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.


  • Eric McGrane

    Yikes…..that is just plain stupid for Reeves to do this. Who is his tone-deaf campaign manager?

    • Turbocohen

      His CM is a good guy Eric, Jill has to clear this app yesterday.

  • Matt Hall

    This is just sad. I know Im really biased, but I’ve never heard a bad word spoken about Jill’s dad. He loves his daughter, and he loves his gradkids even more. Im just really sad that Senator Reeves had to do something like this.

    • Turbocohen

      Pisses me off that rings give the senator a pass on this, if she were a man there would be ADHD hell to pay.

  • John Cox

    Simply reprehensible; as a father I would certainly support my daughters and to attack a father’s help to further his daughter’s political career is unbelievable, especially if Bryce accepted $25k from her dad. At least give the money back and deeply apologize to her dad. Republicans shouldn’t engage in this behavior. Extremely poor taste at best.

  • Richard Statman

    Somewhere during this campaign ,
    Bryce Reeves appears to have lost his moral compass.
    That is a larger loss than any in politics.

    • Roger

      I use to have respect for Senator Reeves.

      I don’t know this guy any more.

      • Turbocohen

        Standing on principles. I can’t help but to respect Reeves even more.

        • Roger

          You and about 5 other people around Virginia.

          This race has broken for Vogel in a huge way.

          The Grassroots detest Bryce.

        • Richard Statman

          I would politely say the
          endorsement of Comstock by Vogel
          And the photo of the two of them together
          Is the final nail on the lid of the Reeves campaign.
          Politics, dirty politics …whatever …is what it is
          Reeves went into the rabbit hole chasing it
          And that’s what people remember.
          Vogel may or may not help ticket , may or may not win.
          Reeves has a cell phone …and not much else.
          This last bit , with the campaign letter is just
          Over the top , way over the top.
          Do I think Bryce Reeves has represented Virginia
          Well in office ?….yes.
          Do I want to have dinner with him….not really .

  • Turbocohen

    Brian, this post has some glaring errors in my twisted way of seeing things.

    #1 Davis cash on hand is almost non existent. No offense against Glenn, he is a friend, I just don’t agree with his voting record.

    #2 Your (Bearing Drift’s?) argument is irrelevant. Bryce is raising money the old fashioned way: hard work.

    Saying Bryce accepted Holtzman’s money this campaign cycle is flat out wrong. That was in 2015 for his Senate reelection when at the time, Bryce thought he could count on Jill as a friend before she or someone with access to her lines of access to the interwebz pulled this email scandal. I personally like Jill, but, it is incumbent upon her to let a 3rd party forensic investigation clear her of any wrong doing, otherwise the cloud will hang over her in the general, if she makes it that far. Yeah, its safe to say you shouldn’t fight with a woman but in this case the argument also suggests you should not implicate a candidates staff or family.

    Until Jill clears this fucking mess up by allowing a forensic investigation to get to the bottom, I doubt ANY republican can win the LG race. Still supporting Reeves 100%. If anyone made the unfounded accusation that you cheated on your lovely wife when you ran for office, I would have stood by you just the same. Both of you are the good guys..

    • Tony

      Oh come on man, you’re smarter than that. Jill and Alex Vogel are attorneys. They have a professional obligation to protect client data on their phones and would be in breach of their duty if they turned that client data over to a political rival.

      And what sane political candidate would turn over a phone filled with private campaign strategy discussions to an investigator on their opponent’s payroll?

      That’s crazy. The demand is totally disingenuous and everyone knows it. Bryce made an absurd demand so he could continue these personal attacks.

      • Turbocohen

        Rule #2: Thou Shalt Not Bullshit Thyself.

    • Turbo, 1) I didn’t mention cash on hand at all, so that’s irrelevant. 2) The donation was for 2015, which means it’s reported as an in-cycle donation on VPAP. You want to quibble about whether it was for this Senate race or not, that doesn’t change the fact that Bryce had no problems asking and receiving $25k from Vogel’s dad when he needed the money. And now he’s attacking him. That’s idiotic.

      This issue has nothing to do with the email issue. Period. Two wrongs do not make a right, and I do not understand why I need to keep explaining this to folks. Just because somebody said something nasty at him does not give him the right to attack her father. Come on, man.

  • Lee Pillsbury

    Brian, I’m sorry but I don’t see an “attack” here.

    • You don’t see “I don’t have a rich dad / my dad drives a bus and taught me to be a real conservative” as an attack?

    • Downstater

      Sounds like a blue collar person with a chip on his shoulder trying to create a wedge issue.

  • JWS

    While I am no a Hokie, I wish that Bill had given the money to Tech (even the athletic department).

    Let Jill win it on her own, if she can.

  • Brian, it’s not just that good people won’t want to run; it’s that the drama created between good candidates creates real problems for the voters. I find myself disgusted by the LG race and it will certainly affect how I vote in June. In the past,

    I felt as though negative campaigns were important for highlighting the differences between candidates, but this isn’t a negative campaign. This race has become personal on two sides. Personal attacks have the effect of making voters less likely to vote in general elections and that, more than anything else, is the worse problem endemic to our current culture within the Republican Party in Virginia.

    Senator Vogel and Senator Reeves are both good conservative representatives with a reason to think they’d make good LGs – but I think we’ll find that people are becoming less and less interested in this race with every dig and personal attack. That can only serve to help Democrats in November.

    I’ve seen this within my own faction – we lose a primary and then take our ball and go home for the general and then complain about how much we dislike the Democrats we elect for statewide offices.

    • Roger

      Steven, how does a candidate tickle your fancy?

      You’re a libertarian blogger who has gravitated to Frank Wagner and Glenn Davis. The only two big Government tax hikers in the race. Makes absolutely no sense.

      • I don’t have a candidate in any of these races; as I’ve pointed out in my pieces on Gillespie, Wagner, and Davis. However, that in and of itself should tell you everything you need to know about how far from the libertarian/constitutionalist message our candidates have gone. Because I have no one to support, I’m left to simply appreciate the good qualities of the candidates we have.

        • Turbocohen

          Brutal honesty, I always respect that in you brother. We can disagree without being disagreeable. How do we recruit you to seek office?

  • Honestly, I get so many fundraising letters that I don’t even have the time to open and read them. However, thanks for bringing this to my attention.

  • Beck Stanley

    Glad Glenn Davis is in the race, one of these two could really sink our otherwise golden ticket with Gillespie and Adams..

    • Roger

      Unfortunately Beck, he will never have that opportunity. 30,000 dollars doesn’t make a dent in a Delegate race. Let alone a statewide race.

  • Dylan Lloyd

    I agree, the intent and spirit of the appeal to his voter base was to demonize the rich. No further analysis necessary. Reeves should offer a apology.

  • AnninVA26

    Is it too late to find some other Lt. Gov. candidates? We don’t like the ones we have and the democrats will have a field day – we’re handing this to them.

  • Downstater

    Okay, now I am in a quandry as to who to vote for for Lt. Gov. First, I really like Vogel, until the email scandal, and then Reeves, until now. Is Glen Davis conservative enough for me? But whatever, the Lt. Gov. isn’t as important anyway, as long as he is a decent Republican and not some RINO or someone bogged down with a scandal. Actually, the only thing I know about him is he travels around in van.

    Very disappointed with Reeves, especially if Mr. Vogel had helped to support his campaign in the past.

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