Someone said, “we celebrate our victories but analyze our defeats.” Virginia Republicans have some defeats to analyze, most of all losing an estimated three seats in the House of Delegates to lose that chamber to the Democrats. And even though the GOP picked up one senate seat, the Democrats will still control that chamber 21-19.
Money has been called “the life blood” and “mother’s milk of politics.” Put that way, the Republican National Committee (RNC) left its Virginia offspring undernourished this cycle. As explained in “Another reason to dislike the RNC–No soup for You!,” the national GOP withheld finances in the run-up to what everyone knew would be a close election. As Shaun Kenney pointed out: “Fewer than 2,000 votes separated Republicans from victory in the State Senate; fewer than 2,500 votes separated Republicans from victory in the House of Delegates.”
As early as October 18, alarm bells were ringing, as seen in “Campaign Finance Reports Show the Party of the Rich is Outraising Republicans.”
We’ll never know for sure, but some extra cash from the RNC in those close races might have made all the difference.
On October 19, The Roanoke Star reached out to the RNC by voice mail to their media phone line and by email to Ken Nunnencamp with the Virginia GOP, asking if they would verify if indeed the RNC was sending no money to help and if they had a statement about that. By email on October 20 Nunnencamp replied:
“The Republican Party of Virginia continues to have a strong working relationship with our partners at the RNC, and they have consistently supported us with data and voter turnout initiatives. The RNC has not made any large cash transfers to state parties during this off year in preparation for contests in 2024. However, Virginia Republicans are heading into the home stretch of this election cycle in a strong position thanks to Governor Youngkin’s fundraising prowess and his excellent representation of our party and its candidates.”
No response was ever received from the RNC.
After Republican defeats in Virginia and Kentucky on Tuesday, and multiple losses in recent years, calls have intensified for RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, niece of Mitt Romney (R-Utah), to resign.
The satire site Babylon Bee unleashed “Republican Party Checks Into Rehab For Addiction to Losing.”
As Newsmax quoted, “‘Republicans keep giving Ronna McDaniel a promotion, they keep moving her on, they keep hiring her for another season,’ Just the News host John Solomon said Wednesday on Steve Bannon’s show, ‘Real America’s Voice.’
“‘A lot of people saw this train wreck coming two days ago. They could see the early voting totals weren’t where they needed to be, they were worried about get out the vote, they were getting killed in the messaging. … they keep keeping Ronna McDaniel despite all of the problems that are there,’ Solomon added.”
Normally, after a big defeat, the leader gets replaced, as Lincoln kept replacing failed Union generals during the Civil War after their spectacular failures across Virginia. After First Bull Run Lincoln fired McDowell; after the Peninsula Campaign he fired McClellan; after Second Bull Run he fired Pope; after Fredericksburg he fired Burnside; after Chancellorsville he fired Hooker; well, you get the idea.
What to do? Where does the national GOP find someone who knows how to help orchestrate victories?
Maybe the answer is in Roanoke County, where Republicans won a remarkable 14-0 Tuesday night and, with Vinton Supervisor Jason Peters decisively defeating the last Democrat office holder in the County, a 22-year incumbent, completed the GOP hold on all elected positions.
Comprising the 14-0 wins, not only did Roanoke County Republicans win all local races–most of which were uncontested, further showing the power of the Red Wall–but they won the two State Senate seats and three House of Delegates seats that the county is divided into. Moreover, the Red Wall was so strong, their numbers for those General Assembly races were big enough to more than offset the bright blue areas of Roanoke City and Blacksburg.
When you look only at Roanoke County numbers, and screen out votes from other areas, the results are even more impressive. Chris Head and Chris Obenshain won 68%, David Suetterlein by 64%, and Joe McNamara by 62%.
Not too many years ago, the only Republican official in the County was Treasurer Kevin Hutchins. Now all are.
Clearly, this movement has required a multi-faceted approach over several decades and included countless volunteers, contributions, and most of all, convinced voters.
But who has been leading the Roanoke County GOP during their renaissance? Earlier it was Dan Webb, and now Ashley Suetterlein, wife of Sen. David Suetterlein.
An old saying that shows the importance of thought and planning claims, “battles are won in the generals’ tents.”
Roanoke County Republicans have some very bright generals in the tents.
Updated 11-10 and 11-11-23: The State Board of Elections site states Obenshain is winning by 943 votes over his Democrat opponent, Lily Franklin. However, Montgomery County claims it still has 955 provisional ballots, which it is to process on Monday, Nov. 13. Moreover, a spokesperson for the Franklin campaign claimed there are some 2,000 provisional, uncured mail ballots, and unreturned mail ballots still to be counted. Therefore, the final result will probably not be known until Nov. 13.
Updated 11-13-23: After all votes were tallied, Obenshain maintained his victory over Franklin, albeit at a narrower margin, a win by 183 votes in a district with some 80,000 residents.