Virginia 10th District Convention report, pt 6 (final)
UPDATE: Video of a portion of this part of the convention is now available!
This point in the agenda is where things really got interesting.
During the earlier "vote" for Chair and Secretary, Jim Rich had refused to heed requests from members for a division of the question - technically, I understand, you just can't do that if you are acting Chair and purporting to follow Roberts Rules of Order.
A motion was made, and the motion carried, to allow reading of the names of Convention delegates who had donated to Democratic opponents of Republican candidates in the past year. Eve Barner was given the floor to commence reading the names.
What happened next was ... Darn, I keep losing my concentration, sorry. It's just that I've got this song going through my head for some unknown reason and I can't get it to stop:
"Woke up this morning, got yourself a gunâ€¦"
(Continued below the fold)
(there's a few pictures on the page, so give it time to load, eh?)
What happened was, as Eve was reading, acting Chair Jim Fisher, Jim Rich and Parliamentarian Warren Geurin huddled apparently to discern a legal way to get her to stop (her list of Democratic supporters was running pretty darn long). A parliamentary solution being unavailable, Jim Fisher simply stepped back on the stage, stated "The motion is overruled," took back the floor from Eve (now THAT was a first for me) and took the microphone from Eve in mid-sentence.
Following this, the stage perimeter was well-defended.
(Next Convention, the first thing I'm doing is shaking hands with the Sergeants and slipping them each a twenty-spot. Just in case. I appreciate raw power as much as the next guy.)
Following the reading of the portion of that list, I saw the Happy Warrior preparing the RINO hunter: "You have never experienced a more target-rich environment, my son."
The next major kerfluffle took place during the candidates' speeches. Each was allotted eight minutes.
Jim Rich addressed the members first. He gave a portion of his time to Rep. Frank Wolf, who had endorsed him. Then Jim spoke, made a decent speech except for one portion where he read off a "to-do" list of new initiatives for turning the Party's fortunes around, and the list struck me as a bunch of stuff that should have already been done by someone who has held the post for 14 years. But be that as it may, he got the job done in eight minutes.
Next it was Heidi Stirrups' turn, and she was quickly hamstrung by the fact she had two speakers recommending her, and both took WAY too much time. By the time Heidi ascended the platform, her eight minutes was about up.
Now, my take on this was that technically she had forfeited her right to speak because of such horrific clock management - according to Roberts Rules. But it was already established that Roberts Rules were only being treated as a set of polite suggestions for this meeting, guidelines really. So as a matter of simple courtesy, why NOT bend them again here and give the poor woman a couple minutes? It's been done at many, many political Conventions.
But the raw power party would have none of it, and before Heidi had said 15 words the Chair was back on the stage and the bell lady was banging that penalty ringer for all she was worth.
(This lady manning the bell was RUTHLESS to Heidi; I guess she was just following the rules but man oh man she banged on that bell like she was sounding a five-station alarm. Let me tell you: If I'm driving down a desolate country road and THAT lady shows up in my rearview mirror, I pull over to the shoulder and Let. Her. Drive. Past. And I make no eye contact.)
I guess you know the drill: Once again, Very Large Man is called to stage to grab the microphone from Petite Conservative Woman.
If you're keeping score, that's Burly Guys: 2; Conservative women: Zippo.
Anyway, in case you haven't heard, Jim Rich was re-elected Chairman of Virginia's 10th District. I think he got about 60% of the vote to Heidi's 40%.
I haven't followed the campaign until the past couple months, but I'm told by people who do that Jim Rich was much better organized - and this was sort of symbolically confirmed by his opponent's clock management snafu. Heidi gave an extremely gracious concession speech and pledged to support Jim as Chairman and said she was proud to have him at the head of the 10th District.
None of the Stirrup supporters I spoke with said Jim Rich did not win fair and square, and most conceded Rich would have been a tough incumbent for any challenger to beat. Some said they hoped the fact that 40% of the delegates opposed him would serve as an eye-opener and perhaps spur more active leadership in the future.
(Full disclosure: I realize now I don't have any cheery photos of Jim Rich. What I posted is the best I got. I'm sorry about that. I might have been able to make a more concerted effort in front of the podium to catch him smiling during the meeting, but I guess I didn't try hard enough. I also don't think he smiled all that much...but I could be wrong. As noted in a previous report, I also tried to get a sunshine and daisies photo of him outside before the meeting but did not manage to find him. Maybe he's not a big smiley-face guy, which would put him in the same class as me so I would not hold it against him. Anyway, sorry for no gleaming Jim Rich photos.)
I do think, because Jim Rich obviously had a solid base of support, there was no justification for conducting the Convention in such a heavy-handed manner. THAT part did leave a bad taste for the 40%. An extraordinarily dumb quote in the Leesburg2Day newspaper, supposedly by Jim Rich, was circulated in a flyer prior to the Convention - because I don't know for a fact that Rich said it, I'm not going to repeat it here.
But the Republican establishment in the 10th District better pay attention to what occurred yesterday. Several of the speakers evoked a boogeyman that is becoming a little tiresome to some of us: "Imagine a 'Speaker of the House Pelosi'â€¦Imagine a 'Judiciary Committee Chair Conyers'."
The message to the conservative base: "We don't have to pay attention to you, but you darn well better go along with us or the Democrats will take over and where will you be then?"
Well, I have some news for the establishment: There's another boogeyman lurking out there, and this one's as certain as the chair you're sitting in. And this one doesn't give a rat's patootie about a 'Speaker Pelosi.' It's a big chunk of former Republican voters who no longer have one whit of allegiance to the Party. Strip out this energized, growing segment from the solid-GOP demographic in the 10th District and you should see the future will be even more of an uphill climb for getting Republicans elected than the recent past has been.
Let me put it more directly: Any candidate who supports immigration reform that does not follow the U.S. House of Representatives' "Enforcement first" priority will not get these peoples' votes, even if the candidate is marginally tougher on the immigration issue than the opponent.
We're not only talking about Herndon here, either, friends. These folks are busy - I know it firsthand. What happened in Herndon is being held up as a model for upcoming elections throughout the country.
Bottom line: You need this 40%, so be careful how you treat them.
Closing out the meeting, during the voting we heard a great speech from our great Congressman Frank Wolf, who said the right things about every issue, including immigration.
Ditto for the man I hope to help elect as President in 2008, assuming we can help him keep his Senate seat in 2006. If George Allen holds firm to the enforcement-first policy against the will of his open borders colleagues, he will help himself immensely this fall.
Rewarding illegal behavior will only get us more illegal behavior, and a country that cannot secure its borders cannot secure its own destiny.
Rep. Wolf spent much time talking with his constituents, who I hope urged him to hold firm on immigration.
Ditto for the man I hope to help elect as President in 2008.
It was a richly rewarding experience to participate as a delegate to the Convention, and I hope to have the opportunity to do so again in the future. We might only be 40% now, but I think the Party, like the country, is nearing a tipping point.
Listed below are links to blogs that reference this entry: Virginia 10th District Convention report, pt 6 (final).
TrackBack URL for this entry: