Sunday, December 18, 2016

Cantor, Virginia, and the GOP: An Unhappy RINO Retread

Virginia used to be a reliably red state. George W. Bush won Virginia twice.

Then Barack Obama came to office and he swept the Old Dominion both times.

Hillary Clinton won Virginia as well, even though she (thankfully) lost the election

What has happened to the state once dubbed the Mother of Presidents?

How could this have happened?

Two arguments are worth entertaining:

1. More government--as long as the federal government continues to expand, and as long as the state depends on federal contracts and liaisons with the military, government spending will remain a priority and the state will continue to grow blue. The concentration of wealth around Washington DC, in the counties in Maryland and Virginia specifically, spell out further that government-funded bureaucrats are dominating the northern region.

2. Illegal immigration, Illegal aliens are moving into the region, and the demographic changes coming with it are dragging the state into the Democratic column.

This is not a process or agenda that will work out well for the Commonwealth or for any other state in the country.

Sadly, the former majority leader of the House GOP, Eric Cantor, was more interested in pandering on illegal immigration and did not want to check the size and scope of government. He lost in a sudden primary fight, where his challenger David Brat was outspent 10 to 1.

Cantor's constituents were disappointed with the former majority leaders' lack of outreach and connection with his constituents. They expected a representative who was responsive to their needs, not his own. The biggest issue, of course, was immigration. His insistence on DREAM Act legislation, which pleased Republican Party donors, was out of touch with his tidewater Virginia district.

Now, the same former leader of the pack who was forced out of office in a primary is suggesting that he knows what it will take to turn Virginia red again.

Check out his comments below, with commentary

Eric Cantor column: Rebuilding a responsive Virginia GOP

Where we used to control them all, Republicans currently hold no statewide offices in Virginia. It is absolutely critical that not be the case come 2020.

What is the former majority leader's plan? Should we care?

By Eric Cantor

In 1984 I cast my first ballot for President Ronald Reagan, who won in a national landslide with just under 59 percent of the vote. His win in Virginia was a tidal wave at just over 62 percent — the result of a lot of hard, grassroots building that had been occurring for years.
My father, a Jewish Republican and a young lawyer, was attracted to Virginia’s GOP as an outsider party open to new ideas to make Virginia a better place. Once reaching voting age in the 1980s, I joined my father and thousands of other volunteers to continue the work to build a Republican Party that would eventually be trusted to lead our commonwealth.

More Jewish voters--orthodox Jews--are voting Republican because the GOP stands with and supports the state of Israel. The Democratic Party tried to remove all references to God and reject recognition of Jerusalem as the right and proper capital of the Israel. These are disturbing trends which have worried Jewish voters enough to vote Republican.

How did those rebel Republicans fight and beat a well-funded, entrenched Democratic machine? Can we do it again? What can we learn from the last Republican takeover?
I firmly believe we can turn Virginia red again in 2020, but doing so will take a concerted effort between now and then.

It's worth noting that political parties and trends shift considerably from generation to generation. Platforms for both parties change in response to culture norms and concerns, along with foreign policy disputes.

The first and most important step is winning the governorship in 2017. Where we used to control them all, Republicans currently hold no statewide offices in Virginia. It is absolutely critical that not be the case come 2020.

I predict that Former RNC Chairman and US Senate candidate Ed Gillespie will capture the governorship that year.

He was very very close to winning the US Senate race, even though he had little to no money, and had to run against double-digit polling which suggested that he did not have a change against Mark Warner.

A successful governor becomes the face of the party — someone who can introduce the party to new voters (Virginia’s voter rolls have grown by over 366,000 since the last Republican governor left office); someone who can demonstrate that the party cares for the commonwealth’s residents.

It's true. Virginia candidates must care about Virginia voters. This was a problem for Eric Cantor. He spent $100,000 on steak dinners, while his primary challenger David Brat spent that amount of money in his entire primary campaign--and won!

Second, Republicans have to refocus on building up our party infrastructure. A party that is stronger at the local, county and congressional levels gives all of our candidates a stronger team in the final stretch before an election.

Has Cantor learned his lesson from his epic defeat in 2014? Apparently, and yet he makes no clear statement about realizing that he had ignored the deeply-rooted concerns of the voters in his district. He was deaf to their needs. He was uninterested in Middle America's abiding fears and worries.

In the past four years we have seen the Republican National Committee place thousands of full-time grassroots activists across the country. It was expensive and complicated, but it also helped elect our new president and save the House and Senate.

For the record ... was Eric Cantor on the Trump Train early on? Whom did he endorse for President during the Election 2016 Presidential primary?

He styles himself as a private-sector consultant in global markets.

He then endorsed ... guess who?  ... Jeb Bush.

Nope. Cantor really didn't learn a thing.

He also believed that Donald Trump was not going to make it through the primary.

He still does not sense the heartbeat of the voters in Virginia or in the country.

When my father was helping build the party in the 1970s and ‘80s, times were simpler but the principles from their time still work in our time. Organized and well-trained grassroots armies working hard on behalf of statewide candidates were the secret weapon that helped create the tidal wave we saw with Reagan and George W. Bush, and George Allen’s 17-point come-from-behind victory for governor.

George Allen is no longer Governor, no longer House Rep, no longer United States Senator. Allen was an ambitious men who styled himself as a Presidential candidate for 2008. That was in 2005, barely a year after Election 2004.

Allen ended up losing to Jim Webb in 2006. and his second bid for US Senate in 2012 for an open seat also ended in failure. Establishment politicians want to build on grassroots enthusiasm, but then cave to the donor class in DC.

Grassroots voters have had enough of this nonsense. The people living in Virginia--and throughout the country--want representation which honors their interests.

Is it really that difficult to understand?

We need to be willing to build, manage and invest in this type of infrastructure again if we want to be successful.

Trump talked about this. What happened with the Republican Congress in 2005? Most of the money was a bunch of pork barrelling and earmarking which had little or nothing to do with improving the long-term infrastructure needs of our country.

Third, Republicans must do a much better job of localizing statewide races, by understanding the different challenges and priorities of the various regions of our state.

There's an idea, but it's not a novel one.

Northern Virginia, Tidewater, Southside and Richmond all contribute to our state in very specific ways. Voters want well-paying and stable careers, safe streets and good schools. But each region presents unique challenges to a prospective governor.

So ... Cantor is running for Governor?

For example, Virginia has some of the most prosperous counties in the nation. But Virginia is also home to 35 counties or cities where the average weekly wage is no more than 60 percent of the national average. These are hardworking but poor communities that our state’s recovery has missed.

Cantor is now trying to capture Trump's populist sentiment. The problem is that Cantor is going to struggle to shake-off his elitist, Washington mentality.

Former campaign staffers and volunteers then ran the campaign which unseated him in 2014.

Check out this video to learn more:

Statewide, about one in 10 workers face a commute to work that is an hour or longer, but in Prince William County, one in four do. That is a lot of time in a car away from work, away from family.

He's talking about commuting. OK ....

A successful statewide candidate, whether for governor, Senate or president, will understand these and countless other differences and design a policy agenda that aims to instill the confidence and earn the trust of all Virginians without exception.

Final Reflection

There's a lot of meandering gobbledy-gook in Cantor's editorial.

We need care about middle class families. We need to bring back jobs, restore our roads, and expand educational opportunities.

But how does he intend to accomplish all of this? He was in Congress for fourteen years. Where were the advancements on school choice? What about getting rid of the Department of Education altogether and allowing states and cities to take over full control of the education process?

For the greater part of the Bush Administration, it sounds as though he was in lock-step with the budget-busting spending. What about the TARP bailouts? All this talk and rah-rah is useless.

Let's state the evident obvious truth: Cantor is putting out the feelers for a statewide run soon.

Do the Commonwealth voters really want him back? He has not learned his lesson. He is not in touch with the needs of the constituents in the district. He has a passive arrogance about him, a didactic arrogance which claims that he knows everything and that he can make the Republican Party of Virginia great again.

Nope. I don't want to see Cantor in office ever again, and the Virginia GOP can do better than a candidate who was majority leader and still got pushed out because he refused to represent his constituents or to honor their concerns.

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