Another Perspective on the Anti-Tax Defeat

This quote comes from The Washington Post’s round-up on the primaries:

“The races are somewhat a test case of how viable this anti-tax movement can be,” said Mark J. Rozell, a professor of public policy at George Mason University and co-editor of “The New Politics of the Old South: An Introduction to Southern Politics.” “If we judge them by the criterion of winning primaries, we ultimately may judge them failures after tonight. If the criterion is their ability to foster debate and send a signal to incumbents, they might be considered successful.”

Did the low-tax movement foster debate? Did the challengers send a signal to incumbents? I fear not. My sense is that the pro-tax forces in the General Assembly will feel emboldened to push more aggressively for transportation-related taxes in 2006 with little fear of a voter backlash.

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  1. SDH4VBT Avatar

    First, I think the challenges, even though they failed, will be viewed as an on-going threat by the incumbents and will have some impact on their future behavior. No one wants to go through that and few will be eager to “bring it on.” Any future discussions on taxes for transportation will remain a very hard sell, and that is as it should be. That is why I’m focusing our efforts on fostering debate within the public itself. If it doesn’t come from the grassroots, nothing will happen.
    Second, the victory of all of the incumbents but one (and there was much going on there beyond the tax vote) is a victory for the middle of the Republican Party. It was a center right victory, and any attempt to portray it as a victory by a bunch of tax-mad liberals is just bunk. The younger incumbents who were renominated represent the future of the party if it wants to lead.
    Third, the pathetic turnout bespeaks some serious apathy out there as none of these statewide candidates of either party ignited any fire any where on any issue.

  2. Bob Griendling Avatar
    Bob Griendling

    Re your read of the turnout, I couldn’t agree more..

  3. subpatre Avatar

    By-and-large voters deserve more respect than the Pablum they get. Over-simplifying the issues, whether taxes or zoning, leads to apathetic turnouts and keeping the status quo. Low tax by itself is appealling but not compelling. Like a mortgage, nobody wants to pay more than they have to; but most realize that there are government services that –like it or not– must be financed.

    The low-tax movement didn’t have a clear message of ‘how’ to cut. The figures are out there, including the languishing Wilder Commission’s report, they just haven’t been developed and packaged yet. The reasons for lower tax and where to cut spending wasn’t pushed to the front. People may want lower tax, but uncertainty about realistic cuts won’t get their votes.

    Just as important is that any candidate must have a platform, not a plank. The public votes on a variety of issues, and the low-tax plank must mesh with the rest of those issues.

    It was a showing: One success and two near misses. Craddock could have contributed generously to Kenney or Chapman to get a 33% success rate, but it’s clear the low-tax movement is a movement, not an organization that facilitates distribution.

    Leadership for Va and Virginians for Responsible Gov’t are established, well oiled (and connected) tax-raising machines that have to be countered before low-tax platforms can win; but this primary cost those organizations $225,000.

    Since they ran as low-tax, how did they fare financially? Chapman spent $33 per vote, Parrish $100; Kenney $27 to Orrock’s $64; and Craddock spent $14 versus Reese’s $79 per vote. Reviewing the SBE’s figures, there seems to be insignificant party crossover (or Potts inspired votes) intending to sabotage the opposition. Kilgore spent $40 a vote to Fitch’s $2! Bolling spent $11 to Connaughton’s $16; and McDonnell spent $16 to Baril’s $25.

    A message was sent, at minimum that campaign costs will skyrocket for big-taxers. Whether anyone listens to a huge chunk of dissatisfied constituents is the question remaining.

  4. Alot of those Fitch votes were the crossover D’s who were voting in the House primaries and engaged in a little mischief on the top of the ticket. Nog all but a significant number, right Barnie?

  5. I’ll repeat this:

    The Wilder Report was laughed at when it came out. It’s full of vague platitudes and non-specific plans. It was just a way for Wilder to get his name in the paper. Little else.

  6. Anonymous Avatar

    It is always very hard to defeat incumbents in primaries (witness the failed attempt to oust Potts).

    It is hard to get serious politicians to run in primaries against incumbents (by serious I mean veterans); this gives the incumbent the “experience” vote.

    The question is, did a single anti-tax incumbent get defeated by a challenger running because they supported the tax increase? Of course not. ONLY tax-supporting incumbents got beat.

    Just another way to look at the results. It would have taken a miracle to beat someone like Harry Parrish, who had limited votes which were not “conservative” even by the conservative definition, and who has an entire city who knows him personally. Note he couldn’t win Manassas Park or the county.

    And most telling is a statement Parrish made at a debate. When defending the vote for the tax increase, he said it was smaller than it was, AND he said that he voted to reduce taxes again this year — in other words, he was hardly claiming the tax-increase mantle, he was instead making his tax vote an abberation. I think that was a good sign of what having a challenger can do.

  7. Ray Hyde Avatar
    Ray Hyde

    We have a lot of work to do.

    It is not going to be done by NIMBY’s BANANA’s or people who have no money to spend.

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