Wednesday, November 29, 2006


Former Governor Jim Gilmore recently told ABC news he is considering a run for US Senate in the event John Warner retires, Governor in 2009, and, get this, President of the United States.

No one, and I mean NO ONE, has considered Gilmore as a potential Presidential candidate. He was a failed governor and an embarrasment to the RNC. Why does he think anyone in his party, much less the general electorate, would support him now?

Truly a man whose ego is clouding his sense of judgment.

But, that's three opportunities for a big Democratic win, so bring it, Gilmore!

UPDATE: Apparently there is someone who is considering Gilmore as a Presidential candidate, proving that anybody can get a "Draft So and So" site. Check out the "Why Gilmore" section. It's quite amusing. The author(s) from the site is from Seattle, oddly enough.

Fantasy Congress

Hey, political junkies, have you ever enjoyed those Yahoo-style fantasy sports leagues? Now, you can have both!

I just discovered Fantasy Congress, a site that lets you draft members of Congress and compete against others in a league. The team whose members of Congress got the most legislation through wins.

I just created a league. If any CVille bloggers care to take me on, click here to join.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Identity Crisis

Over the past two election cycles, we've seen two Democrats win upset victories in statewide campaigns. But, I think few will disagree that George Allen lost more than Jim Webb won, or that if Mark Warner had been an unpopular Governor, Jerry Kilgore would be our Governor today.

Campaigns are marked, and most voters are disgusted by, efforts to portray one's opponent as something or another. 2005 saw a a race between a liberal gun hating illegal alien loving lawyer who spent all his days trying to get people off death row and a cowardly man who hated fiscal responsibility, wants our kids to be idiots and was afraid to show his face in public. Or so the candidates would have liked you to believe.

But there was an interesting similarity between the two candidates. As a staffer for the Democrats, I contacted about 50,000 voters in Albemarle and across the state. I can probably count on one hand the number of them who didn't hear Mark Warner's name. The campaign plan was quite simple... Tim Kaine = Mark Warner.

But early in the campaign came an astounding claim from Jerry Kilgore:
"I'm more like Mark Warner than Tim Kaine will ever be."

Given Kilgore was a vocal opponent of the crowning achievement of Warner's administration, the voters quickly saw through this line of bullshit, and it was quickly abandoned. Face with no appealing Virgnia Republican to portray himself as a successor to, Kilgore was forced to look to the national stage for a role model. Thus, the stage was set. Kaine/Warner vs. Kilgore/Bush (to think, this was back in a time when Republican candidates weren't literally running away from the President).

So, two candidates were essentially running with and running against a candidate who wasn't even in the race. In the end, Mark Warner's incredible popularity was one of the biggest forces in catapulting Tim Kaine into the governor's office.

Same thing happened in 2006. If George Allen hadn't acted like a total idiot, or if George Bush has been slightly less toxic on November 7th, Allen would have been re-elected.

Similarly, the biggest themes in the midterm elections were not staying the course, not robbing the poor to pay the rich and not being corrupt. In other words, not being like Congressional Republicans. Republcians and pundits loved to point out that Democrats didn't have real plans for these issues, hadn't accomplished much in the minority, etc., while ignoring the fact that they had no power to attack these problems while in the minority, and even less so with such a toxic leadership. But, by and large, the voters said anything but the current Congress, and now we have a Democratic congress by virtue of the Republicans being so horrible.

We can look to the last couple of Presidential elections for more example. As the challenger, John Kerry had to run against Bush. He could have run a better campaign, and there was a lot of resentment against Bush at the time, but the national attitude wasn't completely opposed to the President. Had the election been held six months later, or at any point since then, Kerry would have won. If he had campaigned differently, he may have won. But, the election was a referendum on the President, as any Presidential re-election campaign is, and Kerry failed to fully convince the public (or at least enough Ohioans) that he was different enough from Bush.

2000 provides another example. Al Gore found himself in a similar situation as Tim Kaine. While Bill Clinton had been through a very negative ordeal that was quite toxic for the country and for his office, he was still very popular amongst the American public, and most people blamed the Republican Congress for politicizing Clinton's sex life. Despite Clinton's popularity, Gore seemed to distance himself from him. Unlike 2005 and 2006, when Mark Warner stumped hard for Kaine and Webb, we barely saw a peep from Clinton in 2000. Gore was the natural heir to Clinton's legacy, but he failed to grab that and run with it. He still nearly won, but what would the result have been if Clinton had spent an extra week or two in Florida?

So, what's a politician to do? Some are successful at forging their public identity before they get elected. It's once they become elected that they have a chance to forge their own identity. Warner had never been an elected official when he took office, and came out wildly popular. Kaine hasn't been in a year yet, and hasn't achieved the level of success of Warner, even though Virginians do generally approve of the job he's doing. If Kaine is able to run a successful administration, look for the next Democratic nominee to run a campaign to follow in his footsteps. Maybe even to "keep Virginia moving forward." If Kaine is unpopular in 2009, look for the Democratic nominee to want to forge a new direction, and the Republican nominee to highlight their opposition to the Kaine administration. Then come 2010, Kaine's legacy will be fairly complete, and the new Governor will have a chance to make their own, only to be judged in 2013.

Of course there's always the chance that someone who already has a solid identity may run, like Warner, Allen, Gilmore, etc., which would change the texture of the race considerably, making it more about one or both of the candidates, and not the incumbent. (On a side note, a gubernatorial race between Jim Gilmore and Mark Warner would thrill me to no end).

And all this is not to downplay the importance of the candidates themselves. Voters were engaging in a referendum on Warner in 2005, but if Tim Kaine and his staffers hadn't worked their asses off to make it clear that Tim was the real successor to Warner, it would have made it a lot more difficult to win the race. But while Kaine worked to clearly define himself, it was in large part an attempt to paint himself as the candidate most like Mark Warner.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

What's Up, Linc?

Lame duck Senator Lincoln Chafee (R-RI) has never been considered to be all that bright. Everyone knows he came to power on the coattails of his father, who was well loved in his state. (Hmm, that sounds familiar).

Unfortunately for Linc, he found it wasn't as easy to be a Republican in New England as it was when his father was around. In a state where even the most conservative anti-choice, anti-gay, anti-progress politicians are Democrats, being a member of the Congressional majority was a lot harder than it was for most of his caucus-mates. As of January, when Senator-elect Sheldon Whitehouse takes office, there will be only one state-wide elected Republican, and HE only won re-election last Tuesday by a very small margin.

Linc often found himself walking a fine line. He wanted to remain a Republican, despite ample opportunity to cross the aisle or become an independent. Probably just as much out of homage to his father than an attempt to remain in the majority. But, he had to appear as un-Republican as possible in his home state.

He did this in grand fashion in 2004, when he announced he was writing in George H.W. Bush as his choice for President. He was quick to remind Rhode Island voters that he was a maverick, and often voted against his Party.

Of course, this was bullshit. The GOP knew how important this seat was to their majority, so they allowed Linc to play the maverick. But, when a vote was close, and Chafee's vote could make the difference, he always toed the party line.

Rhode Islanders got wise to this, and faced with a choice between a Republican in maverick's clothing and a real-live Democrat, they put their faith in the Democrat. But, other than slink into obscurity as a lame-duck Democrat, after the election, Mr. Chafee suddenly got talkative.

First, he began to trash-talk the GOP.

"I haven't made any decisions. I just haven't even thought about where my place is," Chafee said at a news conference Thursday when asked whether he would stick with the Republican Party or switch to be an independent or Democrat.

When asked if his comments meant he thought he might not belong in the Republican Party, he replied: "That's fair."


When asked whether he felt that his loss may have helped the country by switching control of power in Congress, he replied: "To be honest, yes."

It's not often you hear a politician who says that their losing is good for the country. Then, Chafee put words into action, and reaffirmed his opposition to the renomination of John Bolton for UN Secretary, effetively guaranteeing that the nomination will fail.

Why would Chafee do this? He was only firm about opposing Bolton when his re-election race tightened. Now that it's over, why drag it out? Certainly, he's not looking for a future in Rhode Island politics. The only real option I see is to run for Governor when Carcieri is term-limited out, but that's not for another four years. He could challenge Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) when he is up for re-election in 2008, but Reed is so popular, he'll break 60% no matter who runs against him. And it's FAR too late to switch parties. It seems, at least for now, Chafee has nowhere to go but down.

It seems that the real reason Chafee is bashing the GOP is personal. Chafee has been helping to build the Rhode Island Republican Party his entire life. But, the Rhode Island Republicans, and indeed most New England Republicans, are a far cry from the national party. A close friend of mine who works in Rhode Island politics described the scene in the recent Senate race...

Senator Chafee is a nice guy. Nobody doubts that. But, his campaign against Senator-elect Whitehouse turned ugly. And it was clear that it was the national party, and not Chafee, who was pulling the strings. They knew Rhode Island was crucial to their plans to keep the Senate, as evidence by their relocating their entire staff east of the Mississippi to Rhode Island the two weeks before their primary to make sure Chafee didn't lose his primary to arch-conservative Steven Laffey, whose nomination would have guaranteed a Democratic win back in mid-September. (I can think of at least two other lame duck GOP Senators who certainly didn't benefit from losing their staffers for two weeks during prime campaign season). $5 million and an ugly campaign later, Chafee still lost his seat.

It's understandable that Chafee would be bitter at losing. But my friend tells me that its something else. Chafee changed during the course of the campaign, as his overlords forced him to engage in tactics he was not comfortable with. He's a man truly concerned about Rhode Islanders, and they made him jeopardize that. They took Chafee's seat from a tool to help Rhode Island and denigrated it into a part of preserving their power.

Like I said, Chafee is a good guy, truly concerned about his state. It makes sense that after suffering through such an ordeal, he would rebel against the people that made it so.

I wonder sometimes why I've chosen to go down the political path. Why I've chosen to operate within the system that destroyed Lincoln Chafee and causes the most qualified people for a position decide not to run for it. But it's in my blood... what can I do?

On a different note, who's going to be the first pundit to mention the possibility of a "President Whitehouse?" You know it's coming...

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Democracy About to Unfold at Albemarle High School


The overwhelming odds are that come January, the Democrats will control both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Here's wishing the best of luck to Mr. Reid, Ms. Pelosi, and the rest of the caucus at getting back to the business of working for the people. Here's hoping that with their vitriolic leadership gone, some Republicans will feel free to support Democratic initiatives that just make sense as the right things to do for their constituents. Here's hoping that all members of Congress see that voters have decisively rejected the divisive and fear mongering style with which Congress has been run during this administration. While in the minority, Democrats constantly tried to reach out to Republicans in the spirit of bi-partisanship, and they were constantly rebuffed. I know that the Democrats will retain this spirit in the majority, and if any Republicans in the minority feel the impetus to collaborate on important issues, their effors will be well received by the Democratic caucus.

I am so glad we finally have what we most desperately need. This President has done everything he wants with no resistance. This is bad for the country and it needs to stop. Now that the American people finally have a check on the powers of the Executive, it will stop.

Finally, I am glad that the finest of our fifty states finally has two Senators who will make her proud.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Voter Intimidation in Virginia

We already have reports of voter intimidation and suppression tactics from Republicans.

-Fliers have appeared in African American communities in Buckingham with the headline "SKIP THIS ELECTION," leading many to wonder if the election is still going on.

-At least one voter has received a phone call purporting to be from the Virginia Board of Elections saying that he was still registered to vote in New York (he's been registered here since 1998) and he would face criminal charges if he attempted to vote.

-Multiple reports of out-of-state phone calls erroneously notifying people that their polling place has changed.

It is a sad thing that we have to go through this every single year.

The ONLY polling place that has changed in Albemarle County is the Northside Precinct. If you live in the Northside Precinct, you now vote at the Earlysville Volunteer Fire Station, 283 Reas Ford Road.

There are no phone calls being placed regarding this change. If ANYONE notifies you that your polling place has changed, they are intentionally misleading you in an attempt to disenfranchise you of your vote. If you have ANY doubt as to the location of your polling place, contact the local registrar at 951-6798.

As long as you properly registered to vote on or before October 10, 2006, you can vote in tomorrow's election at your local polling place. DO NOT let anyone tell you you cannot cast your vote. A complete listing of your rights as a Virginia Voter is posted here.

The polls will be open tomorrow, from 6 AM to 7 PM. There is no chance that the election will be postponed or cancelled. If you are in line by 7PM, you can vote.

If you have ANY problems voting, contact an election official at your polling place, or call the registrar at 951-6798.

Voting is your right as a citizen. Do not let anyone tell you otherwise. And most important of all, exercise that right!

Friday, November 03, 2006

The Enemy of My Enemy....

I've posted earlier on why I think you should vote no on question 1 next Tuesday. You must remember the post... it was stultifying bad.

I'm glad there are still some reasonable minds in the Republican Party... I had been beginning to doubt.

Rick Sincere reports on a conference call today involving prominent Republicans who oppose the Marshall-Newman amendment.

They realize that this amendment is so badly written and legally misguided it has no place in our Constitution. They recognize that it does not fit the ideals upon which our Commonwealth was founded (I guess those are the "Virginia values" George Allen is always talking about). They recognize, rightly, that if people like Bob Marshall continue to lead their party, their party won't be in power much longer.

Be sure to check out Rick's post for details.


My only comment on today's news is that I am totally thrilled to see yet another blow to American right-wing theocrats' hold on our government. Perhaps soon we will finally be able to get back to the business of governing.