June 16, 2007 [LINK / comment]
Hanger vs. Sayre fallout
For folks like me who don't live and breathe politics 24/7, the past couple days have been quite a welcome relief. Here are a few random, disjointed musings about what various people thought the primary election meant, and what is on tap for coming months:
At The New Dominion, Chris Graham doubted the sincerity of the early gestures of conciliation by the local GOP leaders who had endorsed Scott Sayre. They seemed to think that Sen. Hanger was chastened by the close primary election results, in which he almost lost his seat. Graham disagrees vehemently, saying "Hanger doesn't feel anything close to chastened after beating back Sayre's challenge." Nor should he: He withstood a fierce, well-organized, well-funded challenge without changing his laid-back style or backtracking on policy issues. He held his ground, he played on his own old-fashioned terms, and he ended up winning the battle, anyway.
If I were to quibble with Sen. Hanger's fiscal policy positions, it would be more on the spending side, doing more to scrutinize and put the brakes on state expenditures. As Sen. Hanger says, in boom times such as we have been in, a revenue surplus is what you expect -- which is why the state government should put away money in a "rainy day" fund.
In an interview with WHSV TV-3 Staunton GOP chair Anne Taetszch said she will now support Emmett Hanger this fall; "We're all in the same party. We all come together." It's too bad she didn't make that clearer during the primary campaign. But is reconciliation within the party really possible after everything that has happened? One of the leading local Republican activists, a Sayre supporter, once chided me for (supposedly) thinking that politics was all about hand-holding and singing "Kubayah." I guess from the perspective of one who believes that politics is always a hard-ball, winner-take-all sport, anyone like me who strives for reasoned compromise is a fool.
James Atticus Bowden surveyed the four big GOP senate primary races, and observed, "The difference between the losing and the winning among Hanger, Stosch, Bell and Williams is very local and idiosyncratic." He claims credit for the "peasant rebellion" that unseated Marty Williams, and looks forward to further progress in the next election cycle. To the contrary, I don't think the Republicans can continue on the current path toward populism without some major shakeout or defection.
Richmond Democrat observes, "The infamous 'Bloggers for Sayre"' (aka the 'SWACtion') bet everything on a challenge to the Republican incumbent, and may have actually cost Sayre the race." Gee, do ya think?
Waldo Jaquith scorns the anonymous SWAC bloggers who are universally assumed to be the leaders of the Republican Party in these parts. (Hey, don't ask me, I'm only the secretary. ) Those folks "bet everything on Hanger losing," but may try to cling to power nonetheless. Waldo concludes, "As a rational human, I hope they never work in politics again, but as a Democrat, I hope they stick around."
The bottom line is that, given the very high-profile endorsements of Sayre by the local GOP chairs, and the very high importance that Sayre attached to those endorsements in his campaign, the Republican candidate for the 24th district senate seat this fall will be at a distinct disadvantage as things currently stand. Now, given Emmett Hanger's superb level of respect from most Valley residents, perhaps he could afford to lose a few percentage points. But in a three-way race, maybe not. It should be fairly obvious to everyone that the seven GOP chairs who endorsed Sayre will be a serious detriment to Hanger in the fall campaign if they continue to occupy their present positions. If enough Sayre voters defect from the GOP and vote for Arin Sime, moreover, it could prove to be the decisive factor in losing the general election, and possibly GOP control of the state senate.
A couple weeks ago, Richmond Democrat took note of a news item I wrote for the Staunton GOP Web site, about the SWAC breakfast meeting in February attemded by new RPV Vice Chair Charlie Judd. "RD" found it ironic that I would report on Kurt Michael's praise of two of the "SWAC jobbers," in light of the subsequent blog attacks against me. He didn't notice, however, (and I suppose hardly anyone else noticed, either) the permalink to my Feb. 12 post on the subject of blog credibility which I had embedded in my name at the end of the story. Also, I had thought the tongue-in-cheek tone of "a novel form of political communication and opinion shaping that is gaining in credibility" (as if blogs were a new fad) would be obvious. I guess my subtle, dry Midwestern humor (Bob Newhart, Johnny Carson) doesn't always come across -- hence all the smiley faces for the sake of clarity...
Finally, the Richmond Democrat has revealed the identity of the anonymous pro-Hanger blogger "Teddy Roosevelt"! And to think that two different people in the last few days told me they thought it was ME! Whoever "Teddy" is, he must have a lot of talent and/or time on his hands to produce that hilarious farewell musical animation, which is a must-see.