Herrity Supporter Laments: Tea Partiers “are against everything”

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    As a Democrat, I’ve got to say I’m very much enjoying the aftermath of tea party favorite Keith Fimian’s victory Tuesday evening over establishment Republican (formerly “moderate” Republican) Pat Herrity. For instance, check this out in today’s Washington Post.

    Meanwhile, Northern Virginia’s moderate Republicans, once defined by an unusual brand of fiscal conservatism and an independent streak on social issues, such as immigration, are scratching their heads and wondering about their futures.

    “It certainly is concerning,” said Supervisor Michael R. Frey (R-Sully), a five-term moderate who might face his own intra-party challenger in 2011. “The frustrating thing is if you do anything, you are no longer considered a conservative. It seems like tea partiers are against everything. What are they for?”

    Herrity was roundly endorsed by all of Fairfax County’s Republican leadership, prompting questions Wednesday about the party’s political relevancy.

    In short, it appears that moderate Republicans are an endangered species in Northern Virginia, and around the country for that matter. These days, anything to the left of Attila the Hun earns Republican politicians the dreaded “RINO” (“Republican in Name Only”) label and a one-way ticket to Pat Herrity-style defeat.  Thus, Michael R. Frey’s angst over the loss by his pal Pat Herrity to right-wingnut Keith Fimian.

    The problem for Frey is the problem for all Republicans these days is simple: they have to move (far) right — and be “against everything”, as Frey laments — in order to win the party’s nomination, but doing that makes them far less electable in moderate, suburban, “swing” districts like the 11th CD. Again, as a Democrat, I’ve got to say I enjoy this very much. However, as a former Teddy Roosevelt-style Republican and also as an American first and foremost, I find it sad to see this once-great party continue its descent into extremism, intolerance, know-nothingism, and a rigid “party of no” attitude.  As far as Virginia’s 11th CD is concerned, the bottom line is this: Keith Fimian has morphed into a Tea Party Republican, he is unelectable in this district, and congratulations will soon be in order to Gerry Connolly on his re-election to a second term in Congress!

    P.S. With regard to his comment that the tea partiers “are against everything,” I’ve just gotta ask Michael Frey, “when did you figure THAT out?!?”

    • Let me say first, that I fully expected Herrity to pull out a squeaker victory last Tuesday, so I’m surprised.

      However, there were a few things that went on during the campaign that anyone interested in the game of politics should take into account.  These are comments that aren’t about Herrity or Fimian’s policy positions, but about their tactics.

      The first thing that struck me is that Herrity seemed to think he should get to decide if he wanted to take the seat or not, on his own terms, at his own timing.  That’s fine in theory, but the problem was that it was clear that Fimian was running for the seat as of November 5, 2008, and I think I remember that before deciding to run, Herrity may even have already endorsed Fimian’s candidacy?  Am I correct in that?  So by turning his back on Fimian (who stepped to the plate in 2008 when no one else would, something all party partisans admire — better ANY candidate than none), he made a situation look entitled and blessed by back room establishment types instead of being organic and thoughtful.  I think a lot of Republicans (especially in an anti-estabishment year) were put off by this.  Psychologically, that was not the best way to launch a campaign.

      Second, the whole decision to announce was dragged out to coincide with Steve Hunt’s victory in January for Ken Cuccinelli’s State Senate seat.  Only that victory didn’t come, and Dave Marsden picked up the seat.  In this regard, you might say that Herrity was simply snake bit unlucky, but there was, again, just that whiff of “this is mine for the taking” that I think made some Republicans wish he had better timing.  (I know I would have wished so, if I were talking here about a Democrat.)  That he so misjudged a close election, I think, made some people nervous.  Also, by not planning for a loss, his entire campaign lost momentum.  Had he announced a week before or after, he would have caught more attention.  Sometimes a bird in the hand really is worth two in the bush.

      The third thing that strikes me happened during the Eileen Filler-Corn election.  Bryan Scrafford, over at LEFT OF THE HILL, posted about his efforts to help Kerry Bolognese, who wasn’t a shoo-in, but certainly had every opportunity to be optimistic.  I posted at the time that I was surprised by how paltry Herrity’s efforts had been on behalf of Bolognese.  (Again, not as a partisan attack, but simply because if a Democrat had treated another Democratic campaign so cavalierly, I would have been upset.)  I think there were some phone calls made, and one appearance?  What is significant about this (or the lack of it) at least to me, was that this election was in Herrity’s own backyard.  It was a great way to help out another Republican AND help out himself at the same time.  I was surprised that he didn’t seem to take advantage of that.  And then, of course, Filler-Corn went on to win.

      The final piece is the “Tax Cheat” flier. I knew the moment I heard about that (a Democratic friend received one in the mail and e-mailed me) that he was in trouble.  I understand that his campaign probably made the calculated decision to go negative, but going negative only works at certain moments, and in certain ways, and every campaign knows it’s a gamble.  I know that Herrity supporters can point to Fimian going after Herrity, and they aren’t wrong about that.  But as the mother of an eighth grader, let me assure you that there is still a big difference in style and tone between saying you don’t trust someone, or someone isn’t telling the whole story, or someone is entitled and calling someone a CHEAT.  One style makes people think about an issue, the other makes people mad and they stop thinking, maybe even some people who would agree with you.

      So anyway, that’s my (very long) collection of thoughts following what was to me a fascinating race to watch.