Gizzi on Politics: June 16-20

Posey Post Weldon
Even more stunning than the surprise retirement announcement earlier this year by Rep. Dave Weldon (R.-Fla.) at age 54, is the way that a fellow conservative Republican, State Sen. Bill Posey, wrapped up the all-important Republican nomination in Florida’s 15th District.

When he came by HUMAN EVENTS during a recent trip to Washington, the 61-year-old Posey brandished the endorsements not only from Weldon and most elected Republicans in the Cape Canaveral-based district but from the Senate colleague who was mentioned as a potential rival in the September primary.

“You’re thinking of [State Sen.] Mike Haridopolos,” Posey told me, “and his comment was ‘I would have run if Bill Posey didn’t.’ Mike is now running for president of the state senate in four years.” (In Florida, races for legislative leadership positions are planned and run years ahead of time.)

After following in his father’s footsteps and working at the Kennedy Space Center until he was laid off with the end of the Apollo Program, Posey then launched his own real estate firm. Elected to the Rockledge (Fla.) City Council in 1976, he went to the state House in 1992 and the state Senate in 2000.

In all his offices, Posey has stood foursquare in favor of key conservative principles—from opposing any and all tax increases to supporting the Balanced Budget Amendment to deportation of illegal immigrants and making English the country’s official language.

At a time when the media accuse conservatives of lacking fresh ideas, Posey is most motivated by a cause he champions known as Activity Based Total Accountability (ABTA). Concluding that “looking at a state budget would probably be similar to looking at a large metropolitan city’s telephone directory written in Chinese,” Posey’s ABTA would require the apportioning of every dollar an agency receives to a specific activity.
This, he strongly believes, would revolutionize the budget process by tying the total amount of money appropriated to specific activities rather than simply programs and, thus, to measurable results.

“ABTA’s requirement to apportion every dollar an agency receives to a specific activity eliminates slippage and vagueness,” insists Posey, who is so passionate about the concept that he has written and privately published a book it, ABTA: The Birth of Common Sense in Government Accountability.

Former Virginia Rep. and National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Davis told a recent press breakfast in Washington that more seats being defended by Republican incumbents in the House are in danger than the 27 seats in which GOP House members are retiring. While that may be true, it seems a sure bet this is not the case with Florida’s 15th District and Bill Posey.

Yes, Virginia

There has been much hot political news coming out of Virginia lately. Shortly after becoming the certain Democratic nominee for President last week, Barack Obama made a much-publicized appearance in the Old Dominion and made it clear he would wage a serious effort to become the first Democrat to carry its electoral votes since Lyndon Johnson in 1964.

At the same time, the Obama camp hinted to the press that it was considering three Virginia Democrats as possible running mates: Sen. Jim Webb, Gov. Tim Kaine, and former Gov. (2001-05) and current U.S. Senate nominee Mark Warner.

Last week, the lone open U.S. House district among the 11 in Virginia held its Democratic primary. After an unusually rancorous campaign, 11th District (Northern Virginia) Democrats nominated Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Gerald Connolly over Leslie Byrne, former state legislator, lieutenant governor candidate, and the first woman to serve as a member of Congress from Virginia when she represented the district from 1992-94.

Byrne, long a pin-up girl for the far-left of the Democratic Party, was unseated after one term by Republican Tom Davis, who is now retiring. The Republican nominee, businessman Keith Fimian, who is almost always characterized as more conservative than Davis (lifetime American Conservative Union rating: 70%), was formerly considered a long shot to hold the district for the GOP, but after the Democratic battle royal and Connolly’s narrow (52% to 48%) win, few are writing Fimian off.

The big story at the state Republican convention in Richmond May 31 was how State Delegate Bob Marshall came within 70 votes out of more than 10,000 cast of winning the U.S. Senate nomination from the long-presumed favorite, former Gov. (1997-2001) Jim Gilmore. Prince William County Delegate Marshall forged a coalition of pro-lifers, anti-tax citizens’ groups and libertarians to make the fight against Gilmore a nail-biter. In addition, stalwart conservative Marshall had the backing of many supporters of moderate Davis, who had considered a Senate race until the state party opted for a convention rather than a primary as the nominating vehicle.

“Bob’s legislative district overlaps my congressional district and we had a good working relationship despite some issue differences,” Davis told me. However, the difference that motivated many Davis backers to support Marshall—notably the congressman’s longtime political advisor, J. Kenneth Klinge—was that Marshall was the “anti-Gilmore.” The former governor now faces an uphill battle against Democrat Mark Warner for the seat of retiring Republican Sen. John Warner (no relation).

The same right-of-center coalition that helped Marshall come close to the Senate nomination flexed even more muscle in the race for state chairman. State Delegate Jeff Frederick held a big lead over incumbent State Chairman John Hager, a former lieutenant governor, throughout the balloting. Finally, the 72-year-old Hager took to the convention podium and moved that Frederick’s election be made unanimous.

Conservative swashbuckler Frederick—who, at 32, becomes the youngest state GOP chairman in the nation—never attacked Hager on issues but charged that the incumbent chairman was doing little as Republicans were losing a string of races in Virginia and that an entirely new staff was needed at the state party headquarters.