A Dispatch from the Future ….

“I saw the Gene McCarthy campaign, and Bobby Kennedy in ’68. I saw the early days of Ross Perot in ’92, and then John McCain’s ‘Straight Talk Express.’ Russ Potts’ campaign was just like them, only different.”

R. Butler Cadware III has analyzed politics for over 50 years. At a Bacon’s Rebellion symposium on the 2005 election, he, like other pundits and political observers, struggled to explain the Russ Potts phenomenon. “He just came out of nowhere and made mincemeat of Kaine and Kilgore. We had no idea there was such a groundswell behind his candidacy. He was getting hundreds of letters a week to his Senate office, begging him to run. Who knew?”

Tia Diddy traced Potts’ success in winning the race to his dramatic announcement that he was a candidate. “The room was packed with cheering supporters. Teachers had called in sick to attend. Highway construction contractors left job sites and stood in the back, wearing hard hats with “Potts ’08” stickers on them. When Potts declared that he would bring back the car tax, he elecrified the crowd and turned Virginia politics on its head.”

Before Russ Potts, it had been an article of faith that Virginians hated the car tax and wanted it abolished. From Mark Warner through Tim Kaine to Jerry Kilgore, every major Virginia politican had at least paid lip service to completing Jim Gilmore’s promise to end the supposedly unpopular tax. Potts showed that the conventional wisdom was wrong. Not only did Virginians long for a return to the car tax, they responded with enthusiasm to other Potts initiatives to raise taxes.

Potts attracted adoring throngs at his every campaign appearance. Metro trains were held up on the Orange line whenever Potts greeted rush hour commuters and promised “more trains with televisions showing ESPN.” Citizens lined VRE tracks when Potts made “whistlestop” tours. Reporter Jess Shapro found Potts’ “Build a Road” and “Add a Lane” events the most heavily attended. “Potts would drive out to the countryside and point to a large open space. He’d tell folks their gas tax increase would go to a sorely needed new road, ‘right through there.’ His words would be drowned out by cheers. He’d stop on Rt. 66, get up on top of an SUV, and declare a new lane was needed. The honking from cars stuck in traffic was deafening.”

Potts cemented his victory at the first debate when he stared into the camera and declared, “Mr. Warner, tear down this tax cut.”

Kilgore tried to counter Potts by supporting a car tax on every vehicle except 4 x 4s with gun racks. Kaine called for a car tax on everything except mini-vans used to transport children to Sunday School. None of these proposals could stop the Potts juggernaut.

Attendees of the conference would not predict how Gov. Potts would govern and whether he would be able to push through his tax increases. They were impressed, however with the talented Connecticut consultants he placed in cabinet positions and were not suprised that his first executive order was to endorse Mark Warner for President in 2008.

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  1. Laszlo Avatar

    You need help. Admit yourself somewhere.

  2. Anonymous Avatar

    Now THAT is some mighty fine satire. Not too bitter, just sweet enough, but deadly all the same. Not bad work before 9AM. -Mrs. L.

  3. Brilliant, Will. Simply brilliant.

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