Home Virginia Politics Spending Our Political Contributions Wisely

Spending Our Political Contributions Wisely


Lt Gov Northam presiding photo 140626VirginiaSenate_zpsd365b995.jpgMany of you have been bombarded with pleas for money to help Democrats regain the Virginia Senate majority; a noble cause. Well, you should ask three questions before you contribute a dime: Is there a strategy for success? Where is your money going to end up? Will you suffer remorse?

On this or another of Lowell’s blogs, I asked at the end of one particularly disappointing campaign where I go to get a refund of my contributions. After that campaign I decided that I wouldn’t contribute to any campaign whose candidate doesn’t share my core values and doesn’t have a chance in hell of being victorious. In the special election for Phil Puckett’s abandoned seat, the Democratic candidate fails quite possibly both criteria. I say quite possibly because we may never know what the insiders now know from polling in the district. Frankly, if I were to venture a guess, I’d bet he is at the general starting point for the generic Democratic candidate in the region: 37%. And, we already know he is joined at the hip with coal. That’s a pragmatic position; I understand that. But he is unabashedly supportive; his position is not nuanced in any way. I can tell you I won’t regret not contributing on both counts.

I have also learned not to contribute to any committee that claims to support my candidate(s). There are simply too many ways my contribution won’t end up in my candidates’ coffers. The Virginia Senate Democratic Caucus funneled $410,168 to Phil Puckett in 2011; the 3rd highest individual beneficiary. That would mean that of each dollar from that group that went to an actual candidate, 13.9% went to Puckett. Oh, and in any case only about 49% of all Caucus expenditures went directly to Virginia Senate candidates even when including a big chunk, $224,500, which went to an independent candidate in the 19th. But it’s a broader issue. Your direct contributions to other candidates also ended up in Russell County: $15,000 from Chap Peterson; $5,000 from Dick Saslaw; $2,500 from Janet Howell; $1,000 from Don McEachin. I have contributed to at least one of them; I never will again. I don’t need them deciding my money should go somewhere I didn’t send it. Note that it is not only the Senate Caucus and not just at the state level where this is a common betrayal.

However, it is the strategy for regaining control of the Senate that concerns me most. The focus right now looks extremely tactical: fight the good fight in the 38th. But I believe Sun Tzu would advise differently. You don’t reinforce failure; that is complete folly. I have met some great Democrats in the 38th, but even with the power of incumbency, Phil Puckett won that district with 53% of the vote after spending $1,365,143. He outspent his opponent by about a quarter million dollars. We Democrats are in no position to raise the amount of money that it will take to pretend we might win the 38th. And when that cash we don’t have is gone, where does that position us for the races in 2015?

On election night 2015, we shouldn’t be wondering if the money we wasted in 2014 could have turned a red tide in the Virginia Senate. In 2015 if we choose wisely we might even gain a seat or two for the high price of none in 2014.

  • Another Scott

    I got an e-mail from Creigh Deeds last night mentioning Hymes running in the 38th.  Like you, I understand the need for a senator to represent his district.  Like you, I know the vital importance of retaking the Senate.

    But, really?  A coal executive?  One who has listed as his primary goal to shut down EPA and state regulation of coal?

    I’m conflicted.  I can’t give enough to swing a race, of course, and maybe it’s a lost cause.  But we won’t take the Senate this year unless he wins (baring some other unpredictable event).

    I’m a strong believer that the perfect is a mortal enemy of the good – especially in politics.  But this race is a hard one…



  • I’m assured that the money won’t be wasted (as we can just raise it again next year), that we really DO have a chance (even though nobody will show me any polling that backs up that claim), that we have to be a “big tent” party (I’m ok with that), and that attacking McAuliffe, Obama and the EPA is the path to victory (uhhhhhhh…don’t think so; see Glenn Nye, Ward Armstrong and a million other Dems that has NOT worked for).  

  • Mike Hymes for Virginia Senate

    JUNE 23, 2014 – Mike Hymes Calls for Rollback of President Obama’s EPA as Well as State Coal Regulations

    “It doesn’t matter to me where the anti-coal regulations come from. They are hurting our workers, jobs and the future of Southwest Virginia. I oppose them.” – Mike Hymes

    Today, Democratic candidate for the 38th Senate district Mike Hymes reaffirmed his stance against the war on coal – and went one step farther, breaking with the Democratic Party by announcing his opposition to President Obama’s and Gov. McAuliffe’s efforts to regulate coal.

    “President Obama’s EPA and Gov. Terry McAuliffe have gone way too far with their job-killing regulations on the burning of coal. As a 40 year veteran of the coal industry and as an elected official in a coal county for seven years, I know first hand how devastating those regulations are to our economy, not to mention the difficulty it causes for counties to fund schools, police, fire and other necessary public services,” said Hymes

    “Folks who know me know that I have been fighting against the war on coal ever since it started. As an employee of a coal company and someone who has worked all his life in the coal industry, I have been on the front lines fighting against these regulations. I spoke out several years ago at a public hearing in Wise County supporting the Army Corp of Engineers elimination of the NWP-21 P continued Hynes. “People need to understand I am a pro-coal Democrat and if they want someone who will protect our coal coal jobs and coal miners, they should vote for me.”

    “President Obama’s EPA is way out of control. The EPA has not only done a number on our coal industry and coal miners it is making life very hard for our farmers, gas industry and even our manufacturers,” continued Hymes. “These new regulations are also going to increase the cost of energy which will result in higher energy bills and really hurt our small businesses.”

    “Making a living is hard enough out here and we don’t ask for much. What we are asking is for the federal and state governments to get off our backs and let us get back to work,” concluded Hymes.

    Mike Hymes is a true son of coal miners and coal country. His father and grandfather were coal miners. He was born in Bluefield, West Virginia and spent his early years in a coal camp in Bishop, Virginia, where his father worked in the mine. His family later moved to Tazewell. Mike is a third-generation coal miner and worked in the mines in McDowell County, West Virginia early in his career. He is currently Corporate Director of Human Resources at James River Coal Company.

    Mike and his family are active members of Main Street United Methodist Church in Tazewell, where Mike has taught Sunday school for at least 10 years and is a member of the Pastor Parish Committee. Mike and his wife Cecelia have two married sons, Martin and Aaron, and one grandchild.

    Authorized and Paid for by Mike Hymes for Senate

  • kindler

    …every bit as reliable a friend as Puckett.

    I’m not giving money to candidates who just serve as mouthpieces for Big Coal. There are many other candidates nationwide who deserve my contributions because they represent my values.

    Which I thought was the whole point of democracy.

  • Elaine in Roanoke

    I have lived most of my adult life in “red” Virginia, fighting the good fight against an ever more conservative GOP, one that now has reached the limits of that flat earth they so fervently believe in. The idea that the way for Democrats to win is to somehow “out-Republican” the Republicans is folly that happens somewhere in SW Virginia every election cycle. How absurd can one be? Why should a Republican voter vote for a sort-of GOPer when he or she can vote for a real idiot on the right? When a person is hell-bent on voting against his or her own self-interest, purity of message will surely drive that voter to the GOP.

    The very idea of throwing good money after bad Democratic candidates is the highest form of folly. That same money could be used to organize on the local level, to begin to elect local Democrats to office, thus building a cadre of candidates for future higher office. Mike Hymes repetitive use of the phrase “President Obama’s EPA” says it all. He is trying to appeal to Republicans by demeaning the highest elected Democratic official the nation has, while also making a not-so-subtle reference that will appeal to the racists in his electorate.

    i get that the man makes his living in the coal industry. That very fact probably means that he is a better fit for a run as a Republican denier of irrefutable scientific proof of climate change. If he wants to take those positions, there is absolutely no reason for any of us to throw money his way.

    I predict that he will get 40-43% of the vote in the special election, if he is “lucky.”

  • JHooe44

    Find genuine swing districts where Dems should be winning, and win there. 2015 is the next opportunity to give Terry something to work with in the GA.

  • Charles Stanton

    Ideological purity gets us to not support those who would support us 80% of the time leaving us those who will support us 0% of the time.

    If the choice is coal Democrat over a coal Republican, it is an easy choice for me. Just look at what has occurred since the coal Democrat resigned.

  • Mike Hymes Calls Full Transparency Regarding Tobacco Commission Revelations

    Asks Commission Member Ben Chafin to Reveal Everything he Knows

    (Tazewell, Virginia)  It was reported in the media last night, that emails released by the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission (Tobacco Commission), “outline plans hatched by Del. Terry Kilgore, R-Scott, to offer Sen. Phillip P. Puckett, D-Russell, a senior job with the commission once he resigned from the Virginia Senate.”  This is a job that was created especially for Senator Puckett. #1

    “As a member of the tobacco commission, Ben Chafin needs to disclose his involvement with the commission’s plan to give Phil Puckett a job,” said Mike Hymes.  Not only should Chafin release all his tobacco commission phone records, emails and computer records, he should also release all his private communications and meetings he made with Delegate Kilgore and members and staff of commission regarding his role in trading a job for a Senate seat.”

    “This scandal is looking worse and worse so now is the time for transparency.  With the tobacco commission under federal investigation, Ben Chafin owes the residents of Southwest Virginia a full, complete and honest explanation, of his role in this scheme”continued Hymes.

    Mike Hymes, a three-time elected member of the Tazewell Board of County Supervisors, was the leader in providing more transparency in county government.  Mike led the effort to publish the county budget on-line, provide the names of everyone who received more than $1,000 from the county government and set up a hot-line for residents to report fraud and unethical conduct.

    “In Tazewell, I led the effort to bring a more transparent and open government and I am the only one on this race who has promised to do the same in Richmond,” concluded Mike.

  • It must become widely accepted what is being said here. Spending wisely is the key.  With limited resources in comparison to our opposition we must always be ensuring that we are making good investments.

     Any strategy to gain the majority in the Senate must include the winning back of the 17th district seat held by Edd Houck from 1984-2011.  The district itself presents an opportunity with a DPI around 45 or so.

    The recipe for victory there is two fold, a good dedicated and hard working candidate and a viable strategic campaign organization built to win.  We are fortunate to have just that in Traci Dippert,candidate for the 17th district seat. She has shown in 2013 her ability to run a viable campaign, raise money, and work hard.  She knocked on 5000 doors herself in her bid for the 30th House seat, a rural district. In her, there is a good investment to be made.  

      All of the money that comes into her campaign is spent to win that race.  70% or more is spent on direct voter contact.

      As to the three questions; Her campaign has a strategy for success with raising money and a grassroots network. The money raised is spent on this race.  There will be no remorse.  No one can guarantee an investor victory, but her campaign can give the guarantee that everything that can be done to win will be.  Her 2013 bid for the House did not yield enough votes but was a well run and hard fought campaign.  This is the reason she was approached about by some in Richmond about running for the Senate. It was done so by those who were familiar with her campaign. The best indicator of the future is the past, she was told.

      Let us rally behind Traci Dippert and win a winnable seat in the Senate and let’s start now.  Make the good investment.