get real. The 2005 elections were a disaster for
low tax conservatives. Running principled
candidates is not enough. We need to organize,
raise money, and get our message out.
Republican in recent memory has been elected
Governor in Virginia without supporting a major
was still in school in Massachusetts during the
campaign of 1977. But in 1981, 1985, and 1989,
Republican gubernatorial candidates downplayed the
tax issue out of deference to Northern Virginia
business donors. They all lost.
1993 and 1997, Republicans George Allen and Jim
Gilmore ran on specific, major, tax -cut
platforms, and they won in landslides. They told
the Northern Virginia business donors to get lost
and got their money elsewhere.
in 2001 and 2005 Republican candidates Mark Earley
and Jerry Kilgore went back to those donors and
the 1980s playbook, and Republicans went back to
losing the Governorís race.
instead of those ads on the death penalty, Kilgore
would have done well to run ads on the explosion
of taxes and spending in Virginia since 1998, the
outrageous 2004 tax increase, the need to finish
the car tax cut, and the urgency of property tax
relief. Kilgore did hold all those positions, but
he was quiet as a mouse about them during the
campaign. Instead, he talked a good line on every
other conservative issue that voters didnít care
election data shows that Kilgore ran behind other
Republicans in the Congressional districts
represented by Republicans, indicating that
conservatives disgusted over the tax issue just
stayed home. The numbers indicate as well that
unless Tom Davis gets religion over taxes and
stops publicly attacking conservatives, there are
going to be fewer Congressional districts
represented by Republicans after the next
election. Davis may need religion in a few other
areas as well.
conservatives gleeful over the defeat of Kilgore
need to cork the champagne and take stock of the
massive wreckage the 2005 elections have wrought
for us. We hear a lot of simplistic talk about how
Republicans just need to run consistently on
conservative principle and they will win running
away every time.
the most principled conservative in the General
Assembly, Dick Black, also went down to defeat on
Election Day. You wonít find a more principled
conservative than Michael Golden, but he didnít
get more than 40 percent of the vote in a delegate
race in a Republican district. Highly principled
Chris Craddock similarly didnít get over 40
percent in another Republican district. Thoroughly
conservative Delegate Bradley Marrs seems to have
lost in Chesterfield County.
the 2005 results have catapulted Gov. Mark R.
Warner to center stage for the 2008 Democratic
ticket as a proven winner in a red state who even
showed how to win massive tax increases from a
Republican legislature and remain highly popular.
The die has never been cast this early for a
Presidential race, but you can start printing up
those Clinton/Warner bumper stickers right now.
of all, the debate over the 2004 tax increase is
now over, and we the conservatives somehow lost. A
candidate who consistently supported that
unjustifiable increase from the beginning just
beat a candidate who consistently opposed that
increase in the Governorís race. How now do we
challenge those Republican Senators who engineered
that tax increase? By all indications, including Warner's massive public approval ratings, these
senators were just doing the publicís will.
couldnít possibly have had a stronger case
against that increase. The data shows there never
was that yawning deficit that Warner and Sen. John
Chichester, Howard Deanís twin brother, kept
telling us about. Indeed, after the largest tax
increase in the history of the state, we ended up
with a surplus bigger than the tax increase. Taxes
were raised so that the booming, New York-style
increase in state spending since 1998 could be
increased even faster.
the current data shows that by 2006 state spending
will have increased 70 percent since 1998. Now
that the tax increase has been electorally
validated, Gov. Kaine will move swiftly to spend
the $2 billion surplus to increase spending even
more, while asking for a tax increase to increase
state spending on top of that for roads.
Moreover, the sales tax increase at the center of
the 2004 tax increase had already been rejected by
voters in the two most populous areas of the
state. In passing it anyway, Warner and the Senate
Republicans sent a message to voters that they are
morons and no one cares what they think. Yet,
after stomping all over his 2001 campaign pledge
never to raise taxes and running a demonstrably
dishonest tax-increase crusade, Warner ended up
with a 70 percent voter approval rating.
up conservatives! We have a more fundamental
problem than Kilgoreís ads and stump speech. The
problem is we are just not getting our message
through to the public. The people do not hear us.
We are not on radio and TV, or in the newspapers,
in regard to Virginia issues. We do not sponsor
forums to spread our message. We speak almost
nowhere. We publish almost nothing.
effect this can have when done right was shown in the 2003 sales
tax referenda in Northern Virginia and Tidewater.
There the media felt they had to present both
sides to maintain credibility, so they sought us
out. We were also organized and ready to take
advantage of the opportunity.
were consequently all over the media and the local
forums, and our message was effectively presented.
As a result, although we only spent less than one
what the Big Business and Big Government Yes
supporters did, we thrashed them 55 percent to 45
percent in Northern Virginia, and 63 percent to 37
percent in Tidewater.
that, however, the state and local media went back
to being shills for the state and local
governments, slavishly repeating the establishment
party line almost as faithfully as the old Soviet
media did for the Kremlin. Today only a few
conservatives are effectively carrying on the
public fight. John Taylor of Manassas and his
allies are increasingly effective in promoting
their specific, Reaganite, Freedom and Prosperity
Agenda. Robert Dean and the insightful Reid
Greenum are leading a loud and public conservative
and libertarian crusade in Tidewater. The
Family Foundation is effective in promoting its
social issue agenda. A couple of others are good
at producing much needed, media ready stats.
if conservatives are going to win consistently in
this state, we need much more than that. The
pro-tax, big government side is everywhere in the
media, always, with slick, expensive forums, high
paid lobbyists and publicists, and the always
slavishly faithful media echo. And we are not
going to win this fight just going to battle on
our free time after work, as one supposed top
conservative donor, more interested in preening
than winning, suggested to me. We donít need the
millions and millions the other side spends every
year, but we do need at least one tenth of it.
therefore, need to reorganize to participate
effectively in the public debate. That must start
with a new funding base of patriots who want to
win, not just appear to be leaders, on the cheap.
November 28, 2005