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Conservatives Richard Falknor on 08 Aug 2014 08:36 pm

VA Tea Partiers & Ed Gillespie: Chance For Course Correction?

This morning someone dropped in our mailbox a report about the Virginia Tea Party Patriots Federation meeting with GOP Senate nominee Ed Gillespie a week ago.

Travis Witt, the Federation’s chief, declared–

“I am a principled pragmatist. Ed Gillespie was not my choice for Virginia Senator, nor the choice for many Tea Party folk. But do we as conservatives decide to stay home and not participate in the election process because we do not have a perfect candidate?”

Scroll down for the text of the Witt Report.

But first, here is our take–

The good Mr. Witt is missing an opportunity: the choice is not a static one, simply between incumbent senator Mark Warner and whatever may be the current incarnation of Ed Gillespie.

The wiser path is to use conservative voter leverage to get Mr. Gillespie publicly to commit now to firm conservative positions.

If we can’t move Ed Gillespie to an explicit and principled constitutional path now, we surely won’t be able to do it when he is in office!

Last Friday’s meeting’s first question should have been — “if elected, will you vote for Mitch McConnell and his team as Senate GOP leaders?”

The meeting’s second question should have been — “how are you now supporting senator Jeff Sessions’ call to stop the president’s lawless overreach through executive action on immigration?”

Overall the Gillespie answers ( in the Witt Report) on crucial issues are simply sound bites with much wiggle room, not arresting insights. 

For example–

“Repeal” Obamacare?  How and when? By trying to defund it through returning the appropriations process to regular order?  A sound goal working with other conservative GOP senators. But Mitch McConnell and Thad Cochran (presumptive appropriations panel chief or ranking member) and Lamar Alexander will likely be pushing back. Certainly not, one hopes, by waiting until Mitt Romney is president?

The tone of the Witt Report does not reflect the gravity of the president’s use of “executive action” to usurp the Constitution.

The tone does not even reflect the struggle in the House last week finally to take legislative action (H.R. 5272 however symbolic) against DACA — House legislative action inspired by senator Jeff Sessions!

Mr. Witt’s conservativism is well-established. He personally opposed Eric Cantor and recognizes here the local consequences of the bleeding southern border. Thus we must conclude that the following list of loosely defined and undifferentiated issues reflects some grab-bag thinking in last Friday’s meeting.

The Witt Report

 “On Friday evening August 1st, 12 Tea Party leaders from several organizations in Central Virginia met with Ed Gillespie in Lynchburg, VA. Here is a synopsis of Ed’s comments about a multitude of issues (randomly ordered, pick your preference) concerning Tea Party organizations.
Amnesty – Secure the border first. Immigrants must follow the legal process
Slating – Wrong; should not have been used
Balanced Budget Amendment – Supports passage and will introduce legislation if elected
Earmarks – does not support earmarks nor will he request them for Virginia if elected
Constitution – In all decisions, Ed stated he will follow the Constitution.
Term limits – Ed believes in citizen legislators and would term limit himself to 2 terms as Senator.
Obamacare – Repeal – Obamacare is a fatally flawed system designed to fail so that a single payer plan can be initiated. Return Healthcare to the private sector, implement tort reform, make health insurance competitive across state lines, and encourage individual medical savings accounts.
Karl Rove – disagrees with his actions that have created division in the Republican Party
Department of Education – Education needs to be returned to the local level and more should be done to encourage charter schools. Ed was not willing to provide tax credits to homeschoolers because doing so would give government the incentive necessary to regulate families having received a tax credit.
EPA – Rules and regulations affecting economic growth must be stopped.
Keystone – build the pipeline
IRS – broken and needs to be changed
NSA – Faulty, must be restricted, and needs to have opponent representation on FISA “courts”
In my opinion, Ed’s answers provide enough information for Tea Party folks to support and vote for him when compared to the voting record of Mark Warner. Ed is willing to listen to Tea Party if we have concerns about his comments and stances. Warner will not. Ed stated that he would attend as many local Tea Party meetings as his schedule will allow between now and November 4.
I am a principled pragmatist. Ed Gillespie was not my choice for Virginia Senator, nor the choice for many Tea Party folk. But do we as conservatives decide to stay home and not participate in the election process because we do not have a perfect candidate?
The current climate of government and politics in America did not happen overnight or in a vacuum; it has been a gradual process taking many decades. It will not be rectified in one election cycle and it will never be rectified if we refuse to remain engaged.
Can Gillespie say more to encourage support from Tea Party activists? Of course. Will Mark Warner continue to do damage to this nation if re-elected? Absolutely. Unless we want to see Mark Warner as a potential Clinton running mate in 2016 and a voter for liberal SCOTUS judges, then his defeat in November 2014 is needed. Ed Gillespie is the only candidate in the race for Virginia Senate that has the potential to defeat Mark Warner. Sarvis can’t. And Ed cannot win if conservatives stay at home.
By the way, I refuse to be a Bill Bolling. I do not have everything I want in a candidate, but I will not sit out an election cycle and in so doing, indirectly aid and support Mark Warner whose voting record supports the destruction of principles (Declaration of Independence) and procedures (Constitution) that made America the nation I love and want to see flourish for my children.
Rev. Travis Witt
Chair, Virginia Tea Party Patriots Federation”

No, “Ed cannot win if conservatives stay home,” as Mr. Witt declares.

And conservatives cannot win** if they send to the Senate for six years yet another uncritical poodle of Mitch McConnell and the GOP Senate leadership — especially this candidate who has spent his professional life in the bowels of the GOP Establishment. As we noted in 2009 – –

“He has a record of helping hike taxes in Virginia, he has a strong record in behalf of more open immigration, and he is, according to the Manchester Union Leader, on record in behalf of larger government

But both can win- –  if Virginia conservatives use their voting leverage now to get the old Ed Gillespie to come to a better mind by demanding that he detail:

  • and how he will confront the president’s lawless “executive actions.”

The Tea Partiers participating in last Friday’s meeting might want to revisit senator Jeff Sessions’ letter here to his colleagues urging the GOP  “to adopt a humble and honest populism”–

The GOP lost the election—as exit polls clearly show—because it hemorrhaged support from middle- and low-income Americans of all backgrounds. In changing the terms of the immigration debate we will not only prevent the implementation of a disastrous policy, but begin a larger effort to broaden our appeal to working Americans of all backgrounds. Now is the time to speak directly to the real and legitimate concerns of millions of hurting Americans whose wages have declined and whose job prospects have grown only bleaker. This humble and honest populism—in contrast to the Administration’s cheap demagoguery—would open the ears of millions who have turned away from our party. Of course, such a clear and honest message would require saying ‘no’ to certain business demands and powerful interests who shaped the immigration bill in the Senate.” (Highlighting Forum’s)

Virginia conservatives must encourage Mr. Gillespie publicly to choose voters over destructive donors or supporters. 

In doing so, both conservatives and the candidate will help the Republic start on an overdue course correction.

 * * * * * * * * * *

** Unless, of course, they believe Republican Big Government and Political Correctness are markedly preferable to Democratic Big Government and Political Correctness.

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