Thursday, June 16, 2005

The Primaries in Prince William: A Winner and a Loser

Now that Tuesday has come and gone, I’d like to share a few thoughts on what the results mean in Prince William County. Overall, turnout was dismal. That was probably to be expected, though many of us were hoping for better numbers. The big winner on Tuesday, from a Prince William perspective, was Sean Connaughton. Now granted, I’m a Connaughton supporter. But let’s face facts: Sean took 63% of the vote in Prince William. To a casual observer, that may seem a bit low for a popular, incumbent BOCS Chairman. Keep in mind, however, that there is a segment within the county party apparatus that sincerely dislikes Sean. Some of it is issues, some of it is personal. The bottom line is that Sean is a leader and his own man. He doesn’t kowtow to the party’s self-appointed leaders. He didn’t when he won in 1999 and hasn’t ever since. So, in spite of having some of the Committee “leadership” working aggressively against him, he won the county decisively. Moreover, he took 60% of the vote throughout Northern Virginia and went along way in establishing positive name recognition throughout the state. I don’t know specifically what Sean’s next step is in the political sphere. But if he runs for another office in Northern Virginia, don’t bet against him. Tuesday’s biggest loser from a Prince William perspective is clearly Corey Stewart, Supervisor for the Occoquan District. Stewart was the lone member of the Prince William BOCS to endorse Bill Bolling and spoke out against Connaughton and in favor of Bolling on many occasions. This is a clear case of winning the battle and losing the war. On Tuesday, Stewart worked on the other side of the county, steering well clear of his home district. Maybe he read the tealeaves correctly. The Occoquan District voted for Connaughton 73% to 27%. This was by far the largest margin of the county’s seven districts. Rumblings about disaffection for Stewart had already been gaining momentum prior to the Primary. Tuesday’s result is a clear indication that Stewart and his constituents just don’t see eye to eye. The word around the campfire is that Stewart, who won a four-way primary and three-way general election in 2003, has potential challengers already waiting in the wings. Should make for an interesting two years.


At 6/16/2005 11:02:00 AM, Anonymous Pachyderm Princess said...

Mitch, I have to disagree with you a little. There were three big losers on Tuesday...Corey Stewart, the myopic, ultraconservative right wing, and RPV.

Mitch you are absolutely correct about the numbers reflecting Mr. Stewart’s complete disconnect with the wants and needs of his constituency. I don’t know if he just doesn’t get it or if he just doesn’t care. How can he claim to so vehemently believe in the rhetoric he spouts and then not have the courage of those convictions to defend them face to face with the people? He lives in Occoquan, and unless he plans to follow in the very small shoes of his little buddy Steve Chapman and run where he doesn’t live, he will have to face up to the choices he has made both in politics and in policy. Although his actions have answered this question already, but does this man have any long-range vision beyond the next press cycle? It seems that Mr. Stewart lives by two rules: don’t confuse me with the facts and “Is the press here?”.

The ultra right wing of the party also took a major hit by only knocking off one of their so-called “Most Wanted.” I will concede that state wide they can take solace in Mr. Bolling and Mr. McDonnel’s victories, but, when the rubber hit the road and the race got more local, the voters overwhelmingly picked pragmatism over ultra-conservatism. The problem seems to be that these ideologues would rather make speeches than lead, make promises than deliver results, and take potshots rather than have a real debate. I wasn’t happy with the tax increase last year; I thought a better place to start would be to remove duplicate services and set up a 5-year budget-restructuring plan, but I’m not in the General Assembly. Nonetheless, I also realize that the people of this state are starving for leadership that will have a real effect on transportation, education, public safety and the economy. By ignoring these real issues and instead focusing on name calling and pandering, the right wing of RPV is losing the breadth of it base if not its core. The low turn out bears this point out well.

Finally, RPV lost the opportunity to have a balanced ticket geographically and ideologically. With Mrs. Byrne on the ticket, this contest is being represented by the extremes of both Parties. The question is, which ticket will have the political prowess to run a more centrist campaign now that the intra-party bloodletting has concluded? The party who balances party loyalists with pragmatic swing voters will succeed in November. Unfortunately (unfortunate because I am a Republican), I think Mark Warner and Tim Kaine learned that lesson four years ago while the GOP is still shooting itself in the foot and wondering why it can’t walk anymore. Only time will tell.

At 6/16/2005 11:26:00 AM, Blogger Mitch Cumstein said...

Great comments, Pachyderm Princess! I really like the idea to "remove duplicate services and set up a 5-year budget-restructuring plan." I'm a firm believer in the idea that we need to focus on where we're spending our tax dollars and make appropriate reductions and cut programs that our governments shoudln't be funding. Once we come to grips with that and have a framework in which government spending is consistent and predictable, the tax issues will become much less complicated.

November will be very interesting. Both parties lost a major opportunity to have a balanced ticket, ideologically if not geographically. At this point, I think the whole thing is a tossup. My frustration is that it didn't have to be.

At 6/16/2005 11:26:00 AM, Blogger MR JMS said...


I think another aspect of RPV being the big loser is how low turn out was in our primary. 3Less then 4% of the voting public truly cares about who the GOP nominee is for the fall. This is absolutely pathetic and the staff up at RPV need to begin developing a plan to energize more people into participating in party events.

At 6/16/2005 11:59:00 AM, Anonymous RD said...

Wow - has Sean bought out this blog for his post-primary spin??

First- Mr. JMS- you should also note that the Dem turnout was 2.60% for the Lt. Gov. race. Which is LOWER than the GOP turnout. Is the state Dem staff just as pathetic as the RPV staff??? Or does it have to do with the nature of the electorate, June, a hot day etc. ... perhaps you should blame other besides just RPV for this low turnout.

Second - As noted elsewhere, Bolling’s turnout in his home area was much higher than Sean's in PWC. Sean's numbers were pretty dismal given his reelection rate of what 70% in 2003. That’s 70% from the all voters in PWC, not Republicans. If Sean is as heralded in PWC as you claim, his numbers Tuesday should have been MUCH higher than 63% - not to much he should've turned more of them out.

Third- To call Sean the "winner" and Corey the "loser" is amazing ... Corey will be fine in the next election. Bolling, as Lt. Gov. will assuredly help out with money and support when he runs. While Sean is sure to finance a candidate to oppose him, I doubt he'll have much luck.

At 6/16/2005 12:58:00 PM, Anonymous Pachyderm Princess said...

I don't think that anyone said that Sean was a winner. His number in PWC were not what they should have been and the race with Bolling was not as close as many expected. However, when a Supervisor is afraid to show his face in his own district on a day when he knows that voters will be showing up, it paints a big L on his forehead. If you are going to herald the primary results to illustrate that Sean was beaten down by his detractors, it is ignorant to then ignore those same number to show how Mr. Stewart (the self appointed anti-Connaughton) had a very rough day politically on Tuesday. As for Mr. Bolling providing protection for Mr. Stewart come election time, two things would have to happen: 1) he has to win in November (not saying he can’t, but it is a reality that to help he has to win) and 2) Mr. Stewart would have to stop alienating the Republican base in Occoquan who clearly agree with Connaughton's issues (which Mr. Stewart is squarely in opposition to) versus Mr. Bollings issues (the issues not the man, which Mr. Stewart endorsed) for Mr. Bolling to be willing to risk those votes that he will need should he wish to ascend to the top of the ticket in four years.

As for the low turn out, it is fair to place a large part of the blame in RPV lap, because they are supposed to be the captain of this ship. They are the over arching constant in a sea of candidates and officials that are here today, gone tomorrow. They are supposed to be leading the politics while our elected officials direct the policy. In recent years, the leadership of this party has rested on its laurels allowing Democrats to be elected to the two highest offices in the Commonwealth while making gains politically in the General Assembly. They have allowed a once united party to be fractured by standing on the sidelines while campaigns have been reduced to exercises in rhetorical masturbation. People are tired of walking through the mud to get to the polling place; they are tired of hearing the “who is more conservative fight” while real issues atrophy in the wings; and they are tired of being an active participant in a Party whose members are constantly embarrassing the organization (and no not through liberal votes, but rather through ineffective leadership) and would rather just stay home than vote. RPV has not controlled the message, the direction, or the methodology of this Party for several years and the low turn out is a direct result. We will have to see what they can do to rally Republicans between now and November or they may just stay home then too.

At 6/16/2005 01:01:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Byrne has the luxury of running a bit to the right in the general election should she choose too.

A single step toward the center will cause Bolling to be eaten alive. And he did that to himself with his rhetoric throughout the primary. He has zero wiggle room for November. Who he appeals to today is the extent of his sphere of influence.

How does one choose between Byrne and Bolling? They both are truly rotten candidates. Thank god the Lt. Gov. doesn't actually DO anything for the next 4 years!

At 6/16/2005 01:34:00 PM, Blogger MR JMS said...

I would like to point out that I did not blame the RPV staff. I simply stated that we as a party need to begin developing some way to interact with the voting public. I think RPV is a good organization that is in the middle of a rebuilding phase after the last scandal. I hope they do something to ID and energize more Repubs in the coming years.

Sean lost. No spin.

At 6/16/2005 01:35:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bolling's numbers in Hanover were helped by the contested House of Delegates primary. That primary drew 9.3% of the voters, while only 8.9% voted in the Bolling/Connaughton race.

Another thought - a lot of the general population in PWC also are afraid of what happens when Connaughton leaves. Like him or hate him, he has brought stability and prestige to the County. Given that there is no clear successor, many people are not enthusiastic about him leaving right now. Please don't write that this comment is wrong -- I have heard enough antidotal comments to know this is a fairly widely held view.

At 6/16/2005 01:42:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stewart was elected with only 50% of the vote in 2003. He openly supported Chapman and lost. He sided with Bolling, who lost both Stewart's district and Prince William County by heavy margins. To the Marcus-Allen Richmond machine, Stewart is a whore whose usefulness has come end. Neither they or Bolling will come to his aid because they simply don't need Stewart anymore.

At 6/16/2005 02:18:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The pathetic turnout in Prince William is consistent with the turnout in the 2003 primary. In that year, there were multiple races at both the Supervisor and House levels, including the hotly contested Rollison-Frederick race. PWC voters just don't seem to vote in primaries.

At 6/16/2005 02:47:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bolling is going to give Stewart money??? That implies that Bolling is going to be able to raise money. Let's see how that one turns out!

At 6/16/2005 04:42:00 PM, Anonymous James Young's Saggy Ballsack said...

That would be real smart of Corey to bring in someone to prop him up who got crushed in the district.

Adios, Supervisor Stewart, the one-term wonder......

At 6/16/2005 04:50:00 PM, Blogger James Young said...

rd --- Loved your comments. Please feel free to visit my blog (http://skepticalobservor.blogspot. com/), and to comment. I prefer those who don't hide behind anonymity, if you choose to comment there.

At 6/16/2005 05:18:00 PM, Anonymous Lt. Pete Mitchell said...

Stewart's ego will be stroked by the DD's and BF's of the county and he'll be propped up for a run at the Chairman's seat. Sans Sean or not. Hopefully he won't make it past the primary then!

Before he accepts money from Bolling he should repay the money Connaughton gave him to keep the Occoquan seat in Republican hands in 2003.

At 6/17/2005 12:41:00 AM, Blogger criticallythinking said...

This is one of my favorite blogs, because there are so many opinions I get to disagree with. So, in no particular order:

1) McDonnell got more votes in PWC than Chairman Connaughton, the head of PWC.

2) Stewart was working to get a good friend elected, not running away from his district. And regardless of your political leanings, it is never a loss to back a good man who agrees with your positions.

3) PachPrinc, who said "I don't think anyone said Sean was a winner", maybe didn't read the 2nd paragraph of the original post, where Mitch said "The big winner on Tuesday, from a Prince William perspective, was Sean Connaughton". Now, I have trouble remembering stuff too, but it wasn't that many lines up the page.

4) Senator Bolling did much better in his district than Sean did in his.

5) My favorite "excuse" here was that while Sean didn't do as well as he should, it was just because too many people in the county seem to hate him. That is pretty much why people don't get more votes, when too many people hate them.

6) So far as I can see, there were strong supporters of both Sean and Bill in the committee, as you might expect in a primary, and those who supported Sean are some of the very hard workers.

7) I've been saying this since tuesday night, and I saw the WSJ just picked up the theme -- The anti-tax group did well, not poorly. NOT A SINGLE ANTI-TAX incumbent was defeated. Meanwhile, one pro-tax incumbent didn't run, and one lost his primary. The more "anti-tax" candidates won statewide, and two very strong incumbents had to spend large sums of money and came within 10 points or so of losing.

8) Steve Chapman did a good job. He had a lot to overcome, and he won Manassas Park (where they say he never lived) and Prince William County. I didn't think he had a prayer -- I couldn't find a person over 40 who didn't have a story of Harry doing something for them. To take on a beloved 24-year incumbent, get grossly outspent, and come within 10 points or so was a good effort. And Senator Parrish isn't that moderate either, so Steve had a hard time with that as well. So against a 24-year incumbent, beloved favorite son, with a narrow range of issue differences, with an indictment hanging over him, the pro-Sean crowd targetting him because of the company he kept, and the carpet-bagger claim, a rational person would wonder how he came so close.

9) I think the turnout was fine. People come to vote when they think their choice is important. To most republicans, either they didn't see enough difference in the candidates to care, or they were happy with either, or they assumed the candidate they liked would win -- all of which are good for party unity in November. It's when 50% of your voters show up and they split the vote evenly that you end up with trouble, since each side gets vested in negative thinking about the other. Here 95% of the republicans had NOTHING vested in either candidate.

10) Sean ran as a conservative. Bill ran as a conservative. Each made claims that the other was less conservative. We social conservatives supposedly couldn't lose.

Charles R.

At 6/17/2005 07:25:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Am I missing something? A guy wins two-thirds of the vote in his county and that makes him unpopular? Where do you people come from?!!!!

At 6/17/2005 07:29:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope some of you recognize the obvious - Prince William County will soon see the Republican Party be the minority, not the majority. All these comments about who is more or less fascist plays into the hands of the Democrats. YOU ARE ALL DOOMED!

At 6/17/2005 08:46:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you guys are reading too much into the results. Such a small percentage voted that I'm unsure that that any useful conclusions other than "people who felt passionate about this race voted" can be drawn. Honestly, I was hoping to see Parrish lay a real beat-down on Chapman but that didn't happen...


At 6/17/2005 10:14:00 AM, Blogger James Young said...

princess, as usual, you miss the point. I specifically noted that "I prefer those who don't hide in anonymity." So, while I liked his comments, I did criticize his anonymity. Besides, how do you know he didn't identify himself on the e-mail link which, unlike you anonymous types, clearly identifies me?

At 6/17/2005 10:40:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love the spin on all this. The right wing tells the whole State that Connaughton is going to lose Prince William and that Chapman is going to win. Connaughton wins by two-thirds and Chapman loses. Now you weenies say that your wrong predictions were really right! Go get a life - and lose some weight, some of you guys are awfully fat!

At 6/17/2005 12:18:00 PM, Blogger James Young said...

Re: Anon 10:40 -- Presuming that by "right wing" you mean anyone who didn't support Sean's lie about lowering taxes and who does support the notion that government is soaking the taxpayer for enough, I don't know any Conservative who told "the whole State that Connaughton is going to lose Prince William and that Chapman is going to win." Please provide examples.

At most, Conservatives said that Sean was not as wildly popular in PWC as his sycophants here and elsewhere tried to make him out to be. This fact is reflected by his "mere" 63% total of the primary vote (not even "two-thirds"), a percentage lower than the 70% he won in the general in 2003. It compares unfavorably with Bolling's 82% total in his home jurisdiction.

Familiarity with Sean has apparently bred more contempt than it has for Bolling.

As for Chapman, I can't say that I followed statements made by anyone particularly closely. My impression was that, while it was an uphill battle, Chapman could win the GOP nomination, and that his 45% of the total (winning MP and the County precincts in the district) was quite respectable (anonymous Andy virtually admits that above), perhaps even surprising given the despicable campaign of slander and sleaze run by Harry's operatives, and supported by many here. A twenty-year incumbent of Harry's years running against a 27-year-old "snotnose" (a term I use in jest) newcomer should have done much better.

And BTW, I love all the contempt for Corey Stewart. Wasn't he once a fair-haired boy for some of you lefty/moderates/squishes? Oops! I forgot. You're anonymous.

At 6/17/2005 12:42:00 PM, Blogger AndyH said...

Anonymous Andy here :)

I didn't virtually admit it, I said it: Chapman did pretty good. I don't know about the campaign of sleeze bit as the charges that Chapman didn't live in the district
are pretty well established.

All that aside, I did go to all 3 debates and I simply wasn't impressed by Chapman. Next time around, I hope that whoever runs for the office actually understands some of what he is talking about. Listening to him explain the Dillon rule and rant about "demanding" money from the legislature for roads was really entertaining but didn't give me much confidence in his ability to work within the system of government we have.


At 6/17/2005 02:29:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

BTW, I love James Youngs' lack of contemt for Corey Stewart. Mr. Young, you were right the first time when you called him a "blowdryer" candidate. That was back when you feared he was a squish. As soon as you realized that he was a mindless idiot who you and your cronies could control, he all of the sudden became a "true, principled conservative."

At 6/17/2005 02:54:00 PM, Blogger James Young said...

Andy: Well, I don't want to quibble over that particular distinction without a difference.

I don't know whether they charges are "pretty well-established" or not, as I'm not privy to the prosecutor's case. I suspect that the same is true for you, so neither of us is competent to comment upon it, although I can only believe what I was told before the charges were leveled, and which I had no reason to disbelieve.

What is "pretty well-established" is that Harry's operative Kenny Klinge was involved behind it, and Harry denied knowledge of it, indicating to me that he either didn't know or didn't care about the activities of his minions, neither of which does him any credit. And that is what I would call "sleazy." I still think it could come around to bite him on the but.

And my understanding is that neither candidate covered themselves in glory in the debates. Harry's victory at 55% is a tribute to the power of incumbency.

And as for Anon 2:29's claim that I called Corey Stewart "a 'blowdryer' candidate," I can't remember ever saying any such thing. Can't even remember thinking it. Perhaps you could provide chapter, verse, and the complete context in which it appeared (I may have wondered if he would have come across as such, had he run for a state Senate seat with no political experience, though I don't even remember saying that). Certainly I never said any such thing in my column (I checked). As you have me at something of a disadvantage -- since you are hiding behind anonymity -- I am unable to compare what you say now with what you have said in the past. I would appreciate it if you would extend to me the courtesy of not misrepresenting what I have said if you will not extend me the courtesy of accurately presenting what you have said.

But I like your explanation of why I find him a "true, principled conservative." I assume that you realized he was "a mindless idiot" about the time that you realized he couldn't be controlled by Sean and his mindless and vicious cronies.

At 6/17/2005 04:11:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Young-I could have sworn you said he was a "blowdryer" candidate on the old Prince William GOP chat room. In fact, as I recall, it sparked a pretty good conversation among activists. I can't find any links to it now, so I guess I don't have the proof. Or, perhaps I am mxed up and maybe it was Jim Young's saggy ballsack that said it. My memory is a little hazy in my old age.

At 6/17/2005 05:39:00 PM, Blogger James Young said...

Re Anon 4:11 -- Well, since it no longer exists -- though I assume many of its inhabitants, having had their spines removed, are now posting here as Cowardly Lions (all roar; no courage) -- it's difficult to know whether your comments are accurate unless someone like O.P. Ditch (come on out, O.P.; I know you're here) printed out some of the comments. As I said above, I can't remember ever saying any such thing, and can't even remember thinking it. If I did say it, it would have been in the context of concern that a young candidate with no electoral experience in a Senate race could come across as such, and out of an undue envy of his hair. As you will recall (or at least, as I recall), I took the position that Corey was better-advised to build some credentials in an office such as Supervisor (or possibly School Board), which turned out to be sound advice.

At 6/20/2005 01:28:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who is this Young guy? Why is he always so angry? If he ever ran for office he would certainly lose!


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