An Interview with Steve Baril
(Realizing this is a little later than when I had claimed that we would have this previously...)
NovaTownhall: Are you running for Attorney General again in 2009?
Steve Baril: Iâ€™m still trying to recover from my last adventure! Seriously, I was involved in politics long before I was ever a candidate, and I intend to stay involved. For example, I am focused on getting the Marriage Amendment passed and helping RPV with fundraising.
NT: Along the same lines, have you considered running against independent Delegate Katherine Waddell?
SB: Yes, but I am supporting Manoli Loupassi, Vice Mayor of the City of Richmond. Manoli is the right guy and itâ€™s the right time in his career to take back this important seat for the GOP.
NT: You seem to have taken an active interest in the fight to pass the marriage amendment this November. How will you be advancing the cause between now and Election Day?
SB: Iâ€™m heading up the Republican outreach for the campaign. I have been speaking to local units to whip up grassroots support among Republican activists. If we can get the grassroots energized, we will be a long way towards passing the Marriage Amendment.
NT: You previously stated on our website that fellow blogger Not Larry Sabato mischaracterized your arguments supporting the marriage amendment in the speech you gave to the Teenage Republican convention. Could you give us a shorter version of the position in your speech about why you are supporting the marriage amendment?
SB: I said that there are liberal forces in our midst who want to redefine traditional marriage as between â€œBob and Bruce, Martha and Margaret, or whateverâ€¦â€ The blogger misquoted me and came up with an outrageous argument that I never made. I am supporting the Marriage Amendment, in a nutshell, because marriage is the bedrock of the family in our culture. I believe in democracy and representative government, not judicial fiat or usurpation to establish public policy. So, I believe every citizen has the right to go to the polls to vote his conscience on whether this constitutional amendment should pass, or fail. I predict it will pass resoundingly.
NT: Do you plan to be involved with fundraising or campaigning for any of the congressional delegation like Senator Allen or Congresswoman Drake?
SB: Yes, Iâ€™ve already attended two events for Thelma Drake, and I am sure Iâ€™ll be attending others for her and George Allen. In fact, the beauty of the Marriage Amendment is that it should drive conservative, family-oriented voters to the polls to vote for Thelma and George. Their vote could be the difference in Thelmaâ€™s race. And, I believe we will attract support from minorities who may not generally vote Republican. Iâ€™m advocating a â€œwin-winâ€ situation.
NT: What was the most important lesson you took away from the primary campaign in 2005?
SB: Not to listen to damn consultants! Just kidding. But, I learned to be myselfâ€”itâ€™s what got me this far.
NT: To what do you attribute Jerry Kilgoreâ€™s loss?
SB: I think there were a number of factors that resulted in a good man not winning the election. I think it is an oversimplification to try to attribute Jerryâ€™s loss to any one thing.
NT: Do you believe that in 2005 the conservative Republican base did not turn out as projected because the Democrats and some moderate/liberal Senate Republicans have managed to blur the distinction between the two parties and thus â€œdamaged the Republican labelâ€?
SB: Picking up on my last answer, it may be true that some conservatives did not work as hard as they should have, but itâ€™s also true that many moderates got hoodwinked by the lies of candidate Kaine. Take the issue of taxes or the Marriage Amendment for example. Also, President Bushâ€™s numbers were certainly down from the year before, and all of these factors and many more added up to an unfortunate result. The simple fact that is that it happened, and we need to get over it, and get back to the basics.
NT: What can be done to reinvigorate the conservative base and draw a clear contrast for the voters?
SB: As I said before, Iâ€™m urging grassroots activists to get involved with the Marriage Amendment as well as the contested races of Thelma Drake, Virgil Goode, Bill Carrico, and George Allen. This is the way to get over a bad loss and reinvigorate our conservative base.
NT: Are you involved with any high profile cases this year in your practice with Williams Mullen?
SB: I head up the Complex Business Litigation Team at Williams Mullen and am lucky to be responsible for some of the firmâ€™s largest cases. Itâ€™s what I do well, and I really enjoy it.
NT: Some attacked you as not being a â€˜trueâ€™ conservative [both socially and fiscally] in the last election or as not being as conservative as now Attorney General McDonnell. How do you respond to such claims?
SB: I never took those comments so much as a criticism of me as a compliment of Bob McDonnellâ€™s longstanding leadership as a conservative in the Republican Party. I took away from all this that I needed to do a better job articulating and demonstrating my social and fiscal conservative credentials. I might add that Bob and I never attacked each other on our respective conservative values. I think that in itself says something about where I stand.
NT: Do you think Senator Allen will run for President if he wins reelection, and if so, what do you think his chances are?
SB: I hope so because I think he would make a great President.
NT: How strong of a position do you think the Virginia legislature should take against eminent domain abuse in light of the failure of the assembly to agree on legislation?
SB: Here again, I think we have a duty to take a strong stand on this public policy issue so as not to let activist judges dictate policy for us.
NT: How often do you read blogs?
NT: What was your opinion of this yearâ€™s budget impasse over the state senateâ€™s desire for a tax increase for transportation?
SB: I just canâ€™t understand how anyone could ask hardworking people to pay more in taxes when the state government is running a surplus of over $1 billion. It just doesnâ€™t make any sense to me.
NT: Who do you think will benefit the most out of the compromise over the budget, the House, the Senate, or the Governor?
SB: I think the House will be the big winners and the Governor will be the big loser. He really exposed his true colors on this issue. As for the Senate, who knows how the Senators will fair in their districts?
NT: Does this tactic of holding the government hostage over a tax-hike help one side more than the other?
SB: It appears to have backfired on the Governor and the Senate. The important thing now is to address transportation needs without a tax hike. I have spoken often about many ways to do just that; it is simply a matter of having the political will to do it.
NT: What options do you prefer as possible solutions to the gridlock in the I-95/I-64 corridor?
SB: I spent a lot of time promoting my Marshall Plan for Transportation in Virginia. I think I was pretty clear on where I stood.
NT: Do we have a chance of having a Republican Senate that shares the
Republican Partyâ€™s values anytime soon?
NT: What do you think of groups such as VCAP that challenge liberal incumbents?
SB: I think they have every right to challenge anyone they want. Thatâ€™s the American way.
NT: Have you heard any reports on former Redskin Darrell Green running for the State Senate, originally reported online on the Too Conservative blog? What do you think of his potential candidacy in the 33rd Senate district?
SB: No, but I predict he will be able to outrun his opponent!
NT: Thank you very much, Mr. Baril, for taking time out to answer our questions.
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