future lays in ruins, Hutcheson will continue being employed by tax-and-spend, liberal RINOs (Republican in Name Only) who are singularly responsible for the sorry shape of our state’s runaway spending spree. Instead of being banished, Hutcheson will continue to collect handsome fees from those who see Kilgore’s demise as meeting the goals of their political agenda.


The Virginia Club for Growth and other conservative organizations made no secret of the fact that Kilgore’s campaign strategy was unacceptable to conservative voters. We repeatedly warned the Kilgore campaign that they should take principled positions against taxes and government spending. Unfortunately, we were shunned like everyone else who dared to admit publicly that the emperor wore no clothes.


Against Kilgore’s colossal defeat, one candidate who stood on principle won a monumental and convincing victory. I’m speaking of course, of Lt. Gov.-elect, Bill Bolling.


And herein lies the greatest unreported story in this election cycle: Bolling managed to stave off the tsunami that sank Kilgore. And in the process, he picked up another seat from the Democrats in the statewide-elected offices.


The mainstream press has covered this election as a big defeat for the Republican Party. The focus has been on Tim Kaine’s win and the pundits have been mesmerized by the fact that a liberal was again elected in Virginia, which by all accounts still remains a Red State.


Yet the facts are these: Before the 2005 election, the Democrats controlled two out of the three statewide offices, i.e., the Governorship and Lt. Governorship, while it now looks likely that they will control only the Governorship. The Attorney General’s race is still being contested in a recount, but it looks like the Republican candidate, Bob McDonnell, will prevail with a small lead over his opponent.


So, the question the pundits should be asking has nothing to do with Republican losses. Instead, they should be focusing on how Bill Bolling managed to win in the face of improbable odds, given Jerry Kilgore’s complete collapse and lack of political coattails.


Bolling’s win is a tribute to his campaign team, which came up with a brilliant strategy and stuck to it all the way to victory. Bolling showed how campaigns are won, and his campaign strategy should be studied for years to come.


The important distinction in the two campaigns centered on one word: “Principles.” While Kilgore showed no principles -- he tried to appeal to everyone and in the end only managed to appeal to a minority of the electorate -- Bill Bolling stood fast by his conservative principles.


Bolling was the only candidate on the statewide ticket to sign the taxpayer protection pledge. He never veered from the principles that have won him the admiration of conservative voters across the state.


And even though a number of conservative voters stayed home on Election Day, disgusted with the top of the Republican ticket, Bolling garnered almost 67,000 votes more than Kilgore. This goes to show that even moderate and liberal voters respect and vote for candidates who stand on principle.


Arthur Calwell, an Australian politician (1896-1973) once said: “It’s better to be defeated on principle than to win on lies.” That was good advice in Calwell’s times and it continues to be good advice today.


-- November 14, 2005









Phillip Rodokanakis, a Certified Fraud Examiner, lives in Oak Hill. He is the managing partner of U.S. Data Forensics, LLC, a company specializing in Computer Forensics, Fraud Investigations, and Litigation Support. He is also the President of the Virginia Club for Growth.


He can be reached by e-mail at [email protected].


Read his profile here.



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