note: This column was written before the
"Advance" on Dec. 3.
Republicans gather this weekend for their annual
“advance” at the Homestead in Hot Springs. They
will celebrate two close but still apparent
statewide wins, lick the loss of the governorship
wounds and try to find their center again, the core
belief that defines them as Republicans. They
needn’t look far.
McSweeney may be the clearest thinking Republican in
Virginia. That the former Virginia GOP chairman is
clearly thinking “Republican” long-term, there
can be little doubt. His political brethren should
heed him. Virginia Democrats should pay close
last week (See "A
Republican Party Agenda," Nov. 28, 2005),
McSweeney argued that Virginia Republicans will find
the commonality that binds them to a majority—and
it is still a clear majority, the election
notwithstanding—of Virginians again when they
articulate—not just a “cut, cut, cut” in taxes
message—but the linkage between that and spending.
Virginia “gone Democratic” overnight? No, no,
no—not by a mile. Anyone who thinks it has is
delusional. Why the Kaine win then? He, and Mark
Warner before him, especially Warner, did a much
better job on this linkage issue in the minds of
electorate is not some mass of idiocy. Virginia
voters can—and do—connect the dots. And they
know disconnect when they see it—and they saw
disconnect wholesale in Jerry Kilgore’s “no new
taxes but spend, spend, spend” campaign and
punished him for it.
course, there is a flip-side lesson to this for
Virginia Democrats. Is Tim Kaine’s win a
signal that it is acceptable now to let down the
spending floodgates in Virginia? No. That is the
last thing it is.
Republicans may be “advancing” at the Homestead
this weekend like the Union Army “advanced” back
to Washington after First Manassas. Some of their
early sessions are likely to resemble the
organizational meetings of Third World
parliaments—and I plead guilty to taking some
pleasure at the thoughts of that—but my guess is
that their elders, those who remember how they
gained political dominance in Virginia, will prevail
in correcting the course for them.
McSweeney last week: “Unless the GOP makes fiscal
discipline the centerpiece of its agenda again, it
will surely lose the support of limited-government
conservatives who have traditionally constituted the
largest segment of the party's base. Simply
declaring that the party supports fiscal
conservatism won't be enough. To restore voter
confidence, Republican elected officials must
exhibit the courage to hold the line on spending,
lop off some low priority programs and consider
innovative ways to achieve the same program
objectives at lower cost to the taxpayers.”
Griffinm the current Republican chairman in
Virginia, may find a whip and a chair handy going
into the weekend, but the front end of these affairs
is not what matters. What matters is the cohesion
grass-roots Republican majority is still here in
Virginia. It didn’t go anywhere. Make no mistake
about that. Virginia is still a Republican state.
The only question is how long it will take the
Republican Party of Virginia to realize that. A good
predictor on that one will be how long it takes the
RPV to come to its collective senses.
should Virginia Democrats pay attention to any of
voters—many traditionally Republican—have again
loaned the governorship to Virginia Democrats for
lack of a better option, and then only so long as
Virginia Democrats behave responsibly with it—only
so long as they continue to demonstrate and
acknowledge understanding of, to “message,” the
cost-benefit linkage of government.
the governor-elect and Democratic leaders in the
Virginia House and Senate understand this. It is
imperative that they do.