Mowing The Grassroots


    Two weeks ago, invitations to a luncheon with Senator Saslaw arrived in the mail. The Moran chairmanship balloon had been floated and because the return addressee on the envelope was a Mark Warner provocateur, the invitation was placed on the not likely pile. Today’s E-mail reminder secured a “no way:”

    In last week’s elections, a Republican wave swept the country, hitting Virginia particularly hard. With state Senate elections approaching next year, we must ensure that wave stops now.

    Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw will be in your area next week for a luncheon in support of our efforts and we hope you will attend. It will be held Wednesday, November 17th, 12:30 PM at Hits at the Park Restaurant.

    The money we raise at this event will help us fund campaigns and recruit mainstream candidates who will focus on solving problems that Virginians face every day.

    PS- If you cannot attend, you can help us by contributing online. Every contribution helps us in our fight to keep Virginia from becoming a one-party Republican-dominated state.  Thank you.

    The original mailer came from Henry Light, a fellow Senator Warner put up to primarying a safe Democratic seat because Warner held a grudge against Delegate Johnny S. Joannou (D-79th). Joannou had the temerity to oppose a Warner position. That’s how we “fight to keep Virginia from becoming a one-party Republican-dominated state.” Maybe Joannou isn’t “mainstream” enough; whatever that means.

    Maybe Jeff Shapiro is on the mark. Possibly Senator Warner fancies himself a modern day Harry Byrd. But his attempt to lobby Brian Moran into the DPVA Chairmanship is transparent. Warner probably allows Moran the idea it is a stepping-stone to higher office. But Warner’s motivation is more likely ownership of the chair not the chair’s future fortunes. It almost makes Brian pitiable. Almost.

    “Can a guy who shifted further left as a candidate credibly guide Democrats to the center?” – Jeff Shapiro

    How in heaven’s name does “recruit mainstream candidates” square with recruiting a chairman who was the most out of touch with Virginians out of three Democratic gubernatorial candidates? It can only make sense if Warner is trying to circle the wagons for reconciliation within the party. However it looks more like a circular firing squad, no one focusing on the threat outside the perimeter. And Saslaw, who stands to end up in the Senate minority next year, has not demonstrated he understands the mistake that is being made.

    Of course, this will all be straightened out after the next statewide drubbing we receive under a Moran chairmanship. Talk about a gift for Republicans and coal (or uranium) in Democratic stockings.  

    • by Mark Warner, Brian Moran, etc. is making my head hurt really bad.  More importantly, these peoples’ ridiculous power games are going to make Democratic prospects in 2011 and beyond hurt really bad.  Of course, as you aptly (as opposed to Warner, whose phrasing is “inapt” by his own admission), “this will all be straightened out after the next statewide drubbing we receive under a Moran chairmanship.”  Can’t wait!

    • KathyinBlacksburg

      that folks like Mark Warner don’t know anything about real leadership.  His punitive stuff isn’t real leadership.  Real leaders don’t coerce, punish, and try to dominate the grassroots or those willing to serve.  Leadership is what happens when you remove power plays, coercion, and structural authority. It’s bi-directional, not top-down.  If what is happening is top-down it is not leadership, but power/coercion that you are seeing. They are not the same processes.

      The idea that Warner could tell someone else trying to build a permanent progressive coalition in Virginia with labor, minorities, and other progressive constituencies as harming the party is beyond belief.  He should have been thanking the man.

      And so it is not surprising he tried to punish a candidate.  The question is, while this kind of stuff goes on, why try?  Who would?  You have to be a bit crazy to want to play in that kind of an arena.  

      Warner’s corporate roots show too much.  The fact that this is what passes for leadership in corporations doesn’t mean volunteers should humor him.

    • I tend to think that most political work is petty and mean — that’s the price we pay for having flawed human beings who must first and foremost preserve their own power at all costs before they can appeal to their better natures.  That’s the system we have, and I don’t think there is a better one, so you use what you have.

      What I think is that this whole thing has been pretty inept (perhaps Warner could use this word next?)  If anything, it says to me that the powers that be in the state really don’t think the DPVA matters much at all, not that there is some sort of nefarious power-play.  And I’m not so sure that they are wrong — we’ve increasingly moved into a candidate driven election cycle, rather than a party-driven election cycle.  The benefit of this is the flexibility to maneuver in individual races without the potential support (or corruption) of party structure.  The downside is that we have individuals who have fewer ties to anyone outside of their own offices (which again, is both good and bad.)

      Bottom line, everyone I’ve ever met has the fatal personality flaw of believing their own best press (and shaking off criticism.)  You don’t get into politics if you have low self-esteem, after all.  But you still run the very best people that you can, and you keep the accountable as you can.

      Which is what we’re doing with Brian Moran and Mark Warner right now.