Well, it’s been nearly a week since the smoke cleared on election night. I waited on posting about all this, to see if time gave me any different take on the results of the election. It hasn’t. On a statewide basis, every single General Assembly incumbent that was renominated won reelection. Every. Single. One. No matter how either party tries to spin it, this can only be considered a draw. The out-of-state money brought to bear by everyone’s favorite Stalinist Lawn Gnome, Michael Bloomberg, and others, failed to make much of an impact. It may or may not have aided in the defeat of Hal Parrish… but it certainly helped get Glen Sturtevant elected. Mission decidedly NOT accomplished on that score. The Senate remains 21-19 in favor of the GOP, just as it was going in. The Republicans gained one seat, as Mark Dudenhefer reclaimed the seat he lost in 2013, but lost two in Northern Virginia (more on that later) for a net gain of one seat by the Democrats. Given that the GOP still holds a 66-34 advantage, this will have no effect whatsoever.
The bad news is that, in terms of contested General Assembly races, NoVA Republicans took a beating. All our non-incumbent House and Senate candidates were defeated, including a few on whom the local party leadership chose to concentrate its resources to the exclusion of other candidates.
In Arlington, we didn’t even challenge the two Democrat House members, and only challenged one of the Senate incumbents, and that candidate barely even ran a campaign, and was unsurprisingly routed. All he did was essentially help Favola raise money off the fact there was a candidate, which she then used to assist other Democrats. Better to have run no one. Our county board candidate, trying to run the same ‘independent’ playbook as John Vihstadt did so successfully last year, was beaten soundly. We didn’t even run candidates for any of the constitutional offices, or for school board. This has to change. The Democrats must be challenged every election. With the right candidate, the right message, and the requisite resources, Republicans can sometimes win in Arlington. We don’t have to win the fight, but it’s our duty to fight the fight. Our principles deserve no less.
In Fairfax, things were better on the surface. The long-serving clerk of the court, John Frey, was re-elected, and Jeanette Hough won a school board at-large seat. There was a net gain of one seat on the school board. However, there was a loss of a county board seat, in Sully. That’s a place where Republicans should win, and we won the school board seat in that district. What happened? There are now only two Republicans on the county board. The other county board candidates were beaten pretty soundly.
So why we did we lose in NoVA? Let me begin by saying I don’t think the candidates themselves are to blame. With a couple of exceptions, they ran great races and presented a strong alternative to the Democrats.
First, the demographics themselves are shifting against us, true, but more importantly, we have not effectively responded to the increasingly transient nature of the area. We’re relying on a shrinking voter base that is slowly moving away, and being replaced by new arrivals, many of whom are government workers or dependents. We have to reach out to these folks every year, and expose them to our message of responsible, accountable government, as close to the people as possible. Many of these people don’t understand the culture, history, and traditions, and don’t care to, but I believe we should make the effort, and we will reach some of them. Let’s put in the effort. Without it, it’s a matter of time until we’re doomed to perpetual defeat.
Also, it bears mentioning that the Fairfax Democrats are a ruthless, effective machine. When the minions are commanded to assemble, they assemble. They don’t dwell on petty personal grudges or political turf wars like we do. They fall in line and work to addict as many voters to the siren song of big government Santa Claus as possible, and have no problems lying and demagoging Republicans in doing so.
I’m also going to say that some of them are downright despicable. I’ve previously taken Patrick Hope and others to task for their dishonesty on guns, but what Foust and Favola and their friends did to pressure NOVA Firearms is sickening. The stuff of weasels. Pusillanimous, dishonest, demagoguery. And as far as Mark Sickles goes… when you run a campaign spouting empty talking points, relying on Richmond access donors to fund your campaign, avoid debate and public interaction, and then don’t even have the common decency and respect to return your opponent’s call of congratulations on Election Night… well, you, sir, are a douchebag of the first order. You are unworthy of the public trust on any level. The sooner you are out of office, the better.
As far as Republicans go, we simply did not have the effort and resources… the commitment, if you like, to win. The party focused all its resources on a handful of blessed candidates, based either on who their friends were, or what district they were in. Only Tom Wilson, the newly elected school board candidate in Sully, won, of all these candidates. We had excellent candidates in eastern Fairfax, who were left to fend for themselves by party leadership. If these candidates had gotten a fraction of the financial and material support of their brethren in the western part of the county… well, I won’t say they would have won, but the Democrats would have been sweating it out on Election Night. If you abandon half the county from the get-go, you’re not winning. You’re, in fact, doing the opposite, before the battle is even joined.
It is obvious that new leadership is needed in Fairfax. The ‘cool kids’ in Fairfax Republican circles are focused on a few elected officials, and attend to them and their favored causes, to the exclusion of all else. This needs to end. In particular, if you’re a resident of the Mount Vernon District, and make a big show of what a great Party guy you are, with big ideas and deep pockets, and have pretensions of running statewide (again), maybe you should put in some real effort helping the ticket in eastern Fairfax, and make an appearance at the Mount Vernon Election Night party, or at least the Fairfax one, before running off to Loudoun. My judgment of 2013 stands.
Further, it is time to stop genuflecting before access donors like the Fairfax Chamber, the Northern Virginia Technology Council, and their associated political hangers-on. These folks are not “conservative”, or even Republican. They don’t share our principles, and exist merely to bend government to their will. We shouldn’t be wasting our time with them.
I also think our energy was diffused by the 14,783 Republican presidential campaigns. Yes, I realize 2016 is important, and when the time comes, I’m sure we’ll all be involved. But the entire Senate of Virginia and House of Delegates were at stake this year. We needed to give our best, and we didn’t.
So what do we do? Start by rebuilding the party where it’s been neglected. A political organization is like a muscle. When you don’t use it, it atrophies. This is exactly what’s happened in eastern Fairfax in particular. This has to change, starting now. We can’t allow ourselves to be outhustled, outworked and outmessaged any longer by the Democrats. It won’t change overnight, just as it didn’t become this way overnight… but it can be done. Not only will it help candidates in eastern Fairfax and Arlington, who currently face an uphill battle, it will help our countywide candidates, and our statewide candidates. If we’d hustled in eastern Fairfax, in particular, the past couple years, Mark Obenshain is our Attorney General, Ed Gillespie is in the U.S. Senate, and maybe, just maybe, Ken Cuccinelli is our Governor.
It doesn’t help us to cede ground to the Democrats on issues, either. If we do our best impersonation of the left, the average voter will simply vote for the genuine article. This is one piece of timeless wisdom that will always remain that.
Cross-posted at The Liberty Zone.