Is The Commonwealth In Play?

Ask the $1.75 million Kerry Raised In Virginia This Month. . .

I’m gonna keep beating the drums until someone listens. When the Dems have every tool at their disposal, three visits from John Kerry, and $750,000 spent versus the fact that I can’t even get my local Republican leaders a bumper sticker, something is seriously wrong:

For the minimum entry price of $1,000, partygoers were provided with hors d’oeuvres and mixed drinks. Top-dollar donors were treated to a private reception with Kerry and Warner, who later emerged to shake hands in the larger crowd.

‘This gives evidence of how energized the base is,’ said Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Gerald E. Connolly, who attended the event. ‘There are people I haven’t seen at Democratic political events in eons.’

(snip)

Kerry J. Donley, chairman of the Democratic Party of Virginia, said the success of the fundraising effort suggests that the Democratic ticket may succeed in winning the state’s 13 electoral votes. The last Democratic presidential candidate to win Virginia was Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964.

“This is Northern Virginia. It’s a high-dollar event. But that’s also reflective of the support for Kerry and the wealth of Northern Virginia and the Democrats of Northern Virginia,” Donley said. “It clearly shows that we are a state in play.”

Absolutely it does. If yesterday’s Washington Post Express means anything, buzz at the convention is that Kerry is indeed targeting Virginia.

Now of course, I know I’m being an alarmist about this. Yes, I know the more work we do in Virginia the more we can focus on battleground states. This having been said, GOP efforts thus far in Virginia have been entirely grassroots. That’s nothing terrible, but when I can’t reward my volunteers with so much as a bumper sticker, that is bad news.

Now we could make the argument that I, as a local party chairman, should be raising the funds necessary to get this done. Perhaps all 130 local GOP chairmen should be doing this? That’s fine, but that isn’t something that we are going to intuitively do without direction; direction we have been seriously lacking.

In the Fredericksburg area, we are well on our way to doing our part. But the fact remains that 130 disorganized and ill-supplied grassroots organizations are not going to beat a focused, grassroots oriented, and organized effort from the Dems.

They don’t just believe they can win, they know they can win. The Democrats in Virginia are serious about Kerry winning Virginia, and if Republicans believe it can’t happen, then let us ask ourselves why Mark Warner and Tim Kaine are in office to begin with. Furthermore, let’s remind ourselves that if Virginia Republicans do poorly in 2004, we are going to look very weak for 2005 when it matters.

So what’s the short list of solutions?

(1) Give the GOP Chairmen and State Central a heads up. If we’re on our own, we’d like to know that in a manner that we can hand the information to our volunteers and say “Hey guys, we’re on our own so Bush can focus on Florida. Now let’s go stomp some liberals!” Something as simple and as small as that can really stop the lethargy and get us moving in the right direction.

(2) Organization. Victory 2004 is working on this, I know, so I won’t complain too much. But co-ordination is key and it is need if anything to smooth over our local leaders. It’s 100 days out – we should be ready by now.

(3) Materials. I’m talking signs and bumpersticker, not mugs and frizbees and other worthless crap that costs too much money. Folks can buy the trinkets in the store, but bumperstickers, lapel stickers, and signs are par for the course for any campaign.

Now in many respects we can breathe easier in the Fredericksburg area. Spotsylvania has taken the lead, we have an HQ, we have precincts covered (in Spotsy and Fredericksburg at least) and we have a plan in place for fundraising and events. But if the Dems are serious with organization and staff, they are going to manipulate the environment in a way I as a chairman can’t. This GOP stuff on my behalf is part-time, not full time.

The Bush/Cheney campaign needs to re-evaluate Virginia and soon. We don’t need gangbusters, we just need some freakin’ stickers guys! RPV and Victory 2004 can handle the rest!

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