Sunday, August 30, 2009

Wrong bird for the job?

With the midsummer surprise withdrawal of Chris Saxman, the 20th District House of Delegates race suddenly became more competitive and more interesting. An entrenched incumbent had exited and, for the moment, the field belonged to Democratic challenger Erik Curren. The Republicans had to scramble to select a unifying nominee that could keep the GOP leaning district bright red.
Anyone following the subsequent events remembers the much publicized GOP forum held at Buffalo Gap High School on July 27. Although the forum was public, the selection of a pinch hitter was actually made by the local Republican chairs who interviewed candidates (and probably made up their minds) the day before. Those chairs met secretly after the forum and announced they'd picked Staunton City Councilman Dickie Bell.
Now, scratching about in the grist, I'm hearing of a few Republicans who aren't exactly crowing about the nominee and how he's performed in the month following his behind-closed-doors selection.
When you bring up Mr. Bell, one Republican (who didn't attend the forum) questions where he is and what he's been doing since early August. He knows Bell made an appearance at the county fair and a few yard signs have appeared at the usual GOP homes in Staunton, but other than that, little has been seen or heard from the GOP nominee. This person expected Bell to hit the ground running, trying to build name recognition in parts of Augusta and Rockingham counties where he isn't very well known. He has been disappointed that Bell doesn't seem to be working very hard or taking it seriously.
Another very conservative Republican had hoped David Karaffa would get the nod from party leaders. Pointing out how Karaffa organized folks to come to the forum in red shirts, this GOPer noted that Karaffa knows how to motivate the conservative base of the party. What really gets this right winger miffed, is that Karaffa is putting on his own health care town hall and showing the leadership that is apparently lacking in the nominee: "They picked the wrong person for the job. We needed a true conservative. A leader. We didn't get either."
I don't know how widespread these views about Dickie Bell really are among Republicans. Perhaps it is just a few disgruntled folks sounding off to anyone who will listen. But, from my roost, it is very interesting that at least a few birds are straying from what used to be a pretty tight-knit flock.


unionman said...

Well Dickie was in Mugshot's this morning (after church?) with his wife and son. They didn't appear to be in big hurry to do any door-to-door. Of course maybe he doesn't campaign on Sundays?

Anonymous said...

thier were better choices than Bell. Karaffa for one. Sayer, too. nobody seems to excited by him.

Riley Murray said...

I'm not sure the Dickie is up to the challenge of reaching out to moderate voters. Now the buzz indicates that he's losing support on the right. Weird! He clearly is not attracting enthusiasm from the far-right,i.e., Karaffa's red shirts. He is notably quite proud of his series of 1-6 losses in City Council. His "go it alone" defiance of others, seems to indicate he's no team player and damn proud of it. I'm sure better researchers than I can document his "maverick" streak. So it begs the question -- why run at all? -- when you will be in crowd of 100 delegates who could give a flip if you want to go it alone. A Bell win would likely mean we'd be ignored even more in SAW land. Being a "party hack", maybe my pundit goggles are bit fogged up, but it does seem odd how the Bell campaign is playing out as noted by CCC. Stay tuned.... more drama to come.

Anonymous said...

I've known Mr. Bell for a while. Not sure he has the patience for this job.