I was at (invited again by its president Bob Keeler – he has been very gracious to me) the Patrick Henry Tea Party for its regular fourth Tuesday meeting (They will not meet again until September, BTW) and I was pleased to catch the end of the presentation by Russ Wright, chair of the Hanover GOP Committee and then an interesting presentation by the little-known political arm of the NRA (National Rifle Association) – the Institute for Legislative Action. Even though the NRA-ILA field rep played football for Clemson, I still spoke to him after the meeting. I might have an article on this. Want to be careful about intelligence – let’s not tell too much unless he is comfortable with it.
But what I found interesting was the tepid support for GOP standard-bearer, Ed Gillespie. Let’s leave aside the elected officials and reps (Senator Dunnavant was there and so was an aide for Congressman Wittman); it was not pretty for Gillespie. One person lamented the need for some sort of Republican governor (it’s not great when the best argument someone makes for victory is – We need our guy to win!), and another blamed the General Assembly for doing nothing (Not true in my view – it’s the governor that has stopped a lot of good bills) but most were concerned. One more audience member complained: Gillespie never came to debates – look at the one at Life Church – he did not show! (I agree – Ed mailed in the primary and almost got beat anyway!) Most of it was not so ideological – but there are concerns about Ed’s conservatism. (See this White post just up today – it was shocking!) I did not hear one solid – I like Ed and he’s great! – opinion. Not one.
Now if I had ten minutes with Gillespie, I’d say two things: One, come to Hanover. I suggested to Russ that Ed Gillespie better come in person to the Hanover Tomato Festival (I plan to be there and might get the ten minutes) and start meeting the regular Republicans. Wright will look into it.
Two, better consider taking some enthusiastic conservative positions – and also some items from my platform (Indigent defense reform, collaborative divorce, some sort of reform of sovereign immunity to make government more accountable, and tax reform) to get both conservatives and suburban women behind him. But it might be too late.
We have to always ask the question: Do we vote principle or do we vote to keep the greater harm of a Democrat governor out of the office?
Here’s one more thing I would warn Ed Gillespie: This guy (Cliff Hyra) was just notified by the state board of elections that he WILL be on the Virginia gubernatorial ballot as the standard-bearer for the Libertarians. Conservatives DO have somewhere to go – if they are willing to punt another election. And Hyra is not a lightweight and if he could garner money from around the nation, he could try for that 10% ballot access goal at least. And sink Ed Gillespie as a contender once and for all.
Hyra’s platform might make you tired just reading it:
Unleashing Innovation in Virginia
As Governor, Cliff Hyra will unleash the potential of small business owners and entrepreneurs by:
- End the Business, Professional and Occupational License (aka BPOL) tax that taxes gross receipts, not profits and deters innovation
- End state occupational licensing requirements for cosmetologists, interior decorators, nail technicians, etc.
Don’t Squash Virginia’s Boom in Food/Drink
Virginia has over 15,000 food and drink establishments, and the industry employs 368,000 Virginians. This is all despite Virginia having some of the most obscure and obstructive food and beverage laws in the region. Let’s be even more competitive by:
- Allow establishments to “give away” liquor at cost or loss as a customer perk or promotion
- Privatize the Virginia ABC: Allow brewers and distillers to sell in non-VABC stores
- Allow restaurants, bars to pay wholesale price for liquor like surrounding states
- Free mixologists to innovate with craft cocktails. Don’t require cocktail ingredients to be approved by VABC
- Reduce or repeal state requirements for food sales in establishments that serve liquor
- End forcing establishments to prove via receipts 45% monthly food sales
- Slash or repeal $4000 monthly food sale and $2000 “substantial meal” requirements
- Expand scope of recently-signed law that increased number of special events allowed for breweries and wineries
- Assist and encourage localities to streamline and eliminate unnecessary food truck regulations
- Loosen up “Happy Hour” regulations
- Encourage localities to repeal or reduce business-killing “meal taxes”
- Exempt first $60,000 of household income from state tax. To avoid massive marriage penalty, allow $30,000 exemption for individuals. Taxable income above that taxed at flat 5.75%
- Appoint a commission modeled on 2002’s Governor’s Commission on Efficiency and Effectiveness (aka “Wilder Commission”), chaired by former Gov. L. Douglas Wilder, appointed by Gov. Mark R. Warner
- Authorize commission to explore Wilder Commission’s stated objectives to “Identify redundant and ineffective services” and “Streamline and consolidate state agencies and programs”
- Implement Wilder Commission recommendations still relevant in 2017, including downsizing state government real estate holdings that are underutilized or vacant
- According to the Justice Policy Institute, Virginia’s criminal justice budget was $3 billion in 2013 and continues to grow. Over $1.5 billion of that number for jails alone. JPI: “The cost to incarcerate a young person in a juvenile facility is roughly $100,000 per year.” Direct costs to incarcerate one adult prisoner were $22,000 annually in Virginia in 2015, according to the Vera Institute for Justice. Indirect costs may bring that total much higher (loss of tax revenue, loss of wages/spending, breakup of families)
- In Virginia, drug arrests are trending up whereas they are trending down nationally, while in the Old Dominion and nationally, violent and property crimes and arrests are way down
- Stop enforcing laws against marijuana possession – legalize marijuana and set it on a level playing field with tobacco and alcohol, thus generating tax revenue
- Pardon prisoners in jail only for drug use (after completion of anti-recidivism/treatment programs)
- Make arrest quotas illegal
- End civil asset forfeiture abuse: Require a criminal charge, as well as clear and convincing evidence – the money goes to the general fund and not police
- Bail reform: Experiments with bail in other states have shown equal or better results with much lower costs to the accused – many fewer poor people forced to stay in jail because they can’t afford expensive bail
- Reintroduce parole for non-violent offenders
- Introduce more competition and choice by expanding charter school program, modeled on a New York state program that shows much success, especially in the African American community. Emphasize the importance of education in growing Virginia’s economy, reducing inequality and promoting growth across all of the Commonwealth
- Make public schools more adaptable and competitive
- Repeal Virginia’s expensive, antiquated Standards of Quality (SoQ) funding formula. Replace SoQ’s with test at beginning and end of the school year to measure gains
- Start a program to find budget savings by improving energy efficiency of schools that are in disrepair
- Move from our current regulation-based healthcare system to an innovative healthcare system, using best-practices from other states to achieve better outcomes and efficiency. Look to Texas and their model for efficiency, as people from neighboring states currently travel there to receive care
- Repeal Certificate of Public Need regulations that deter healthcare innovation
- Explore options for increasing price transparency to facilitate a more market-based health care in Virginia
- Expand legal care-giving roles for nurse practitioners and physicians’ assistants by removing requirement of direct supervision of a physician in clinics in medically under-served or high-unemployment areas, both rural and urban
- Allow the purchase of insurance across state lines
- Explore allowing medical care out of state or out of country
- Ensure gasoline tax and car registration taxes are directed to road maintenance
- Explore “pay as you go” funding for new roads with tolls, proffers, impact fees
Hyra clearly adheres to the BTSED philosophy of running for office. I am not ready to endorse in this race. But I want to say: Get out there, Ed Gillespie and come up with solid conservative ideas and you can win!