Republicans in congressional delegation bail on meeting with Kaine.

Virginia’s governor holds an annual breakfast for the state’s congressional delegation, at which they talk about how to work together. It’s a tradition that goes back at least a few governors, probably farther. Tim Kaine held the annual meeting at the governor’s mansion today, in order to coordinate on the federal stimulus with the delegation, which the General Assembly is eager to get details on in order to settle the state’s budget. So it’s a bit stunning that not a single Republican member of Virginia’s congressional delegation showed at today’s meeting. They didn’t cancel. They didn’t send a staffer. They just bailed. All of the Democrats were there, save for Rep. Rick Boucher, who had another commitment and so instead met with Kaine yesterday. Randy Forbes cited “a scheduling conflict,” and Bob Goodelatte claimed the same. Tim Craig calls it an “apparent boycott, while the AP says it’s “unprecedented.”

Since at least two these guys have ‘fessed up that they simply chose to be elsewhere, they can’t pretend they were shut out or excluded. I’m not clear on what they’re up to here, but I just can’t fathom bailing on a meeting of the whole delegation, called by the governor. If nothing else, it’s really rude. They’d best have a real good excuse, because otherwise I can’t see how this does anything but make them look bad.

Published by Waldo Jaquith

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

27 replies on “Republicans in congressional delegation bail on meeting with Kaine.”

  1. Gov who also happens to be chairman of the DNC. When there’s a very charged stimulus debate and other issues at hand this is no a photo op to just waltz into.

  2. Funny how the party that claims to be protecting traditional values can’t get protocol or manners right, kinda like how the party of the military couldnt get war right, and the party of individual liberty couldnt get the bill of rights right…’d be something if they all were the same organization….

  3. Oh its worse than that. Goodlatte rode record budget deficits to a doubling of the national debt during the Bush years and NOW he sponsors legislation calling for an Amendment to the Constitution to compel balanced budgets! In the worst economic meltdown since the Depression! He’s dumber than Herbert Hoover, and disgusting in a way that only the biggest slut can be when they find religion and start preaching.

    The whole lot of them are betting on Depression and hoping that we’ll forget what they did. They gave up on the Union long ago.

  4. I think the Republicans are scared to death.

    Hell, if Corey Stewart, the biggest batwing of all is starting to make noises about refocusing (never mind on what), GOPers know cash is on its way from the Obama administration to Virginia and all those shovel ready projects they’ve obstructed for years will finally get off the ground. Moreover, when new homeowners start getting their $15,000 credit (and that’s real $$$), things won’t be looking too good for the party of Lincoln. Let’s just say, they know their numbers are, well, numbered.

  5. I think Goodlatte’s sponsored a balanced budget amendment since he joined Congress. Getting it done is another story.
    The Republicans think the Democrats are overreaching on the pork-type parts of the bill and you can’t go wrong fussing about pork.

  6. Why should we be surprised? This is EXACTLY what everyone should have expected would happen when Tim Kaine decided to be both Governor of Virginia and Chair of the DNC. Don’t blame the Republicans here. Tim Kaine made a stupid, irresponsible decision when he decided to wear those 2 hats at once.

    What the Republicans in our delegation did certainly was rude but it was also very understandable. Kaine is no longer the honest broker that he was a few months ago. He has voluntarily turned himself into the partisan leader of the national Democratic party. It is not fair of us to expect the GOP to sit down and play nice with him. Back in early 2001 I probably would have shut Jim Gilmore out when he did the same thing.

    This is the Virginia crack-up happening in slow motion. Kaine is going to be seen increasingly as a hyper-partisan figure due to his DNC role and this will have a damaging effect on our (Virginia Democrats’) fortunes in state and local elections this year.

  7. Nice assist to the GOP, Jackson. Seriously, it’s “not fair of us” to expect VA Reps to “sit down and play nice” with the Governor of Virginia?

    Okay, if you say so.

  8. Kaine asked the delegation to come and discussion a stimulus package that every Republican voted against. What’s to meet about?

    Rude, sure, especially since it gives the Dems a ready opportunity to hammer them over the head. But even if they sent a letter saying “hey, can’t make it, you guys are socialists” (joking, of course. or am i?) they’d have been hammered. Damned if you do…

  9. Also, Eric Cantor’s currently in the Middle East. While he could have sent Kaine a memo saying that I guess Kaine and the Dems could also just see that on their own.

  10. Jason, Jackson,

    Or, they could’ve made a public statement or written a letter to the effect of, “We don’t believe it’s in our best interest to heed the call of the Chair of the DNC,” or really anything presenting SOME reason. But they didn’t, and it’s childish. Of course, this is low-enough profile that I don’t really think it matters one way or another.

  11. Jackson: I feel compelled to note that Tim Kaine is no Jim Gilmore. Although their similarities pass through the mansion and the national committee chairs, Jim Gilmore is a sour little rooster with shriveled political skills. He has negative cross-over and scant charm. Let’s give ol’ Tim a break here. He ain’t that ugly.

  12. I have to disagree with you here, Jackson. I know a lot of us here in Virginia have been thinking for a while that Governor Kaine’s our pleasant, baby-faced, lovable, non-threatening teddy bear of a Governor. But even Democrats who voted for him tend to underestimate the guy–he was the first Governor to endorse in the Presidential primary in 2007, he delivered the Commonwealth in the Potomac Primary for Pres. Obama which is when Obama started to run away with the nomination, and while the Democratic Party of Virginia is founded on Sen. Mark Warner’s good name, it’s been built through Gov. Kaine’s organization. And yet Democrats around the state were perplexed that he was even being considered for Veep nod–we didn’t realize the extent of our own Governor’s influence within our national party.

    All of us–Democrats and Republicans–should have recognized a while ago that while Gov. Kaine may now be the official chair, he’s been a leader in Democratic partisan politics on the national stage for quite a bit longer. Nothing’s really changed except the job title.

    Meanwhile, there are a number of things which make the behavior of our Republican members of Virginia’s Congressional Delegation simply inexusable:

    1. The Governor and Democrats from our Congressional delegation were trying to make a good faith effort at building some bipartisan concensus around things that are clearly in the best interests of the Commonwealth. It’s the Republicans who wanted to put partisanship ahead of Virginia.

    2. WE HOLD THE MAJORITY OF SEATS FROM THE DELEGATION TO A CONGRESS IN WHICH WE ARE ALSO THE MAJORITY. Democrats hold the seats for Districts 2, 3, 5, 8, 9, and 11 (six total). Republicans hold the seats for Districts 1, 4, 6, 7, and 10 (five total). We also hold both seats in the United States Senate, so the RPVA can’t deliver a single cloture vote for us. Eric Cantor’s role as House Minority Whip notwithstanding, the Republicans in our delegation are basically powerless compared with the Democrats. At this moment in time, they need us a lot more than we need them–and the constituents they’re representing in the US House deserve an effort from their Members on their behalf to reach out to the Majority party in an effort to get the business of the People done.

    Currently, they’re not doing that. And it’s not the Democratic Party that will suffer as a consequence–it’s regular folk from across Virginia.

    Our GOP Representatives should be ashamed.

  13. Sam – Ashamed for failing to attend to what would be tantamount to a lecture from the chairman of the DNC on why they need to get on board with a stimulus package only supported by 36% of Americans? Yeah, they really should be…

  14. Jason — I’m vaguely annoyed that the GOP representatives aren’t going to “get on board” when we’ve made a good faith effort to find compromises we could work on, but that’s about as far as it goes. Because here’s why: we don’t need their votes to get it through the House of Representatives, we can get it through on a party-line vote. The US Senate is the big question mark most of the time, and the RPVA is literally powerless there.

    Meanwhile I’m certain there are things that folks in Loudoun need that a Representative from Fairfax could support, or a project in Chesapeake that a Democrat from Virginia Beach could get behind. Virginia has its own issues to contend with, but the Republican members of our delegation don’t even want to make an effort to discuss that with their colleagues across the aisle or our state’s Governor before hunkering down inside the beltway for some good olde fashioned whining.

  15. Sam,

    Being a nationally prominent elected official is not the same thing as being the officially designated point-man for a political party.

    Yes, the Republicans were rude here. No question about it. But it is not possible to fulfill a non-partisan or bi-partisan political role when one is the national chairman of a political party. There is a world of difference between being the chair of the DNC and being influential in the national party.

    Your point under the ‘2’ heading illustrates the problem nicely. You are waving around our majority in Congress as if it was written on a stone carried down the mountain by Moses himself. Shouting in all caps that we have more seats than they do in almost the same breath as that in which you clamor for bipartisanship is total hypocrisy.

    The bottom line is that Tim’s decision to take 2 paychecks at once is demonstrably hurting his ability to move forward his agenda as Governor and will create a spiraling public sense of his partisanship that will hurt our party’s performance in VA elections this year unless he quits one of those 2 jobs.


    So calling a spade a spade in the comments section of an ‘inside baseball’ political blog is giving the GOP an ‘assist?’ No way. I call ’em like I see ’em and I am not going to participate in any sort of echo chamber where everything that our party’s leadership does is automatically good. If the emperor wears no clothes then I am going to be that kid on the sidewalk pointing and laughing every single time.

  16. Uh, okay, Jackson. No one said anything anywhere near suggesting the utility of an echo chamber. But if you’re going to confuse perpetuating BS GOP rhetoric with some sort of truth-to-power independence, well, go right ahead.


    The bottom line is that Tim’s decision to take 2 paychecks at once is demonstrably hurting his ability to move forward his agenda as Governor and will create a spiraling public sense of his partisanship that will hurt our party’s performance in VA elections this year unless he quits one of those 2 jobs.

    You mean as opposed to when he was only getting one paycheck, and getting all that cooperation from Virginia’s Republicans?

  17. Last I checked this was annual, traditional sit down….not something scheduled for the stimulus. There is no excuse for disrespecting the office of Governor. Had the shoe been on the other foot how would the Republicans have acted?

  18. From the article:

    Gov. Tim Kaine called Virginia’s members of Congress to Richmond to discuss the state’s federal stimulus package needs, but all five Republicans were absent.

  19. Jackson:
    It is not fair of us to expect the GOP to sit down and play nice with him. Back in early 2001 I probably would have shut Jim Gilmore out when he did the same thing.

    Regardless of what you would have done, the Democrats didn’t:

    Democratic Reps. Jim Moran and Robert C. Scott attended the meeting then-Gov. Jim Gilmore held in 2001, when he was the newly minted chairman of the Republican National Committee.

    Tim Kaine is trying to get Democrats elected, a task he has been doing well for several years now. Republican elected officials try to get Republicans elected. It’s pretty bizarre to give a pass to the congressmen who refuse to even meet with him while calling Kaine hyper-partisan.

  20. Kaine, the new Democratic national chairman, appealed Monday to both senators and six House members – all fellow Democrats – to preserve as much education and discretionary cash for state governments as possible.

    Yeah, that’s clearly hyper-partisan. No Republican governor would make statements like that…

  21. Jackson,

    A. facts are hardly hypocritical. They simply are. And we do, in fact, hold both Senate seats, the 6 of 11 US House seats, and Democrats hold a wide majority in the Congress at large, allowing us to control the committees. If you–actually, scratch that–if Eric Cantor has legislation pertinent to the people of his district, he can try and leverage his power as the minority whip all he wants, but he’s not getting it to the floor for a vote without some help from a Democrat. If he knows of an important project that needs some funding help in his district, and he wants to find it in the state’s budget or in some of the stimulus money that obviously will be coming from Washington (the Senate just passed the bill, which basically assures it’s going to hit the President’s desk by the end of the week), it behooves him and his constituents to at least sit down and discuss the business of the Commonwealth and his district with the other members of the delegation and the Governor. My desire for bipartisanship isn’t a desire to get more house votes for the President–it’s a desire to get everyone together so that when the bill passes (and it will) we can make sure we’re working together on getting the good work done for the people of Virginia, whether those folks elected Republican members or Democrats.

    B. Your definition of bipartisanship is problematic at best in that it is confused too deeply with non-partisanship. The very idea of bipartisanship necessitates that the individuals involved be partisans and of differing parties. The leadership status within said party is inconsequential, or at least it should be–Ted Kennedy, the Democratic “lion of the Senate,” still managed to work with President Bush on No Child Left Behind. Creigh Deeds is running for Governor, but he still has worked hard at reaching across the aisle to put together compromises on firearm legislation that would help to keep weapons out of the hands of criminals while protecting the rights of law-abiding citizens to keep and use firearms purchased at gun shows. And ina more recent example, Governor Kaine invited the full Congressional delegation, not “everyone except for Eric Cantor because I refuse to sit down with someone who holds a leadership position in the opposing party.”

  22. Sam,

    With respect, none of that negates or even addresses the fact that it is a bad idea to be national party chair while also serving as Governor. Ted Kennedy and Creigh Deeds each occupied the office of Senator and state Senator, respectively. Ted Kennedy’s job is exclusively to negotiate and vote for or against legislation. If he was also put formally in charge of leading the national effort to discredit and defeat the Republican party then it would have been extremely unlikely that he and Bush would have been able to work together on that bill.

    A good party chair should organize national efforts to discredit and defeat the opposition. If he or she is doing the job properly then the Republicans should be infuriated at the very mention of his or her name. Whereas a Governor of Virginia needs to constantly work with both parties in a friendly, productive way. So we’ll end up with ether an ineffective national party chair or an ineffective Governor. Take your pick.

  23. “A. facts are hardly hypocritical. They simply are. ”

    Sam: With respect, I had a discussion with a prof yesterday afternoon over this very issue (well, in the larger context of a human rights issue, but same principle of the neutrality, or lack thereof, in a fact). Our conclusion was that a fact can exist out there in reality and simple “be.”

    A fact in the telling can be hypocritical, and can rarely be completely objective. My prof’s position is actually that, at least in a writing as a whole, there is no such thing as neutrality, and objectivity in the individual facts that make up the writing is lessened by the lack of neutrality.

    It’s the couching of the fact and the wording of it in light of your position that exchanges its objectivity for, what Jackson is calling hypocrisy here. The Dem majority is a fact. It is. But when you put it in the context that you did, you can’t go back and brush aside Jackson’s point because you used a “fact,” and the thing proves itself as not hypocritical, particulary when you went into a caps lock induced hysteria over why you are right and Jackson is wrong.

    The contextual use of that fact simply doesn’t fit in line with your argument that your facts “are.”

    Note that I’m not arguing that Jackson is right necessarily. All I’m saying that your argument that he’s wrong on that point is wrong.

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