Categorized | News, Opinion

Virginia US Senate Candidate Tim Donner Makes Critical Campaign Blunder


Update: Tim Donner responded and I posted a new write up on his response. Please take time to visit here and read it.

The Republican contenders for the US Senate seat being vacated by Democrat Jim Webb are many. The seat’s previous occupant George Allen is considered the front runner by most. Other candidates are former Richmond TEA Party head Jamie Radtke, Virginia Beach Attorney David McCormick and Bishop Earl Jackson of Chesapeake. And there are rumblings that others such as Virginia Delegate Bob Marshall and Prince William Supervisor Corey Stewart may enter the race.

And the latest entry into the pack is Northern Virginia Businessman Tim Donner who made the leap into the race very recently, I received the press release on April 25, 2011 and it was embargoed until 10:00 AM on the 26th.

Now, as a blogger, we try to gather as much information on the various candidates as we can and put it out there to help people get to know who is running. But most bloggers also have day jobs, so we dedicate our evenings and weekends driving to different events, meeting candidates  and giving our impressions and views of these encounters.

And the great thing about political blogs is that nearly everyone who delves into the political blogosphere votes. And a large percentage of readers are also primary voters, who are the only ones the Republican Senate candidates need to reach at this point. If they don’t make the primary cut, they are finished for the political season as a Republican.

Primary voters tend to be very active politically and far more engaged than the “ordinary” voter. They read blogs, attend events, and often volunteer to help a candidate who really impresses them. And these are the voters any potential candidate must have in order to win the primary and make it to the general election in November.

At most, one would expect candidates to reach out to local bloggers as a good way to reach the most engaged voters. And they do. Hardly a day goes by that we do not receive some communication from the candidates. And this early into the race, I can already say that both the Allen and Radtke campaigns have been quick to respond personally to my questions by email and by phone. My fellow blogger Sandy Sanders has been in contact with David McCormick.

The two most recent entries into the contest, Jackson and Donner, are on Virginia Right!’s “to do” list. Like I said, most of us have day jobs.

So, yesterday, I was a bit shocked to see an email from Tim Donner attacking Bearing Drift, the top conservative blog in Virginia.

Conservative bloggers, usually the bellweather for Republican primaries all over the country, have started to recognize that the fight for the Republican nomination for the open U.S. Senate seat here is not the slamdunk the mainstream media would have you think it is.

This morning, the conservative blog, Sara for America, hammered home that very point in her post this morning.  She stated, “Wondering why so little attention given to a viable candidate, to date.  Perhaps it’s his lack of name recognition, but a blog about GOP politics kind of has a duty to help with that.  Could it be that Donner is viewed as someone who could potentially pose a threat to Allen?  BD [Bearing Drift] is known as a blog that favors the establishment. Donner – unlike the rest of the field – is able to self fund his campaign, has a real resume and no baggage (except for lack of legislative experience).  He’s certainly very articulate and able to defend his policy positions in depth.”

So three weeks into the race, before the ink has even dried on his election paperwork Tim Donner feels neglected?

Let me just say a word about Bearing Drift and the Virginia blogosphere in general. Bearing Drift has a team of dedicated and talented writers who are more politically savvy than most politicians. They have a long and distinguished track record of covering Virginia politics that exceeds the combined efforts of Virginia’s “Mainstream” Media, in my opinion. Bearing Drift has managed to resurrect journalistic integrity that disappeared from Newspapers and Television years ago. I know most, if not all, of the writers at Bearing Drift and consider them respected and esteemed colleagues. But more than that, I consider them friends.

Bearing Drift hardly needs defending. Their work speaks for itself.

Sara’s blog is free to take pot shots at whomever she pleases. While I do not agree with her characterization of Bearing Drift as a blog that favors the establishment, if that is her opinion, so be it.

But for a candidate for US Senate to send an email three weeks into a campaign calling out one of their best potential outlets to reach primary voters, that can only be considered a serious lapse of good judgement. And alienating media and (potentially) voters a sure fire way to end end a campaign before it gets off of the starting blocks.

And even though I thought the email was a blunder, as I said, the Donner campaign was already on my “to do” list. As “Sara” stated, it is more or less a duty. Well, more a goal than duty.

So I replied to the email and offered:

If Mr. Donner would like to do a “meet the candidate” video interview I would be happy to do so.

What could be better than that? Questions on the issues and an opportunity get your message out. On Virginia Right! On YouTube. Free! I even offered to drive up to Northern Virginia if he was not planning to be in Central Virginia anytime soon. So, I clicked “send” and awaited the reply.

And the reply arrived in a few minutes:

Dear Fellow Conservative:

My name is Tim Donner and I am running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Jim Webb.

I’d like to take just a few minutes to introduce myself to you.

I am a small businessman and Founder and President of One Generation Away, a free market education, research and public policy organization.  I am also the Founder and Executive Director of  Horizons Television, Inc., a media production company primarily serving the non-profit community…

Great. An auto responder. Mr. Donner is not even reading his email, but lets a machine speak for him. Well, at least it’s not a teleprompter. I hope.

Donner seems to think his lack of experience as a politician is a good thing. But if you ignore your constituents when you are seeking office, how much response can we expect if you are elected?

Perhaps Donner needs to look closer at the advice he is receiving from his consultants. The sooner he figures out that alienating potential allies and letting robots do his talking is a political career limiting move the better. Campaigning is about reaching out to people. Getting people to like you so they will want to vote for you.

I hope Tim Donner figures this out soon, or he is wasting his money and Virginia’s time.

Right now, this is a campaign stuck on stupid.


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.

20 Responses to “Virginia US Senate Candidate Tim Donner Makes Critical Campaign Blunder”

  1. George Allen says:

    If you had any idea what you are talking about, this would be even more hilarious than it is. First, admit to all of us that you are a schill for that phony Tea Party candidate Radkte, who will embarasses herself on the stump with her long winded, without-any-substance policy positions. Secondly, I got that email from Donner too, but it wasn’t an auto reply to an email I sent. It was an introduction sent to conservatives all over the state by his campaign. Did you just learn how to use the “interweb”?

    Secondly, any moron who has been involved with the press knows that you get a free hit when you pre-release a statement or press release. Or is a concept like that a little too complicated for you?

    Lastly, Sara for America did the blog on Bearing Drift, not Donner. Try to get your facts straight from time to time, okay?

    • Tom White says:

      Just to let you know, I have also been accused of being a shill (not schill) for George Allen. I have not endorsed anyone and it is my goal to fairly cover ALL of the candidates. Including Donner. I frequently get accused of shilling for all of the candidates in primary races.

      As to the email I received that I assumed to be an auto-responder, you are correct that it could have simply been a complete coincidence out of the blue that I happened to receive an email minutes after sending an inquiry. Is it not possible that the email you received with the same information I posted is ALSO the message he sends out as an auto-response? But I will concede you have a valid point, it could have been a complete coincidence. In which case Donner’s campaign simply failed to respond to my offer of coverage at all. I am not sure which is worse to tell you the truth. Either way, I was ignored. Which is not quite logical, is it? Virginia Right! is the second ranked conservative blog in the state. If Donner wanted to get his message out, I would think an offer from the second ranked blog would be the best he could hope for after burning bridges at Bearing Drift.

      And I am sorry, I do not get your point on your second second point. (You accused me of just learning to use the interweb in your FIRST second point, and called me a moron in your second second point.) Just so we can keep them straight, let’s call your first second point “Second Point #1” and your second second point “Second Point #2”.

      Ok. In Second Point #2 – that’s the one I don’t get, you claim
      “any moron who has been involved with the press knows that you get a free hit when you pre-release a statement or press release. Or is a concept like that a little too complicated for you?”

      My point in denoting both the date I received the email and the embargoed date was to document the “official” beginning of the campaign as the 26th of April, but those of us who received the communication had a few extra hours to begin the process of gathering information and setting up interviews. The main point being that was just THREE WEEKS AGO! Did Donner expect Bearing Drift or anyone else to drop what they were doing and camp out at Donner’s office?

      And your last point (is this Second Point #3) – I clearly stated that the information came from Sara’s Blog and linked the article on her blog.

      But when Donner sent the information out by email, even though it was a quote, he endorsed the sentiment. So they are, in effect, Donner’s words. Had he not sent the email, then they were just a blogger’s opinion.

      And I would like to ask a question of you, if I may. I can assure you that I am not new to the “interweb”, Mr. Dornan. And I see your post came from Michigan Ave in DC. Just how connected to the Donner campaign are you? Are you still an informal adviser as you were in March or have you moved up? Perhaps you were behind the email, which is why you are so defensive.

      Or is it, perhaps, the line “Perhaps Donner needs to look closer at the advice he is receiving from his consultants.”

      Ouch. If you were the one responsible for this unwise email, you might want to consider resigning if you really want to help Donner.

  2. Shaun Kenney says:

    You know, I gave the Donner candidacy a pretty good write up… and they turn around and slam Bearing Drift vicariously days later?

    Now this?

    I hope someone from the Donner campaign clears this up quickly. Talk about making friends…

  3. J.R. Hoeft says:

    I’m not really sure what the problem is. I didn’t really think what Sara wrote was that big of a deal – especially given that it’s actually one big compliment to my site – but I did email the campaign to ask them what the point was. I think I said that it was an interesting way to reach out to us.

    Anyway, no response.

    So, Tom, at least you got something back. Thanks for the kind words…and, yes, Virginia Right is an outstanding website that sets the bar very high for the rest of us. I check it daily and am grateful for the sacrifices you and your contributors make to bring original content and commentary to the Virginia voters.

  4. To add clarity to Mr. White’s post and for those who may read or have commented, it was a timing issue insofar as the communication from Mr. White to the Donner campaign and the email Mr. White innocently assumed was the reply. I absolutely take responsibility for this.

    I am the Webmaster and manage the email accounts for Mr. Donner. Mr. White’s gracious offer to meet with Mr. Donner was sent to the reply address on our first email blast. Unfortunately, when thousands of emails are blasted out, hundreds of auto-reply and out-of-office messages fill the reply-to inbox. At times, this takes several days to be vetted and Mr. White’s email to Mr. Donner had yet to be forwarded to Mr. Donner.

    Ironically, I sent a second email that same night, introducing Mr. Donner to a list of over 5k emails we had just uploaded and Mr. White was also on that list. So, while Mr. White was awaiting a reply to his offer, he received our second email, which seemed like a reply.

    After reviewing Mr. White’s post this evening, I immediate wrote to him with my sincere apology explaining what had occurred, ensuring that measures have been put in place to prevent this from occurring again, further that I am certain Mr. Donner is eager for the opportunity to speak and meet with him and copied Mr. Donner. And certainly ask for Mr. White’s humble understanding.

    I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Hoeft’s assessment of Virginia Right as an outstanding website and I am grateful for the sacrifices Mr. White makes to bring outstanding content to our State. Equally my thanks for Mr. White’s service to our country. My wife is former Navy and my son is preparing for service in the Navy.

    While I shoulder complete responsibility for the email mishap, it is only fair that I allow Mr. Donner to speak to his thoughts concerning Bearingdrift, which, as Mr. White points out, is a very refined and remarkable source for Conservative information.

  5. I can tell you that Tom White will be fair to all the Senate candidates running! Now back to fighting ICLEI and the ICC…

  6. Tom White says:

    I received a response from Tim Donner and felt it deserves a whole new post, as opposed to a simple update at the top of this one.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge

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.

Sign up for Virginia Right Once Daily Email Digest

No Spam - ever! We send a daily email with the posts of the previous day. Unsubscribe at any time.
* = required field

Follow Us Anywhere!