Conservative Values + Money + Authenticity

Jay Katzen in 2013

Thirty years ago the Republican Party threw in the towel and nominated a candidate who had no chance to beat Charles Robb for the U.S. Senate and really no chance of giving Robb a semblance of a race.  The same thing probably happens again Tuesday, especially if the predictions of a Corey Stewart victory in the primary prove correct.  Nobody, including Tim Kaine, should have a free ride to the U.S. Senate and giving him one is embarrassing for the GOP.

Bart Hinkle at the Richmond Times-Dispatch has distilled my thoughts better than I could.  If you want to read him and ignore my ramble I won’t complain. I do have a couple of points to add.

Stewart’s showing in the 2017 gubernatorial primary provides a fair basis for expecting to see him on this November’s ballot, especially since Ed Gillespie went on to lose in November 2017.  Stewart’s claim that he should have been the nominee and would have won echoes complaints I heard all the way back in 1985. When that year’s GOP ticket for statewide office went 0-3, the chorus went up that the ticket was insufficiently conservative.  That’s the standard excuse for an abysmal campaign or a weak candidate.

Stewart on the ballot last year would have added five points to Governor Ralph Northam’s win and might have given Democrats clear control of the House of Delegates. This year the question is what he does to the House of Representatives candidates in a couple of crucial Virginia districts.

Stewart’s recent attacks on Delegate Nick Freitas have me questioning the conventional wisdom about Stewart’s lead, but Freitas’ obvious lack of resources in the primary indicates he will have an equally hard time raising money for November.  Money is the key.

In 2001 another very conservative Northern Virginia state legislator, Jay Katzen of Fauquier County, came very close to ending Tim Kaine’s career at the rank of mayor, losing an election Larry Sabato called “a squeaker.”  One medium television buy in Northern Virginia, cable even, might have tipped it for Katzen.  The message I would have recommended would highlight his connection to Northern Virginia, trying to flip some votes with a regional pitch. Disclaimer:  I was involved on a volunteer basis with Katzen, my last real foray into an election.

Imagine how different Virginia would be today if Katzen had won (or Mark Early for that matter – another story). But the conventional wisdom then was that Katzen could not win and the money never appeared. Nobody could ask for a more conservative nominee, but it didn’t matter. He was eventually outspent almost 2-1, a deficit the GOP can only dream about this year no matter who is the nominee.

The other key to that campaign was an inaccurate claim by Katzen that as mayor of Richmond Kaine had taken actions hostile to the Boy Scouts. It wasn’t true and Katzen stopped saying it – but in the final days Kaine’s camp brought it back as a main theme and made Katzen pay a price for his earlier misstatement, with a friendly media chorus backing him up. Katzen lacked the money to counter-punch. Yet it was still a close race largely because the underlying message about Kaine being liberal did resonate and Kaine’s totals substantially trailed Mark Warner’s at the top of his ticket, especially in rural areas.

Accusing your opponent of denying the Boy Scouts the use of a public facility (I think that was the issue) is incredibly tame by today’s standards, but those were simpler times. People frowned on candidates who made up or stretched facts, even when (as Katzen did) they admitted the error. Now telling true believer supporters what they want to hear with zero regard for evidence or truth or civility is the common currency for both parties. Every issue is a shibboleth; any doctrinal variation a sin.

Freitas the former Green Beret reminds me of Katzen, a career foreign service officer who went on after losing to a leadership role in the Peace Corps. If you saw Jay driving across the state in his beaten-up sedan (today it would be a pick-up) you’d never imagine him going toe-to-toe with Nikolai Ceausescu, but he had a real-deal diplomatic career. Authenticity matters.

Normally that would include Stewart with his legal career and long local government service, as well, but he has buried that advantage under Trump-style invective, rabid anti-immigrant nativism and a 100-year-time warp back to the Lost Cause, a Minnesotan waving the Stars and Bars. Inauthenticity matters.

I hate to just dismiss E.W. Jackson but he had his statewide opportunity in 2013 and lost. Some Republicans continue to believe that if they nominate black candidates they can cut into racial pattern voting, but if it didn’t work with George H. W. Bush on the ballot (the aforementioned 1988) it sure won’t work with Trump in the White House.

Come October all Stewart and Kaine would be talking about is Trump and General Lee. Freitas conceivably would have a chance to force Kaine to discuss and defend his positions and votes. First we have to see if he gets a chance to try.

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14 responses to “Conservative Values + Money + Authenticity

  1. Corey Stewart appeals to the resentments of same constituency as Donald Trump — whites who are alienated from a economic-political system that seems to favor everyone but them. These people have ample cause to feel the way they do. But Stewart offers no solution to their problems. The answer to left-wing identity-grievance politics is not right-wing identity-grievance politics. The answer is empowering individuals with uplift and opportunity.

  2. re: ” But the conventional wisdom then was that Katzen could not win and the money never appeared.” Well, apparently that is not Corey’s problem in the age of Trump, right?

    Kaine and Warner did not win because of “left-wing identity-grievance politics either… They won because of Virginia urban areas which are populated by diverse cultures and populations who just totally reject Conservative Wackadoodles. Corey will likely win in rural Va.. and he could win Ted Cruz’s Texas, WV and perhaps even in NC.

    I find the “identity-grievance” concept amusing given how many Trumpsters associated themselves.. it’s in no way, shape or form – the opposite of the electorate that elects folks like Kaine and Warner. Oh VEY!

    If the GOP is going to win Virginia – they got to be competitive in NoVa and if you are competitive in NoVa – rural Va is probably not going to like you.

    THAT’S the GOP … PROBLEM! the GOP .. CAN win with reasonable moderate candidates – even in Va.. but the GOP has essentially been hollowed out and replaced by extremists in many places… and no one knows this more than the GOP itself.

    • Corey Stewart is the Chairman of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors. So I guess he can draw votes in suburban areas. I would much rather see Freitas as the candidate but I think it’s unfair to claim Corey would only be able to get votes in rural areas.

      As far as moderate Republican candidates I can’t see what’s wrong with Barbara Comstock. She’s my representative and she seems pretty moderate. In fact, she’s so moderate that the hardballs in the GOP all write her off as a RINO or liberal. Pretty ridiculous.

      • re: rural votes – let me re-phrase that – rural / Trump votes.

        The trouble with Comstock and similar is that they have no solutions for Health Care or Immigration or spending restraints.. they vote the party line these days and do not really and truly represent the constituents of the districts they represent. She is good at a balancing act but her basic positions and voting record will not gain her a majority vote in wider NoVa.
        Even then – as you say – the Trump/Tea Party GOP considers her a RINO and would probably replace her with a Corey Stuart if they could.

        You have to represent the interests of the Voters and the last election SHOULD be a clue to the GOP on health care AND immigration.

        • Barbara Comstock … voting the party line? Larry, Larry, Larry – she’s one of the least likely Republicans to vote the party line. Read this article and the attached comments for more detail:

          http://thebullelephant.com/comstock-conundrum/

        • How simply enforcing the immigration laws period? Besides my kids, I have a number of friends and relatives lucky enough to have adopted kids from overseas. And guess what? We all followed the law. I am sick and tired of following the rules when dirty employers wanting to undercut wages violate federal laws. The United States does not have some obligation to have open borders. Protect the borders and keep out new illegal immigrants. Deport anyone with a criminal record or who has not been here 10 years. Fine and imprison any employer violating the laws. If you don’t use E-Verify, you can only deduct 1/2 of the compensation costs for employees as a business expense for FIT purposes.

          Then let’s take a hard, but compassionate, look at people who have been here more than 10 years, paid taxes and haven’t committed any misdemeanors for a program that allows them to stay in the United States.

          As far as health care is concerned, cut the gonads off plaintiffs’ lawyers by adopting a no-fault malpractice plan like Virginia has done for birth injuries, allow cross-state sales of insurance and require any pharma to sell all drugs at the lowest wholesale price they sell it in any OECD nation. Violations would be subject to treble damages and attorney fees. And by implementing tough enforcement of our immigration laws, lower-skilled people in the U.S. will make higher wages such that they can afford more insurance.

  3. Larry, your knee is jerking a bit again – but you are right with the underlying challenge facing the GOP. It does need to keep the election close in the Washington suburbs and run up a substantial margin in other parts of the state to win, and that is even more difficult today than it was in 2001. With a super-polarizer like Trump hovering the the background I don’t see that happening. Trump lost Virginia and will lose it again in 2020 and seeking to run a Mini-Me Trump just duplicates that polarization. But inch away from the smash-mouth tactics and the Trump base (which cannot be ignored) gets huffy and doesn’t turn out. As Boehner was quoted by Hinkle and elsewhere, it’s the Trump Party now. They want to win that way they have to do so without voters like me – and good luck with that.

  4. I wasn’t around in 1985 having left Virginia four years before, but I am not sure what the Katzen example is supposed to show.That Freitas and Katzen are “authentic” because Freitas was in Special Forces and Katzen was an FSO?
    to wit:

    “Freitas the former Green Beret reminds me of Katzen, a career foreign service officer who went on after losing to a leadership role in the Peace Corps. If you saw Jay driving across the state in his beaten-up sedan (today it would be a pick-up) you’d never imagine him going toe-to-toe with Nikolai Ceausescu, but he had a real-deal diplomatic career. Authenticity matters.”

    OK, I guess. But if one wants authenticity, look no further than today’s 7th Congfressional DIstrict primary where you have a former CIA covert officer facing off against a fellow Democrat who is a former Marine Corps combat pilot. This is the district held by Dave Brat, an economics professor and conservative populist.

    AT the end of the day, I’m not so sure that having government experience in diplomacy, intelligence or the military, is a equalifier all that much. It means one knows a specific skill set (and unfortutanely, too many FSOs I have known are a little too arrogant to be consensus builders; not sure about the spooks).

    ,Once again, I wish this post had been a bit more clear. It is obvious that the state GOP is in trouble with the likes of Stewart, Jackson and Trump. I might not agree with Freitas but I agree he seems more like a real human being.

    • Agreed, not my best effort. The main point was that an authentic conservative did give Kaine a close race in 2001 and for lack of funds missed the party’s last best chance to put him on the bench. And it was a bit of a trip down memory lane for this aging partisan warrior (who has no party now it seems.) Katzen is smart, and a decent fellow. I did then and still do feel an attachment to any member of the GOP legislative caucus that I served for all those years. Mostly wonderful people.

  5. Well, now we know. Corey won. A three way race, but he won. Barely.

    This says to me, the Republican Trump “base” continues to hover beneath a very hard ceiling well below the majority in Virginia overall, and more sensible alternatives like Freitas will never win over enough of the Trumpers in a primary against the likes of red-meat Stewart.

    So, for the foreseeable future the Virginia Republican party has a problem with choosing Statewide candidates through primaries. And a Party convention isn’t a way around this conundrum so long as the VA GOP is run by the same crowd of Trumpers.

    Been reading this in the Atlantic Mag. lately, highly recommend: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/06/the-birth-of-a-new-american-aristocracy/559130/

  6. Will Stewart break 30? Probably. But I would not bet the farm he breaks 40, and he takes some House seats from red to blue with him, my guess is three.

  7. If I had more money than I knew what to with, I’d buy advertising that focused on Bill and Hillary Clinton and run it constantly. “The standards have changed for what you can do to someone against their will.” “They are trailer trash.” “Women who make accusations about sexual assault should be believed.” Do you want to elect people to public office who supported the Clintons in multiple elections?

    Bill Clinton’s most recent statement clearly confirms he raped Juanita Broddrick. A DA could use it to get a conviction. Sooner or later the Democratic candidates would have to respond. Not even the protection of the WaPo could stop it.

    • No. wouldn’t move the needle. No Clinton on the ballot this year.

      Yes, Bill Clinton is the main reason that none of the sexual misbehavior allegations against Trump proved fatal. We all know Bill C. would also have been talking trash just like that with another guy if a pretty girl walked by and he thought he was off mic. Both parties – both parties! – ignore the basic fact that the explanation for Trump winning in 2016 is entirely, 100 percent, due to the Clintons. Any other Democrat and the outcome would have been different, even Bernie Sanders.

      • Steve, Senator George Allen was 10 points ahead when the WaPo began its macaca crusade in 2006. It was a very crude term to use. But compared to rape and calling victims trailer trash, it’s pretty mild.

        As you note, there were a number of other Democrats who could have been nominated and, as many believe, won the election. Joe Biden and Martin O’Malley to name two. But as we know, the Democratic Party establishment and wealthy supporters put their thumbs on the scale so Hillary Clinton was nominated, ignoring conduct related to sexual abuse and personal attack that they would not tolerate from anyone other than the Clintons. Tim Kaine certainly knew all these facts. Yet he refused to do the honorable thing and turn down the VP spot. Rather he joined the Clinton team. I truly believe that, if constant advertising that asks why did Tim Kaine stand by people involved in rape and its coverup, were run, Kaine’s standing in the polls would drop and a lot of people would simply not vote in the Senate race.

        I know quite a few Democrats who simply cannot reconcile their support for the Clintons with the truth about their conduct as it relates to his sexual abuse. They have to deny it happened and often become emotionally upset. They cannot reconcile their own moral views with supporting the sleaze that constitutes the Clintons. (Same for a number of establishment Republicans with Trump.) A barrage of advertising reminding voters of the Clintons’ conduct and Tim Kaine’s decision to stand by them would make them uncomfortable supporting Kaine this fall. The needle would move. How far? I don’t know.

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