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Handicapping the Virginia 12th District State Senate Race

We now have five – count ’em – five – candidates in the Republican Primary race to replace the retiring Walter Stosch in Virginia’s 12 Senatorial District. And the race is shaping up to be one of the most interesting primaries in a while in the Old Dominion.

First and foremost, this post is nothing more than my personal objective opinion on where the race stands now. And it is not an attempt to persuade or sway opinion on the possible outcome. And we are a long way from the primary. This is nothing more than an “ear to the ground” summary of what people are saying about each candidate. Many things will change before the June Primary.

The five candidates so far are (in alphabetical order) Vince Haley, Wayne Hazzard, Bill Janis, Siobhan Stolle-Dunnavant and Edward Whitlock.

Long shots

Wayne Hazzard

While the 12th Senatorial District includes a bit of Hanover County, the seat is considered by most to be a Henrico County seat. And Republicans in Henrico are downright possessive of this seat and wondered why Wayne Hazzard, a Hanover County Supervisor would even consider running. Many Conservatives in Hanover that worked to elect Hazzard to the Hanover Board of Supervisors have been disappointed by Hazzard’s charge to eliminate most proffers in the county, costing taxpayers millions. And while there was nothing illegal in the vote to eliminate these proffers, Hazzard potentially stands to benefit financially. As a result, Hazzard no longer has the strong grassroots support that swept him into office in Hanover and he is the longest of long shots. And with the heavy hitters in the race, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Hazzard bow out before the primary.

Edward Whitlock

Whitlock is not a well known name in politics and will probably have a lot of trouble picking up support and money to mount a serious challenge. This is not to say Whitlock is not a good prospect for the open seat, he is. But this election looks to be a slug-fest between the remaining three candidates.

Contenders

Vince Haley

Haley is an unknown quantity in Virginia politics but he has a couple of things going for him that will go a long way to overcome his lack of political notoriety. First, he picked Zac Werrell to manage his campaign. If Werrell’s name rings a bell, it should. He managed Dave Brat’s Primary Campaign that defeated long time congressman Eric Cantor. That was a victory that sent Werrell’s stock through the roof as a campaign manager. And secondly, Haley has worked for Newt Gingrich for a number of years and if there is one thing I know about Newt, he wouldn’t be working with Haley unless Haley was someone special.

Haley is finding the most appeal among the Conservative crowd and is the favorite of those leaning towards the right. It wouldn’t be accurate to call Haley a “TEA Party Candidate” but he is on the TEA Party radar.

But what Haley has enjoyed to this point is the room-packing power of the Brat grassroots machine that proved it’s mettle to the nation in last year’s Congressional primary defeating Cantor. And right out of the starting gates his selection of Werrell as his campaign manager has already paid dividends in bringing in the grassroots. And it sets a high mark for the other contending candidates, Janis and Stolle-Dunnavant, to overcome Haley’s early advantage.

Bill Janis

Janis is a proven Legislator and spent ten years representing Henrico in the House of Delegates (and is the only candidate in this race with experience as a Legislator.) Janis has a conservative voting record and most Conservative voters will find few votes Janis cast that they would consider problematic. A former Naval Officer, Janis earned a reputation as a tough negotiator and one who is not easily swayed from his convictions on, well, anything.

Janis is seen as a man that has been able to get things done within the Republican establishment, which positions him just inside the “establishment Republican” line.

Siobhan Stolle-Dunnavant

Stolle-Dunnavant has never held office but if the name Stolle is familiar, that is because of her brothers. Chris is a current Delegate and the man cursed by Conservatives in Virginia Beach and around the state for his role in the Ray Allen / Eric Cantor slating fiasco which split the Republican Party and attempted to crown the RINO nominees by hook or crook. Ken is a former state senator and the current Sheriff of Virginia Beach and Colin is the Commonwealth’s Attorney in Virginia Beach. Stolle-Dunavant may be a political newcomer but her family is well connected to the Republican establishment power brokers. I would expect the dirty handed smears consultant Ray Allen has become famous (or infamous) for orchestrating. All those slick, glossy, nasty last minute mailers that flood your mailbox a day or two before an election are usually Ray Allen garbage. (I am not sure Allen will be Stolle-Dunnavant’s consultant but wouldn’t bet against it.)

If you thought Eric Cantor was a fine upstanding Conservative that always kept his promises then you will probably vote for Stolle-Dunnavant. She is the RINO’s Candidate and if Stosch endorses anyone after his decades long efforts to tax and spend your money, it will be Stolle-Dunnavant.

The Score Card

Obviously there are really only three candidates in this race: Haley, Janis and Stolle-Dunnavant. Hazzard and Whitlock really don’t have much of a voter pool to draw from. The three main candidates will cover the spectrum.

And the race promises something for everyone. Stolle-Dunnavant is the RINO Establishment Candidate, Bill Janis the Conservative leaning Establishment Candidate and Vince Haley the Conservative non-establishment outsider candidate.

I would expect Stolle-Dunnavant to come out with guns blazing for Bill Janis. She will consider Janis the biggest threat for the establishment vote she will be after. But she won’t be able to take Haley for granted, however Haley will have a solid block of Conservatives and the “Brat Pack” apparatus that will make the Conservative vote safe for Haley.

The Ray Allen factor

I think it is fair to say true Conservatives despise Ray Allen. And anyone with any connection to Allen will never see a Conservative vote. Ray Allen puts the ugly in politics and is a soulless, win at all costs consultant. The rift in the Republican Party of Virginia is directly attributable to Allen and Eric Cantor. They have gone to war against Conservatives and do everything they can to keep true Conservatives out of the Republican Party.

And while Ray Allen has been divisive to the Republican Party, he has proved to be a strong uniting influence on Conservatives who are tired of the insider politics Virginia Republicans have been playing for years. Nowhere was this “rally against Ray Allen” phenomenon more apparent than in the 7th District Convention where Allen candidate Linwood Cobb was soundly defeated for the Chairmanship by Fred Gruber and the earth shaking defeat of Eric Cantor in the primary shortly thereafter.

And Stolle-Dunnavant is the Ray Allen candidate. Call it guilt by family association.

And Bill Janis has a Ray Allen association via his family. His wife worked for Cantor and one cannot escape Ray Allen on Cantor’s payroll. Call this guilt by family association as well.

So it boils down to two candidates on the establishment side of the political spectrum vs. a single Conservative. And with that dynamic, Janis and Stolle-Dunnavant will split the Establishment vote and the Conservative vote will go to Haley.

The 2014 Eric Cantor – Dave Brat Primary

We all know the outcome of the 2014 primary between Eric Cantor and our new Congressman Dave Brat. And that gives us a good idea of the Establishment vs Conservative split in the Republican Party in Henrico County and Hanover County. Cantor was clearly the establishment candidate and Brat the Conservative favorite. Brat won Henrico 54% to 47% and he won Hanover 68% to 32% for Cantor. The Hanover totals are not a huge factor given the small bit of Hanover in the 12th District. But it will boost the Conservative vote in Henrico at least a bit.

The Strategy

The RINO vote belongs solidly to Stolle-Dunnavant. Janis will lock up the Conservative-leaning Establishment vote and perhaps a bit of the more moderate non-establishment Conservative vote. And Haley will win the Conservative vote.

If I am Haley, I would be happy with the dynamics of a three way race given the results of the 2014 primary. Stolle-Dunnavant and Janis are going after the same pool of low hanging voters with some overlap. Janis will not appeal to the most Progressive RINO Republicans because of his stubborn independent streak and his unwillingness to roll over to the powers that be in the establishment when he thinks they are wrong. And Janis will also find some overlap on the right, but the bulk of his voters will be the center-right wing of establishment Republicans.

The bottom line is that if both Janis and Stolle-Dunnavant are on the ballot when the primary rolls around, Haley will be the winner of the Republican Primary. There is simply no path to victory for any other candidate in a three way race.

Obviously it would be great for Janis or Stolle-Dunnavant if either candidate could convince Haley to drop out of the race, but the math points to a Haley victory based on the Cantor/Brat numbers. So convincing Haley to drop out isn’t a likely scenario.

Stolle-Dunnavant will likely pull in a lot of money thanks to her brothers. And I expect her to go on the attack against Janis and to do some serious arm twisting in smoke filled back rooms to convince Janis to drop out. And Janis will no doubt be under a lot of pressure to stand down because there is no path to victory for Stolle-Dunnavant with Janis in the race. And the path to victory for her is tenuous at best even in a two way race with Haley. And if it were anyone but Bill Janis running against the Stolle establishment I would predict the lady would have her way and face Haley alone. But I have known Bill Janis for several years and he can stand up to pressure, no doubt about it. And while anyone else would be a near certain scratch, I would give Janis 50-50 odds.

Conclusion

It is still very early in this primary race and while I have Haley as the early favorite, it is still anyone’s race. This is the point where donors will make or break the campaign and it is hard to say how much money will be spent, but we also saw that with the Cantor/Brat primary grassroots can overcome a lot of money.

Ray Allen has a lot of egg on his face with his recent losses. And what remains to be seen is if his old ways of slash and burn politics can play in Virginia anymore. Allen’s “Liberal College Professor” plan against Brat fell flat on it’s face and most of Virginia – particularly the 7th Congressional District – knows this was untrue and Brat is one of the most Conservative and responsive members of Congress. Still, Allen knows nothing else. He is a one trick pony when it comes to the politics of destruction. And I believe Virginia is tired of that and is looking for honesty during the campaign as well as after it is over.

Buckle your political seat belts. This one is going to be a bumpy ride.

About Tom White

Tom is a US Navy Veteran, owns an Insurance Agency and is currently an IT Manager for a Virginia Distributor. He has been published in American Thinker, currently writes for the Richmond Examiner as well as Virginia Right! Blog.Tom lives in Hanover County, Va and is involved in politics at every level and is a Recovering Republican who has finally had enough of the War on Conservatives in progress with the Leadership of the GOP on a National Level.

17 Responses to “Handicapping the Virginia 12th District State Senate Race”

  1. Anita Hile
    Twitter:
    says:

    Excellent piece Tom. Thank you for your insight, I think you’re spot on.

  2. Jose Brock
    Twitter:
    says:

    Excellent analysis. Count me & mine in for Vince Haley!

  3. Steve Waters says:

    I wouldn’t put Dr. Dunnavant in the camp with Ray Allen, I actually know her and worked closely with her in my days at The Family Foundation. She was very helpful in the creation of a Pro-Life Doctors network I set up while there and if my memory serves me correctly, she even came down to testify as a Doctor (as she is a Pro-Life OB-GYN Physician) in support of pro-life legislation The Family Foundation was lobbying for, back when Russ Potts ran that God forsaken Senate Ed. & Health Comm. That Committee was 8-7 republican and they killed every Pro-Life bill that came before them as we use to call it the Comm. of Death back then. She’s not a RINO, RINO’s don’t stick their necks out for Pro-Life legislation. Just wanted to make sure that was pointed out, as many don’t know about it, nor would they unless they were involved with the Pro-Life legislation back then.

    • Tom White says:

      Many RINO’s are pro life. That is the only thing left to differentiate themselves from Democrats after all. However, the Stolle’s are all establishment RINO’s on a power trip. And aren’t most OB’s pro-life? Abortion cuts into their business. Perhaps Dr. Dunnavant is different than her brothers, but I see her voting exactly like Stosch on everything. With no record we can’t be sure, but all the RINO indicators are in place.

      • Sam Riley says:

        Dr. Dunnavant isn’t prolife because it “cuts her business”. That is the MOST offensive thing I have ever read. She is prolife because she believes in the sanctity of human life. Also, we are all part of the Republican Party, when you seperate us into these different sects such as rino’s you destroy the party. As Ronald Reagan said, “We are a bug tent party”. Shame on you.

  4. Steve Waters says:

    I think you did a great job on your analysis as to who is a contender in this race, in fact, I bet the top two are Haley and Dunnavant with Janis in third. Janis, I see as having the most difficult time in breaking into the top to win.

  5. Sam Riley says:

    I wouldn’t overlook Dr. Dunnavant. She is a very well liked, influential woman in Richmond. I believe that she will be able to get out voters who do not often show up for primaries. She has three voting age children, who will all inspire their friends to go out and vote. She will be able to get doctors out to vote, and she is much beloved by her patients who I am confident will support her. Also, she donates her free time volunteering at Little Sisters of the poor AND help them to start Thrifty Sister to raise money for them. I definitely think she is a strong and empowering woman and she has my vote for sure.

    • Mr T
      Twitter:
      says:

      I pity the fool that says they will vote for someone without knowing where they stand on all the issues. If politics were a popularity contest, or about who was the nicest, or who gave away the most time, that would be one thing, but our republic needs people in office committed to principle and who can come up with creative new ideas in defense of our liberty – NOT the last in line of the old political dynasties. Remember, the Stolles were the slaters of Virginia Beach. ‘But she seems nice…’ Don’t gimme no back talk, sucka! Mr. T says vote for principle, not for slaters aka conservative haters!

      • Sam Riley says:

        People will vote for her on principle. What I was saying is that there are many republicans that often don’t vote in primaries, that will be more likely to go out and vote for someone as inspiring as Dr. Dunnavant.

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Tom White Says:

Nothing is more conservative than a republican wanting to get their majority back. And nothing is more liberal than a republican WITH a majority.

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