Reeves Hits New Low in Campaign Fundraising Attacks
The First Quarter fundraising results for Virginia statewide campaigns are out, and the inevitable spin from the candidates has already begun. Long-time observers can easily predict what campaigns are going to say, but sometimes campaigns will beat expectations and come up with something nobody expected. Beating expectations in politics is usually a good thing. In this situation, however, it’s not a good thing.
Bryce Reeves beat everybody’s expectations that this LG campaign could not sink any lower into the mud when, in response to a press release from Jill Vogel claiming to have outraised him, Reeves attacked Vogel’s father, her largest campaign donor. See for yourself.
This attack is one of the lowest I’ve seen in the last few years – even lower than when one of my opponents attacked me for putting my son in a “private school” at age 4 (it was pre-school). This attack represents many of the most reprehensible things you can do in Republican politics these days – it’s an attack on a family member, it’s hypocritical on multiple levels, and it’s a blatant attempt at inciting class warfare of the kind we’ve been chastising the Democrats for pushing.
The reference to “rich dad who can write a huge check to bail me out” is a reference to Jill Vogel’s father, Bill Holtzman. Holtzman, one of the most successful entrepreneurs in Virginia, has been one of Vogel’s largest campaign contributors over the years. He’s also exactly the kind of person Republicans used to call role models. Bill Holtzman is an American success story, and one of the most prolific donors to the Republican Party and all of our candidates in Virginia, having donated over $1.3 million to candidates from all across Virginia and across every sector of the party, from Donald Trump to Paul Ryan and everywhere in between. Holtzman wasn’t a trust fund baby. He made his money the old-fashioned way – he earned it. To do so required him to beat dyslexia to get an education. He served his country in the Army. He started out his business career working on an apple orchard and from there, built that into multiple very successful enterprises. If he chooses to give his money to his daughter for her campaign, that’s his decision and we should applaud him for it – not tear him down to take a cheap shot at her.
Think about it – if your kid was running for office and you could write them a big check, wouldn’t you? Who wouldn’t?
What’s all the more galling about this attack is the fact that Bill Holtzman was not only one of Jill Vogel’s biggest Senate campaign donors, he was also one of Bryce Reeves’ biggest Senate campaign donors, too. Holtzman donated $25,000 in the current cycle to Reeves. And while Reeves is claiming that he won the fundraising race by posting a raw First Quarter total of $421,520, at least $230,000 of that figure was a campaign transfer from his Senate campaign.
That’s right, folks.
Bryce Reeves is using money Bill Holtzman donated to his Senate re-election campaign in order to attack Bill Holtzman. While that may not be 30 pieces of silver, it comes awfully close. It’s the kind of political betrayal that makes me cringe, not only because it’s such a pitiful attack, but also because it’s fundamentally absurd.
After all, Reeves has little room to complain that one of his opponents is having her campaign funded by her father, when he’s having his own campaign also funded by her father. The audacity of this attack is just breathtaking.
Finally, the juxtaposition of Bill Holtzman as a “rich dad” with his own father is clear class warfare at its worst. This is the Republican Party. We don’t hate the rich. We don’t hate successful businessmen – we just elected one President, after all. And we certainly don’t try to pretend that there’s something more virtuous about one man working hard and earning a living than another. Not everyone can be Bill Holtzman, but we can all strive to be. Tearing him down or trying to pretend that he’s some kind of Grey Poupon swilling elite while at the same time begging for money is just distasteful. That’s not who we, as Republicans, are. We are proud of success stories and we want to emulate them. We don’t try to tear them down to score cheap political points. That’s what Elizabeth Warren does.
June 13th can’t get here fast enough for me. This campaign season has seen, time and time again, Republicans stooping to lower and lower levels to win. At some point, it’s up to all of us to stand up and say enough is enough.
This campaign has already been one of the most disgusting in recent memory. Vicious anonymous attacks, lawsuits coming left and right, and an almost pathological need to attack each other has been the hallmark of this campaign. All three candidates have gotten into the fray, even Glenn Davis, who sent a bizarre email challenge to Jill Vogel saying he’d drop out of the race if she could prove a bill she patroned didn’t do something he claimed it did. The most recent Reeves attack, which is not just on Vogel’s father but on one of his own campaign donors, has sunk this race even lower than most of us could have ever expected.
I’ve been clear in the past that we are making campaigns so brutal and so nasty, that nobody is going to want to run for anything anymore. These kinds of attacks – on the candidates’ father, for crying out loud – make running for office something that most Virginians would never contemplate. This is the kind of thing that is turning voters off and turning Republicans away from ever seeking office. It isn’t going to stop until we stop rewarding those who stoop to these levels. It’s up to every Republican to speak out when they see this kind of bad behavior, regardless of who they are supporting in the campaign. If you’re a Reeves supporter and you think this kind of thing is acceptable, even if you believe Vogel was behind the anonymous attacks on Reeves last year, you probably should think long and hard about why that is.
This kind of attack has no place in Virginia politics and Reeves owes Bill Holtzman – every Virginia Republican, especially his own supporters, frankly – an apology. As a fellow Sorensen Institute graduate, I find Reeves attack here all the more unnecessary – it’s antithetical to the spirit of that program.
If he has any kind of character left after this attack, he’ll also give Bob Holtzman back the $25,000 Holtzman donated along with that apology.
I won’t hold my breath on either.