Why is the GOP Losing Virginia? Blame the Republican Party of Virginia: A Case Study in Idiocy

By Erick Posted in Comments (19) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »

Here's a case study on why the GOP is failing in Virginia. It has taken me some time to compile this. I wanted to talk to representatives of the various candidates. They confirm what I report below. Likewise, I talked to a Democrat who confirms that the Democratic Party of Virginia did not stoop to the level of jackassery that the Republican Party of Virginia did.

In Virginia, all candidates must collect a minimum of 10,000 signatures from registered voters to get on the ballot. To make it tougher, the signatures must be collected on forms provided by the board of elections and the forms must be signed AND NOTARIZED by the solicitor. Its a big big undertaking.

Once the petitions were due, the state board of elections immediately turned them over to the respective state party chairs. The party chairs have complete authority to determine who qualifies and who doesn't.

The Virginia Democratic Party actually went out and collected 7,500 signatures for each of their presidential candidates. Edwards, Richardson, and Kucinich all submitted the bare minimum of 10,000 signatures. Guess what? They were all approved.

I can tell you that as an elections lawyer and a political consultant, I have never seen a signature drive go by where every single signature was accepted. But they were by the Virginia Democratic Party.

Contrast that with the Republican Party of Virginia (go below the fold):

Romney, Fred, Rudy, McCain, Huckabee, and Paul all filed over 15,000 signatures each - well above the recommended minimums.

So what did the Virginia GOP do? Well, they did absolutely nothing to help any of the candidates other than put out clipboards at their state fair booth.

Then they decided to attempt some kind of unprecedented "verification" process. Historically, forms have never been checked by either party, often they never even open the boxes. They gave no one notice of this new process. They sent all the campaigns an email notice the Friday afternoon after they'd all filed their signatures. You can see the memo below. As you can see its a ridiculous attempt to replicate Florida in 2000.

At the time, no one had any idea who the "verifiers" would be or who they supported. Likewise, everyone had questions on what did and did not constitute legitimate signatures. All the campaigns had to lawyer up against their own party. The Executive Director of the Virginia GOP had the nerve to pace the room, during the verification process, in a referee jersey. Likewise, the process for verification changed throughout the day, despite the party sending out its guidelines ahead of time in writing.

Meanwhile the Democrats will be on the ballot in Virginia - a state that probably won't even matter in this process since their primary is February 12th - and they'll all be focusing on building their ground game to beat us.

The Virginia GOP should be embarrassed.

What's the matter with our party???????

Below is an email from the Republican Party of Virginia sent to all the candidates. Likewise, you can see the documents that were sent out here, here, and here.

From: Matt Wells
Sent: Fri Dec 14 17:59:22 2007
Subject: Petition Verification


This email is to notify you that the Party has collected your petitions from the State Board of Elections.

First off, congratulations on making it through a grueling process! Now that you’ve done the hard part, we just need to verify the petitions.

We will be conducting verification at RPV HQ (115 E. Grace St, Richmond) beginning at 9:45am on Monday, December 17th. We will be doing a hard count for number of signatures based on correctness of form (see attached documents for details).

We’ve got about 40 folks coming in to help with the count, so it should proceed fairly quickly. You all are more than welcome to have one or two folks present as observers.

I will be out of town next week, so please direct any questions to either Christian Curto or Erika Fischer (copied on this email, or available at 703-254-**** and 757-618-****, respectively), who will be supervising the count.

I hope you’ll take the time to review the attached documents, so that we can get through this as rapidly and smoothly as possible. It is the goal of the Party to qualify your candidates for the ballot, but we do have an obligation to make sure that the legal requirements have been met.



Matthew Wells
Political Director - Central
Republican Party of Virginia

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Why is the GOP Losing Virginia? Blame the Republican Party of Virginia: A Case Study in Idiocy 19 Comments (0 topical, 19 editorial, 0 hidden) Post a comment »

is unnecessarily and heavily burdensome.

W.C. Fields for President!

I'm in Northern VA and am seriously tired of the many unserious politicos we seem to have in the Party.

Seriously. It is run by people who alternate between the idiotic and the corrupt. It has been as much a burden as the Florida party has been a gift for the GOP.

They should, and I do not exaggerate, fire everyone, and start over from scratch.

The RVP needs to fold up and just let Shaun Kenney et al run the show.

Fight On!

Liberals live in Massachusetts and elect liberal governments. Quality of life goes down. Same liberals move to NH and set about ruining that state. Same thing is happening in Virginia as people flee DC and Maryland.

"Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains or slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but, as for me, give me liberty or give me death!"- Patrick Henry

"No compromise with the main purpose, no peace till victory, no pact with unrepentant wrong." - Winston Churchill

I collected signatures on election day at a heavily Republican precinct -- and it was difficult.

I agree the state party should have had a table at each heavily Republican precinct with petitions for every candidate available.

Oh, I bought my own clip boards -- should I submit the receipt to the State Party for a refund?

Did one of the candidates not get verified? From what you wrote above it sounds like there was a little bit of a bureaucratic rigmarole to go through, but other than the annoyance of it, what exactly went wrong?

You could work for the RVP!

"bureaucratic rigamorle" is an understatement.

The ED running around with a ref uniform on? Unprofessional.

The need to pay lawyers to be there all day? Ridiculous.

The need for this at all -- *something* they had not done before? Pitiful.

Fight On!

I am just not sure that this is evidence enough to condemn the RVP (who by the way, while I am a Virginian, I have no connections to whatsoever.) There may very well be other reasons I'm not aware of.

Sure, the ref uniform thing is over the top but to my mind it doesn't actually damage anything or anyone (other than the man's credibility and judgement). With that said, you're probably right that a simpler, more efficient method could have been devised to handle the petitions. Plus, I concede that Republicans should naturally be averse to inefficiency and waste.

Personally, I think the whole VA candidate petition process itself is a little silly, but if you're going to make the candidates go out and do it I don't think its unreasonable to ask them to do it accurately.

The problem is that every time you turn around, the VA GOP is REplicating this event. They engage in bureaucratic rigamarole every chance they get...

"Guns don't kill people...
"...But they sure help!"
-Paul Giamatti, Shoot 'Em Up

So all that money they have to spend on this verification process (just for a name on the primary ballot, so it's not even a vote and probably won't affect any outcome of such vote) is much better than being spent on registering new Republicans? Better than voter outreach? Better than promoting Republicans? Better than saved for the election so they can be more of a help to defeating Democrats?

More regulation and bureaucracy it's the Republican way! Heh.

Two thirds of the world is covered by water,
the other third is covered by Champ Bailey.

I think the whole petition process needs to be reevaluated with those factors in mind.

They have about 40 people to cover over 90,000 signatures? Which process are they thinking will move quickly? Morning sign-in?

I worked for George Allen's campaign right up until the Macaca incident. The more news I here from the RPV, the more it seems to be in free-fall.

When all else fails, simply revel in the absurdity of it all.

Is that a piece of lint there in their navel?

I meant what I said and I said what I meant. An elephant's faithful 100 percent.

Its an unwritten rule NOT to rely on RPV for anything but whatever money they can scrap together.

A little history. For much of the decade, the state party was run by Kate Obenshain Griffin, daughter of GOP patriach and martyr Dick Obenshain and brother of State Sen. Mark Obenshain, who was basically George Allen's hand-pick choice. The RPV was ran mainly for Griffin's benefit, and she used the party aparatus to get herself on television and in the paper. It was rumored that she had political ambitions of her own as well. The party fell into terrible debt, and got into a nasty scandal where RPV operatives were caught eavesdropping into Democrat conference calls. It was bad, and the party was forced to pay a substantial fine. Griffin was protected by Senator Allen, then still the most improtant and powerful Republican in the state. We had comfortable majorities, and were in denial by the rise of Mark Warner and failed to understand the changing winds.

Jerry Kilgore, our 2005 gov nominee, was an Allen protege and his coronation was backed heavily by Allen, in who's cabinet Kilgore served, and Griffin. All the while, the state party was going more and more in debt. Kilgore ended up getting creamed by Tim Kaine, who ran a low-key yet disciplined race, even while Kilgore's ticket mates Bill Bolling (LG) and Bob McDonnell (AG - by 300 votes) WON. It was bad news. Griffin still maintained Republicans were dominate, again nobody seemed to take the Dems seriously.

Then 2006 hit. Allen's disasterous campaign, which went much deeper than just "maccaca" was the end of Griffin. Not only did she help lose, she also ended up divorcing her husband and closing out Sen. Allen's term as his outgoing cheif of staff in the transition to Jim Webb.

THEN, Ed Gillespie rode to the rescue, another Allen ally. I saw Gillespie speak and a couple GOP functions and he was smart and articulate and seemed ready to move us forward. But many of us, me included, thought Gillespie was a bad idea becasue he was a national guy. He promised to stick around, but in September he bolted for a job in the White House. This was in the middle of a heated campaign. Former LG John Hager (Bush's new in-law) has stepped in and I really like where he is going for now.

But much of the reason the state party is in such disrepear is becasue of inept leadership at the top and I think Hager, a veteran state pol who cares about the state party more than his own career or national ambitions.

"As nations can not be rewarded or punished in the next world they must be in this."
- George Mason

I am a Virginian in exile in NC, and that about sums it up. I hope Hager is the answer - VA will turn back deep red with just a little help.

Keep the faith. We need the Commonwealth.

"Here's a case study on why the GOP is failing in Virginia"

One of many but after 30+ years living there it seems more related to the infux of liberals to Fairfax, Arlington, Prince William and Loudoun. The growth has brought a work force from the NE. I believe VA is well on its way to becoming blue in the next 5-10 years. We left a few month ago and already feel the difference living in the SE....less beaurocracy and less policially correct nonsense.

As someone who spent most of my life in IL and MI, it's been very frustrating to watch liberal agendas implemented more through Republican state party incompetence then through massive popular support and superior ideology.

This applies more so to IL then to MI, and granted both have major cities that change the vote somewhat, but, again especially in Illinois, the state party is so corrupt and/or incompetent that often the Democrats can't help but win. I'm sorry to see another state take down that same path.

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