Tea Party activists brewing for a fight in the Fifth?

After this weekend’s decision by Fifth District Republicans to hold a primary, vice convention, social networking sites have been buzzing about what to do about it. But perhaps none have been as direct as “Campbell County Republicans”.

On Facebook, the unofficial Campbell County Republicans page had this to say…

“It has become abundantly clear that leadership within the 5th district GOP is severely lacking. The majority of the unit chairs were content to be strong armed by Tucker Watkins and the NRCC in order to coronate their golden boy Robert Hurt ( another RINO in conservative clothing ).”

They went on to write…

“…it is my firm belief that we need to start “brushfires of freedom” within the entire Republican party of Virginia and burn out anything that is not truly conservative.”

The Facebook page also applauded 5th District Tea Party activists for their role in grassroots activism and hosting one of three debates.

And says…

“The leadership of many of the 5th district Republican units was called into question this Saturday when by SECRET ballot, they decided to waste more than $20,000 per county in opposition to those that they serve who wanted a convention. Time for a changing of the guard!”

Clearly there’s trouble brewing in the 5th…but is it just a drop or heavily steeped? And, have any congressional candidates signed onto this cause? McPadden? Morton? Verga? Do they approve or disapprove of burning out “anything that is not truly conservative”?

Despite McDonnell’s ability to hold the party together this cycle, are these dust-ups indicators of a larger fracture amongst conservatives – or is it just sibling rivalry?

  • Without commenting directly on what’s happening in the 5th District (it’s pretty far removed from where I am), let me note that there is an unbelievable amount of energy within the tea party movement. I was at a town hall meeting last night with elected officials from the General Assembly and was amazed by the passion and energy of the tea party folks. Above all, I was stunned by the anger and disappointment they clearly felt. They’re not going to take “no” for an answer.

    Anyone tangling with these folks better be ready to face some good old 18th and 19th century style citizen political expression. They’re about ready to start marching to government buildings with torches and pitchforks.

    Here’s a snippet of a nice older Virginia lady at the end of her patience with government. If she’s feeling this way, you can only imagine what those younger are feeling right now.

    Constituent Visits Jim Webb’s Office

    Burning out the traitors is probably an apt characterization for what a lot of folks want to do.

  • kelley in virginia

    I don’t understand why someone can’t be a Tea Partier (as am I) yet also work within the Republican Party to defeat Democrats.

    on another blog, someone wrote in that defeating Perriello wasn’t the point. As a voter in the 5th District, I maintain defeating Perriello is the ONLY point.

  • Dodo

    Aaaaah. What a wonderful time to be a 5th District voter. Thomas Jefferson would be proud of all this citizen activism/engagement.

  • When they write “It has become abundantly clear that leadership within the 5th district GOP is severely lacking”, they mean “Things didn’t go the way we wanted it so we’re gonna stomp our feet & hold our breath until we turn blue.”

    The majority of Republicans in the 5th are just fine with the decision of a primary and the eventual selection of Robert Hurt. You’ll learn a lot about what these other candidates are really like in the next few months as they either play along with the game or meltdown in a hilarious manner.

    Here’s a sneak preview of a “meltdown in a hilarious manner”. Everyone’s favorite Bradley Rees let this tweet out two days ago… “I chose my own label a decade ago: ‘MALCONTENT’ Tattooed across my torso in 2-inch letters.” Yeah, buddy.

  • Couple facts that I think are worth injecting.

    1) Campbell County is the 3rd biggest unit in the 5th District so it is not inconsequential.

    2) I cannot find the exact numbers off hand but Campbell County voted solidy for Pat Muldoon at the RPV Convention.

    3) The 5th District is almost certainly going to be the flashpoint for the “conservative v. establishment” fight in Virginia.

    4) The 5th District has been (for way too long) just about Virgil and Tucker. Once Virgil was gone, this drama was inevitable. Frankly, Tucker’s “leadership” in the 5th has been suspect from what I can tell.

    5) Robert Hurt is no liberal or even moderate but I wonder if that narrative is forming so quickly that it’ll be beyond his control soon. 2010 is not the year to be a liberal/moderate/establishment Republican (in reality or perception).

    6) I’m starting to wonder if some Rs in the 5th will start to line up behind Morton to try and avoid the pending “civil war?” She seems to be the only candidate that can garner conservative support from within and without the Party and would take the wind out of the sails of a third-party challenger.

    7) If Tom Perriello wins in 2010 (something that is certain if there is a serious R and “Tea Party” candidate) he may have his seat for life. The 5th will be redistricted more towards Charlottesville, the Southside portion of the 5th will go into the 9th or 6th and we’ll be dealing with Perriello for years to come. Can anyone say Governor or Senator Perriello?

  • Steven Osborne

    Salem Republicans,

    Your point is extremely true. If Perriello is not defeated in 2010 he will be a thorn in the side of the GOP for years to come. I was involved in the race in 2008 and I can tell you that Perriello is not to be underestimated, he has the potential to be Mark Warner 2.0.

    I am not yet decided on which candidate that I will back, and am weighing both Morton and Verga. Why is it that Morton would be the candidate to rally around instead of Verga?

  • Dodo

    SC: Rees is nobody’s favorite.

  • In regards to why Morton and not Verga she has garnered much support from within the party with endorsements from Morton Blackwell and Kathy Terry as well as Mike Farris and Pat McSweeney and also has much support from the Tea Party people as well. She has a message and goals she wants to achieve if she is elected to Congress.

    As far as Verga a lot of people see problems with the fact that he hasn’t lived in Virginia that long at all. He has lived most of his life in California and possibly doesn’t understand the issues of the people in the 5th. Additionally Verga has no message. His whole message right now is just a negative one. The only thing he seems to have to say is that the NRCC sucks and Tucker Watkins sucks and Robert Hurt sucks but he really doesn’t have anything else to say as far as the issues and the solutions that the people of the 5th District are looking for.

    If one of the other candidates wants to beat Robert Hurt its going to be someone who puts all this fighting and bad blood about how poorly this primary/convention fight has been handled on both sides behind them and comes out with a strong message with solutions for the district. Whoever wins this primary is going to have to show people that they have better ideas for our government and will actually do a better job governing than Perriello. They should stop being Negative Nancy about all this and move forward.

  • Dodo

    Salem: Agreed. Perriello is no lightweight, and easily could be Governor/Senator material for the Democrats (a Warner 2.0 as Steve puts it).

    Steve: Morton’s got the established conservative cred, as well as the support of some party establishment types. She’s a good speaker, and has some real grassroots appeal and organizing ability. If you’re not supporting Hurt, then Morton, Boyd, or McPadden are your go-to candidates. Each offers something different, and each could beat Perriello. The others…

  • Samuel

    Salem Rs: In regards to your point 6, I’m greatly considering it.

  • Aaron

    Salem Republicans is right as usual. The fifth has been controlled too long by Tucker and Virgil. But Tucker is not going to be chairman for long and its because he is not a good leader and because of his poor job on the last Goode campaign. I understand the tea party movement and its roots (i support and participate in the movement) but i think it is foolish to create all this drama in the fifth just because a few tea party activists are upset over the secret vote at the meeting and the fact that they didnt get their way. If the tea party movement is so strong in the fifth then organize and get out and vote for your candidate. Put your money, your time, and your vote where your mouth is. If you dont want to do that, convince your candidate to run as a third party (not Rees, he has no chance) and support them. Attacking Hurt as a RINO (which he is not) only creates problems (to be exploited by Dems later) and, as noted by Salem Republicans, sets up Perriello for a future similar to Boucher, or greater.

  • Steve Osborne

    Roanoke Conservative largely answered your question addressed to me but I’ll nuance it a little. Several of the “conservative” candidates would rally the “conservatives” but I view Morton as the only “conservative” who can also rally the “establishment.” Do not in anyway construe that as an endorsement. It’s not my fight and I’m not jumping in. Just making the point that Morton is beginning to look like the “uniter” candidate whereas the rest seem to be running “us against them” races within the party. That sets up a disaster in November. Just my 2 cents from a few miles across the line in the 6th.

    Greg

  • I love it when we are quoted.

    Make no mistake about it. The Tea Party patriots are here to stay. It would be the most foolish thing in the world to underestimate a force that gets bigger and mobilizes more ever day. This election is the Republicans to loose. Periello won by around 500 votes and only on Obama’s vapors. If a candidate is does not create a reason for conservative Republicans to vote for him/her then he/she will likely loose. Whether Hurt is a liberal or not, he is perceived as one. Strike one. He is also perceived as the “establishment” candidate…more accurately he is the establishment candidate. Strike two. He is the reason that every county is now going to have to shell out +$20,000 each to hold a primary. Strike three.

    Leadership at the top of the Republican party is going to find out real soon how painful the base can make it for them. They did in NY23 and they just might again here. I’m not advocating a 3rd party run but once again the “party” is ignoring it’s core…CONSERVATIVES!

  • Gideon

    Here’s a question for some of you. If Robert Hurt ends up being the GOP candidate, will you vote for him? Knowing that he isn’t truly conservative, will you vote for him? Will you stand on principle or party? I just find it interesting that some of you don’t like this candidate or that candidate but I have a sneaking suspicion that most of you will vote for whoever the GOP throws up there.

    Also, by saying that you don’t advocate a third party but say that the GOP better watch out is merely an empty threat. You demanded more of them on Saturday but the GOP in the 5th district responded with a big smack in the face.

  • There are two separate goals.

    1- Defeating Perriello.

    2- Electing a conservative.

    Depending on your approach to politics, your emphasis will be more on 1 than 2, or 2 than 1.

    While I respect individuals who focus on 1, it’s important to remember that if our candidate is based entirely on an emphasis on defeating Perriello we risk alienating the people who want to elect a conservative. And in this political climate the people who want to elect a conservative are ready to be mobilized!

    But I also understand the fear some people feel about Perriello surviving 2010. Here’s my attempt to calm your fears

    1- We still have redistricting. And while a total GOP gerrymandering seems impossible now, let’s keep in mind that the 5th District doesn’t have a large pocket of Democratic voters it can be connected to. Charlottesville IS the Democratic island of the area.

    2- A run for the Senate in 2012 or Governor in 2013 would mean, in addition to Webb retiring, that he is able to take down Connolly or McAullife in a primary. And while he’s liberal, he hasn’t been _that_ liberal.

    The worst case scenario is that Perriello becomes a Boucher and is set for life in the district. The best is we elect a conservative to replace him. If asked to pick between a conservative in 2012 or 2014 and a less than reliable conservative in 2010, I’d pick the former.

  • Gideon,

    It is not about online activists. It’s about turnout overall. The concern is that Rob Hurt wouldn’t be able to get the same type of turnout among conservatives, both Republican and independent, as what McDonnell got in 2009. Remember that this will be the only race on the ballot. Enthusiasm matters a lot!

  • kelley in virginia

    In some ways, being the non-politician-candidate is the best spot to occupy at this time. Hurt can be all the other’s punching bag because he has a voting record.

    like it or not, Hurt has indeed run for office & won. like it or not, he has the attention of big Republicans which all of us will welcome come next September when we need money, advertising & GOTV efforts. like it or not, he already represents about 30% of the district & has some name ID. finally, like it or not, he’s lived in the 5th all his life so he knows the issues.

    and finally, he is a young, charismatic candidate. Damn, I’m grateful we have him. He is our best chance against Perriello.

  • R Dub

    What I find funny in all of this is the comparison to NY-23 that keeps getting made. We complain because NY-23 was nomination by party insiders. The grassroots conservatives, often referred to as the “Tea Party” crowd, was not able to participate in the process. So, we got stuck with someone who most view as outside the norm for a Republican.

    Well, now conservatives have been given their chance. Party insiders have in effect abdicated their ability to nominate their candidate of choice via convention. Instead they are giving the campaigns the opportunity to expand the base and bring new people into the party process. While a few people insiders deem as not-republican enough may show up to vote for their friend/neighbor/church member, those numbers can easily be dwarfed by the supposed grassroots groundswell that is out there. This process provides a excellent opportunity to take newly engaged tea party activist and merge them with the Republican process. As long as that process is fair, which it will be, and the nominee is a “conservative”, which if the reported size of Tea Party is accurate the nominee will be, than life is good.

    The most irritating thing about this entire process though is our continued lack of firm principle’s on how we nominate. We almost always choose the method best suited to select the establishment candidate, usually a convention. We as a party in this state need to just select one method and get on with life, thus ending this almost routine bickering we seem to have with every nominating process for dog catcher to statewide.

  • The “1 v. 2” choice presented above is simply a false dilemma and peoples’ willingness to create a mutually exclusive “either or” scenario is one of the biggest problems we face as a Party. Bob McDonnell fits both categories. Bill Bolling fits both categories. Ken Cuccinelli fits both categories. Bob Goodlatte fits both categories. The HOD has dozens of Rs (and one I) who fit both categories. From what I can see, at least a couple of the candidates in the 5th fit both categories.

    However, people like Verga, who betray their lack of understanding (or expose their willingness to manipulate) by lobbing ridiculous bombs, making unfounded allegations and trying to pigeon hole this race into something it isn’t, are simply manipulating people into an “us v. them” fight for their own personal gain.

  • paige

    Kelly, you can think hurt “can win” till your blue in the face. Fact is he won’t win. There are too many conservatives lined up against him. Supporting him is supporting a third party. So don’t throw stones if that’s what you get after the primary. Remember… everyone can vote in the primary – that includes dems… and its no secret a lot of conservatives are unhappy with the decision. Did you happen to get Tom’s latest email where he is gloating about it? You can thank the GOP. I know I will!

  • I am dismayed that the Tea Party movement crowd might be successful. The reason I started voting Democratic more often then not was because of the rise of this type of thinking within the Republican Party. I kinda liked the old style Republican. Guys like John Warner who would be described as being a RINO by this new crop of Republicans.

    OK, Tea Party activists, nominate your candidate. I think that while you might win some elections, you will be heading towards a dead end. Narrowing your appeal so that even someone like John Warner is excluded is not the path to victory.

  • kelley in virginia

    paige: none of us should throw stones. Remember Reagan’s 11th commandment “thou shalt not speak ill of another Republican”. If Hurt does not win the primary, then I shall get behind the Republican nominee. we must defeat Perriello. that is the goal.

  • Kelley, Reagan didn’t exactly adhere to his 11th commandment when he ran against President Ford. He did follow it implicitly whenever he was the frontrunner.

    I’m the biggest Reagan fan there is, but let’s be honest.

  • kelley in virginia

    ok Brian, I will try to curb any inclination I have to comment negatively about any of Sen Hurt’s competitors for the Republican nomination.

    defeating Perriello is the goal.

  • Jason

    I still don’t understand the mindset of those who would liken Sen. Hurt to Dede Scozafava. While I am still undecided (I’m an active 5th District Republican), I have difficulty seeing how a generally conservative legislator who voted for then-governor Warner’s tax increase is even alanogous to the green, gay marriage supporting, pro-labor, pro-abortion “Republican” selected to run in New York’s 23 district. If some in our party want to make Sen. Hurt into Dede, it’s certainly their right, but they are demonstrating both intellectual dishonesty and an ideological rigidity that would make Mao proud.

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