My Response to Hutch

Earlier this week, I received an email message from Ken Hutcheson, Jerry Kilgore’s campaign manager (see here). Hutch’s diatribe was in response to my column, “Winning On Principles,” that was published in Bacons Rebellion this week.

Hutch’s email vent speaks for itself. Nonetheless, I thought that I should give this young lad some sage advice, lest he finds himself unemployable even by the RINOs. It’s too bad that Hutch didn’t have a meltdown earlier in the campaign cycle; perhaps, Jerry Kilgore would have then listened to those of us who repeatedly asked him to put some mature handlers at the helm of the campaign.

Dear Ken:

Thank you so much for your nice and thoughtful message.

Your message proved exactly what a number of conservatives said all along about you and the Kilgore campaign: You simply don’t posses the maturity or political acumen to head any campaign, never mind a statewide initiative. Perhaps, your message to me has finally opened Jerry’s eyes…

You ask who cares about my columns. Well, the answer is obvious—you do! My writings couldn’t generate so much passion in anyone if they are irrelevant.

If you haven’t figured out by now that email messages are not the way to vent anger, then you are more hopeless than I originally thought. Let me spell it out for you: Email messages can be easily circulated! In the future I recommend you don’t use emails to air your diatribes. If you continue, even your RINO patrons may have second thoughts about engaging your services again.

________________________
Phillip Rodokanakis
President
Virginia Club for Growth
Email: president@virginiaclubforgrowth.org
Web: www.virginiaclubforgrowth.org


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26 responses to “My Response to Hutch”

  1. Happy to be the first of what I presume will be many comments on this thread.

    Phil, you’re right.

    “Hutch” should have been smarter than to send an e-mail like that. However, he should have been smarter because he should have known that there are unscrupulous people who will circulate private correspondence in order to serve personal or political vendettas.

    You may very well have won the proverbial pissing match here. But you certainly don’t win any points for ethics.

    Although it is possible that I’m missing something. Is there a good justification for making private correspondence public? If so, you have my apologies.

  2. Anonymous Avatar

    No one comes out of this looking very good. The Republican party seems to be tearing itself apart from the inside.

  3. JamesRiverGOP Avatar
    JamesRiverGOP

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Ken Hutcheson is absolutely right about the need for the party to recognize the VCG-types for what they are. Wing-nuts.

    The state GOP must — must! — nominate candidates for statewide and legislative offices who appeal to moderates.

    It’s the center, largely independents, who determine election outcomes. Dems get the lefties, Republicans the hard right. Then, the parties fight for those in the middle. And, lately, centrists seem to be turned off the wing-nuts screaming from the right and drift to the ones who appear to be addressing Virginia’s infrastructure challenges and core services.

    So, Phil, while you may not have liked that young lad’s email to you, any casual but right-thinking observer must agree with him.

  4. criticallythinking Avatar
    criticallythinking

    JamesRiverGop:

    I don’t know if we’ll ever have the proof of who voted, but are you saying that you think it was the MODERATES that abandoned Jerry Kilgore?

    Are you saying that Ken ran a too-conservative campaign, and turned off the moderate voters?

    Odd then that Kilgore was the consensus moderate pick, while Fitch was seen as the conservative candidate.

    Odder that Bolling, considered the conservative choice over Sean, managed to get the moderate votes that Jerry did not. Is Bolling more moderate than Jerry? Or are you saying moderate republicans voted for Liberal Tim Kaine to teach “conservative” Jerry Kilgore a lesson, but wouldn’t vote for Leslie Byrnes to teach Bolling a lesson?

    About the only reason I have at this moment to “agree” with you is this: The moderate republicans have proven in this election that they will bolt to the democrat party rather than support their own party, even though that party may have given them years of campaign money and labor to get them elected.

    But I don’t think the rank-and-file are ready yet for that, it’s just the ungrateful recipients of our support like Reese, Dilliard, and Potts who turn against us.

    Anybody want to speculate about how many votes Reese, Dilliard, Waddell, and Potts together took from Kilgore as they increased democrat turnout and encouraged republicans to vote for democrats?

  5. The Jaded JD Avatar
    The Jaded JD

    This post is deliciously ironic, for reasons Messrs. Rodokanakis, Bacon, and Vehrs know.

  6. Phil Rodokanakis Avatar
    Phil Rodokanakis

    James W.

    Firstly, Hutch himself copied other folks on his original message to me; so you can’t really say that it was a private communication.

    Furthermore, when someone with a high public profile shows such a high level of immaturity, you’d be derelict not to let the world know.

    But more importantly, his email proved what we said all along, that he lacked the maturity and acumen to head a statewide campaign. I only wish that Kilgore would have wised up about Hutch a long time ago.

  7. The Jaded JD Avatar
    The Jaded JD

    Critically Thinking,

    I believe that Kaine, as he portrayed himself, was generally viewed as more moderate than Kilgore. Kilgore lost. I believe that neither Byrne nor Bolling were moderate, but that Bolling was more moderate (albeit from the right) than Byrne was. So, yes, I believe more moderates voted for Bolling than Kaine. And by moderates, in this sense, I mean not moderate Republicans but independents and unaligned voters. After all, “moderate” from a non-partisan perspective isn’t an assessment made in a vacuum–it’s a comparison of the two candidates for each office. The GOP said Leslie Byrne was the most liberal candidate ever to run for statewide office; I’m sure you’ll agree that Bill Bolling was not the most conservative candidate ever to run for statewide office, and therefore I suspect you’d agree that Bolling was more moderate than Byrne.

    The issue here is not that moderate Republicans voted for Kaine, or even Potts–I don’t believe they did in significant numbers. Your comment completely overlooks the very sizeable contingent of Virginia voters who have no party affiliation, or loyalty, either way. And it is there, in that center, where Kaine won, where Bolling won, and where someone won for Attorney General.

    Perhaps the greatest defect in election analysis has been the assumption in too many quarters that only Democrats and Republicans vote in Virginia, and that every election is a reflection of the relative contribution of the loyalists of those two parties.

  8. The Jaded JD Avatar
    The Jaded JD

    ” So, yes, I believe more moderates voted for Bolling than Kaine.” Sorry, that should be ” So, yes, I believe more moderates voted for Bolling than Kilgore.”

  9. Phil Rodokanakis Avatar
    Phil Rodokanakis

    JamesRiverGOP

    I’m really dumbfounded by your thinking. You just had a moderate candidate in Kilgore that lost by wide margins, while conservative Bill Bolling won even in the face of the Kilgore-caused tsunami that sank several other Republicans.

    When you say that the GOP must nominate candidates that appeal to moderates, how much more moderating than Kilgore do you want these candidates to be? Commissar Chichester is considered a moderate by some–do you think that he stands a chance at a statewide office? As the saying goes, been there, done that. It didn’t work then, it won’t work today.

    On the contrary, I loved Hutch’s email. Like I said before, it proved what we were saying all along and shows exactly why Kilgore lost the race.

  10. Phil Rodokanakis Avatar
    Phil Rodokanakis

    Criticallythinking

    You hit the nail on the head. When groups like the VA Club for Growth attempt to hold RINOs accountable for campaigning as conservatives but governing as left-wing liberals, we are accused of being anti-Republican or being intent on tearing the Party apart.

    However, when the RINOs get booted out of office and then turn around and support the Democrats–like Reese and Dillard did in NOVA–no Party regulars ask for their heads on a platter.

    When I was a member of the Fairfax County Republican Committee, we were required to take a pledge to support ALL Republican candidates. Reese and Dillard and a bunch of their supporters are still members of the FCRC. One of Reese’s campaign managers was even a District Chairman. So why isn’t anyone in the FCRC demanding the ouster of these “moderates” (I prefer RINOs) that supported and were responsible for electing Democrats?

    I’d say this is a stupefying example of gross duplicity…

  11. Will Vehrs Avatar

    I certainly do see the irony that the Jaded JD has noted, though I would not call it “delicious.” I find it distressing to see name-calling and personal attacks aired in public while the real issues underlying the attacks are reduced to slogans. I much prefer the tone of philosophical discussions about the issues, like those offered by the likes of Mr. JD and Shaun Kenney, among others.

    Wouldn’t it be nice if either Phil or Ken offered an olive branch to the other instead of a sharp stick in the eye? A confluence of forces, some controllable and other not so much, put Jerry Kilgore’s campaign in a box, a box that severely limited a robust low tax/anti-tax message from being used. One would think it would be in both Phil and Ken’s interest to work on the box, instead of pissing at each other from the outside in and the inside out.

    Please excuse my crude Lyndon Johnson-inspired image.

  12. Anonymous Avatar

    If I was a R, I wouldn’t underestimate Chichester’s appeal statewide. He has the McCain thing going for him with the voters who generally, and I stress generally, seem to have much more regard for the State Senate than they do the House. Kilgore lost because he was seen as too conservative and too much of a Gilmore clone when contrasted with Kaine who ran as Warner Part Deux. Republicans need to accept that the voters love Mark and still don’t trust Gilmore.

    People don’t like taxes the same way they don’t like car payments. But when elected officials present solid, factual arguments showing the need for additional public spending on needed infrastructure and programs that touch as large segement of the public, these initiatives pass overwhelmingly. People aren’t anti-tax as much as they are focused on government not wasting money.

    Candidates and issue-centered folks that hold the view that all taxes are evil will lose over time and be marginalized. If that wasn’t the case, the libertarian party would be a force today. I could waste everyone’s time now and go into the social contract stuff, but it seems to me that people still understand on some level that we are all in this together and there are some problems that we solve through government. The flat-earthers that hold the opposite view no matter what the issue are simply idealogues who are fun to read in the editorial pages and in college seminars, but ridiculously ineffective managers and leaders.

  13. Anonymous Avatar

    Phil-

    You are doing yourself and your organization no favor by continuing to carry on this personal vendetta in a public forum. It strikes me as the doings of a middle school bully.

    You have important policy matters that you believe in strongly. Certainly you can speak to those matters without continuing to attack Hutcheson personally. If you can’t, either because you can no longer articulate them without such attacks or merely because you are unable to conduct yourself in the fashion of a thoughtful adult, I am left only to question the strength and validity of your arguments and certainly whether the advocate should be taken seriously.

  14. Anonymous Avatar

    The idea that Bolling’s win proves that conservatives came out and vote and disdained Kilgore is just ridiculous. The vast majority of the electorate did not see Bolling as te “arch-conservative” that politics junkies do. They knew precisely zero about his stances on the issues. The vast majority of the electorate voted on partyID and nameID on the bottom two candidates: who had they heard more about, and was the letter next to their name their more habitual choice. For those that might have known some, they knew that Byrne was a nutty liberal that supported gay marriage and that Bolling was… a former businessman. In hindsight, Byrne made the incredibly silly mistake of negative running ads that, in such a downticket race, served only to increase Bolling’s nameID. Had she run a positive ad about herself instead, she would have won easily.

    But Kilgore was succesfully portrayed as out of the mainstream: too conservative on taxes, too conservative on social issues, and so desperate as to invoke Hitler in a campaign centered around divisive social issues that most voters know play little real part in Governorship. Kaine successfuly portrayed himself as a public servant who cared less about riling people up than about standing for good public policy.

    If conservatives want to win, they need to portray themselves and their goals honestly. That means stop playing goody games with taxes. Instead, present Virginians with a vision of how the commonwealth will work with all the required cuts in services necessitated by a smaller government.

  15. criticallythinking Avatar
    criticallythinking

    I agreed with some of what JD said, and thank him for his response.

    I am wary of being praised by Phil, but I’ll leave that for another time.

    I can’t leave hanging though the idea that Kilgore was portrayed as “too conservative” on taxes.

    The “moderate” Tim Kaine was running ads talking about how he would NOT raise taxes, and saying that his opponent Kilgore WOULD raise our taxes.

    Kilgore embraced regional tax referendum to raise taxes (not to LOWER them, just to RAISE them) — an idea that Kaine opposed.

    Kaine also attacked Kilgore’s real estate tax plan, pointing out that Kilgore said the localities could raise taxes all they wanted to — while claiming the Kaine plan would lower taxes.

    If ANYTHING, Kaine RAN as the more conservative candidate on tax increases.

    Meanwhile, when linking Kilgore to his opposition to the tax increase, Kaine NEVER said “tax increase”, he said Kilgore opposed “common-sense reform” that gave us a “surplus”.

    And Kaine said that Kilgore was happy to “spend” the surplus, and to call for lots of other spending — in fact painting kilgore as “liberal” on spending restraint, while Kaine took the mantle of fiscal conservatism.

    I’m having trouble, JD, figuring out what the “moderate” stances are that Kaine took that made him more attractive to moderates, and what “conservative” stances Kilgore took that turned them off.

    Abortion? BOth candidates personally opposed abortion, but neither said they’d do anything big about it.

    Guns? Both candidates said they supported gun rights, and would enforce current law. And Kilgore wouldn’t fill out the VCDL form.

    Transportation? Hard to tell the difference between the candidates, certainly neither was “conservative”, “moderate”, or “liberal”.

    Education? OK, Kaine had the “universal pre-school”, but only funded a small part of it, and pledged to use existing pre-schools. Both candidates said they would fully fund education.

    Real Estate Taxes? Both candidates had plans that purported to lower the tax burden, just in different ways.

    What was the most effective Kaine ad? Many here thought it was the use of the fake VCG mailing accusing Kilgore of being a liberal on taxes.

    It seems to me that Kilgore’s loss was NOT because voters saw him as “too conservative”, and Kaine as “more moderate”. It was that they saw Kaine as the natural successor to a highly successful Warner, and Kilgore as a negative slash-and-burn politician.

    Most people who said bad things about Kilgore at the polls didn’t say “He’s a right-wing conservative”, they said “he’s just too mean”.

    Anybody want to refute that? Anybody hear “Kilgore’s a right-wing extremist”? How many of you heard “Kilgore spent all his time attacking his opponent for his religious beliefs?”

  16. The Jaded JD Avatar
    The Jaded JD

    Critically Thinking,

    I suspect that unaffiliated moderates look at the nominees of both parties skeptically and presume that each is an extremist until that presumption is successfully rebutted. Tim Kaine rebutted the assumption that he was a liberal several ways. First was the association with Mark Warner, whom many Virginians, I suspect feel, was a “good Democrat” and what “good Democrat” means in Virginia is “not liberal.” But in 2005, no Democrat comes off as a conservative very easily. I suppose then that this made Kaine seem moderate by association with Warner, and Warner seemed moderate by process of elimination.

    Second, during the debate, Tim Kaine had a moderate stand on abortion: essentially, “I don’t like it, it should stop, but I don’t think it’s appropriate to legislatively ban it, except for minors without parental or judicial consent, or in late-term pregnancy.” This is different from the “old Democrat,” liberal “abortion on demand” view.

    Third, on the death penalty, Kaine referred to his conception of Roman Catholicism–however doctrinally false–and said what moderates like to hear: “I am a religious man who believes in God, and while my faith may contradict the public policy of the Commonwealth, I defer to you, the people, whose faith may well be different from mine.” Moderates like religion. They like faithful candidates. But they believe that religion is best left in the heart and in the church/temple/mosque, and not in the statehouse.

    Fourth, Kaine talked not about taxes but about investment. Investment in public education, transportation, and public safety. These are issues that resonate with moderates, because they affect moderates every day. (Sure, they affect everyone every day.) But a middle class moderate knows his children, if he has then or when he eventually does, are likely to be in public school because (even with school choice vouchers) private education is apparently beyond his financial reach. He knows that every minute he sits in traffic is a minute earlier he had to wake up to go to work, or a minute later he is to rejoin his family after work. He knows that when he dials 911, he wants a police officer or fire fighter or EMT at his door as soon as possible. And so he bought into investment. And the less his own personal paycheck suffered from the tax increase, the more he bought into investment.

    Fifth, and I fully appreciate the stereotype I’m about to make (though I don’t buy it myself), Tim Kaine sounded–literally–more like the average middle class moderate. I believe that made him sound more intelligent, which made him sound more likely to think for himself about policy and less likely to accept the party line. I know Jerry Kilgore is not stupid. I know intelligence and accent are not correlated. But I know, from experience on the speaking side, that sounding Southern makes one sound stupid to people who do not sound Southern, and a candidate seen to be stupid is not going to be seen as the candidate who can resist the ideological demands of a party establishment–of whichever party.

    That list isn’t comprehensive, and it’s may not be accurate, but it’s the list that sprang into mind.

  17. Anonymous Avatar

    This whole fiasco can be summed up rather simply.

    The VA GOP lacks leadership and the party is in severe need of it right now.

    How about a statement from GOP chairman Kate Obenchain Griffin on the Ken/Club For Growth saga or even the election results – she seems to have one for eveything else that happens including Alito’s appointment to the Supreme Court.

    It’s called leadership folks.

    We should rebuild the party from the top down starting now.

    “Leadership has a harder job to do than just choose sides. It must bring sides together.”

    -J. Jackson

  18. SouthoftheJames.com Avatar
    SouthoftheJames.com

    JD’s comments were dead-on, especially when he talked about Kaine’s “middle class” appearance and Kilgore’s accent issue. Kaine simply looks and sounds like the prototypical middle class white guy. Not to be un-PC, but it’s hard to imagine him as some kind of long-haired radical. At worse, he appeared to be a liberal do-gooder.

    Kilgore’s accent problem could’ve been overcome if he had come across as more articulate and less on-message. Hearing the same, overly-simplistic talking points over and over in that SWVA voice was just bad politicking. Any Southern politician worth his weight should know that the only way to get past the accent is to sound smart or at least be funny – not to sound repetitive and look mean. It worked for Clinton and for faux-southerners like George Allen.

    — Conaway

  19. too conservative Avatar
    too conservative

    Actually Mr.Rodokanakis,if I am not mistaken, Joe Underwood was Chairman of the entire organization for a short while, correct?

    Regarding Bolling running on principles, I firmly disagree.

    He did a better job portraying Connaughton as a liberal than Byrne.

    The facts remain Bolling even lost Loudoun County,which shows exactly how much of a horrible candidate he truely was.

    Although ideologically I agree with Mr.Bolling, does it not upset you being from Northern Virginia, that he voted for a budget, which stole money from the transportation trust fund?

    Or what about the fact that property tax bills went up in Hanover County as well.

    How does name-calling, and demeaning our own candidates do anything except make you a hypocrite, for hurting the candidates that you and your organization DO actually support?

    It is simply a travesty that you would speak out against Kilgore during the election, and hurt your own organization, and endorsed candidates.

    Thank you for contributing to the loss of Craddock. Single Handidly.

  20. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    Some very good comments above.

    Conaway Haskins noted Kaine’s ethnicity. For some reason I find that funny. CH’s application of ‘faux-southerner’ to George Allen is really funny, because it is so true. Not that adopted Southerners aren’t welcomed into the family.

    JamesRiverGOP’s comments remind me of the commercial(Fed Ex or UPS?) where the young office worker is chastised for ‘always being wrong’ – like talking about company “French” benefits. JRG uses RINO-talking points calling the Club for Growth folks ‘wingnuts’ and ‘addressing Virginia’s infrastructure and core services’. JRG said the Democrat, running as a faux independent, would win in the 91st HD. Oops.

    Conservatives who appeal to moderates (who are really more apolitical than moderate) by the power of their ideas and personalities win. Moderates who appeal to moderates based on watered down dumb ideas like bigger government and higher taxes dressed up in talking points, lose the conservative base and lose.

  21. Anonymous Avatar

    “Conservatives who appeal to moderates (who are really more apolitical than moderate)”

    This is a seductive idea – that moderates are apolitical and will be wooed by strong opinions. Unfortunately, I’m pretty certain it’s untrue.

    Yes, conservatives are often drawn into politics to support their views. But moderates are not necessarily apolitical – and you can’t count on them staying that way. They are not necessarily getting involved in the parties – a sad truth is that your average moderate Republican does not feel particularly welcome volunteering for the party, particularly after having heard about how much everyone hates RINOS – but they are often heavily involved in local issues and community groups.

    Conservatives appeal to moderates by (1) not scaring them, (2) not embarassing them, and (3) persuading them that their positions are good ideas. The last is actually important.

    Moderates tend, rather disproportionately, to be well-educated, well-employed, and to live in major urban centers. These are the demographics of people who are also disproportionately likely to vote.

    A significant proportion of them are not originally from Virginia. This means they have a somewhat different perspective than folks who have lived here all of their lives. I have, parenthetically, heard some misconceptions (about conservatives) from a dear friend from Seattle, that would be funny if they weren’t such a warning sign.

    Wingnut is an offensive term. But I can tell you, my friend from Seattle uses it – and he believes it. A lot of this rhetoric is not only scaring people, it is making them politically active. Only problem is, they are becoming politically active moderate Democrats, because they see no place for themselves in the Republican party. And these are people that, IMHO, should be turning to us.

    Conservatives that behave in ways that moderates find offensive or embarassing are likely to lose (see Marrs, Craddock, et al.)

    A bad sign, and one I saw in the last election, is when Republicans are embarassed to admit they are Republicans because of particular local candidates. Having a social stigma associated with your candidate and his positions generally means that you are doing something wrong.

    Furthermore, if your candidates are so offensive as to truly appall moderates, you are likely to turn out the vote – the moderate vote, for the Dems. That is, IMHO, what happened to Craddock and to Marrs.

    If the moderate voters in NoVA and the other major urban centers coalesce around Dems, we’re sunk long term. The demographics will kill us. If we put forward more moderate candidates that those voters can live with, we will keep a majority. Really as simple as that.

    “by the power of their ideas and personalities win. Moderates who appeal to moderates based on watered down dumb ideas like bigger government and higher taxes dressed up in talking points, lose the conservative base and lose.”

    Moderate positions are not “watered down dumb ideas” and are significantly more nuanced and complex than “bigger government.” Further, moderate voters are often bright enough to figure out who thinks their strongly held beliefs are “watered down dumb ideas” – which does generally tend to lead to them voting for the other guy.

    There are not enough hard core conservatives to hold a majority – and definitely not enough longer term, as NoVA becomes ascendent. The Republicans can give a place to the moderates for districts that truly are moderate, or they’ll go to the Democrats – which means Virginia will become a blue state. We’re at a crucial point here.

  22. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    Re: Anon on Moderates.

    I would like to see Anon’s definition of Moderate.

    George Allen and Jim Gilmore won ‘moderates’ to their strong conservative ideas and won. They didn’t win moderates to their ‘moderate’ideas. Mark Earley and Jerry Kilgore didn’t lose because they were too Conservative.

    I suggest that the voters in the middle between the more ideological left and right are more apolitical.

    I would like to hear a strongly held moderate position. What is the powerful moderate position on:

    slavery? segregation? partial-birth abortion? WW IV against the Islamists?

    I need to find the data to support this… but here it is sans numbers. I believe you will find that Virginians can be put on a normal curve for any single issue. The big hump in the middle would look like the moderates of the sensible center (a one hump camel). But, if you aggregate beliefs on many issues, you will get a two hump camel, two normal curves on the right and left. (“Class, everyone see this?” I am a former teacher). The ‘moderates’ are non-ideological folks who lean left or right a bit, but will vote the issue and the candidate.

    I am not buying the imputed demographics of moderates until Anon gives her definition.

    My town has a high median income,is suburban, high number of college grads and ranks, usually, in the top 3 (#1 in 04!) for voter turn out. We vote Conservative. Not moderate.

    I don’t know what Marrs or Craddock did to embarass a ‘moderate’ Republican. Did they slurp their soup? I would love to know a ‘moderate’ Republican by name who was embarassed by the local candidate, what exactly was the social stigma for the candidate and his positions? Huh? Wrong color? Class? Religion? School? Accent? Sexual behavior? Prison time? Dallas Cowboys fan (now, I would understand that stigma)? Who are these elitists who invoke a stigma? And who are these elitist wannabes who feel the stigma?

    I want to meet these appalled ‘moderates’. Really need a definition, because they may just be liberals.

    Did Bolling and McDonnell get elected as moderates?

    What is an example of a nuanced and complex moderate idea? (Reminds me of the Mad Magazine review of Lawrence of Arabia decades ago showing Lawrence leading an ambush. “Kill them! But don’t hurt them! Oh, I am so conflicted! Internal injuries only!”)

    Geo W Bush won Virginia by 8 pts. That is the conservative minority plus the apolitical middle for a win.

    As to NoVa becoming ascendant… If the mix of Yankees and other foreigners moving to NoVa represents the Nation as a whole they will be split ideologically – Liberal and Conservative. Conservative ideas will triumph as they do in the market place of ideas.

    I agree that demographics are destiny. By ideas change what the demographics mean.

  23. Anonymous Avatar

    My definition of a moderate is like the Supreme Court’s on pornography – I know it when I see it.

    I actually think we are not as far apart as we sound – but the difference in perspective, I believe, is important.

    Most of our statewide candidates run as conservatives. Very few RUN as “knee-jerk” conservatives. However, many of the primary challengers, IMHO, ran knee—jerk campaigns that did us no favors upticket and that would have been disastrous in the GA.

    Many of the “moderate” people I’m thinking of would be considered “conservative” in opinion polls – many are moderate conservatives rather than true middle of the roaders. They are morally opposed to abortion (but not opposed to birth control), want low taxes, want limited public service but what there is of it to be done honestly and well, are opposed to treating the government as a source of “goodies” or of imposing social change on others, and respect and honor traditional Virginia values, including the importance of family, civic duty, and a respect for agriculture and rural life.

    I agree that voters on each extreme are more political in general. But the further you push the party to each extreme, the more voters you start leaving out. You also have to remember that most business people, older voters, and professionals tend to have more moderate views. Some examples follow.

    Many voters who are morally opposed to abortion – who are distressed and appalled at it being used for birth control – would accept it in cases of rape or incest. Virtually ALL accept it in cases where the life of the mother is at stake.

    Most women know someone who’s had an ectopic pregnancy – outside the uterus – which cannot survive and which will kill the mother if not terminated. Forbidding the surgical removal of such a pregnancy will kill the mother. Yet some “life begins at conception” laws have the potential to forbid such a procedure.

    Again, this is a totally non-viable pregnancy, outside of the womb. It cannot survive. Without its termination, the mother will die. Are we willing to kill our wife, sister, or daughter in such an instance? How can anyone consider that pro-life?

    Most voters who are opposed to abortion oppose partial birth abortion and late term abortions. They do not, however, oppose birth control. Most also do not oppose the “morning after” pill, which is designed to prevent conception. It is NOT the same as the “abortion pill.”

    Accusations of not being “0% NARAL” included votes that parsed out to being opposed to birth control pills, morning after pills, and abortions in cases to save the life of the mother. Those are not popular positions, and if you think they were “hidden” and that voters don’t hear about it, you are mistaken. The Internet has made it difficult to hide and the opposition has every reason to make sure they do hear about it.

    A strongly held “moderately conservative” position on abortion would be only in cases of rape, incest, and life of the mother, no late term, and no restrictions on birth control pills or morning after pills.

    A strongly held moderate position would be very similar, except allowing early term voluntary abortions. Parenthetically, many women who hold the moderate position are strongly opposed to abortion on ethical grounds, but are uncomfortable with absolutes.

    Very few people – including a minority of conservatives – support the absolutist positions that we all heard in the primaries – no abortion whatsoever, not even to save the life of the mother, no birth control pills, and no morning after pills. Yet we put Republicans forward as having to be “100% pro-life” and “0% NARAL” – regardless of whether those votes were about abortions, birth control pills, morning after pills, or sex ed. In other words, we’re letting NARAL’s positions – even non-abortion positions – define ours, and condemning fellow Republicans for votes that had nothing to do with abortion.

    Similarly, a majority of voters oppose gay marriage. However, going out of one’s way to demonize gay people and forbid them to buy insurance is not a popular position – and that WAS the position the conservative challengers chose to take during the primaries. What moral issue is served by forbidding a gay person to buy a good or service in the free market?

    I have heard, many times, variations of “I don’t think they should get married, but I don’t wish them ill” and “Jesus told us to hate the sin and love the sinner” from the same people who voted GWB twice, are active in their church, and strongly oppose abortions and gay marriage.

    Marrs lost, in large part, because Chesterfield residents saw Pence as “the businessman who owns the car dealership”, not as Satan Incarnate, and found Marr’s attacks embarrassing and offensive. You can’t blame the TD for publicizing what Marrs himself paid to mail out. I know a LOT of people in Chesterfield, and believe me – that embarrassed them.

    I believe Craddock lost, in large part, because those primary positions fed a perception about conservatives as people who do not care about women and who have absolutist positions on moral issues that go beyond what average devout, moderately conservative people believe.

    If we avoid extreme, absolutist positions like “no birth control pills” and “gays have to get their health care in charity wards”, I think we can win hearts and minds. I believe our ideas are better – that free market and limited government is a better way to go. Reading moveon.org and dailykos should drive people to us in droves. But positions that seem hateful and uncaring turn people away. They affect the perception of our party and they affect the upticket races. We should not allow that.

  24. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    Anon. What you are calling ‘moderate’ I would call ‘conservative’ except for the morning after pill and that thing about early term voluntary abortions. I don’t follow how a candidate said homosexuals couldn’t buy insurance. Maybe they can’t have married coverage of some sort.

    So some Chesterfield residents were embarassed becuase of a Marrs mailer? I would think you could disassociate yourself from any single thing a candidate says without being embarassed of a political party.

    I never heard these “absolutist positions like “no birth control pills” and “gays have to get their health care in charity wards”” News to me.

    Perception is reality. But you can’t please everyone. Conservative ideas are superior and win when expressed well by leaders in good campaigns.

    Thanks for your definition of ‘moderate’.

  25. Anonymous Avatar

    After reading through the above, I’d like to share some observations: #1: the conservative Christian community in Prince William and in Loudoun in many cases voted for Bolling but didn’t vote in the other two elections. What percentage of that vote made a difference in the election is hard to tell; #2 Bolling’s campaign was effective: Bill Bolling ran a real grassroots campaign. He travelled everywhere and took his time to build up a broad based coalition of support. He understands how to build that over a wide range of areas and he remembers individuals very well. #3. Bolling’s votes as a supervisor and on other boards and committees over the years haven’t been all that conservative and or consistent. But when it came to campaigning he had a simple, clean message. The other two Republican candidates never really told the voters why they, the voters should support that candidate.

    For what it’s worth.

  26. Phil Rodokanakis made sense in his “Winning On Principles” column. Sorry “Hutch” fans Phil didn’t say anything that wasn’t being said by many other grass roots activists.

    Kilgore did not have stong credentials on the issues of Taxes, Abortion or Second Amendment. The Kilgore campaign chose to attack the conservative grass roots organizations rather than clarify their position on these issues.

    The Kilgore campaign refused to speak out definatively against the 2004 tax hike. They shunned repeated overtures from Americans for Tax Reform and Virginia Club for Growth. They absurdly attempted to impugned the credibility Phil Van Cleave in the Washington Times.

    What did they do that was right?

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