Posted by: James Atticus Bowden | March 31, 2009

2 Political Abortions: HB 3202 & L’Affaire Frederick

Virginia’s Republicans performed two political abortions, on themselves, in two years. Even though Republicans are the pro-life political party, abortion is an apt description of the HB 3202 debacle and proposed lynching of Chairman Jeff Frederick. In both cases a few people made a willful decision that kills the party at the polls. They’re a bloody mess. They’re avoidable. They’re reprehensible. They are political abortions.

HB 3202 was supposed to be the Republicans answer to the transportation crisis in Virginia. In fact, it was the panicked response to the commonly held perception that, “something, anything, has to be done.” Unfortunately, the fear that motivated created folly. Doing something bad is worse than doing nothing.

Removing Jeff Frederick from the chairmanship of the Republican Party of Virginia is a cooked crisis. Supposedly Ed Gillespie can’t pull in the big money for Bob McDonnell’s run for governor unless Jeff Frederick is hanged on a sour apple tree. And the District Chairmen are really, really irritated at Jeff. As they have been since Jeff whipped their candidate last May.

HB 3202 was put together like a really bad buffet behind closed doors. It was a smorgasbord of rejected regional government, new, punitive taxes for Virginians and a plan that didn’t actually solve any transportation issues. Oh, it did have something okay about land use policy – buried among the rotted servings. The worst single piece of legislation since Massive Resistance was ruled unconstitutional by all seven Virginia Supreme Court Justices.

The cabal worked the list of accusations against Jeff. They shopped it around Virginia in secret meetings. They waited months to complain about things they could have fixed on the spot. They created a whirlwind of self-righteous outrage. They worked a political campaign to leak innuendo and calumny against Jeff day after day.

 HB 3202 was rolled across the Commonwealth like a done deal; like it was powerful and good with a Wizard of Oz-like bluster. And of course, its substance was more man behind the curtain with smoke and mirrors than actually resolving transportation issues with good governance. Yet, HB 3202 just put real financial power in the hands of few folks who could reward the right people with billions in government contracts, the whole point of politics for too many elected Republicans.

The lynch mob marching against Jeff Frederick leaked their intimidating State Central Committee letter. They hit the blogs. Anonymous comments came with personal invective and bitter bile. The usual suspects of establishment Republicans – the state senators, remaining Republican Virginia congressmen, delegates, a handful of city and county chairmen called for ouster in successive waves of lost confidence – sung in an odd falsetto soprano.

These, for the most part, were the same geniuses behind HB 3202. In the case of Congresspersons, they’re immediate authors of a clearly unconstitutional bill of attainder and ex post facto act of tax revenge targeting AIG bonus babies.

HB 3202 created unelected, unaccountable, un-separated powers regional governments. It created two standards for in and out of state citizen fines. It was unconstitutional from the start.

The accusations against Jeff Frederick were explained away in a simple documentation of facts. They were petty. Yet the intent is to hit him with new accusations at the meeting. This disregard for the rule of law – in the fair play with the letter and spirit of organizational process – fits HB 3202’s disregard for the Virginia and U.S. Constitution. The cost of abortion is a dead baby.

The cost of HB 3202 was a terrible bleeding of the base of Conservatives, Libertarians and Independents from supporting Republicans in Virginia. The cost of removing Jeff may be Bob McDonnell losing his race for Governor. Any grassroots Conservatives – the folks who elected Jeff – walking away can be the margin of victory. Keeping Jeff means there’s time for reconciliation with the base.

The struggle isn’t about Jeff. It isn’t about ideology. It’s about the power of electing the chairman and leading the RPV from the bottom up vs. selecting a puppet chair and controlling the RPV as a campaign office for the biggest elected officials.

In both abortions there was no thought to what to do next.

What is really needed for transportation? No clue.

Who follows Jeff as Chairman? No idea.

Some key Virginia Republican leaders demonstrate, by two awful self-inflicted failures, their idea that holding power requires absolute control. In fact, greater power can be built when there is less control of issues, organizations, finances – but with much better leadership.



  1. James,

    I have debated with myself and friends in Washington County. I’ve informed them that I will not, NOT, be attending the convention as asked to do so. I had intended on being a delegate for Ken Cuccinelli in May. As much as I still believe in Ken, I believe that unless this goes away, Jeff will be railroaded on the 4th and then the convention goes into disarray about who to replace him with. I’m obligated to the RPV this year, I will keep my word. However, following this election, I will no longer be a member of the RPV and have been asked to organize a chapterof the Constitution Party. I regret it has come to this, but when you fight for true grassroots accountability, this is what happens and the establishment comes roaring out. No more. I will not be a party to the railroading of a man who was elected in accordance to party rules and who was elected in an overwhelming manner. I know my opinion matters little, but it is my conscience that is more important to me than the Party Plan.

  2. Charlie: Understand. I’m gonna try to recruit Constitutional Republicans.

  3. JAB- I realize that you are using both issues (HB 3202) and the Frederick issues as separate examples of things you believe are wrong about the state of affairs in the Republican camp in the Commonwealth. In my mind, however, the two items trigger a link. One of the many things that led me to mark Mr. Frederick as a very unimpressive laddie was his position on HB 3202. The guy clearly couldn’t resolve in his own mind where he should be on an issue that most Rs were frantically pursuing. Rather than voting NO, my recollection is that he took a stroll at the critical moment. I was not impressed. If my memory of that is mistaken, I will accept correction, but I remember being singularly unimpressed at the time.

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