Meet the New Republican Party of Virginia: Now Even More Extreme
Frederick's recent hiring decisions show right-wing takeover of RPV
RICHMOND -- It's been a month since Del. Jeff Frederick's election to Chairman of the Virginia GOP, and his moves since have quickly lived up to what pundits like Larry Sabato have called the party's "complete takeover by the far-right." [Southern Political Report, 6/8/08]
Now that Frederick has nearly finished cleaning house and assembling his new staff, the RPV's hard right-wing swing is nearly complete. While the extremist GOP base may be happy, moderate Republicans have already sounded the alarm:
"I'm extremely distressed by the path [the party is] taking. It could end up being a minority debating society. We can't be a party about immigrant-bashing or gay-bashing or any other bashing. We should be a party of fiscal responsibility, which is how I got into it." - former Del. Vince Callahan [Washington Post, 6/10/08]
"Where the party's going, I make no apologies for supporting Mark Warner." - former Sen. John Chichester [Washington Post, 6/10/08]
Based on Frederick's record, moderates hoping for a seat at the table should look elsewhere. As the Virginian Pilot editorial board noted, Frederick is "an unlikely peacemaker," given his record of killing moderate Republican legislation and attacking Republican candidates in primaries. [Virginian-Pilot, 6/3/08]
Frederick's hiring decisions, announced in the last few weeks, show the party's turn toward the extreme right:
* Walter M. Curt, new Finance Committee Chairman -- Curt has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to right-wing GOP candidates over the past decade, much of it directed toward extremist primary challengers. The Washington Post noted that last year, "Curt and his company were the single biggest donor to Robert Sayre in his bid to unseat Sen. Emmett W. Hanger Jr. (R-Augusta) in the GOP primary," giving Sayre a total of $100,000.
According to VPAP, Curt has also funded primary challengers to Del. Joe May and former Senators Marty Williams and John Chichester, either through his own funds or those of his companies - Power Monitors Inc. and Shenandoah Electronic Intelligence.
More troubling, former Sen. Brandon Bell has claimed that Curt offered him $10,000 during his own primary challenge, but said that Curt "made it very clear that he wanted me to promise to vote a certain way on a potential measure that I might face once elected." "After the call," Bell added, "I did some checking and it was typical for Mr. Curt to make a large contribution but then demand it back later if a particular vote wasn't to his liking." [Brandon Bell, Roanoke Red Zone, 6/9/08]
* Allison Coccia, new RPV Executive Director -- Coccia cut her teeth on Republican politics in Pennsylvania, where she filed a lawsuit to oust a moderate primary challenger to former right-wing poster boy Sen. Rick Santorum. [Philadelphia Inquirer 3/14/06]
* Tom Bunnell, new RPV Campaign Director -- Bunnell most recently guided former Sen. Conrad Burns to defeat in the 2006 Montana U.S. Senate election. Previously, he served as the political director on Oliver North's 1994 U.S. Senate race, a campaign that is still mostly remembered for Sen. John Warner's protest endorsement of independent candidate Marshall Coleman. [Washington Times, 11/6/94]
* Gerry Scimeca, new RPV Communications Director -- Scimeca was the subject of a 1995 New York Times article that placed much of the blame for Virginia GOP House losses on his "lurid" and "garish" attack mailers. "Hard to believe one little machine could spew so much hate!" Scimeca bragged as he patted his computer. [New York Times, 11/12/95]
* Cleta Mitchell, new RPV legal counsel -- Mitchell, a frequent talking head on cable news shows, has a laundry list of ties to right-wing candidates and organizations. In 2005, she emceed a salute to disgraced Congressman Tom DeLay - an event even most House Republicans avoided - kicking off the evening by proclaiming, "Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to a celebration of the vast-right wing conspiracy." [New York Times, 5/12/05; Washington Post, 5/13/05]
Mitchell's current clients include global-warming denier Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), noted family values proponent Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), and Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), who believes gay teachers should be banned from public schools. [Mitchell biography]
With this crew in charge, it's no wonder that the Republican Party of Virginia is so out-of-touch with moderate Virginians.
So...will Frank Wolf be denouncing and rejecting his own party, maybe calling it a can of spoiled dog food as Tom Davis has done, anytime soon? Don't hold your breath.