I am ready to endorse…. Because Wednesday’s debate sponsored by the Virginia Tea Party between the candidates for Chair of The Republican Party of Virginia, made it very clear: I am endorsing Mike Schoelwer for election at the State Convention to become the new Chair of the Republican Party of Virginia. There will be more debates, but it’s already clear.
However, I endorse Mike Schoelwer for RPV Chair with the reservation that someone needs to sneak up and shave Mike’s overly-dramatic beard, in the middle of the night if necessary. I recently came across a college fraternity photograph showing me in a tragic beard experimentation phase. Today, I wish my fraternity brothers back then had thrown me in a van and taken me to a barber. (When time travelers in the future read this, could you go back to 1984 and warn me to shave?)
It is sad to live in such a superficial time. But the RPV Chair will represent Republicans to the voters of Virginia including visually. Yes, we should have had Kay Cole James many years ago or Jeff Dove this year running for RPV Chair. I spent many hours at the Advance trying to talk people into running.
I have always liked Rich Anderson, a second candidate for RPV Chair and my neighbor here in Prince William County. But Mike Schoelwer “gets it.” Rich Anderson is half way there and moving in the right direction. But most Virginia Republicans spent too long soaking in the status quo.
If Rich Anderson were our only alternative, I would crawl over broken glass to vote for Rich. But Mike Schoelwer understands where we are and what needs to change. In the Alfred E. Neumann “What me worry?” foolishness of Virginia Republicans, their massive failure since 1994, when the establishment stabbed Ollie North in the back, only a little bit of reform is needed. Not much. Just a little. That delusion is killing us.
Jack Wilson may be a nice man. I don’t know. But there are too many Republicans in Virginia who still think it is the 1980s. They were raised to believe in a “do nothing” effortless Republicanism where the only challenges are who is going to bring the potato salad to the picnic and where to hold the Lincoln dinner. Being RPV Chair or any GOP official is actual work, not just posturing and taking a bow.
In the debate, Jack Wilson still clings to the failed strategy of a “big tent” GOP. Like socialism, which sounds great on the surface, a “big tent” sounds superficially appealing but has always been a failure in reality. Who would have thought that standing for nothing and selling out to whatever the Washington Post editorial page says would inspire Republicans to go fishing with their grandchildren instead of volunteering on campaigns? So Wilson is all for it. Anderson waffled.
Wilson endorsed the strategy of the Suburban Virginia Republican Coalition. That will work… tell suburban voters that the Republican party stands for X while telling the rest of Virginia that we stand for Y. (Note: The website www.SUVGOP.org goes to the Fairfax Democrats’ website. No surprise there.) What could go wrong from lying to at least some of the voters? Creating confusion about what it means to be a Republican – how could that hurt our brand? Or is the “suburban” focus just the latest scam to steer the GOP hard to the Left? Well, you weren’t born yesterday.
I am aggravated because I had this conversation personally, one-on-one with John Whitbeck and other leaders since 2009. I walked with Ed Gillespie out to his car after a BBQ in his honor and urged him to talk to Geraldine Davie and get our precinct captain operations up to speed, and urged him to upgrade our party’s technical capabilities like databases. Gillespie beamed with pride and optimism and assured me confidently that I was going to be SOOO proud of the GOP’s precinct operations that November. It was – predictably – a disaster.
Somehow Virginia Republicans have been infected with the idea that just saying things is the same as actually doing them. And that brings us to our incumbent RPV Chair Jack Wilson.
RPV is broke. For years, the Republican Party of Virginia did not have a Finance Chair appointed by either Jack Wilson or his predecessor John Whitbeck. How are you going to raise any money if you don’t even fill the position of Finance Chair? (And don’t tell me what you think the position is about. Big donors are going to notice you don’t even have a Finance Chair.)
We just started getting emails from RPV. But only because Jack wants to stay in his job. But how many of Virginia’s Republican voters can RPV communicate with? How can you be a party if you can’t even talk to your voters? In 2017, 365,803 Republicans voted in the GOP primary for Governor. An estimated 2,539,200 are Republicans (at 30%) out of Virginia’s population of 8.464 million. If the RPV needs to get information, refute lies from Democrats, or get people to donate, or vote, how many of Virginia’s estimated can Jack Wilson reach?
The debate discussed the failure of Republicans to run for 10 of 40 Senate seats and 27 Delegate campaigns. Wilson thought that was fine because we want to win the races. Wilson doesn’t understand, while Schoelwer clearly does, that (1) competing for all offices spreads the Democrats thin, and (2) elections are unpredictable so you cannot guess that a certain office is not worth running for. Most of the very slender gains by Democrats in Virginia came by surprise upsets in races that looked hopeless to Democrats. But they ran candidates there anyway. Schoelwer understands that a candidate usually needs to run multiple times to win, so the experience of running is itself a priceless benefit.
If any business or a sports team were suffering the same horrific results that RPV has experienced for many years, any honorable leader would resign. I would like to see the future debates ask Wilson a few questions, starting with why he is placing Virginia at risk instead of stepping aside for new leadership.