Sunday, February 24, 2013

Conservative bloggers are the biggest losers in transportation deal

This post is just a quick reaction to a post by Lowell Feld at Blue Virginia about the winners and losers in the transportation deal reached in the General Assembly yesterday.

I agree with Lowell on almost everything in his post. The only thing I disagreed with was his characterization of progressive bloggers as losers. I would rate us as mixed bag since we did not have a uniform position like the conservative bloggers, nor did we set down a marker as a group that we supported or opposed the transportation deal. Progressive bloggers did not lobby the General Assembly as a group for a specific policy outcome.

The same cannot be said of Virginia's conservative bloggers, particularly the so-called "Jeffersoniad." That group of conservative bloggers lobbied aggressively as a group against the transportation deal. Since that deal was announced, they have doubled down by calling the Republicans who supported the deal "traitors." In Teadhadist-speak, that means they have to primary a substantial number of the delegates they've called traitors, otherwise everything they said was just empty talk.

Progressives have no such stake. I never felt more than "meh" one way or the other on the transportation deal as it was being proposed and discussed. I see Ben Tribbett's point regarding the potential impact on school funding, but we can revisit that issue and even run on the need for more education funding. I don't like the new tax on hybrid cars, but again, we can revisit that and even run on repealing the hybrid car tax. Am I super happy about the transportation deal? No, I'm just meh.

Not so for the Jeffersoniad. Shaun Kenney, Jim Hoeft, and the other conservative bloggers that make up the Jeffersoniad staked their reputations and claim to influence within the Republican Party of Virginia on blocking the transportation deal and they failed. For all the pandering the RPV has done to the Rightysphere, when push came to shove, Governor McDonnell and a large number of Republicans in the General Assembly simply ignored Kenney, Hoeft, et al. The question now is, what are the conservative bloggers going to do about it? If the conservative bloggers aren't able to primary a significant number of the delegates they've labeled "traitors," then they can't seriously claim to be a force in Virginia Republican politics anymore (if indeed they ever were).

The Jeffersoniad sent out a clear message to Republicans in the Virginia General Assembly: oppose HB 2313 or else. Well, plenty of Republicans voted for the transportation deal and if the "Jeffersoniad" doesn't deliver on its "or else," then they will deserve the mockery they will receive, here and elsewhere in the Virginia blogosphere.

But all is not gloom and doom for the Jeffersoniad; they have a fairly substantial list of potential allies with the resource Republicans value more than any other: cash. Bob McDonnell and the other Republicans who supported the transportation deal didn't just "diss" the Jeffersoniad, they went against Grover Norquist, the Koch brothers, the various Tea Parties, Rush Limbaugh, and the list goes on and on. What could the conservative blog Bearing Drift do with a million dollar check from the Koch brothers?

The Koch brothers spent a lot more to accomplish a lot less in 2012.

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