Gilmore Gets It
Ok, I mentioned before that I had the opportunity to hear Gov. Gilmore's remarks to the Tuesday Morning Group this morning. I must admit that I was skeptical going into this thing. I have frankly never been a big fan of Gilmore's. Like many, I believe that Gilmore was elected in 1997 based mainly on two things, George Allen's popularity and Boyd Marcus' genius "No Car Tax" campaign slogan. Further, many people also credit Gilmore's stubbornness over repealing the car tax with Mark Earley's defeat by Mark Warner.
Needless to say, I had some low expectations. In fact I fully expected Gilmore to join those voices placing the blame for recent GOP struggles at the feet of the RPV, which has proved a convenient scapegoat for those few who are more interested in pointing fingers than thinking through the party's problems. Well, to my pleasant surprise, I was wrong.
Norm has already covered Gilmore's remarks in depth, so I'll try to keep from repeating his post. Last week in this post, I said that if our candidates keep running like Republicans and governing like Democrats, then voters will cease to have any reason to vote for Republicans. Gilmore said pretty much the same thing today, saying Republicans are sending the voters "mixed messages." Gilmore also indicated the belief that Northern Virginia is not completely lost to Republicans (and as he did quite often during his speech, pointed to himself as an example). He stressed the importance of ideas in convincing voters and winning elections.
I tend to agree with Gilmore that personalities are not enough for Republicans to win in Virginia. I don't know anyone who has said they didn't like Kilgore as a person, but I know lots of people who didn't vote for him. It is important to understand that Republicans are not a majority party in Virginia in terms of voters, we are a plurality. There are many voters in Virginia who are willing to vote for either Democrats or Republicans, and it is the "ideas" that Gilmore talks about which will bring them to our side. Gilmore made a comment about not nominating candidates simply because it is "their turn." I agree that it is important that we have competition in our party, not coronation. Yet that competition must be civil, and within reasonable bounds. It does us no good to reward those who do nothing but undermine Republican efforts, just as it does no good to leave good Republicans high and dry over minor differences.
Finally, Gilmore offered a few suggestions on how we might fix the political process in Virginia. They aren't necessarily new ideas, but it is rare to hear them from an insider like Gilmore. The three major proposals he floated were 1) eliminating the seniority-based leadership system, 2) implementing party registration, and 3) removing the one-term limit for Governors.
One thing is certain after hearing Gilmore today: He's running for something. I don't know if Gilmore is preparing to run for John Warner's seat in '08 or if he's preparing to make a comeback bid for the Governorship, but it's obvious that he hasn't been using his time off from politics idly.