Nationally as conservatives revel becoming the majority party in the U.S. Senate, Virginia’s Republicans eye new minority and independent converts with the right leader. Tenth District Congresswoman-elect Barbara Comstock and her new-found national prominence achieves such status as did Stafford Congressman Rob Wittman, surprising no one with his landslide reelection to a fourth term. But what will the RPV do?
And as President Obama prepares to enact immigration legislation that clearly will divide conservatives through executive fiat, the need for positive outreach is critical.
Comstock ran a near flawless campaign, thanks to the nurturing eye and word of close friends and confidants former Governor and First Lady George and Susan Allen. The Allens’ tremendous popularity aided Comstock’s 17-point victory, drawing a large independent slice of the vote.
In spite of the political shellacking Democrats received nationally by Republicans, reality must be interdigitated with the fact that only 36 percent of the voting public showed up. Tragically, it was the lowest voter turnout in decades. And in the Hispanic community a little over a third of the eight percent nationally voted Republican while less than 10 percent were from the black community.
Granted, it was an off-year election and in spite of clear economic increases, rising insurance premiums associated with Obamacare galvanized Republicans. Nevertheless, the immigration solution continues as a mega problem for Republicans. Then there remains the tragic issue of sequestration.
Allen correctly suggests, “America should be a magnet for the best minds in the world to keep us in the lead as the World Capital of Innovation.” While seeing the need to secure the border and get our Visa system and E-Verify operable, he acknowledges the need for legal guest workers for seasonal technology or agricultural work based on national needs.
Sadly, decades of racial insensitivity by officials such as Delegate Bill Howell, whose rumors of retirement can’t come fast enough for minority communities that he has shown disdain for. Officials who have a history of historical indifference and insensitivity clearly fueled Obama’s anticipated actions on immigration reform. Agree or disagree with Obama, Republicans must accept 50% of the blame for his actions due to decades of refusing to advance immigration reform when they controlled congress.
Washington could have prevented such actions adopting Allen’s recommendations suggesting existing law-abiding immigrant workers who have overstayed Visas should be made temporary residents as guest workers rather than citizens or placed on a path to citizenship or granted amnesty.
Allen’s recommendation with an historical acknowledgement of our nation’s impedance to allow the undocumented to legally assimilate would correctly demonstrate conservative compassion. Very shortly, independent voters who may wish to lean conservative will look for some sign of compassionate understanding … especially minority veterans whose relatives, legal or not, fought for and sacrificed lives for the nation since World War II. And they are doing it today.
The answer may rest at the top with actions by the Republican Party of Virginia. Republicans badly need a unifying leader to tap into various minority communities and those 700 thousand plus mostly-independent Hispanic voters. This must be their new goal now that PRV Chairman Pat Mullins has announced his resignation.
Those mentioned as possible Mullins replacements included Stafford’s Eric Herr, the retired air force pilot who unsuccessfully ran for the Hartwood District School Board, as well as former Virginia GOP chairman Pat McSweeney. But are they uniters? Republican leaders quietly blame the combative McSweeney’s tea party ties and operatives like Herr as reasons Republicans lost Virginia’s top three state offices in November.
John Whitbeck, an attorney who has served as chairman of 10th Congressional District Committee, has also indicated his strong desire for consideration. Other less prominent Republicans are also vying for attention.
Then there’s the ambitious Pete Snyder of “Pete’s Pig Rig” fame, the conservative commentator who should state an interest. Snyder, of northern Virginia, was an unsuccessful candidate for LtGovernor during the last Republican convention. He remained a popular staple supporting conservative and tea party candidates during the election. Snyder wisely took a page from the Bible, substituting loaves of bread and fish for barbeque, finding a well-fed crowd more responsive to his political oratory. Without question, his keen business acumen and strong marketing skills could bring the visibility he and Virginia seek in diverse communities Snyder will need as he eyes future elected office.
But Kay Coles James, the former Virginia Secretary of Health and Human Services, and her history of successful welfare reform initiatives while serving under the Allen administration could be seen as the front runner. The fact that she worked as a presidential appointee under both President Bush administrations demonstrates her competence. As a strong woman who happens to be black, she can uniquely speak to the equal conservative opportunities for all citizens in Virginia, opportunities that have been squandered by the Bill Howells of last year’s Republican failure but, fortunately, embraced by leaders like Comstock and Wittman.
Just imagine the outreach with a vibrant RPV leader like James or an energetic Snyder … and the 700 thousand possible votes.
Daniel Cortez, a distinguished Vietnam veteran and award winning writer-broadcaster, is active in veterans and political affairs with an independent voter perspective. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.