Conventional Wisdom

Overheard on the floor of the Richmond Coliseum as Saturday morning’s RPV convention slowly became Saturday night’s RPV Convention; “This is why I said we shouldn’t do this.” Oh, this was EXACTLY why we should do this. Allow me to explain. What we experienced Saturday was exactly what Ken Cuccinelli wanted, an arena full of grass roots activists angry over the way their taxes are about to go up in exchange for a transportation legacy. (Funny moment; RPV Chair Pat Mullins, filling time after the fourth vote, said “We are about to introduce the team that will bring the Commonwealth back to Republican leadership!” Ooops.) But a funny thing about getting what you want, sometimes it actually doesn’t work out the way you wanted it. Now, I’m sure that there was a ‘dream team’ in mind (There always is when working with consultants, more about them shortly.) when the convention was gaveled to order at 10:20 after the Coliseum decided to only open three entrances, all side-by side, instead of the promised twelve, (BTW, I wonder how much Planned Parenthood ‘appreciated’ all of us being funneled past their encampment.) but after E.W. Jackson received 37% of that first ballot it became clear that the best laid plans of these mice and men were about to go astray.

As many of the grass roots activists began to get antsy as it took an extremely long time to get through the fist vote, (The delays were brought on by, you choose; A) the company tabulating the votes had technical issues with the scanners; B) One candidate demanded a recount; C) There was an aggressive period of horse-trading as the convention leadership tried to pare more than just the two off the bottom of the vote tally; D) A little of the first three), I started to notice that the ones who were notably boisterous about why ‘we shouldn’t do it this way’ were in the “consultant class.” Now, that’s not an epithet, they are very necessary to the process and if you ever run for an office you’ll be glad they are around. However, consultants in anyone’s field are paid for advice and that advice is based on standard-operating-procedures and predictable chains of events. Saturday the grass roots threw a monkey wrench into that and chose E.W. Jackson as the GOP’s LG candidate.

It’s important to note that, on the day the second leg of horse racings ‘triple crown’ was run, E.W. led “wire-to-wire.” He did not steal this on squeak into the nomination. He received the most votes on each of the four ballots and despite some excitement at the end, it was really never close.

That excitement started when the afore-mentioned consultants started to exert their efforts to wrest back the ticket into their paradigm of predictability. It started as an “anyone-but-Jackson” vibe vibrating through the campaign HQ’s in the Coliseum’s luxury boxes. (Note to future convention holders, grass roots activists are very sensitive about things like this.) So, as the noted political commentator Charles Daniels once wrote; “he was in a bind ‘cuz he was way behind and he was willing to make a deal,” alliances started to be negotiated. Jackson was .3% short of ending it after three votes and then we saw why successful businessmen don’t always make successful politicians.

In business generating ‘buzz’ is a good thing and can be done with tactical promotional leaks. In convention politics, that can (and did) blow up in one’s face. That’s because politics at its core is a very personal business. So if you make a deal for one team to fold up their flag and join their opponent (like the Snyder and Stewart campaigns reportedly did after that third ballot), you need to give the leader of that team time to explain to the people who have volunteered countless hours to the campaign that this was what needs to be done and why. For example, Ronald Reagan was given time to explain to his supporters why he was shutting down his campaign for the 1976 GOP Presidential nomination and supporting his previous opponent, Gerald Ford before they heard it on the floor of the convention center. If Pete Snyder’s campaign had remembered this simple bit of people-management and political history, we might have a different LG candidate today (though I doubt it). Before Corey Stewart had time to tell his supporters about this arrangement that they were to join forces and support Snyder, Pete had started circulating flyers to the beleaguered delegates announcing it. So Corey said, in the works of Lee Corso; “Not so fast, my friend.” His campaign volunteers started running between all the units, as they tiredly voted the fourth time, waving Jackson signs telling everyone they saw that before they cast that vote that the flyers announcing Corey’s support for Pete were false. So, after twelve hours of tedium, it ended in a mad frenzy. In other words, it was a typical convention. And EXACTLY how we should do it every time.

In the end, just as he had spoiled the GOP consultants’ ‘dream team’ of McDonnell, Bolling and Brownlee in 2009, Ken Cuccinelli stood on the stage with a pair of great running mates, one he wanted (He sparked rabid controversy when the Washington Post reported that he told them that he was going to vote for Mark Obenshain) and one that the grass roots put on that stage despite the machinations of the party. I imagine that somewhere (noticeably NOT in the Richmond Coliseum) I think Bob McDonnell was smiling at the irony.

Joe Thomas hosts his morning radio show on WCHV in Charlottesville and can be heard online at and hosts Virginia’s independent conservative talk show between 3 and 6pm on WLEE in Richmond, WFJX in Roanoke and WCHV and can be heard online at

  • pinecone321

    Thank you Joe. This is the kind of message I wanted to hear on the day after our grassroots efforts chose our candidates. This is exactly the kind of message we need from now until Nov.

    Another irony- When it just so happened that all of the VA. Republicans were awarded with only two choices on the presidential primary ballot, there were some, and I think I’ve seen them around here today, told us all to just get over it. When so very many were disenfranchised, they called us whiners and cry babies, and expected us to just get in line and do what we were told. Today I’ve even seen cries about some being disenfranchised because not everyone was able to attend the convention. LOL

    I think I saw someone claim there are a quarter of a million registered Republicans, but only 8,000 of them attended the convention as delegates yesterday, therefore that is not representative of the VA. Republican population. In the presidential primary, less than 4% of Republicans turned out to vote in that primary. That would put the convention attendance at approximately the same number of voters as that horrendous primary.

    So I would like to repay in kind, to those who are crying and whining about the method of selection, and the candidates chosen by that method. Get Over It.

  • John Galt

    This exactly why we need conventions.

  • Stephen Spiker

    It seems like your biggest argument in favor of a convention is because it throws a wrench in the plans of the so-called “consultancy class”, though who those people are is undefined and what their alleged plans were are unknown.

    I went to Richmond to support a candidate that I thought would be the best representative of the Republican Party for Lt. Governor. It’s good to know that others are more interested in just making a muck of things to make some vague point.

    • Not Harry F. Byrd

      Welcome to what has become of the Tea Party. It’s all about sticking it to “them”. The eeeeevil establishment.

      • catholicgal

        Could you all get a different M.O. please? What is it about grass roots activism you don’t like?

    • sparkyva

      I am sure you supported the one person I didn’t want to win – the establishment’s choice. There is no excitement in a race between a liberal and a moderate. We will have an interesting race this year as the Liberals take on some real Conservatives. Let’s hope we can also covert some of those liberal and moderate house delegate to conservative delegates before our state starts looking like NY, the “More taxes anyone?” state.

      • Stephen Spiker

        I’m sure you are wrong. Please stop making assumptions about things you know nothing about.

        • sparkyva

          Not going to happen. You are too dangerously ignorant to be left on your own.

          • Stephen Spiker

            So you’re not going to let facts get in the way, and you’re going to continue to make assumptions without having all (or any) information?

            Good to know. You’ve proven repeatedly how seriously anybody should treat you or your misinformed opinion.

          • sparkyva

            Ignorance is the lack of knowledge which is based on facts. I am glad you are not contesting your ignorance, that may be the start of wisdom. Sorry your candidate lost, mine did too, but the better man won. We had many great candidates and two poor candidates. It is not enough to nominate the “best” candidate, it is more important to nominate a great candidate who knows how to win the election without the dirty tricks that Pete Snyder used.

          • Stephen Spiker

            Okay, but I didn’t support Pete Snyder. You seem to think I did– in fact, you said you were “sure” of it. You are absolutely wrong, but that doesn’t bother you because you give more weight to your wrong assumptions than to facts.

      • Olyphaunt

        The most disappointing thing I’ve seen on here so far today is the bloggers and commenters saying that voting anyone other than Jackson was supporting “the establishment choice.”

        • No, no, no, supporting PETE was supporting the establishment choice. Pete was chosen by McDonnell, Bolling and the others in power in Richmond. Pete, only Pete was the establishment’s pick.

          • George from Cleveland

            I don’t recall McDonnell or Bolling endorsing anyone.

            The establishment pick was Keith Fimian

          • sparkyva

            It was a subtle thing. Like when I went to our last Republican Committee meeting and there were signs all over the outside for various candidates, but inside the room, it was wall to wall Pete Snyder signs and no one else. How in the world did only Snyder get permission to put up his signs in the hall? Messages sent, message received.

    • catholicgal

      Go back and have this fight on Schoeneman’s blog post. I went to the convention to support who I thought was the best representative too. So did a lot of other people. What muck of things was made? Could you please list those for me? If it is just the fact that Jackson won, well, it’s not worth our time.

      • Stephen Spiker

        The person who wrote this blog said he was happy a wrench was thrown in the plans of the Establishment. I’m not sure who the Establishment was, or what their plans were. They seem more like vaguely defined boogeymen than anything else.

        There were several great candidates who ran for LG, who if they won would not have been “Establishment” candidates. For the record, I have never said one negative word about E.W. Jackson or the fact that he won. I don’t have a problem with the good Bishop. I’m beginning to develop a great problem with his supporters, who seem to have a slash-and-burn mentality against anybody who doesn’t agree with them 100%.

        I’m for growing the Republican Party and winning elections. That includes E.W. Jackson and his supporters. If you oppose this goal, that’s fine. A good place to start is to make enemies of everybody else by calling them names and making assumptions about them.

        • Joe Thomas

          Who called anyone names??? Are you reading the column or the comments?

          • Stephen Spiker

            Sorry, Joe, I’m definitely referring to Catholicgal and Sparkyva, among other commentators, with that remark.

    • Joe Thomas

      No, what I said was; “they are very necessary to the process and if you ever run for an office
      you’ll be glad they are around. However, consultants in anyone’s field
      are paid for advice and that advice is based on
      standard-operating-procedures and predictable chains of events. Saturday
      the grass roots threw a monkey wrench into that and chose E.W. Jackson
      as the GOP’s LG candidate.” Seems defined to me.

  • Anonymous

    Is there anywhere we can find the vote totals/percentage by round? I’m curious to see how this played out over the ballot but can’t find a detailed votes result anywhere.

    • PresterJohn5

      I was a bit surprised that other than saying that Martin and Davis didn’t make the cut that no first round numbers were announced whereas there were numbers for the 2d (I believe I saw numbers on the jumbotrons) and 3d rounds.

      • Fred Flynnestone

        That was actually a huge issue. They announced the candidates who “made the cut” in a random order that listed Stimpson fifth of five survivors when in fact she finished second. There were numerous reports of individuals and one block delegation that peeled off her for the 2nd ballot because they thought she’d finished 5th and was thus next on the chopping block. A swing of 65 weighted votes would have put her in the third ballot. Of course after 45 minutes of ballot 2 voting they did announce the numbers showing her having finished 2nd but by then most delegates had already voted. All subsequent ballots announced the vote totals without delay and posted them on the video screens.

    • Stephen Spiker

      Round 1:

      Jackson 31%
      Stimpson 15%
      Stewart 14.8%
      Snyder 14.5%
      Lingamfelter 11.5%
      Davis 7.8%
      Martin 5.5%

      Round 2:

      Jackson 38%
      Snyder 17%
      Stewart 16%
      Stimpson 15%
      Lingamfelter 12%

      Round 3:

      Jackson 49.7%
      Snyder 31%
      Stewart 20%

      Round 4:

      Jackson 58%
      Snyder 42%

  • Liz McCoy

    Well said Joe.

  • steve5656546346

    I’m sure that part of the delay on the first round is that Fredrick County voters were given Fredericksburg ballots (and presumably vice versa). That took a long time to untangle, because the ballots were already marked in most cases and they had to figure a way to do it over.

    • sparkyva

      What they did is they “sequestered” the incorrect votes, and issued new ballots for the two committees. Then they punched out the 7th ballot hole on our cards for the revote just to keep things honest. Chalk it up to inexperience.

  • Fred Flynnestone

    EW’s showing was impressive but one correction – he dominated the 1st ballot but not by as big a margin as your article suggests. His first ballot pct. was 31, he then went to 37 on the 2nd, 49.7 on the third and of course over the top on ballot 4.

    • catholicgal

      31% is quite good when you have seven candidates. Second place wasn’t even close.

    • sparkyva

      First Vote:
      Jackson 31%
      Stimpson 15%
      Stewart 14.8%
      Snyder 14.5%
      Lingamfelter 11.5%
      Davis 7.8%
      Martin 5.5%

      So Jackson had double the votes of the next closest candidate on the first ballot.
      Snyder started claiming the supporters of those dropped as well as the support of Obenshain – all lies. Correy Steward went so far as to walk the floor arm in arm with Jackson to show his supporters he did not support Snyder but supported Jackson before the last vote. The machine lost, we have a new republican party.

  • Post-convention
    SITYS (See, I Told You So): Pete Snyder’s entire campaign operation was
    an unbroken cascade of lies and deceit. During the closing ballots his
    campaign handed out, count ’em, THREE totally fabricated pieces, touting
    nonexistent endorsements from Susan
    Stimpson Mark Obenshain and Corey Stewart. All three quickly moved to
    deny it, leading to Stewart going out on the convention floor and marching arm-in-arm with E.W. Jackson! (Check Susan’s Facebook page to see how she feels about the final round).

    On the way back to the hotel afterward, my brother Tim commented to a
    friend on “all the tricks Snyder pulled.” Then he heard a voice behind
    him – “What tricks did Snyder pull?” And there was Pete. So Tim reminded
    him of the three faked endorsements, at which point Pete cursed him a
    blue streak and walked away.

    This, folks, is why I NEVER, NEVER
    endorse politicians with NO RECORD, on the basis of nothing more than
    their campaign speeches and mailers. It’s NEVER a good gamble; this is
    almost always what you get.

    This guy proved to be an absolute
    embarrassment to good folks like Mike Farris and Ollie North. Guys, I
    can’t say it strongly enough. If a job creator is all you need, there’s
    Mark Warner for you. Don’t endorse a politician based on nothing but
    words. Or like Pete Snyder, they LIE to you.

    Goodbye, Pete. Money can’t always buy elections; it sure doesn’t buy character.

    • LOL

      Barbecue Boy got smoked.

    • Not so fast. The Richmond establishment may want to run their boy Pete for Senate next year. We all need to remember what he tried to pull at this convention. He lied to delegates. We can argue on the merits of issues, but as a party we cannot accept a candidate who lies and cheats. It’s a matter of honesty and honor. Some of us were suspicious of Pete from the beginning when he was chosen by McDonnell and Bolling to be Bolling’s running mate this year. Some of us worried when he drew so much establishment money from wealthy republicans across the country. Some of us never quite trusted ol’ Pete. Some of us were proven right on Saturday.

      • George from Cleveland

        Pete isn’t well known statewide, and he arguably wrecked his reputation with the activists (I say this as a supporter of his).

        Bob is the certain candidate against Mark Warner. The polls indicate he is the only Republican within striking distance of the most popular politician in Virginia. But 2014 may be a bad year for the Ds, what with scandal after scandal. Reminds me of 2006 for the Rs. All we need is one dumb statement from Warner and history rhymes.

      • Let there be no mistake about it – Snyder’s refusal to admit that with Jackson at 49.7% after the third ballot it was on the edge of mathematically impossible for anyone else to beat him wasted hours of time on a fourth ballot for thousands of convention delegates, staff and volunteers. It was pure waste and anyone with even the smallest amount of realism in their critical thinking processes could have figured it out. 3rd-round Stewart voters would have had to break 50-1 in favor of Snyder in order to change the outcome.

        With his behavior at the convention, I’d vote for JMDD next time if I have to, to oppose a Snyder bid for GOP nominations in the future. Really poor judgment and very discourteous to everyone else.

        • Stephen Spiker

          Pete’s campaign made some mistakes on Saturday, but that wasn’t one of them. If Pete was at 49.7% and E.W. Jackson was in 2nd place, you’d be crying bloody murder if someone had suggested that EW should just drop out.

          • no I wouldn’t, I have an apparently rare skill called being able to do math

    • DJRippert

      “This, folks, is why I NEVER, NEVERendorse politicians with NO RECORD, on the basis of nothing more than
      their campaign speeches and mailers.”.

      Really? So, I’ll assume you would NEVER, NEVER endorse EW Jackson – a man who has never held elected office and, therefore, has no record.

      You guys need to be more careful in what you say. Here’s a free tip – the next time you are tempted to call Terry McAuliffe a carpetbagger, remember that EW Jackson moved to Virginia in 1998.

      Snyder being the wrong candidate doesn’t make Jackson the right candidate.

      • Tommy Valentine

        E.W. Jackson was the great-grandson of Orange County slaves who was raised in foster homes in the Northeast. I wouldn’t call that carpet bagging.

    • catholicgal

      Thanks for sharing this. Pete Snyder turned my husband and I off even more at the convention. My husband watched him in action (our county was seated on the floor near the front). He was so turned off by the way he was acting with everyone. You could never get that experience voting in a primary. People would have just loved his slick ads, not to mention the fact that he would have gotten all of the Republican money. He would have wiped the floor with any other candidate on a primary ballot.

  • sparkyva

    For those who think Jackson doesn’t know about politics, after the first round of voting, his supporters came around with stacks of Jackson signs to pass out. No other candidate was prepared like he was for a good old fashion floor fight. Young people running up and down the aisles encouraging people to switch to Jackson to help build the momentum showed he knew how to play the political game. He came to my town twice to speak. I had him down as my second choice because I wasn’t sure he had the campaign smarts to win. But after what I saw on the floor, the results of the first vote (1st place) and the youth support he had, I switched to him on the second round. This guy knows how to win.

    • In my rather large county, the Jackson supporters who working hard for him ranged from people in their 60’s to people in their 20’s. It wasn’t all young people supporting Jackson. Jackson drew from a wide range.

      • sparkyva

        Well I am not exactly a young thing myself, but I just put up a Jackson sign in my front yard. My point is that we are taking back the youth vote from the dems. The kids are finding something to be excited about in Jackson – something the Rinos don’t understand.

  • Joe is a little fast and loose with the anyone but Jackson vibe at the convention. I was on press row and what was being passed was “anyone but Stewart” after his horrific on stage performance and his anti-immigrant presentation in the minority community that turned the press against him. Stewart will be thinking about what could of been for a long time….maybe now he will open his heart. But I am not holding my breath.

    • Joe Thomas

      Noot to split hairs but I don’t think one can play ‘fast-and-loose’ with an observation. That said, yours may well have been the vibe among the media, but my observation was made on the floor with the delegates and around the campaign suites.

  • You omitted the fact that Snyder’s team also gave out flyers that claimed Obenshain had endorsed Pete. Obenshain made no endorsement. They lied. They cheated. They lost.

    • Joe Thomas

      Thanks. It was in there in the first draft but I decided that it deserved a column of it’s own. Stay tuned.

  • Can I count on you to support our ticket? This is a huge ginormous epic win the original tea party activists thought would take a long time and a lot more time to see. We have a trio of tea party candidates that represent the cross section of activists I first took up arms with not long after Santelli lit the fuse and massive protests ensued giving birth the movement. Ken, EW and Mark work for US, work with US and are more like US than any other ticket in Virginia history.. We made it this far folks. We have to look to November, seek relationships with others we have disagreed with and battled with over who did what or to whom and reload our ammo for the next charge up the hill. Our opponent has a (D) after their name and it might as well be a ($). Extend an olive branch and make your previous foe with an R your ally. You are going to need to put 5/18 on the shelf and make fast friends. 5/19 arrived.. its show time folks.

    • yankeedoodle

      What makes Obenshain a “Tea Party” candidate?

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