Check back here often for updates from Roanoke, where Virginia Republicans are gathering to select their next U.S. Senator. Coverage begins Friday, and closes out when the gavel comes down Saturday afternoon.
9:00PM Saturday: Just home from Roanoke. Will post complete wrap-up and analysis tomorrow.
2:52PM Saturday: Shak Hill makes a motion nomination by acclamation. Very strong pro-unity message. A class act.
Congrats to our nominee!!!!
2:46 PM Saturday: It’s over. A concession will be forthcoming shortly.
2:43 PM Saturday: Couldn’t make sense of the numbers from whoever barged on the stage to read them, but it looks like Shak narrowly won the 5th district.
2:38 PM Saturday: 6th district reports 53% for Gillespie. Folks, I think we’ve got a nominee. It’s mathematically possible that the results from the 2nd, 5th, 7th, 9th, and 11th could swing it the other way, of course. But, the 6th was one of those places where Shak had to win in order to offset totals from the Northern Virginia for Ed.
2:30 PM Saturday: The 8th district, encompassing much of Arlington and Alexandria, reports 87% for Gillespie.
2:30 PM Saturday: It’s looking like Ed is going to win. We now have results from the 10th, 4th, and the 1st. In the 4th, Ed has 70% of the vote. In the 1st, it’s closer, but Gillespie is pulling 60% there. In the 10th, Gillespie is really pulling away, winning with 70% of the vote.
Shak’s strongholds will be in the valley and southside, which haven’t reported yet, but it’s hard to see how he can recover from this, especially when the 8th and 11th come in, which are widely expected to deliver huge margins for Gillespie.
2:16 PM Saturday: Ed wins Prince William by a big margin, with 2/3rds of the vote. That’s big.
2:08 PM Saturday: First results reported from the Third District (not a big weighted vote). 165.57 for Shak Hill, 309.43 for Gillespie. Zero for the other candidates. Also hearing reports of big numbers for Gillespie in Chesterfield and parts of the 5th.
1:27 PM Saturday: Strong presentation by Ed, and well received. Voting has begun.
1:16 PM Saturday: Ed takes the stage to a mixed, but mostly enthusiastic, reaction. Speaks directly to national impact of this race.
1:15 PM Saturday: I’m detecting somewhat more noise for Gillespie than Hill. Being introduced by Mark Obenshain now.
1:12 PM Saturday: Gillespie’s video is very strong. Narrated by former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson.
1:10 PM Saturday: Tara Wall speaking on behalf of Ed. She’s talking about inclusion and outreach.
1:05 PM Saturday: A very high production value presentation is queued up for Ed Gillespie. Lots of resources, professionalism, and decades of campaign experience will be manifested in the next 15 minutes.
1:03 PM Saturday: Gillespie camp gathering backstage and preparing for their presentation. Ed will be introduced by Tara Wall and Sen. Mark Obenshain.
12:53 PM Saturday: Tony DeTora takes the stage with a PowerPoint presentation highlighting aspects of American history. Talks about his grandfather in Italy during WWII. Low production value, but very sincere and heartfelt.
12:51 PM Saturday: Shak ends his speech in a crescendo of Constitutionalist red meat. Lots of excitement and applause. “AIM HIGHER” is plastered to the screen.
12:48 PM Saturday: Shak leading a call and response with the crowd, eliciting chants of “Mark, what the heck were you thinking!?!” Four minutes remaining in his presentation. “How are we better off being governed by fundraisers?” Says he is the only candidate in this race who can defeat Mark Warner, because Warner doesn’t know how to run against him. Says he has the moral authority to challenge Mark Warner…very negative, elicits lots of booing!!
12:46 PM Saturday: Shak criticizing Obama for failing to mount rescue mission for Bergdahl. Says “We’re here for the fight for the very heart and soul of our Republican Party!” Then, shifts to talking about a variety of federal issues as a means of criticizing “Mark Warner and the DC lobbyists who brought him up.”
12:43 PM Saturday: E.W. Jackson calls the situation a “national emergency” requiring the nomination of Shak Hill. Hints strongly at Gillespie being a “crony capitalist.” Mixed reaction when Shak takes the stage…wow. Some booing. Not cool.
12:41 PM Saturday: Wild reception for E.W. Jackson! Extended cheers and applause greets him as he takes the stage for Shak.
12:38 PM Saturday: Shak’s video is very effective, utilizing a TV news clip about the Hill family having chosen life in their difficult personal situation. Great production value…hats off to Greg Letiecq of NOVA Digital Productions.
12:35 PM Saturday: Shak’s presentation starts with 4 minutes of packaged video, then will segue to E.W. Jackson.
12:28 PM Saturday: Still 9 minutes to go before Shak’s speech, but his folks are getting excited. Shak looks primed to deliver a barn burner.
12:25 PM Saturday: Bishop E.W. Jackson is waiting in the wings backstage. It appears he will be introducing Shak Hill. Looking to replay some of last year’s magic.
12:20 PM Saturday: Chuck Moss beginning his presentation. He’s being introduced by his young nieces and nephew. His video shows him driving a tractor on his farm. Interestingly, he seems to be towing a manure spreader. Not sure if that’s intentional irony or not.
12:15 PM Saturday: Candidate speeches about to start. Sources close to Gillespie are expressing confidence in the results, saying that their counts in weighted votes (i.e., from Fairfax, Loudoun, Arlington, Alexandria, Virginia Beach) are going to be enough to win.
11:52 AM Saturday: Last minute addition to the roster of speakers: Gov. Jim Gilmore, one of the best friends the taxpayers of Virginia have ever had. Gov. Gilmore will follow Cuccinelli.
11:41 AM Saturday: Cuccinelli greeted with wild, raucous applause! Ken is still beloved by this crowd.
11:36 AM Saturday: Pete Snyder is warming up the crowd for Ken Cuccinelli, who is up next. Ken will be introduced by Mort Blackwell, Virginia’s Republican National Committeeman.
Ken’s speech will be prefaced by this video:
11:22 AM Saturday: Jeff Schapiro of the Richmond Times-Dispatch is apparently spreading the rumor that RPV is slowing down the convention process in order to give Gillespie’s people more time to show up. I can say 100% that it not true…the process is already running about an hour ahead of schedule, and RPV is trying to fill time until all the speakers (e.g., Ken Cuccinelli) are here and prepared to speak.
Panic time among some Gillespie supporters. I haven’t heard directly from those close to Ed, but among many of my fellow members of the State Central Committee who are Ed supporters, the realization of potential defeat is finally dawning.
10:54 AM Saturday: As I wrote here (about the “Ghost of E.W. Jackson”), with this kind of turnout the only chance the Gillespie team has at this point is to throw out enormous slabs of red meat to the conservatives assembled here. We’re hearing reports of Gillespie buses showing up from NoVa with only a small portion of the seats filled (and a number of those passengers making a beeline to volunteers handing out Shak Hill stickers). It’s looking pretty good for Shak Hill.
10:36 AM Saturday: Micah Edmonds, nominee for Congress from the 8th District, is speaking now. Very sharp guy. It’s an uphill climb for him in that district, but I’m glad he’s there for us. He visibly displays the discipline that he learned as a U.S. Marine, and has a great presence on stage.
10:20 AM Saturday: Oh boy…turnout is looking grim for Gillespie. It’s almost 10:30 and there are only 2,400 delegates checked-in.
9:58 AM Saturday: Chairman Pat Mullins calls the assembly to order. Played his alma mater’s (Columbia) fight song as he took the stage.
9:50 AM Saturday: Turnout so far is good, but unclear as to what actual numbers are. The Civic Center arena looks pretty empty. So far, speakers have included CRFV President Liz Minneman, Sen. Ralph Smith, and former Lieutenant Governor John Hager. Ron Wilcox, of the Northern Virginia Tea Party, is speaking now.
9:39 PM Friday: Hospitality suites are going strong. Reports from the dinner said Paul Ryan gave a rousing speech, if you were a Gillespie supporter. The Bull Elephant’s suite is jam packed! Absolute highlight of the convention has been just hearing Third District Chairman Chris Stearns singing and playing guitar. What a talent! (And, Steve Mullins, it’s not Spinal Tap, but he did just belt out a rendition of Stairway to Heaven!)
6:43 PM Friday: Lack of updates is a natural lull…not much happening now as people go to dinner and gear up for the suites. Young Republicans Federation is having their event now at Billy’s, a bar/restaurant across the tracks from the hotel. More frequent updates starting at 9:00 PM.
In the meantime, the delegate check-in total for the day was 887. Our analysis is that if total delegates showing up exceeds 3000 then the outcome favors Gillespie. Short of that, it’s a toss up that depends on the mix of delegates from vote-rich places like Fairfax and Virginia Beach. If turnout is really low conventional wisdom says Shak is favored. But, having nearly 900 check in the day before the event convenes suggests we’re more on track for higher turnout. In any case, buckle your seatbelts…anything can happen at a convention.
4:54 PM Friday: Delegate check-in totals so far point to high turnout.
3:31 PM Friday: Russ Moulton (attending as a proxy for someone else) asks Del. Massie about the House taking independent action to have a lawyer defend the marriage amendment. Massie punts to Rob Bell.
Bell says that there are standing issues. Also expressed some concern about cost of essentially setting up a parallel attorney general. Bell says the legislature is thinking outside the box to find ways around that.
A question from the floor asks about whether the administration would similarly take a pass on enforcing photo ID requirements. Bell says if there’s a challenge to the law, it’s conceivable Herring could refuse to defend the law. Bell says “we’re on the side of the angels here,” because the ID requirement cannot be characterized as a poll tax when IDs are provided for free.
3:13 PM Friday: Del. Jackson Miller (R-Prince William) takes a slightly different tack on Medicaid expansion: “When are we as a nation going to get off the welfare-entitlement state?…The 400,000 Virginians who would get this get lots of other things…a free credit card to get free food. They get free TANF…that’s walking around money, cash.” Miller talks about Obamaphone, and other programs. His point is that we’re perpetuating a culture of dependency.
3:08 PM Friday: Reports from legislators in attendance. Del. Jimmie Massie (R-Henrico) asserts that the Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission (MIRC) has the only authority, other than the full General Assembly, to expand Medicaid. Massie gets applause after saying the Republicans in the House aren’t going to reward intransigence and misbehavior by the Democrats on holding the budget hostage. Explains consequences to spending and localities of not having budget by July 1. Says he is hopeful and optimistic that Senate and Governor will send back House budget, and that in a couple weeks we will have a clean budget without Medicaid expansion. Says to let the MIRC work, and *maybe* have a special session.
3:00 PM Friday: Fairly strong early check-in totals. Here’s where it stands as of 2:53 PM:
2:25 PM Friday: Chairman Mullins exhorting party leaders to unite around whoever our nominee will be…very forceful. Followed by Shaun Kenney with the same message, who punctuated the Chairman’s message with some thoughts about how Virginia fits into the national scene. Kenney delivers Executive Director’s report…talking about data (i360) and GOP Data Center. Here’s the thing about what Shaun is saying that no one has talked about before: analytics. It’s not just about having data available, but knowing how to use it.
Say what you will about Shaun, but the man was made for this job…he’s very much in his element.
Big news: Sen. Rand Paul to host an RPV fundraiser in August.
2:10 PM Friday: State Central convened. Standing room only. 6th District Chairman Wendell Walker gave the invocation, including a tribute to those who fell on Normandy beaches 70 years ago today.
1:55 PM Friday: RPV Executive Director Shaun Kenney has been doing an excellent job running the show at the Obenshain Center, and appears to have organized an excellent event here, with the help of a very competent Convention Director, Jeb Wilkinson.
1:50 PM Friday: The State Central Committee meeting is about to begin. Senior RPV officials report that Sen. Frank Wagner (R-Virginia Beach) is going to try to force consideration of the slating controversy in the 2nd District. As you may recall, there is a dispute about who is the rightful chairman in the 2nd, with the slaters favoring Wagner, and everyone else favoring Curtis Colgate. Chairman Pat Mullins cut through the fog and declared that–for now–RPV would recognize Colgate as the 2nd District Chairman.
I believe there is very little appetite for hashing this out today. Everyone’s primary focus is getting behind a nominee for Senate. My guess is that any action on the 2nd will be set aside for a later meeting so as to not distract from the primary business at hand.
1:45 PM Friday: Ran into Shak Hill and Ed Gillespie. Both men are very confident, very energized. Each is constantly surrounded by supporters and well-wishers.
Lots of complaints about the distance between the hotel and the Civic Center, where registration is. It is quite a walk. I’m told it’s 8 blocks (though a quick drive).
120:01 PM Friday: Attendees are trickling into the Hotel Roanoke. The stage at the Civic Center is built, and lighting and audio being raised into the rafters.
Volunteers clad in “Gillespie Green” greet hotel guests. The buzz everywhere is just how much of a contest Shak Hill appears to have made things. People close to the Gillespie campaign acknowledge there’s still a contest, but insist that their number-crunching shows a win for Ed.
Pro-convention poobahs have privately told me this morning that they were grateful for Jeanine Martin’s post here yesterday, where she pointed up the danger to conventions if Shak Hill wins the nomination. Conversely, Hill supporters have derided the post as advocating preemptive surrender (i.e., allowing the “establishment” to win now so that the “establishment” doesn’t win later).
In either case, soon enough we may have the chance to test Jeanine’s hypothesis.