Politico says Randy Forbes is trying to sabotage gay Republican Congressional candidates

December 5, 2013

Granted, it’s Politico, but if they’re even close to correct on this, my new member of Congress (I recently moved to Suffolk) has a serious problem:

Virginia Rep. Randy Forbes, a senior House Republican eyeing a powerful committee chairmanship, is causing friction with some of his colleagues by pushing the House GOP campaign arm to deny support for some of the party’s gay congressional candidates.

Forbes has waged a lengthy crusade to convince his colleagues and the National Republican Congressional Committee brass they shouldn’t back some gay candidates. His efforts on Capitol Hill were described to POLITICO by more than a half-dozen sources with direct knowledge of the talks.

The issue is particularly acute because House Republicans have two promising openly gay candidates in 2014 vying for seats held by Democrats. Richard Tisei, who narrowly lost to Democratic Rep. John Tierney in 2012, is running again in northeastern Massachusetts. And in San Diego, Carl DeMaio, a former city councilman, is trying to knock off Democratic Rep. Scott Peters.

Now, the article authors only focus on two candidates (Tisei and DeMaio), and it appears they only asked Forbes about DeMaio, so for all we know, Forbes might just have a hang up about the Californian. Moreover, Forbes is angling to take over the House Armed Services Committee, and while he’s not the favorite, it may very well be that someone is is blowing stuff waaaaaaaay out of proportion just to keep him a long shot.

However, Forbes did himself no favors with his statements:

On Wednesday, Forbes told POLITICO he thinks “GOP leaders can do whatever they want to do,” in terms of giving money to gay candidates.

He said he is more concerned about members being asked to contribute to the campaigns. The NRCC is partially funded by collecting tens of millions of dollars from House Republicans, who pay dues to the organization.

“There would be a different situation if they tried to force other members to give money,” Forbes said.

Asked whether he would have a problem with the NRCC donating money to DeMaio, Forbes said, “That’s a little different situation.”

“I don’t think they’ve done that yet,” Forbes added.

When asked if he would withhold political contributions to the NRCC if they backed DeMaio, Forbes said, “I’m not going to be hypothetical on what we would or wouldn’t do at this particular point in time because you’ve got a lot of scenarios. I don’t think we’ve had primaries and nominations to nominate people. So I don’t want to prejudge.”

Notice anything missing? Like say a statement making it abundantly clear that using sexual orientation to disqualify a candidate is a no-no? Me neither, and that’s the problem.

Has the Republican Party of Virginia fallen so far that opposing Bob McDonnell’s tax hike is considered “extreme,” but backroom homophobia is just fine?

Memo to my Congressman: the clock is ticking; I think 24 hours to be sufficient for a much needed clarification. Likewise for the newfound “moderates” who make up the Bolling faction (as it were) of the the RPV: you have 24 hours to practice what you preach, condemn this behavior (if you don’t think Forbes actually did it, you can feel free to blast the concept without touching him), and show me this is about more than giving yourselves cover for tax increases.

Bill Bolling has advice…which he didn’t follow

December 5, 2013

It should surprise no one that Bill Bolling took the opportunity to offer advice to the Republican Party of Virginia in the aftermath of Election 2013. I would even disagree (slightly) with my fellow BD contributor (D.J. Spiker) who insisted that “no one asked.” I’m sure plenty of Democrats and media folks were begging for a missive just like this from the outgoing Lieutenant Governor. What I found interesting, however, was that Bolling offered advice that he, himself, refused to follow – and I don’t mean during his pre-2012 record (with Spiker dissects quite well).

In fact, Bolling doesn’t offer “advice” as much as complaints. He sees voters in Virginia being turned off by the GOP, and is very specific on the reasons why. When it comes to how to address the problem, however, he becomes much more vague, and for good reason – when Bolling himself decided to recast himself as a “moderate,” he completely ignored the very problems he now raises.

For example, in the Times-Dispatch column, Bolling specifically talks about winning over “more moderate and independent voters in Northern Virginia and rapidly changing suburbs in Richmond and Hampton Roads.” Here’s the problem: his version of “moderation’ included backing a $1.3-billion-a-year tax increase that was specifically aimed at the wallets of these very voters. Republican after Republican in the General Assembly from “the rural parts of our state” defended the tax-hike as something from which their voters were largely spared. If there was a worse way to upset “Northern Virginia and (the) rapidly changing suburbs in Richmond and Hampton Roads,” I have trouble thinking of one.

Bolling then stumbles with basic math: “An objective analysis of exit polls from recent elections shows that we are losing favor with three key demographic groups: women, young people and rapidly growing populations of Hispanic, Asian and Indian voters” – but lumping in Hispanic, (I presume East) Asians, and Indians (South Asians, again I presume) into one supergroup is only part of the problem. Again, these “key demographic groups” all share one thing in common – they are poorer than Virginia on average. Not to beat a dead horse, but the aforementioned tax increase was almost malevolently designed to whack the poorest voters the hardest in the affected regions of the state – regions where a dollar doesn’t go as far as rural Virginia in the first place. Again, if Bolling is concerned about driving these voters away, his first concern should be the fellow in the mirror.

Things get worse in the next paragraph:

With women and young people we have to more effectively communicate our views on important issues like abortion and gay rights, and with growing immigrant populations we must be open to responsible immigration reforms that show these new Virginians that we value the enormous contributions they make to our state.

Hmmm, that sounds like getting the party to change its message, its policies, or both on divisive social issues, issues on which Bolling moved not at all towards the “center” over the last year and a half.

Instead, Bolling played the game we usually get from Republicans looking to win over voters concerned about social issues, but who would consider voting GOP anyway: do nothing on the social issues themselves but abandon the very limited-government and low tax policies that would win them over in the first place. Instead of using 2013 to openly discuss how to best protect unborn children without alienating their would-be mothers, or having a frank discussion about how the same-sex marriage debate is light-years away from 2004 (or 2006, for that matter), Bill Bolling spent the year defending a tax increase that whacked the very voters he now says the party must court, with the added indignity of supporting a plan to lump them into Medicaid – a system that is so flawed that numerous studies are showing patients without any insurance might actually be healthier than Medicaid clients.

Here’s what Bolling, McDonnell, and even Cuccinelli seem to have missed: in the 21st century, three Republicans went wobbly on taxes (Earley in 2001 by refusing to comment on a proposed tax hike for months, Kilgore in 2005 for being all over the map on the issue, and, yes, Cuccinelli in 2013 for backing a smaller version of the tax-hike, then taking credit for making the big one constitutional).


In 2009, by contrast, Bob McDonnell (as much as it pains all of us to remember) specifically ran an anti-tax-hike platform – and led the GOP to its best election result in the history of Virginia Gubernatorial elections (a clean statewide sweep and a two-thirds-plus majority in the House of Delegates).

The Republican Party does have problems in Virginia, but fixing them will require more than the standard nonsense that we have seen going back a dozen years. When Republicans run as the party of smaller government and lighter taxes, they win. When they don’t, they lose.

Cross-posted to Bearing Drift

The gory details on the tax hike “compromise” (UPDATED)

February 21, 2013

The numbers are out on the conference committee’s tax hike plan…and if anything, it’s worse than we thought.

For starters, the plan raises taxes by $682 million annually (once fully implemented) at the state level for transportation, and by another $135.5 million for other stuff. That’s over $817 million in tax hikes, just from Richmond alone.

Moreover, the plan also gives localities in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads the “option” of raising taxes by a total of $475-$550 million annually. UPDATE: The local tax hikes include a 1% sales tax, an increase in the grantor’s tax (that’s right, they’re taxing real estate sales as we’re still trying to recover from the housing slump), and a hotel occupancy tax (which will hit business travel).

I should note that just about every previous “local option” tax increase package has included the financial version of a gun to the head of localities to force them to enact them. I don’t have the language of the conference committee version, so I can’t say for certain if this one includes it, too. That said, odds are the localities will knuckle under, meaning the annual tax increase is likely to be roughly $1.3 billion annually.

Not even Grover Norquist thought it was that high at first.

Yet even that isn’t enough for folks like the Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance, whose leader is looking forward to “being able to build on this in the future” (Washington Post).

In fact, Virginia stands at a crossroads (especially Virginia Republicans). Do we simply shrug our shoulders and do what is easy (raise taxes with the premise that we can do it again)? Or do we recognize the economic damage that would be done by a tax increase, roll up our sleeves, and take a cold, long, hard look at the Virginia budget to determine what is not as high a priority as transportation (as well as determining within transportation what should be a state function and what shouldn’t)?

The House has this tax increase (known as HB2313) on their calendar today. There is still enough time to stop it, enough time for state leaders who have currently been silent – are you reading this, Mr. Cuccinelli? – to stand up for the taxpayer and make themselves heard. UPDATE: Ken has put out a confused statement approving of “localities…given more authority” but opposing tax increases. Given that the bill disguises the latter as the former, I’m not sure where Ken lands on this.

Quinnipiac confirms: backing a tax increase hurt Cuccinelli

February 20, 2013

I suspect that most of the discussion on the latest Quinnipiac Poll will be about the effect of Bill Bolling in the race as an independent. However, Quinnipiac had already included Bolling in its January 9 version of the poll. Bolling’s numbers did not change; he’s still at 13%.

What did change was Cuccinelli’s numbers: he dropped 3 points in voter preference (from 34% to 31%); his favorable rating fell 3 points (from 33% to 30%); and his job approval rating fell 7 points (from 48% to 41%), while his job disapproval rose 5 (from 27% to 32%)…

…and what did Cuccinelli do between January 9 and today? He backed Steve Newman’s tax increase.

I’m just sayin’….

Could the taxpayers be spared by a Richmond train wreck?

February 14, 2013

If what Steve Contorno (Washington Examiner) hears is correct, Democrats in the State Senate could be so wedded to Frank Wagner’s tax hike that they’ll refuse to support something too close to McDonnell’s tax hike, while Republicans who backed the latter may not like anything to close to the former:

“As long as the [final bill] resembles the Senate plan, we will have a transportation bill this year,” said Senate Minority Leader Dick Saslaw, D-Springfield. “If it varies too widely, we likely will not.”

Senate Democrats allowed $50 million a year to come from the general fund, but that came reluctantly. House Minority Leader David Toscano, D-Charlottesville, said it’s unlikely they’ll budge on that.

Those kinds of lines in the sand are already threatening a compromise as representatives from both parties begin to meet behind closed doors to find a solution that can pass both chambers.

“If we’re going to start ruling out things almost from the beginning,” said House Majority Leader Kirk Cox, R-Colonial Heights, “we’re going to have a lot of trouble getting there.”

The House version takes a lot more road money out of the general fund (pursuant to McDonnell’s tax hike).

My guess is the Republicans are so desperate for anything that they can claim well help “transportation” (remember, all three statewide Republican officeholders are backing different tax hikes) that they’ll agree to anything – meaning the Democrats can probably squeeze as much from the taxpayers as they wish.

Still, there may be some hope that political gridlock can leave the taxpayers unscathed.

Establishment and Outsiders: Part 4

May 23, 2012

This is the fourth part of my series on Establishment and Outsiders in the Republican Party of Virginia. The first two posts described the characteristics of the two. My third post presented Bill Bolling as an example if an Establishment Republican; for my Outsider example, I use Ken Cuccinelli.

I chose Cuccinelli for specific reasons, many dealing with what he is not. Cuccinelli is not more conservative than Bolling. In fact, they’re records on issues are nearly identical. They even have the same glaring error (to me), namely HB3202.

What makes Cuccinelli an Outsider, rather, is his demeanor and approach to politics. Cuccinelli is more confrontational than the typical politician, a trait which combines dynamic thinking and a sense if urgency that the more stability-oriented Establishment tends to downplay. He revels in being the underdog, and in his 2009 general election campaign, he stunned his complacent opponent by seizing the initiative and never letting go. Rather than rely on party networks, he established and grew his own.

Now, there are more than a few politicians who also fit that bill. What makes Cuccinelli more the archetype Outsider was his almost disastrous failure to try the Establishment role in his 2007 re-election campaign. While Bolling’s attempt to play against type as an insurgent running for Governor in 2007-8 was generally problematic, Cuccinelli’s attempt to play by the Establishment playbill was a barely mitigated fiasco. He nearly destroyed his credibility by voting for HB3202. His campaign tried the incumbency card – and flubbed badly. If not for an opponent nearly everyone acknowledges as subpar, he might have lost in 2007 and become a brief footnote in local political history.

As it was, he squeaked through, and never used the Establishment plan again. He was the first (and if memory serves, the only) elected Republican to back Bob Marshall in 2008; in his AG campaign next year he ran against an opponent right out of central casting, and beat him for the nomination. He played in the role he likes best – the underdog – against Steve Shannon, and turned a race that worried many Republicans into a rout.

By choosing to run for Governor, he will likely not run for re-election for anything until the 2020s. I doubt that is accidental.

In short, Cuccinelli is most comfortable going against the odds and shaking things up; he also has the success that keeps him on the good side (so far) of the line between dynamic and reckless.

Again, and I emphasize this once more because some BD commenters are having trouble processing this, Cuccinelli is not an Outsider because he is more conservative than Bolling (in fact, he’s not). This isn’t about principle or ideology. It is about attitude, method, and the nature of the man. That is what makes Cuccinelli an Outsider.

Cross-posted to Bearing Drift


January 3, 2012

As we approach the Iowa caucuses like a runaway train, some things about the state of politics in Virginia have me confused.

To wit:

If the Virginia Republican primary petition process was so obviously rigged, why didn’t the fellow who is in every way but openly Bob McDonnell’s favorite (Rick Perry) make the ballot? Has the land of the Byrd machine fallen so far in fixing elections?

Is Bill Bolling’s staff trying to push me to Ken Cuccinelli? Do they realize how many people they’re pushing away from Romney with their combination of tone-deafness and smart-alleck remarks masquerading as a press release under the boss’ name?

On the other hand, if Bolling must suffer for his staff due to one press release, why can’t Paul suffer for multiple newsletters written by insert-scapegoat-here than went out under his name?

Speaking of Dr. Paul, of the two candidates who made the Virginia ballot, he is the only one who is on record in support of allowing the federal government to use its monopoly/monopsony power to influence price and services in the health care market – a position I consider far, far more dangerous than the individual mandate; he has openly supported reflating the housing bubble and creating moral hazard in the insurance market via tax-code chicanery; he refuses to support the Ryan Medicare reform; and he has called for maintaining the current sclerotic entitlement system for Americans as young as 26 (Weekly Standard) . . . and Mitt Romney is the “liberal” on the ballot?

Cross-posted to BD


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