After the vote last weekend to choose Tom Perriello’s challenger in a primary, several large chunks of fit collided with the proverbial shan. For some reason, the local media (here and here) seems to be more interested in what I have to say as a private citizen than they were when I was a Republican candidate. Funny, the national media seemed to have a bit more inkling of what my chances were in the GOP fight, even garnering comment from the well-respected Cook Political Report and prompting the National Journal to send a field reporter down to interview me in August.
Even the Washington Post’s blog picked up a tweet I hastily fired off after the meeting last Saturday.
Since then, a veritable firestorm has broken out, with pundits on all sides alternating between wringing and clapping their hands. The commentary has run the gamut from the sublime to the ridiculous and there’s no end in sight.
Which leads me to tonight’s post. It seems I have managed to pick a fight with none other than Michael Steele (who I did NOT support in the run for RNC chair, by the way. My pick was Saul Anuzis, who understands the grassroots.). Evidently, the lessons of the last 3 (or, technically, 4) election cycles still have not sunk in. Read Steele’s words carefully in this email I got from Ryan Nobles at NBC 12 in Richmond:
Thanks for returning my inquiry. I interviewed Michael Steele today from the RNC and asked him about the VA-05 race and in particular the emergence of so many candidates willing to go to a primary. I asked him if we was concerned that so many candidates were involved and if was worried about a candidate running on a third line, like what happened in NY-23.
This was his response-
“As the national chairman, I would look any Republican in the eye and ask them one question: ‘What’s your goal’? Is your goal to claim victory in a primary or claim victory in the general election? At the end of the day if a D has a seat, we want it back, particularly if they took it from us in a state like VA. So we have a real opportunity here to get behind a good soldier who is going to carry the standard of the GOP and most importantly carry the standard of the people of that district.”
“Take back the seat. If that is your goal, than we will be okay. If you have another agenda, I’m asking you not to play because the stakes are too high for the people of American and the people of the 5th District to let that seat stay in the hands of Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats.”
Since you are the only candidate I am aware of that has floated the idea of running on a third line, I am wondering what you think about the RNC chair’s remarks.
What is your goal?
Is your top priority for a Republican to win the seat?
Are you willing to go “all in” at the risk of splitting Conservative/Republican votes and allowing Rep. Perriello to gain re-election?
Do you have an agenda that is something than aside from winning the VA-05 congressional district seat?
I’d appreciate it if you could respond sometime tonight. I am hoping to post something on this at some point this evening.
And, here’s my reply (in full):
Thanks for thinking of me.
In the interests of clarity (for both of us), I am pasting your questions here, one at a time, with my responses immediately following.
Let me preface this by saying that, judging from Mr. Steele’s quotes, at least in the context of your original email, it appears to me that he is yet another member of the GOP establishment that simply does not fully understand what is happening in the grassroots. I’ll explain further in my responses, below.
Q: What is your goal?
A: My goal is to engage the growing number of Americans who are quickly coming to the realization that certain cans have been kicked down the road in this nation, for far too long, and by BOTH major parties. Some of these cans are: Constitutional limitations on the Federal government, fiscal restraint (the lack of which has led our Congress to, just today, increase the debt limit to 14 Trillion dollars), and, above all, accountability. People are waking up and realizing that these cans have been demolished in the process of bouncing down the blacktop.
But this realization alone is not enough. They also need to discover, as millions already have, that this demolition was actually the INTENT of those doing the kicking. This lack of accountability for politicians in DC, and even at the state and local level, has led directly to an overwhelming level of arrogance, corruption, graft, and political back-scratching. The political class displays, daily, their complete ignorance of the fact that WE, the people, hold the power in this nation. Political power is justly derived from the consent of the governed, period, and I believe we need to rise up and declare (as we have been doing, in very large numbers) that we are henceforth denying our consent. In the same vein, then, it doesn’t matter WHICH party is co-opting our power and wielding it as their own.
Q: Is your top priority for a Republican to win the seat?
A: No. That is not even a close second. When a politician goes to the state or Federal capital, the voters instinctively know that this politician’s main job is to dance with the devil. It is my top priority for Representatives to be elected to that dance, in the 5th District of Virginia AND all across this nation, who will derive great satisfaction from it, not by letting the devil lead, but by stomping on his toes at every opportunity. Judging from Congressional approval ratings, it’s safe to say that this toe-stomping is EXACTLY what nearly 80% of the American electorate would do, if given half a chance.
Q: Are you willing to go “all in” at the risk of splitting Conservative/Republican votes and allowing Rep. Perriello to gain re-election?
A: I wouldn’t say “willing.” I have stated on my radio show ( http://www.blogtalkradio.com/CBMedia-Network/2009/12/12/The-Sons-Of-Liberty-Show ) that I don’t want to run next year. That being said, I am cognizant of a few scenarios that would lead me to the conclusion that it would be my duty to run. My campaign slogan in the GOP nomination run was not just a slogan. “Stand on Principle, or Stand Aside!” has been my motto since I reached adulthood, and it applies to much more than politics, but I digress. When I made the decision to stand aside in October, it was because others had entered the race who were standing on the principles I espoused all through my campaign. And I honestly believed they had a better chance of winning the nomination. In fact, I still do believe that, and will do everything in my power to help one of them to that goal. (Before you ask: no, I am not prepared to give a name at this point.)
Q: Do you have an agenda that is something than aside from winning the VA-05 congressional district seat?
A: Absolutely. The reason I am strongly considering a 3rd party run (wholly dependent on the primary’s outcome) is to make sure the GOP establishment knows that conservatives (some registered as Rs, some as Ds, and some not registered at all) are going to hold them accountable. Back room deals, horse-trading, and Sam Rayburn’s infamous “In order to get along, you have to go along,” have been political staples for so long that ALL politicians and a great number of voters dare not even contemplate an alternative. My agenda, then, is to make it clear to the vested interests (painfully clear, if necessary), that the wool they have been securing over the eyes of the populace for generations is being pulled back. There is an alternative. Honest and open government IS indeed possible, but it will only come about when a new generation takes charge: not politicians, but public SERVANTS, who understand first and foremost that the taxpayers who pay their salaries are their employers, not underlings to be scorned (as the 5th District committee members scoffed at Tea Party members as they arrived last Saturday).
One final thought on Steele’s remarks: If the RNC and the NRCC are so aware that the 5th district is solidly red, why are they doing everything in their power to avoid nominating a true conservative? Put another way, why are these Republican “leaders” so afraid of candidates (and protesters) who are doing so much better at articulating (and winning people over to) the Republican Party’s historical principles?
Cowardice, capitulation, and scrambling toward the center to sit on fenceposts do not win people over to your cause. The most effective method of rallying support to any given cause has always been stating a clear objective and NOT wavering. I believe it was Dick Armey who said “You can’t plug the hole in the dam while holding your finger to the wind.” (That may have been paraphrased a bit, but the point remains.)
Again, thanks for contacting me. Hope some of this is helpful for your story.
The full story from Ryan Nobles can be found here.