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Virginia Republicans’ Challenge in 2009

If Virginia voted for a Democrat for President for the first time in 44 years, how can Virginia vote for a Republican for Governor for the first time in 12 years? Will the Democrats win the Virginia House like they did the Senate in ’07? What must Republican candidates do?

Run as conservatives. Repent for the past by running for an honest conservative future: spend less, tax less, fix transportation and let the market lead us to energy independence.
The demographic breakdown of this past election presents a daunting challenge for the GOP. More suggestive are the successively worse, issueless campaigns run between 2001 and now. Finally, there is the baggage of bad Republican legislation; spending every penny of the surplus created by the largest tax increase in Virginia history. This was followed by the unconstitutional HB3202, the worst legislation since “Massive Resistance” with its unelected regional government, new taxes, punishing fines, and plans that didn’t work for transportation and then its Frankenstein son, HB 6055

Yet, believe it or not, the Republicans can win, though, only if they offer Virginians a choice that speaks truthfully and respectfully to good governance. If the convention contest for Attorney General invigorates the base of Conservatives and Libertarians in the right way; that would not hurt either.

Bob McDonnell for Governor, Bill Bolling for Lt. Governor and the Attorney General candidate (should be Ken Cuccinelli) have to recant past mistakes convincingly. Otherwise, why should the conservatives who have been bled out of the base come back? The candidates will not do this. And, it will cost them. The candidates could run on issues that explain how they will improve transportation, where they will cut spending and which taxes they will lower. If the candidates can not do this, they likely will not win.
Here are some encouraging suggestions:

• Business, Professional and Occupational License Tax. Get rid of it. It’s a tax on business which is passed on to consumers, burdening both and hampering job creation. If the localities howl, have them look below at real tax reform.

• Car Tax. Get rid of it. Eliminate the property tax from Virginia; see below when the same howling is heard.

• Real Tax Reform – Income Tax to Cities and Counties. Give a portion of the personal income tax directly to cities and counties. This will mean less money for Richmond in the General Fund, so to offset that cut the $1b the Wilder Commission suggested or make other cuts in growth, or real cuts if needed.

• Fund Transportation Modeling and Simulation. Give the Virginia Modeling and Simulation Center the money to model the transportation problem in NoVa, Tidewater (Hampton Roads), Richmond. It is the first step to solutions based on good governance as opposed to the greed of special interests and their pet legislators.

This is only a start; the Republican candidates for 2009 need to run on real solutions, not rhetoric. Being an “R” is not good enough. Being a “C”, even if the candidate is not posturing and truly is one, is not good enough.

Providing solutions for good governance is the basis to winning back the base and capturing the imagination of the winning majority, the folks in the middle, including the new Virginians in NoVa. I look forward to hearing the stump speeches after Christmas to see what is there.

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