The invitation-only event was organized ostensibly as a conference to discuss how to rebuild Republican unity, win statewide elections, and grow the Republican Party, which is how the gathering was described in an article published Saturday by the Washington Post.
However, according to multiple sources who attended, the prevailing subtext of the day-long meeting at a Midlothian hotel was how to get organized to promote pro-“establishment” candidates for various party offices, starting with key local GOP committees and culminating in 2016 elections for District chairmanships and the State Central Committee. (Note: We are not a fan of the term “establishment,” but use it here in the way that it is commonly understood).
The VCN is widely regarded in GOP circles as intended to be a counterweight to Virginia’s Conservative Fellowship, a loosely affiliated caucus of pro-convention conservatives on the RPV State Central Committee. [Full disclosure: this author caucuses with the Fellowship.] The Fellowship is credited with organizing a pro-convention majority on the body in 2012. Prior to the shift of focus toward actual grassroots organizing on display Saturday, establishment reaction to the success of the conservative wing had exhibited a heavy-handed character, epitomized by last spring’s “slating” scandals spawned by the Cantor-affiliated YG Network.
Attendees at the Saturday meeting included Cantor, Comstock, and George Allen as headliners, with support from a number of elected officials and their consultants and campaign and/or legislative staffs. We are told that Boyd Marcus and Bill Bolling attended by proxy only. (That’s tongue-in-cheek, folks, in case you were wondering).
Oddly absent from the event was Rep. Dave Brat, in whose district the meeting was held. According to Brat’s office, the Congressman was not invited. Given the focus on “winning elections again” and “party unity,” it seems more than a little uncouth not to invite the guy who just wrote the book on how conservatives win elections. We suppose “unity” must have an alternate definition of which we are unaware.
And that particular concept of unity is what is troubling about this weekend’s meeting. For instance, one of the workshop sessions was entitled, “Reclaiming the Elephant.” There is a lot of meaning packed into that title, but just on the surface there is an implication that something that is rightfully theirs has been taken, and needs to be seized back. We’re sure a lot of this came with window dressing about tending to the Republican brand, etc., but underneath it all, the thing being reclaimed is simply power for its own sake. If it was truly about messaging and electoral temperament, how can one fault (and conspicuously exclude) a man who won a landslide campaigning–quite literally–on the Virginia Republican Creed?
The clear implication is that the 7th District Congressman and his ilk have stolen something, and Cantor and his gang plan to take it back (whether or not that reclamation includes a nomination fight in 2016).
For the record, we don’t think that organizing to advance your position on internal party matters is a bad thing at all. In fact, we encourage any empowerment of grassroots activists within the Republican Party, and on that basis we welcome the participation of our friends who clearly are passionate and dedicated to the cause they think is right. We are looking forward to the positive contributions of the Virginia Conservative Network, as we know there are a lot of good, talented people who are part of it.
We just hope they can do a better job on the unity bit next time.
For our readers’ edification, the text of a promo email for Saturday’s event is pasted below:
The Honorable Eric Cantor will be joining us for the
VIRGINIA CONSERVATIVE NETWORK
REPUBLICAN STATEWIDE CONFERENCE
Former Governor and First Lady of Virginia George and Susan Allen
Congresswoman Barbara Comstock
Virginia House of Delegates Majority Leader Kirk Cox
State Senator John Cosgrove
Distinguished Presenters from across the Commonwealth
We have secured additional spaces, but they will fill up quickly.
If you wish to join in this special day of
Republican outreach and networking,
You will need to register “ASAP!”
(We still have a limited number of seats still available.)
Don’t miss this exciting opportunity!
Saturday, January 17, 2015
11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Doubletree by Hilton Hotel ~ Midlothian
1021 Koger Center Boulevard
Richmond, VA 23235
$20/person to help defray program costs
(includes continental brunch & heavy hors d’euvres reception)
Please RSVP NOW to the Virginia Conservative Network
Judi Lynch, Trixie Averill, John & Carole deTriquet, Davis Rennolds
Bruce & Connie Meyer, Elizabeth Minneman, Linwood Cobb
Becky Stoeckel, Donald Williams and Matt & Sara Rose Wells
[…] formed to retake the State Central Committee for the “establishment.” (See here, “Reclaiming the Elephant,” for more on […]
[…] Republicans “how to ‘win’,” to Cantor running for governor in 2017 to Cantor setting up to take his seat back from Dave Brat in 2016. As time has moved on and people have spread the word, it appears that the true […]
[…] had a confab recently down in Richmond that you may have heard about. Unfortunately, many of the fears the grassroots had about Barbara Comstock appear to have been […]
“uncouth”? I don’t think that word means what you think it means.
The Democruds are laughing their as*es off at us. Every time the GOP gets lucky and wins some elections we form up into circular firing squads. Cantor was not defeated by the Tea Party and ultra right. He lost touch with the average voters in his district and paid the price. The Dems never let morals and feelings get in the way of how they vote. Its a big tent party with pedo sex fiends like Morrissey and Jeffrey Epstein , trator cowards like Michael Moore, and evil billionaires like George Soros. The VA GOP needs to focus on fixing the things they were voted in to do. Get rid of Obama Care, fix the VA, clean house at the IRS and lower our taxes. DO NOT GET SIDETRACKED BY TAR BABIES LIKE ABORTION.
[…] So the meeting “was not focused on the [Seventh] district,” it was focused on Districts 1 through 6 and 8 through 11 or something. Although it was held within the Seventh District, and the former Seventh District congressman gave the keynote, and the former Seventh District chairman played bouncer with a supporter of the current Seventh District leadership. Local conservative political blog The Bull Elephant summed up the circus: […]
Cantor might as well have ebola when it comes to conservatives. Time for new leadership. Put these has-beens to rest.
They perceive themselves as royalty… and their arrogance hurts us with Class voters.
Middle Class voters
If only you had listened to………….well, me!
As for me GOOD! Glad they did this it will clear up the all the BS and put the issues out on the table clear enough for all the equivocators to no longer avoid and dance around. The establishment agenda is out in the open, they want power (reclaimed or otherwise), unilateral policy decisions, a compliant vote and for conservatives to shut the hell up. The lines are drawn make your choice. For those that operate best in the shadows, sorry, but thanks to Cantor the klieg lights have been switched on and no more shape shifting. It the months ahead it will be interesting to see it this “elephant” gets reclaimed or becomes the masthead for conservative opinion and direction in Virginia to rally around.
Eric Cantor and George Allen – this would be a loser’s convention, would it not? I’m guessing that their solution is more steak dinners?????
Meet, eat, and retreat.
I wouldn’t count on that these people may have lost elections but they haven’t lost their corporate cash taps. It would be down right suicidal to underestimate them or dismiss them with a witty quip.
golly, George Allen served in our General Assembly, as a Congressman, as a Governor & as a US Senator. he won elections.
Yep, he did, but then he lost to Jim Web and Tim Kaine; not exactly powerhouses in the Democrat world, and in my view, disqualifying him to give advice to current day Republicans on how to win the BIG races.
Then Gorge Allen sold out and became a mushy moderate, big government voting, keep power at any cost, election losing (good thing) ‘republican’.
He betrayed his principles and the people just like Cantor. That’s when he started losing elections.
If this falsely named “Virginia Conservative Network” would like to chip in for some “party unity” we’d love to have it. They can start by reflecting on their (in)action during the last state-wide elections when they sat on their hands and wallets and subverted Virginia’s conservative ticket. Had they demonstrated some minor modicum of unity, we would have won the Governorship and AG (but not LTG).
As it is, this is the self-interested wing of the party who wishes to move the levers of power to increase their own bank accounts.
As Jeanine said, “So many conservatives, grassroots, and Tea Party members worked hard to elect Barbara Comstock.” Yep, that is the case study for what this group wants. They want actual conservative energy to support them, just as long as they stay in charge.
Stay in the Party, folks, and beat the hell out of the RINOs at every opportunity.
those that i know at the function in question worked for our statewide ticket. that was for US Senator.
But they sat on their hands for the Governor Slate. They worked for establishment candidates George Allen, Eric Cantor, Barbra Comstock and Ed ‘Carl Rove’ Gillespie. They ONLY support their own, and to hell to the rest, except when they want our campaigning, money and votes.
The very last line of that email invitation was “Moving OUR party forward.”
instead of declaring war on certain segments of the people that believe in the republican party,
these people should be trying to return to the principals of the party that others think they have forgotten
these people think the tea part and other parties, that are against the democrats,are the enemy–if anything they should be gathered together, maybe not as one group,. but as bases to launch their campaign with–to be included in their thoughts, included with the THOUGHT PROCESS as to who is the best person to represent ALL of the people and not just the rich or business type of people
some people believe that the CONSTITUTION MEANS SOMETHING and should be enforced not twisted into a worthless piece of paper to be hung on a wall to be ignored.
people have a right to be involved–a right to be included–a right to be considered
isn’t that why it begins with “WE THE PEOPLE
I for one have had enough of people trying to divide this country–I want a UNITER TO STAND UP
WITH ME, and fight for all of the people, not just the chosen few
1) The side that talks about RINO-Hunting and scalp-taking, on sitting out elections for Comstock and Gillespie, can hardly take the high ground on “party unity”.
2) Dave Brat wrote the book on how to win a primary in a solidly red district against an under-prepared opponent, not how to win a contested general election in a swing state/district.
3) Absolutely false characterization to say that all “establishment” or “mainstream” or whatever term you want to use supports slating, or that its the preferred tool of anybody outside the small group of people who actually tried to use it.
All fair points.
Can I assume that raising minimum wage was not part of the agenda? Well, how bout’ holding the employer accountable when they hire illegals? How about imposing Federal ethics laws on state elected officials? How about taking the money out of politics?
Was Congressman Rob Wittman there? What is his position on this?
Read my post above Steve.
Number two is NOT a fair point. Cantor was NOT an under-prepared opponent. Cantor had a war chest of 6 million, he spent 4 million against Dave’s $200,000. Arrogance and abandoning his district, his limited government values and the people lost him that race.
I admit Dave had no strategy that beat Cantor, but it was his actions that did: Hammering the Republican creed (that Cantor violated and ignored), Hammering against Amnesty (which Cantor supported) and paying attention to the voters of the district (who Cantor ignored).
Find me a sign up sheet. Im so excited! Its time to RECLAIM THE ELEPHANT, take OUR party back!
Mark, abandonment of the party won’t help, we need conservatives in party leadership and elected offices and those willing support the effort. A third party will split the vote further in favor of democrats. It’s time the adults take charge, the kids should not be running the household.
Exactly that’s why we need to dump divisive leaders who ignore the people like Allen, Cantor, Boyd Marcus, Ray Allen, Barbra Comstock and Kirk Cox and all their power hungry people ignoring ilk.
Evidently, we live in an Orwellian world. Christian Heiens is right. The only three things the establishment GOP wants from us are our time (to campaign for them), our money, and our votes. I am teetering on abandoning the GOP altogether, and investing fully in a third party to fight the Democrats and the Democrat-lites.
“I just hope you can do a better job on the unity bit next time.” – Steve Albertson
This is very disappointing. So many conservatives, grassroots, and Tea Party members worked hard to elect Barbara Comstock. The last thing we expected was Barbara to immediately jump into bed with Eric Cantor and Linwood Cobb against the very people who just elected her!
“How to win again”, brought to you by “everyone who just lost”. I hope the “elephant reclaiming” sessions have discounted ticket prices.
I thought the WP’s headline was hilarious. Cantor is teaching Republicans how to win? To funny.
how did Cantor become House Majority Leader if he never won an election?
Kelly, he ONLY won elections because the two parties in DC gerrymandered the district to make it democrat win proof, just like they mad Booby Scott’s neighboring district Republican win proof. Back deals between the establishment in both parties.
Canto got his ass handed to him in primary by dave brat. Cantor spent what 4 million I think and Dave Brat ONLY $200,000? Cantor lost BIG.
The best person to ask about how to win again is Dave Brat and he isn’t even in their mix.
And so many conservatives, grassroots, and Tea Party members touted how conservative they were by pointing to their opposition of Barbara Comstock, even after her landslide win for the nomination.
Not even close to reality in the 10th district but thanks for sharing your fantasy.
You’re denying that there were any conservatives or Tea Partiers who didn’t support Barbara? Like, any at all?
There were a whole boat load without question.
Yeah there were a whole boatload who supported Comstock, and we warned, but they refused to listen. They believed the lies that she wasn’t establishment.
Yes, I heard there were three in Winchester but that was just a rumor.
I tried to warn all the good minded Tea Party, Libertarian and true conservatives that Comstock was a snake in the grass, ready to bit the mice that helped elect her when she got elected. And winning makes you conservative?
All indications at this point are that the GOP leadership in Congress, and many of our Virginia GOP representatives, are going to shout and beat the table about illegal executive amnesty and ObamaCare, but that they’ll lead no real attempt to reverse either.
It’s likely that in 20 years, the present GOP will be campaigning on “We just want to insure that ObamaCare remains solvent” and the Dems will be campaigning on “Republicans want to take away your health care.” It might be the Medicare/Social Security battle put to another entitlement. The results of continuing illegal immigration are unclear, at best.
As 2016 approaches, conservatives might need to consider H.L Menken’s observation that “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.” More and more, the choice seems to be either to go along with incrementally raising the water temperature around the frog in the pot, or let the system raise the temperature rapidly.
Hate to say I told you so regarding Comstock BUT I told you so!
I tried to warn all the good minded Tea Party, Libertarian and true conservatives that Comstock was a snake in the grass, ready to bit the mice that helped elect her when she got elected.
Their definition of “unity” is for conservatives and libertarians to just sit down and shut up. We just want a seat at the table…what’s wrong with that?