Thursday, November 17, 2005

Ask The Chairman

I want to thank Chairman Sean Connaughton, who is back with his third installment of Ask The Chairman. I had recieved a few e-mails asking for the Chairmans thoughts on the outcome of the election, and where we should go next: Election 2005: Part I Okay, now for my thoughts on this election. First, I urge everyone to stop all the speculation about 2009. We have to put all our energy and focus on winning the current Attorney General race. With Bob McDonnell up by only 351 votes as of today, a difficult and protracted recount is likely. No one should be out there pushing candidates for 2009 when 2005 is not over. Now, the election itself. This was obviously a very challenging year for the Republican cause. While we won the races for Lieutenant Governor and (apparently) Attorney General, the margins were very thin and we lost ground in a number of jurisdictions. Most significantly, we lost the Governor's race, which is the most important elected position in the Commonwealth. Winning LG and AG are nice, but the big banana is the Governor's office with the power and appointments that go along with it. The reasons we lost are being discussed and debated in the media, on the blogs and in many a Republican committee meeting across the Commonwealth. In my opinion, Jerry Kilgore was a good candidate and he ran a good campaign, although mistakes were made as in any campaign. These miscues, however, were magnified because of events at the national level. In many voter's minds, the alleged ethical charges, perceived political dirty tricks, excessive partisanship, budget problems, and leadership questions in Republican Washington had corollaries in Republican Virginia. It was not simply the backdrop of these troubles at the national level which impacted us, but it was that it was perceived by some voters that Virginia's Republicans had similar problems. This was particularly true in Northern Virginia, which is oriented more to the north toward Washington than to the south toward Richmond. This orientation alone, however, does not explain this region’s Election Day bloodbath. Kilgore and the rest of the ticket lost this region by almost two-thirds of the vote. We lost three seats in the House of Delegates and several other races were much closer than the incumbents had experienced before. For the first time in decades, Prince William and Loudoun counties voted Democratic for Governor. On one level, these results are not surprising given the trends. There is not a single Republican in elective office in Arlington County or the City of Alexandria. In the 1.2 million strong Fairfax County, Democrats now hold a majority of the county's elected offices, including 13 of the 17 House of Delegates seats that are part of Fairfax, five of the nine state Senate seats, seven of the 10 county board seats, 10 of 12 school board seats, the sheriff and commonwealth's attorney. The eastern side of Prince William County is routinely voting Democratic and Loudoun County is swinging both ways depending on the election. Each year, we see the generic Republican vote in these jurisdictions getting smaller and smaller. As this trend continues, the Republican Party is at a strategic disadvantage statewide due to its increasing losses in Northern Virginia. The causes of this problem are several. Shifting demographics make the region more focused on the provision of essential government services, particularly schools and roads. The region's economy is dependent on federal government programs making anti-government rhetoric seem hostile and unrealistic. The relative affluence of the population makes it as interested in the value for the tax dollar as it does the tax dollar itself. Many of the new voters are liberal or moderate on social issues. The ethnically and racially diverse population includes large numbers of immigrants. The dearth of strong and well-financed Republican candidates willing to discuss complex governance issues makes it hard to beat Democratic incumbents. Business support for Republicans is waning. Many people seem to be tending to vote for the candidate, not the party; but if they vote for the party, they are voting Democratic. The list goes on and the fact remains, new voters in the region are trending Democratic on the federal, state and local elections because they have not been given a reason that appeals to them to vote Republican. In past statewide elections, a Republican could win by playing down or ignoring Northern Virginia. A great blessing for Republicans has been that turnout in Northern Virginia has often lagged behind other areas of Virginia. Some wags have suggested this is because traffic congestion keeps us from getting to the polls! This election shows that even moderate turnout in this region can have a profound statewide impact. The sheer size of the Northern Virginia population and its electorate now makes it indispensable to any statewide ticket. In 2005, this region produced a quarter of the voters and they overwhelmingly voted Democratic. This region continues to grow while the rest of the state is largely static in population. By the next statewide election in 2009, expect another 300,000 to 400,000 new residents in Northern Virginia. Imagine 60% of the new voters voting Democratic and one can imagine a future without Republican statewide officeholders. Further, think of the next redistricting when as many as 6 House of Delegate seats and 3 Senate seats shift to Northern Virginia. Can anyone say "minority party"? This conundrum facing the Party is exacerbated by what happened in other older, suburban jurisdictions as well. Who would ever have thought that Henrico County, and the Cities of Virginia Beach and Chesapeake would turn blue? Some of the same demographic changes seen in Northern Virginia are being experienced in these jurisdictions. What should make one shudder is that the shift of these communities, and those in Northern Virginia, to the Republican cause a couple of decades ago led the shift of the Commonwealth to red status. So what can be done about winning back the hearts and minds of the voters of Northern Virginia and the older suburban jurisdictions of the Commonwealth? My list is lengthy, so I will outline my suggestions in next weeks post.

30 Comments:

At 11/17/2005 06:54:00 PM, Anonymous anonymous said...

you hit the nail on the head.

I personally vote for the candidate and not the party, because the party nominates wack-jobs.

 
At 11/17/2005 07:18:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sean, I've got a question for you!

What is your opinion of your former campaign workers putting your Lt. Governor campaign signs up all over NOVA during election day. Is creating voter confusion something that you encourage?

 
At 11/17/2005 07:30:00 PM, Blogger too conservative said...

I agree with Chairman Connaughtons analysis, and hope we do recieve attention up here in NOVA finally.

 
At 11/17/2005 08:00:00 PM, Anonymous JB said...

Sounds like the race for 2009 has indeed started!

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

Of course you agree with Connaughton TC, you are his little slave!!

 
At 11/17/2005 11:37:00 PM, Blogger J.Sarge said...

Chairman Connaughton has framed the issue very well. It will be interesting to see if the VAGOP heeds his warning or continues on its rightward march...

 
At 11/18/2005 10:33:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is sad, that Loudoun and Henrico two of the most Republican counties last year voted Democratic.

WHEN WILL THE PARTY REALIZE THEY NEED TO LISTEN TO NORTHERN VIRGINIA!

 
At 11/18/2005 10:35:00 AM, Blogger neocon22 said...

Thanks Sean for contributing!

 
At 11/18/2005 10:57:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 10:33-

Last time I checked Henrico was nowhere near Northern Virginia. Additionally, in 2000 Henrico barely went for George Allen and in 2001 actually went for Mark Warner. To call Henrico one of the most Republican counties is to willingly ignore the counties vote totals since 1997, a year when the top of the ticket was a local boy and former countywide elected official. Henrico is the new bellweather for VA.

 
At 11/18/2005 11:00:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Connaughton signs were put out by Vincent...because he has a man crush on Connaughton and was being an ass.

 
At 11/18/2005 11:13:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

TC/Vincent, is that true?

 
At 11/18/2005 12:57:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There weren't any Connaughton signs out. Nice try Denny.

 
At 11/18/2005 01:05:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Umm, I'm not Denny, and I DID see Connaughton signs up on election day!

 
At 11/18/2005 01:39:00 PM, Blogger too conservative said...

Anon-YOU of all people should know I was too busy putting up Craddock signs than to blanket the area in Connaughton ones.

If there was any year for a strong showing in Henrico, it should have been this year.

Kilgore carries his region, McDonnell kind of carried his, but the county next to Bolling's Chairmanship, and Senate Seat, Bolling was not able to help push it over.

 
At 11/18/2005 04:13:00 PM, Blogger MR JMS said...

My cousin also claims to have seen a UFO fly over his home in the desert... Doesn't mean he actually saw it.

I hope if you did see those signs up illegally that you did the appropriate thing and removed them from the side of the road. And unless you have proof that such actions were 1.) taken by Connaughton supporters and 2.) encouraged by the Chairman than please do not lob accusations.

 
At 11/18/2005 05:37:00 PM, Blogger James Young said...

Funny, Anon 11:00, but that's no more legit that suggesting that those who oppose the homo agenda, or tell the truth about Chairman Sean's record, have some unnatural desires/fixations.

See what I mean about anonymity!?!?!?!

 
At 11/18/2005 06:44:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't understand this last post. What does this mean?

 
At 11/18/2005 07:21:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jim-What did that mean?

 
At 11/18/2005 10:15:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Vincent,

No offense, but you're clearly letting your dislike for Bolling cloud your judgement.

Bolling had absolutely nothing to do with Kilgore's loss in Henrico (where Jerry has lived for several years) any more than Bob McDonnell had anything to do with Kilgore's losses in VA Beach and Chesapeake.

For the record though, Kilgore carried Hanover county, Bolling's home turf, with 61.45% of the vote.

http://sbe.virginiainteractive.org/nov2005/085.htm#03

 
At 11/18/2005 10:34:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is is relevent that the Kilgore campaign/RNC effort did not focus on the grassroots?? Did annoying every voter until they were finally turned off by the whole affair have an effect on the passive "pub" turnout?? Maybe Yes???

 
At 11/18/2005 10:44:00 PM, Blogger too conservative said...

Anon-
I never said Bolling had anything to do with Kilgore's loss.

I simply stated the facts, that Bolling did not help the ticket in his region.

 
At 11/18/2005 11:05:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Really now? Are you going to make the same statement about Bob McDonnell in the Beach?

 
At 11/18/2005 11:18:00 PM, Blogger too conservative said...

ALTHOUGH McDonnell outperformed population wise to Bolling in their respective regions,

yes I would say that it appears McDonnell did just as much for Kilgore in the beach, as Bolling did for Kilgore in Richmond Metro.

 
At 11/18/2005 11:25:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I simply stated the facts, that Bolling did not help the ticket in his region."10:44

"yes I would say that it appears McDonnell did just as much for Kilgore in the beach, as Bolling did for Kilgore in Richmond Metro."
11:18

So you're saying that McDonnell didn't help the ticket in his region.

Man, that's harsh.

 
At 11/21/2005 09:37:00 AM, Blogger James Young said...

TC, Bolling outperformed Kilgore in Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax, and Prince William (haven't looked at other NoVA jurisdictions). That fact cannot sustain the assertion that "Bolling did not help the ticket in his region."

I'm afraid you're merely referring to forelorn Connaughtonites.

 
At 11/21/2005 05:31:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Only James Young would find significance in which candidate got 27% of the vote versus 28%. Please save us from these RIDs -- Republicans in Denial!

 
At 11/22/2005 01:28:00 PM, Blogger James Young said...

Only an anonymous coward would ignore the fact that Kilgore was the weakest candidate in the field, placing sixth statewide, and the weakest in Northern Virginia.

And, of course, only an anonymous coward would resort to an insult, rather than recognizing that these facts refute the point (as was their intention) that Bolling did not help the ticket in this region.

Upon further review, I note that TC's point was that Bolling did not help the ticket in his region. I have not looked at the figures, and therefore have no comment on that.

 
At 11/22/2005 07:35:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

TC, I'm interested:

If Bob McDonnell didn't help Jerry in his region, as you stated, then what makes you think that the doctrine of regional candidacy has any credence whatsoever.

After all, Bob seems to be a pretty popular guy in Virginia Beach.

 
At 11/22/2005 08:59:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey RIDs -- get used to the fact that there won't be a Republican north of the Occoquan after 2007. It will ALL be because you ignored the tsunami heading your way and decided to take pictures of it as it overwhelmed you.

 
At 12/05/2005 01:12:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please do not label Henrico a bellweather. We are a reliable Democratic county. In '04 there were 12,000 new Democratic votes over '00 versus 8,000 R votes. Please take your little whining voices to somewhere else. Kilgore even lost the 7th CD portion of Henrico...

 

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