At the Richmond Tea Party Patriots Convention last month, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, a favorite of the tea-party movement because of his principled adherence to the constitution and his willingness to courageously challenge the over reach of President Barack Obama’s policies, attributed the tea party’s rapid rise to the “utter failure of the Republican Party in Washington.” The audience exploded in raucous cheers and applause.
The impetus of the “tea party” movement has been well documented and I am not going to go back down that road again. Instead, I would like to challenge the contention of establishment Republicans, that they have learned their lesson and now, having been granted a second chance, are on probation and won’t betray us again.
It just so happens that while Cuccinelli was railing on the unprincipled behavior of the Bush-era Republican lawmakers, sitting next to him on that stage were two Senators who played no small part in the aforementioned offense. Rick Santorum and George Allen, who were both ousted from the Senate in 2006 in a wave election which rejected their leadership, came to Richmond to win favor with the movement. They hoped that all would be forgotten. They weren’t the only ones, I saw more than one of our Republican State Senators who voted for Governor Mark Warners huge tax increase in 2004 milling around and of course the establishment anointed 2013 gubernatorial candidate Bill Bolling appeared as well.
The Tea Party members are willing to let bygones be bygones and they are willing to let a George Allen compete for nomination but what they will not tolerate is the secret back room deals by establishment party leaders that lead to horrible candidates like Scozzafava in NY or almost saddled us with Crist in Florida or Castle in Delaware.
In Virginia the parties can select their nominees through the primary election process or through a convention. When choosing a state-wide nominee, the establishment generally prefers a primary as it favors establishment candidates with more name recognition and more money while conservatives prefer the convention.
This Saturday the Republican Party of Virginia’s Central committee will be meeting and Russ Moulton, a long-time conservative Republican Party activist is sounding the alarm in this letter to the committee which was originally posted at Bearing Drift.
Dear State Central Member,
My name is Russ Moulton, a long-time conservative Republican Party activist, and former 1st District GOP Chairman. I was George Allen’s Fredericksburg Area Coordinator for his successful 1993 Convention campaign for our Gubernatorial Nomination, and was a delegate for Bob Marshall’s unsuccessful US Senate nomination bid at the 2008 Convention. I have not committed to either candidate in the upcoming 2012 Senate nomination contest, and, who knows, we may see additional candidates emerge. It is still quite early.
I am alarmed at what I have learned is happening in advance of the November 20th State Central Committee meeting:
– A few SCC members aligned with one candidate (George Allen) are rushing the SCC to vote Novembers 20th on the method of nomination for 2012 – when most members believed this vote would occur in March or even June 2011, after all nomination method options had been explored, party plan amendments decided, and full information gathered, and deliberated.
– George Allen and Vice Chairman Mike Thomas have been calling State Central Members quietly to lobby them to vote for a Primary at the Nov 20th meeting. While I like and deeply respect Mike, he is a well-known Allen-booster. Word is they have already “lined up their votes” and a Primary is a “fait accompli” – without the direct, open deliberation of Party leaders.
As you are probably aware, it is universally accepted that a Primary works to the great advantage of one candidate (George Allen), and thus why he would ask SCC to give him a Primary.
This sort of Party establishment favoritism, back-room dealing and manipulation is precisely the sort of thing the Tea Party rails against. They are tired of the status quo in our politics.
The Tea Party is already disappointed with our Party for the big domestic spending during the Bush years, and by association, George’s time in the Senate during those years. We do not need to hurt George with the Tea Party by furthering his perception as the establishment candidate, with Party insiders handing him the nomination via a Primary.
In fact, I understand that several Tea Party leaders at the recent Tea Party Convention in Richmond let George know in no uncertain terms their desire for a Convention for 2012.
Our State Central Committee is elected by the grass-roots of our Party, which includes the Tea Party. Let’s not rush a vote on a 2012 method of nomination at the Nov 20th State Central meeting. Let’s get our input from the grass roots that elected us — not react and rush things in response to a request by one candidate. Let’s defer this vote until we’ve properly considered everything, perhaps deciding at the March or June 2011 meeting.
Add to this the report from the Richmond Times Dispatch that Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling came out strongly today against proposed Republican Party of Virginia rules changes that could help Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, a possible challenger, win the nomination to run for governor in 2013 and I wonder if the Republican Party Gets it.
While a willingness to cut spending and get our fiscal house in order is welcomed and necessary, that alone will not satisfy the tea party activists. The people have a high level of mistrust of establishment politicians and their backroom deals. The people want to participate in selecting their candidates and shenanigans like this will not help George Allen, Bill Bolling, and the Republican Party win over the support of the patriot movement, indeed it is more likely that this will energize them to oppose them.