As a point of information (since I was helping with the conference earlier in the year) here's why I won't be attending. I don't want to add anything, I will let these emails from last night speak for themselves:
"From: Eileen Levandoski To: Brian Moran, Creigh Deeds, Susan Swecker, Lowell Feld, Kris Amundson, Bob Brink, Not Sabato
Eileen Levandoski here. I run a blog down here in Virginia Beach called VB Dems.
I think most of you know me, but just in case you don't... I am a long
time Democratic activist who moved down to Virginia Beach in November
2005 from Loudoun County. In Loudoun, I served as the Communications
chairperson on the Loudoun County Democratic Committee. I also founded
and directed a Virginia PAC known as Black Out 2005, and contributed to
the lovely defeat of Dick Black.
I am writing to you now to let you each know that I myself and my
blog have been excluded from the Bloggers Conference. The Republican
organizers of this conference have had it in for me dating back to the
campaigns of Jim Webb and Phil Kellam. They are very intimidated by my
aggressive blogging on behalf of our Democratic candidates and are
constantly lashing back at me for it. Being excluded from this
conference is just one more example of their insecurities.
After being excluded, I contacted both Lowell from Raising Kaine
and Ben from Not Larry Sabato. Lowell indicated that he never planned
on attending anyway and Ben upon learning of my exclusion decided to
stand with me and pulled his participation in the conference. This
conference will now be sans two of Virginia's biggest and best
bloggers, but these organizers have only themselves to blame for this.
Like I said, I am just wanted to make you aware of my situation. Best of luck with it!
My reply is as follows:
From: Not Larry Sabato To: Brian Moran, Creigh Deeds, Susan Swecker, Lowell Feld, Kris Amundson, Bob Brink, Eileen Levandoski
Thanks for the update Eileen. I think you did an amazing job with the Blackout blog, and for Jim Webb/Phil Kellam last year on the blogs. Your blogging is aggressive, but it should be against some of these Republicans.
I don't know Hampton Roads politics very well, but I have seen you get trashed on all the conservative blogs down there, usually on very partisan issues. The personal venom you have faced is ridiculous. I also think it is awful that they excluded you in any way from this conference. Like I told you before, I'm not going to go to this event and mingle with people that are excluding a legitimate blogger like yourself for any reason. The only thing that would do is encourage and endorse that behavior.
Finally, Lowell's thoughts here:
"From: Lowell Feld To: Brian Moran, Creigh Deeds, Susan Swecker, Kris Amundson, Bob Brink, Eileen Levandoski, Not Larry Sabato
Eileen is a courageous woman to stand up to these right wingers and deserves all of our support. Thanks to Ben for not participating in a conference that excludes her. - Lowell"
"Connolly said county officials have found
several boarding houses, and in some cases, brothels, making the issue
bigger than just zoning enforcement. That’s why there is a need to
"strike back" with the teams, he said."
Hmm... didn't realize the brothels were such a big issue in Fairfax.
(I've been meaning to write about this for a few months, but today's poll makes it relevant..)
In the last couple of months I have been at three events that Attorney General Bob McDonnell has been a guest at. Two were political events for candidates running that I was covering, and the third was the Virginia Free luncheon earlier this month. At all three events I made some time to follow him around a little, watch him in action with people and see what makes Bob a successful politician.
One of the first things I noticed was his personal style. A lot of politicians like for people to come up to them and chat. Bob's different. He aggressively works every room and goes up to people himself to say hello. This gives him a big advantage in the conversations- who wants to say anything critical to an Attorney General who is seeking you out to say hello? Try no one, not a single person in any of the three crowds that I observed had anything critical or negative to say to Bob.
That aggressive style and confidence may come from his biggest asset- memory. Bob remembered an amazing number of names when he worked the room. When he remembered the name, he clearly put it into the conversation to make it clear he had remembered it. Again, who doesn't like to have an elected official remember their name? Also, I noticed that while he knew all the names of high ranking people in the party or business community, he also knew most of the names of the YR's, and a lot of younger people who might be seen as less important.
But names wasn't all that was on Bob's mind. He also had a knack for remembering when and where he had last met that person, and what they had discussed. All of which he slipped into the conversation so they knew he remembered. Slick. Plus, Bob seemed to remember where they had left off in the conversation and was able to start it back up again right there. For example (and I am shortening these, but you get the point) the first event I was at "Hey Ben, how's the blog been going. I was reading (some story up recently on NLS) and thought it was interesting. By the way, I'm still interested in the blogging ethics we discussed in Martinsville. Please keep me up to date on what you guys decide to do with that". Second event, "Hey Ben, good to see you at (first event). Yeah, that article you did (insert another recent NLS post since the last event) on (someone) was really interesting, I totally agree. I'd really like to see more blogging like that. I just think blogging should have some ethical guidelines, I'm really interested in that, has anything happened with that discussion recently..." and at the third event "Hey Ben, you've been around all over recently (names first two events), good to see you again. Did you see that a lot of the blogs (names a couple) have been talking about ethical blogging recently. Are you going to do something on it? That's a real important issue to me. Let me know what's going on with it".
Now those quotes are shortened, and not exact (he's much more personable then than those quotes would appear) but you get the point. As I watched him work the room at all three events, he was able to do that with almost every person in the room that he had met before. Candidates, party politics, sports, whatever Bob had discussed with you he remembered and brought it up again.
Finally, Bob has got down the most important part of working a room (and this is the part I suck at) which is ending the conversation. What he usually did was bring someone else into the conversation, chatted with both people, then moved on to the next person. For example, say McDonnell is speaking to a group of three people. He'll talk to all three, as the conversation got scattered he would say hello to each person individually and then chat with the group. So it goes like this. Group Chat. Personal Attention to Person A. Group Chat. Personal Attention to Person B. Group Chat. Personal Attention to Person C. Group Chat. "Nice to see you all." On to next group.
Again, this sounds a little robotic in writing. And it is a little bit when you watch Bob interact with a few hundred people as I did. But for the individuals Bob is talking to, they all seem to leave the conversation happy. If they have a question, it's been answered, or Bob has refereed them to someone in his office who can answer it, or he's told them who they need to ask outside of his office. If they have a concern, Bob has listened, given them some empathy to the position and offered any support he can provide if possible. If they are interested in an issue, Bob has discussed either what happened on that issue when he was in the legislature or what the recent action has been on it since he left. And if they are an intimidated YR that can't believe the AG would talk to them, Bob has carried the entire conversation so they don't have to fake it. If you go on too long, Bob will listen without turning away until the conversation reaches a "pause" point. If you don't have much to say, Bob will carry the conversation until you do, or until it's clear that he tried.
So then the other question is how does Bob do when he speaks in front of the entire group. Well, like all statewide elected officials, Bob has some talent with public speaking. But his style is not as a grand orator. Instead, he picks a message that will unify the crowd, without being real "rah rah". For example, at the Virginia Free Luncheon in Tysons Corner, Bob talked about being glad to be from Northern Virginia. His family has been here since the 1960's. (Regional Brother- Check). There weren't that many people around here then. (History- Check). There wasn't this kind of traffic. (Acknowledge Key Local Issue- Check). He's glad the GA did something about that this year. (Current Event- Check). Business needs a good transportation system (Minor Pander to crowd- Check).
If I was going to use one word to describe McDonnell it would be methodical. He can find common ground with both sides of an issue with contradicting himself or telling people different things. He remembers your name, your issues, and he knows his broader audience when he speaks to everyone.
It's easy to see how he got so much intensity behind his support, and how he became one of the favorites for the Gubernatorial election in 2009.
I wasn't calling for every incumbent to get primaried in yesterday's post. I was just trying to point out there are lots of good options out there- so no more of this "We have no bench, let's get someone from the Republican Committee to run as a Democrat" crap needs to go on.
That having been said, I offered this list in the comment section of who needed to be primaried and who didn't (with some changes after a good discussion). This is Fairfax County Democrats only:
Needs a Primary David Bulova Vivian Watts Dave Marsden Bob Hull Jim Scott
No Primary Now Mark Sickles Kris Amundson Steve Shannon Chuck Caputo Ken Plum
I could go through and explain my rationale for each one of them, but we can save that for another time. The key in my opinion are three questions. 1) When they disagree with the party are they doing it for their own gain, or to represent their constituents? (i.e. Do they say "That was a tough vote for me to win with, or is it "My district needed that vote for this reason..."). 2) Are they going around like party thugs in other primaries, and specifically are they attacking other Democrats in primaries? and 3) If safe are they doing all they can for other candidates?
Anyway, those are my criteria, and if anyone has any specific questions about who is on what list, you can email me, or ask in the comment section (I'm not afraid to answer publicly).
I would like to also promote this comment from "Sam" who had some good thoughts about this last night, which I have a lot of common ground with:
"NLS, sounds good. Now, I don't
live in any other district, obviously, so I'll leave it to the
residents there to say if they think their delegate needs to be
primaried, but in general, I don't like hte idea of a primary against
an incumbent unless a) we're near-certain the seat will remain with us
regardless of candidate, and b) the incumbent did something so
aggregious, outside of just voting record, whether it be personal
misconduct or statements, both politican and non-political, he/she has
has made, such that the incumbent's remaining in office harms the party.
One of the things that makes me mad about the Fairfax County Democratic "machine" is how they always act like there is no one else available to run for offices except the incumbents. So everyone else should stop critiquing them because they are always the best available. HELL NO. At least not always.
So I made this list of Democrats who would make excellent Delegates in the majority Fairfax districts. I don't know enough young Republicans to do a list for them. This does not constitute an endorsement, and I am not saying in every case these people would be better than the incumbent.However, a lot of them would. Just some options I'm putting on the table.
34th District (Vince Callahan)
Margi Vanderhye- An obvious choice. Smart, good community ties, and articulate. Rip Sullivan- Again, obvious. Hard worker, and long time resident since high school. John Foust- Ran in 1999. Now running for Supervisor, but an excellent future choice. Pam Danner- An amazing lady.
35th District (Steve Shannon) Sandy Thomas- He could have run instead of Steve in 2003, but decided not to. Hopefully he will run in the future, an excellent potential candidate. Charlie Hall- He would have to move a few blocks, but he won the areas of Providence in this district, even with Steve endorsing against him. Memo to Steve: Don't endorse against candidates who will primary incumbents and win your district.
36th District (Ken Plum)
Pete Contostavlos- Navy veteran, Democratic Chair, Hill Staffer and supermodel wife. Jackie Madry-Taylor- Also a former Democratic Chair, her style is very unifying, she is brilliant and Jackie would bring some needed diversity to the delegation.
37th District (David Bulova)
Gail Lyon- Fairfax City Councilwoman, she would bring progressive values to this seat, without the monarchy. Sharell Houston- Aide to Chap!, she has deep community ties, and an amazing style. John Jennison- Yes, he's close to Gerry, but putting that aside John is a really decent guy and a good progressive. Trent Richardson- Former YD President, and has a lot of knowledge about statewide issues.
38th District (Bob Hull)
Kaye Kory- Mason District School Board member. Could she end Falls Church's long nightmare and bring someone to this seat who wants to help elect other Democrats? Pat Morrison- 2003 candidate for Supervisor, professional firefighter. What Pat did for the families of the NYFD after 9/11 with his counseling has made him a national legend. 39th District (Vivian Watts)
Terry Mansberger- A great professional background, and he is very progressive. Terry is openly gay, so after Vivian voted for Lohr's bill to ban gay clubs in high schools, then told people her district wouldn't understand a different vote- electing Terry would be a great lesson to her that her constituents are smarter than she thinks they are. Sandy Proteau- Aide to Don Beyer, she has lived here a long time, and could be an excellent candidate with good backing. Andy Hurst- He lives in the Albo district, but there is a long line there (even though no one did it this year). He could probably get the nomination here if he moved the small distance into the 39th.
40th District (Tim Hugo)
Laura Granruth- I don't think there is anyone more policy oriented in this Commonwealth. She would need some help campaigning, but would need no help governing. In fact, if elected, she might be able to explain some of these bills to the other Delegates. Laura Floyd- Fresh off crushing Eve in a letter to the editor war, she has momentum. Plus everyone thinks she's 30 (try plus 15). Rex Simmons- We'll know more after this campaign on what kind of candidate Rex is. I do like that he has never missed a Democratic primary, and never voted in a Republican primary. That tells us he is who he says he is. Jane Barker- Clifton Democratic Women delivered a lot of primary voters to George... and they have a solar powered shower.
41st District (Dave Marsden)
Eileen Filler-Corn- Her campaign in 1999 was visionary in retrospect. She said Dillard would vote with the GOP to redistrict in a way that would destroy any progressiveness in the House of Delegates. Dillard denied this. Of course, he lied, won and voted for the redistricting. Since then he has complained about all the new people elected in that election. Meanwhile, Eileen has not been appropriately rewarded with this seat, and instead saw Dillard's 99 campaign manager take the seat as a "Democrat". David Jones- No, not the bishop (that's his dad). David is a successful attorney, and was Steve Shannon's treasurer. An excellent future choice. Jeff Lieberman- There is a very small area north of Braddock Road gerrymandered into this district so Dillard would live here. Wouldn't it be ironic if that small area that shouldn't even be in the district produced a real Democratic Delegate? Because Jeff lives there. John Jaskot- D.C. based attorney, and probably more interested in a Congressional race, but this would be a good place to start. Plus it would prove there are real Democrats in Signal Hill precinct.
42nd District (Dave Albo)
Greg Werkheiser- Excellent candidate in 2005, but made all the mistakes a first time candidate makes without good staff (Chris excluded from that). Now that is out of the way, and he will be a force to be reckoned with in the future. Kate Wilder- The only female green beret in U.S. Army history. Who wouldn't want a female candidate that could beat up their opponent? Sharon Stark- "Wah, Wah. I don't ever want to be a candidate". Yeah, right.
43rd District (Mark Sickles)
Greg Galligan- Mark didn't endorse anyone this year in the Senate race- and Greg won his district by a good margin. That's got to make Mark a little nervous, and it should. Brian Murray- Just outside the 43rd, but in Lee District, Brian could be an excellent future candidate. Jill Allen Murray- Capitol Hill staffer, and would crush Brian in a primary. 44th District (Kris Amundson) Scott Surovell- Besides being a great Democratic Chair, a longtime resident with deep roots in the community, and very smart, Scott is also a reliable progressive who connects well with ordinary people. Doug Reimel- A recent addition to this area, Doug made an excellent campaign for the Board of Supervisors in Loudoun in 2003. Doug is openly gay, but the only voters in Fairfax that care about that wouldn't vote for a Democrat anyway. He is totally electable here, and would do a good job. Now, if he would just stop attacking his friends on the blogs. :-) Laura Sonnemark- Million Mom organizer, and great lady. The kind of person who would probably never run for office, but really should.
53rd District (Jim Scott)
Charlie Hall- Again, he lives a couple blocks out of the district. However, Scott has played kingmaker here for a long time, getting involved in every primary to beat down people he can't control. It would be amusing to see him get his own primary where voters can express their "appreciation" to him for trying to control every seat in Providence for 30 years. Pat Morrison- Like Charlie, only a football field outside of this district. Would be a remarkable candidate. (See 38th District for more).
67th District (Chuck Caputo)
Kathy Smith- Fairfax County School Board member from Sully District. Everyone (including Chuck's) first choice in 2005 to run. She declined because her kids were too young, but they will soon all be in college. Hopefully by the time Chuck retires she will be ready. Laura Granruth- Very close to the 67th and an excellent potential candidate. (See 40th District for more). 86th District (Tom Rust)
Joel Mills- Onetime Council candidate, Joel is one of the most honorable people I know. That's not always helpful in a campaign, but we need more people like that to run. Pete Contostavlos- He would have to move to get into this district, but only a very short distance. (See 36th for more). Jay Donahue- I haven't met him yet, but I have heard good things from people.