Convention got started late because of a lack of convention doors open. Chairman Pat Mullins wanted to open all the doors himself and a Richmond Police Officer threatened him with arrest if he did. 45 minutes after convention was supposed to get started, still about 4,000 seats are empty.
On convention eve a police report has now surfaced of the infamous incident from then Obenshain staffer Patrick Lee and a staffer for the Rob Bell campaign. After this incident which occurred on October 1st, 2011- the victim waited a few days (during which Bell and Obenshain discussed how to resolve this issue) before the victim called the police back to say she would not file formal charges.
Patrick Lee was later hired as Corey Stewart's campaign manager- a campaign which has been under fire for its own illegal activities including anonymous internet and mail campaigns against their opponents in clear violation of state law.
If it wasn't already clear to Bell and Obenshain- this is why you should not "work out" criminal activity behind closed doors and try to shield people from the justice system. Someone who breaks the law in this manner is going to continue to do so as we can see from the activities of the Stewart campaign.
Read the police report and it is hard to understand how anyone who wants to be Attorney General would participate in helping this person escape any charges.
On Saturday Virginia Republicans will be finally selecting their nominee for Lt. Governor from a field of 7 candidates:
Scott Lingamfelter- State Delegate from Prince William and Fauquier counties (2002-present) Jeannemarie Davis- State Delegate from Fairfax county (1998-2004) and State Senator from Fairfax County (2004-2008) Pete Snyder- CEO of Disrupter Capital Corey Stewart- Occoquan District Supervisor in Prince William County (2004-2006) and Chairman of Prince William Board of Supervisors (2006-present) Steve Martin- State Delegate from Chesterfield County (1986-1997) and State Senator from Chesterfield County (1997-present) Susan Stimpson- Falmouth District Supervisor in Stafford County (2009-present) E.W. Jackson- Pastor from the Hampton Roads area
The rules are very important here. Assuming the Delegates approve the RPV plan, the bottom two candidates will be eliminated after the first ballot. Then two more will be eliminated after the second ballot- leaving only three candidates standing. A third ballot will eliminate one more candidate, leaving the final two for runoff to decide the winner on the fourth ballot. The only way to end this process early is a candidate getting 50% of the vote on a ballot.
It's hard to imagine how Jeannemarie Davis can win this. She will bring a good vote from Northern Virginia with her, but her record on guns is a big problem with many convention delegates. If she were to survive into the final three, it's hard to see any coalition that takes her to 50%. Her endorsement though could be very important- and Jeannemarie has told people that she will be supporting Scott Lingamfelter if she is eliminated and he is still on the ballot.
Meanwhile Corey Stewart looked poised to have a chance at this convention, but much of his support has imploded since he began mailing out anonymous attack mailings on the other candidates. Besides being illegal, it is bad politics to attack in a seven way race- and probably leaves Stewart without a clear path to 50%. It also diminishes the value of his endorsement when he is eliminated.
Senator Steve Martin has the best geographic argument and fits the GOP base well with his views- but his campaign has been invisible and most observers expect him eliminated early on.
That leaves four candidates with a real crack at the nomination- Snyder, Stimpson, Lingamfelter and Jackson.
The other two candidates on the ticket- Ken Cuccinelli and Mark Obenshain (who should defeat Rob Bell on the first ballot) may also have interests in who emerges in the LG contest. Cuccinelli would not want Davis or Stewart, but he probably doesn't need to worry about them emerging. He's unlikely to press levers against any of the other candidates so he will stay out of this and wait backstage for a winner. Obenshain has a different agenda- the winner of the LG race is his most likely competition for the GOP nomination for Governor in 2017 if they are both successful in November. Obenshain does not want to face a rival from the "liberty" community in Stimpson, or someone as well connected and funded as Snyder- so once he has prevailed watch out for his people to quietly begin pushing Lingamfelter or Jackson.
If you just watched the campaigns, then many would think Pete Snyder will certainly emerge as the nominee. But with the internal politics- including Davis supporting Lingamfelter and Obenshain likely wanting Lingamfelter as an opponent in 2017, I would put Lingamfelter and Snyder as co-front runners. However, that doesn't mean either is sure of having the support early on to advance into the final three- as it would only take about 20-25% of Delegates for any of the candidates like Davis or Stewart to advance and steal one of those slots even though they are unlikely to win. With her strong support from the Ron Paul nuts, Stimpson also has a chance to make it into the top three.
This race is headed for an exciting ending- and with four ballots its quite possible it could be well into the night on Saturday before the white smoke rises from the Richmond convention center to indicate Republicans finally have their 2013 ticket set.
If you are a regular Democratic primary voter in Virginia you are likely already getting mailings from Aneesh Chopra and Ralph Northam for Lt. Governor. But don't expect to hear much from Justin Fairfax for Attorney General. Fairfax decided not to purchase the Democratic voter file (VAN) through DPVA.
Without the voter file, Fairfax does not have a clue on who votes in these primary elections. He won't have your name, address or phone number from voter lists. Instead, he'll be using random other lists that he hopes includes some of the same people.
This is the kind of unprofessional campaign I wrote about here before. Fairfax doesn't even know the basics, and he has hired a campaign manager who has never worked on a campaign before- so she won't know the importance of this either.
I think Fairfax could have a bright future, but at this point voting to nominate him for Attorney General is political suicide.
The race for Lt. Governor for the Democratic primary is starting to heat up with mail hitting from both candidates and Aneesh Chopra launching his first TV ad. With Chopra's strong fundraising base, and Ralph Northam's family wealth, this will be a race with a lot more voter communication than the Democratic primary for Attorney General held on the same day.
But while the volume of communication is picking up, I'm not impressed with the message from either candidate. Here's why:
Chopra is well known in the technology community and has been highly successful in government as Tim Kaine's Secretary of Technology and Barack Obama's national Chief Technology Officer (CTO). But Chopra's mail spends little time discussing his background or bio- and instead seems to be a bunch of poll tested messages. In his TV and his mail he talks about "standing up for the middle class"- a fine message for polling, but it isn't directly relevant to his background and experience. In fact, I've heard Aneesh speak 10-15 times in the last year and this type of messaging has never crossed his lips. This is the worst thing candidates fall into when they allow their campaigns and message to be hijacked by consultants.
While the Chopra campaign is underwhelming, so is the Northam campaign. His first mail piece was one of the worst pieces I've ever seen in a primary or general election. Northam basically decided to lead with an argument about abortion and transvaginal ultrasounds, which he fought against in Richmond. The piece has pictures of him in a doctor's jacket and even calls him Dr.Northam instead of Senator Northam. Here's my problem with this piece- most voters have no idea who Northam is and won't read this carefully. With the doctor pictures and talking about abortion you could very easily conclude that Northam is an abortion doctor running for Lt. Governor. Even in a Democratic primary that isn't going to give people a real warm feeling about Northam. This would be really bad on its own- but is political malfeasance when in fact Northam is a pediatric neurologist- the type of doctor that is probably viewed positively by 99% of people. To allow someone of this medical stature to be turned into a cartoonish type doctor focused on abortion really shows how clueless the Northam campaign is.
This is one of those elections where you need to remember that one side will have to win. Neither campaign deserves to right now. My take on this primary is it will be wide open all the way until election day for either candidate to stand up and show voters they are ready for prime time. Otherwise, flip a coin.