Sen. Hanger defeats Sayre in primary.

If you’re going to try to kill the king, you’d better not fail.

Last night, a band of extremist Republicans failed. After spending months trying to oust the far-right Sen. Emmett Hanger with the even farther-right Scott Sayre, they were defeated at the polls.

Nearly every municipal party chairman in the district endorsed Sayre over their own sitting senator, although many waited until the tail end of the race to work up the nerve. They bet everything on Hanger losing, having committed that most seditious of political acts for a party official: supporting a primary challenger against one’s incumbent.

There were a few municipal party leaders who, now famously, behaved far worse than any others. Kurt Michael (“General Grievous’ Dog”), Anne Taetzsch (“In-Politically Correct”) and Lynn Mitchell (“SWAC Girl”) all established anonymous blogs that they used to launch truly vile attacks on Sen. Hanger, his supporters, and anybody who got in their way. They spun wicked lies about RPV Chairman Ed Gillespie and party spokesman Shaun Kenney, presented in the nastiest of terms, sometimes mere hours after shaking hands with the men and saying how nice it was to meet them. They lacked the courage of their convictions, for reasons that are obvious in retrospect. All three were too chickenshit to use their real names and, as recently as this week, Michael and Taetzsch continued to be coy about whether they were the authors of the blogs. It was clear that all three bloggers were coordinating with one another, the Sayre campaign, and a half dozen other bloggers employing the same slash-and-burn tactics. This debacle will be as a brand on their flesh for many years to come. As a rational human, I hope they never work in politics again, but as a Democrat, I hope they stick around.

So what will become of these treasonous Republican leaders? It’s possible that they’ll stay in office, worsening the split between Republicans and Republican extremists that has come to define the party in Virginia. It’s also possible that some will resign in shame while others will be hounded out of their leadership position. Sayre’s most vocal supporters are too green and, in some cases, simply not smart enough to comprehend that they should be ashamed. Despite being utterly discredited, they’ll carry on just the same.

RPV Chairman Gillespie resigned yesterday, leaving the party adrift at a time when leadership is most badly needed. It’s Gillespie who should be knocking heads together today, tossing out the liars and the extremists and replacing them with regular, hard-working Republicans. In the absence of a party leader, the next step is surely as unclear to RPV leadership as it is to me.

Had Sayre been the nominee, I’d be confident that Democratic nominee David Cox could win the race. It’s possible that we could win with Hanger’s nomination, but that requires Sayre supporters to have learned absolutely nothing, stubbornly refusing to help Sen. Hanger and, instead, supporting libertarian Arin Sime. If Sayre supporters are as foolish as they appear to be, we may be congratulating Senator Cox come November.

I disagree with Sen. Emmett Hanger about just about every touchstone issue. It would make me very happy to see David Cox replace him in the Virginia Senate. But I also know Emmett Hanger to be a smart, kind, and decent man. I don’t doubt that, in the areas in which we disagree, his positions are as thought-through and morally-rooted as are mine. Had I said that two months ago, Sayre’s attack dogs would have used that compliment to attack Sen. Hanger.

That’s why they lost.

Published by Waldo Jaquith

Waldo Jaquith (JAKE-with) is an open government technologist who lives near Char­lottes­­ville, VA, USA. more »

23 replies on “Sen. Hanger defeats Sayre in primary.”

  1. That’s quite a polemic. “Treasonous Republican leaders?” “Liars and extremists?” Who made you, a Democrat, the enforcer of orthodoxy among Republicans?

  2. The odds of the Democrats taking control of the Virginia Senate now look better than I had ever expected this year. The Virginia GOP is a headless, amorphous body with no heart and no central nervous system. Not exactly a dangerous opponent.

    Meanwhile, the VA Dems are better organized and united than ever before. They have powerful, effective party leaders in Tim Kaine and Jim Webb, both of whom can claim loyalty from the entire state party and have demonstrated real fundraising muscle and a willingness to lend their strength to local races.

    Who will lead and unite the VA GOP into the ’07 midterms? Gillespie? Gone. John Warner? Half his party calls him a RINO. George Allen? Defeated, mocked and in hiding. Perhaps Bolling and McDonnell could offer some kind of leadership if not for the fact that they are in a staring contest over the ’09 gubernatorial nomination. This party is on the edge of total collapse in November.

  3. Oh, no, Waldo, they “won”. To them, a loss is a win, and of course, the win/loss is all the Democrats’ fault anyway.

    The article was scathing, your post is great and on point, and they are all still dumber than a box of rocks when it comes to campaigning.

  4. I’m betting on stupid. Ms. Mitchell can’t even acknowledge the reality of the vote – Sayre got 46.99% of the vote Lynn, not “48%”. You say that 3 times and it still isn’t true! And I don’t know where she comes up with a “20% voter turnout”. The reality? Less than 13% voter turnout.

    But I quibble. The real nugget is, of those 6700 Sayre voters there are many Bubbys, folks who would pay good money to watch the continuing meltdown of the Virginia Republican party. So we vote for them. The Republican Party sold the devil their soul long ago by laying down with southern white racists. And when the Dark Lord sweetened the deal with confused evangelicals, you knew it had to collapse under the weight of The Lie.

    The survivors won’t go to Sime. He’s not elitist enough for the old guard, and the rest know him to be an Unbeliever. Besides, he doesn’t strike me as the type to make deals with the devil. I’m guessing that the back-stabbers will beg for their political lives, and a desperate RPV will give them another shot. After all, they are the fervent grunts.

    But eventually they will wither and leave because effective governance is about pragmatic compromise, coalition, and conciliation, not the stuff of the True Believer. Like when you believe that 47% really means 48%; and don’t understand that even 47% is an illusion.

  5. Can anyone who knows the history of Virginia politics better than I do explain why we don’t have party registration and closed primaries here?

    The meaning of a general election result is hard to dispute, but with an open primary where you don’t know who is voting and why, interpreting results is a matter of guessing. Why, for example, did Sayre do better in Albemarle County (70%) than anywhere else? The voter turnout was quite low, so those who voted were presumably the most motivated. Albemarle Republicans in general aren’t markedly more conservative than others in central VA, so was it Hanger’s relative lack of presence on this side of the mountains? The fact that the only people here who paid much attention to the election were in Sayre’s camp? Or, who knows, the result of a bunch of Albemarle Democrats deciding to vote for Sayre as the candidate more likely to lose in the general election? But the point is that nobody really knows.

    So the only firm conclusions are that Hanger won, and that the Sayre revolution failed.

  6. I still don’t get Sayre’s ad’s about raising taxes, the Warner tax bill raised taxes on some things like gasoline but lowered most peoples taxes, since food was lowered to 2.5%.

    I came from a state with party registration, but if you registered independent, you could vote in the democratic or republican primary.

  7. Brian D – to get it, you have to understand the twisted mindset of anti-tax extremists. They believe that tax increases are always evil. If any tax is raised, even as part of a package that lowers taxes overall or a reorganization of the tax code, then to them it’s a tax increase and anyone who voted for it must be punished.

  8. It’s a pity more of the Republican insurgents didn’t win, since it always seems to make it easier for us. I have fond memories of Chris Craddock delivering Gary Reese’s seat to us practically gift-wrapped the last time around. But hopefully the infighting will help even if they didn’t win in the primaries.

  9. We don’t have party registration because until Nixon’s Southern Strategy to bring racist southerners over to the Republican Party, you had to be a Democrat (google Harry F. Byrd) to win statewide elected office in Virginia. Nixon fixed that by saying to Southern Democrats, come on into the Republican Party, and feel free to bring your Jim Crow.

    Virginia allows registered voters to remain free of party affiliation to protect them from bias and retribution in hiring and opportunity. It also lets Virginians pick the best man for elected office. And as you can see by the low voter turnout, we can use all the incentives we can find.

  10. I would describe the “game” of getting votes as similar to two magnets on either side of metal shavings. Each magnet represents a political party trying to pull the most shavings (the voters) on their side. In Virginia close to a majority of those shavings fall right in the middle with slightly more to the right of the center then there are to the left. In the past the Republican magnet was situated closer to a majority of the metal shavings than the Democrats. However, as time has passed and more people have moved in a few more metal shavings have been sprinkled in the center and to the left of the center. In addition to the newcomers you have members of the Republican Party trying (and succeeding) to move their party (their magnet) further to the right. As their “magnet” has moved further out to the right they have begun to pick up less (percentage wise) of the shaving (votes) than what they use to get. The magnetic pull of the Democratic magnet is not becoming seemingly stronger just because of improvement within the party but also because the Republicans have pushed theirs so far right that it is no longer capable of picking up many shavings still left in the center. Yesterday the members of the Republican Party shifted their magnet even further right and even further from the metal (voters) in the middle. So long as this shift continues, the pull of the Democrats will continue to grow as the Republicans move further away values and beliefs of the average voter.

  11. This is an excellent start to the whole “Republicans are out of touch with Virginia’s voters” strategy. I read about it in the Post this morning. I’m curious though, did you think this up on your own or did you get the talking points from Democrat ;) HQ?

  12. Hanger will destroy Cox. That is what matters. You happy democRATS?
    You can talk about the SWAC all you want, but the fact is they took a unknown and came very close to beating a incumbent. The big losers are RK and NLS….Their candidates struck out. Why dont you talk about that? LOL!

  13. Carl, I’ve taken the liberty of changing the name that you entered (“Teddy’s Turds”) to your real name. How embarrassing for you to have mistyped your name so severely. But, hey, mistakes happen, so I’ve got you covered.

  14. Or perhaps there are strange, strange goings on here of which I know nothing.

  15. “You can talk about the SWAC all you want, but the fact is they took a unknown and came very close to beating a incumbent.”

    What’s that old expression about horseshoes and hand grenades?

  16. democRATS

    Oh man, that stings. It’s almost as bad as the time in kindergarten when someone called me a doody-head. Let me guess, when you talk about the 2008 Democratic front-runner, you spell it “Hitlary” too?

    This is the height of debate right here. Lincoln would be put to shame.

  17. David,

    Every so often people talk about what would happen if a bunch of Democrats decided to screw with a Republican primary or vice versa by showing up and voting for the candidate least likely to win in the general election. However, in practice, I have never seen nor heard of this happening in numbers that are remotely significant. It’s an interesting idea that gets kicked around a lot but at the end of the day, Republicans would just feel uncomfortably weird showing up at a Democratic primary and vice versa.

  18. Carl Kilo is very upset that I’d assume that just because a comment was left using his IP address and e-mail address I’d assume that it was he who did it. So I’ve changed his comment to be authored by “Carl Kilo’s Computer,” on the off chance that he has a politically-interested burglar.

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