Christopher Newport University professor Dr. Quentin Kidd talked to J.R. Hoeft about Virginia politics over at Bearing Drift. If that sixteen minutes passed for “analysis,” then the Democrats could be in for a rude shock this November.
Kidd had the usual conventional wisdom – that the Republicans have to stop being the ”Party of No.” It’s a nice, compact line. Trouble is, the Republicans have not been the “Party of No” over the last year; Kidd just doesn’t know it. In fact, Dr. Kidd flat out got key facts wrong.
Kidd’s first error comes in his narrative of recent Virginia politics:
If you go back over the last several elections cycles, we’ve had deadlock on policy, particularly as related to transportation, but we’ve also had a couple of cycles of budget problems, and in each situation, the Governor has proposed a plan – either Governor Warner of Governor Kaine – has proposed a plan, either to cut budgets, or to deal with transportation. The State Senate has largely gone along with the Governor’s plan - you know, they’ve tinkered around the edges but they’ve largely gone along with it - and in each instance, the House has essentially said no, or they said – you know – we’re not willing to accept this component of that plan, which meant the plan was killed.
Is that so, Dr. Kidd? Then how does one explain HB3202 (whatever one thinks of this disaster, it sure wasn’t saying “no”)? Or the last version of HB6055 during the special session (now HB1579 in this session), a highly innovative plan to base transportation funding on economic activity? The only time House Republicans said “no” on transportation was to a tax increase from Senate Republicans in 2006 – and even Tim Kaine said “no” to those.
Moving right along (or in Dr. Kidd’s case, sinking deeper) . . .
And then in each case, the Governor could come out of the session, go to the voters and say, “the Democrats put forward a plan; I put forward a plan. We’re trying solve the problems that Virginians have, and it’s those Republicans in the House that keep saying ‘no.’”
Again, the facts simply do not bear this out. Governor Kaine had no plan in either 2006 or 2007 on transportation. The first and only plan has presented was in 2008. As for the budget, this is his first real controversial budget proposal of any kind.
In fact, the Republicans suffered losses in 2007 not because they had no plan, but because voters rejected the plan. It was in the two places where the “plan” had its most profound effects (Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads) that the GOP suffered its losses (outside of these regions, the party actually gained one seat in 2007).
Kidd then goes on to get the current budget debate wrong:
The Governor has come up with a proposal to cut $2 billion out of the state budget. Part of that proposal involves a tax increase on tobacco – about a million and a half dollars worth of tax increase (sic). That may have to be done as far as the Governor is concerned, but it’s good politics as well, because he probably knows that the Republicans in the House of Delegates won’t accept it, which means that they have to come up with another way to pay for that $150 million cut, unless they want to be on the hook for cutting some program, or raising taxes in some other way, they’re probably not going to come up with anything.
As JR’s fellow BD blogger Brian Kirwin has pointed out the $150 million is not going to plug a budget gap, but rather for new spending. Kaine and the Democrats are simply hoping Virginia voters don’t noticed, and if Dr. Kidd is any indication, they’ve succeeded, for now.
The rest is faulty analysis, largely because it is based upon these incorrect assumptions.
As for what really has happened to the Virginia GOP over the last eight years, I think it’s fairly obvious. The party strayed from its low-tax, limited government standards in 2002 (with the NoVa and HR tax referenda) and the betrayal got worse with each legislature (Warner’s tax increase of 2004 and the disastrous HB3202 of 2007).
Finally, if saying “no” was so terrible, why did the most tax-hike-resistant House Republicans (Tom Gear, Mark Cole, Bob Marshall, and Jeff Frederick) actually gain support in 2007 from their opposition to everything (actually, Cole slipped in support – from 62.5% to 62.3%)?
There is some value from Dr. Kidd’s interview: it shows the House Republicans, from Howell on down, that they must present and defend HB1579 at every opportunity, so Virginia voters and pundits understand that the Republican Party of Virginia does indeed have creative solutions for today’s problems – solutions that do not involve forcing Virginians to pay more in taxes.
If they can get that message out, the House Republicans will do far better this November than pundits, from Dr. Kidd on down, expect of them.