Friday, November 11, 2005

An Explanation Perhaps

Much has been and will be made of Jerry Kilgore's strategy in the recent gubernatorial race that had him running away from his conservative past - and conservative base - and trying to mollify "the middle." Stephen Moore, writing for Best of the Web, has a partial explanation for the development of this strategy - the effectiveness of which we are all aware and with which we must all now live.
...fissures emerged in Virginia, explaining how this red state elected another Democrat, Tim Kaine, to the governor's mansion on Tuesday. For the past 3 years, the high tech business community has linked hands with developers and liberal Democrats to push sales tax hikes, gas tax hikes, and more state spending on roads and schools -- even though a report by the Virginia Policy Institute shows that this state has more than doubled expenditures on transportation and education over the past decade [my emphasis].

Republican Jerry Kilgore lost the governor's race in large part because pro-tax business coalitions pressured him into an ambiguous position on taxes. As we mentioned on these pages a week ago, Mr. Kilgore never took a "no tax" pledge [my emphasis], and seemed insensitive to the stampeding cost of property taxes in many counties. His Democratic opponent Mr. Kaine ran as an anti-tax "friend of the taxpayer" even though he had just two years earlier supported the largest tax hike in Virginia history [my emphasis]. As Peter Ferrara, head of Virginia Free Enterprise Fund, groused the day after the election: "The business groups who fund these state campaigns prevented Kilgore from running as a tax cutting conservative, and now they are stuck with an anti-business Democrat" [my emphasis].
This, coupled with Kilgore's having stumbled badly on "Meet The Press" when Tim Russert quizzed him on his abortion position, doomed Kilgore's candidacy.

I'm probably typical of the (very) conservative Virginia voter. I have two litmus tests whenever I choose a candidate. If he or she fails either one of them - regardless of any other views that may be held - I'll never vote for that person. Those issues involve abortion and taxes. Tim Kaine flunked both based not on what was rolling off his lips all of a sudden, but on his record.

Jerry Kilgore had an excellent track record on both issues but, for some reason only the Republican National Committee and his handlers can explain, he ran away from them. He tried to "soften" them, I'd expect. In the process, he also softened the support of his conservative base - a voting block that every Republican needs if he or she ever expects to gain high office.

Thank the GOP for having doomed Kilgore's candidacy.

When will they ever learn.

Along The Same Lines

Brendan Miniter also opines (in Best of the Web) on the Kilgore loss here in Virginia:

... Tuesday's defeat in Virginia may be less a harbinger of doom for Republicans in 2006 than a timely reminder of the fate usually meted out to GOP standard bearers who go wobbly on taxes.

Republican Jerry Kilgore never seemed to understand this. In 2001, he won more votes than any statewide candidate in history when he was elected attorney general, and George Bush won Virginia by nine points last year. But a Republican-controlled legislature recently passed the largest tax increase in the state's history and failed to completely repeal the state's hated personal property tax on cars. Mr. Kilgore had a perfect opportunity to reunify a GOP still bitterly divided over this tax hike by vowing to repeal it after an unexpected bumper crop of revenues. But he didn't seize this opening. Result: Disgruntled Republicans stayed home on Tuesday or cast their vote for Mr. Kaine or (as 2% of the electorate did) for the third party candidate, moderate Republican Russ Potts. It's no wonder Mr. Kaine won by five points -- a blowout, considering the conservative leaning of the state.

Not every Republican running statewide was as misguided as Mr. Kilgore. Bill Bolling captured the lieutenant governor's office, nudging out Democrat Leslie Byrne by about 30,000 votes out of nearly two million cast. Mr. Bolling made his opposition to the "massive" and "unnecessary" tax increase a centerpiece of his campaign.

Let's see if the Republican Party in time gets to Bill Bolling and sends him to the trash heap of history as it did Jerry Kilgore.