Monday, May 07, 2007

Julie Lucas Responds

Because of a trip out of town, I didn't reproduce this myself late last week, but Tom Kopko sent a general e-mail regarding the recent imbroglio over her comments to the Washington Post late last week:

Dear Committee Members,

As I explained to you at the last committee meeting, you would be hearing about the 51st House convention. The Washington Post article reports on it today. There are several important pieces missing that you need to know.

The reporter got one thing right, though: the argument here is really about Virginia’s lack of party registration and its open primaries. The question to ask is whether we Republicans should knowingly invite Democrats to help us choose our nominees for office.

You would think the answer would be a resounding no. Mine sure is. Republicans shouldn’t want Democrats in our nomination contests.

But, the reporter got it wrong, or Julie Lucas never told him, that on January 4th Julie argued for a primary specifically so that Democrats could be included. She said they were her base, given her current seat. Talk about being stunned. I utterly rejected the notion.

Julie also gives the impression that she essentially informed me of her candidacy on Jan. 4. Not even close. She told me, and many others, throughout January that she had so many offices to consider that she just couldn’t make up her mind. As late as Jan. 25 she told a women’s group that she still hadn’t made up her mind. The fact is, Julie’s decision was in the air all the way up until she submitted her filing just 4 hours before the deadline on January 29.

You also should know several other important facts. While she says that I had an open mind, which was supposedly corrupted by my contract work, she doesn’t mention that I also rejected her further argument on Jan. 4 that the candidate that can win an (open) primary is best suited to win the general election. I saw that as a veiled argument for Democrats. It also argues that Democrats would improve the outcome of the Republican primary.

In fact, I rejected each reason Julie put forth that night (time, effort, cost, convenience) to try to get a primary so Democrats could vote for her. I heard these same arguments from Lucy Beauchamp and rejected them, too. Somehow, both of them still claim to be surprised at the choice of a convention.

I did say that I was open to the possibility of a closed primary, which was under consideration in Virginia courts at the time, if it materialized. (It didn’t. Federal courts stayed the possibility in mid-January). Julie and I talked for a long time that night about the great difficulties the state would have in closing primaries to just party members, whatever that means in Virginia. I also said that if both candidates agreed on a primary I might consider it then, but probably would still call a convention.

Julie also doesn’t mention that I held off for weeks in January on issuing the call as I waited for her to make a decision. I accommodated her indecision - she even thanked me for my patience on the 18th - but I am instead repaid with attacks.

It’s also not mentioned that, after they filed, I immediately reached out to both candidates to ask for suggested convention chairmen and committee leaders and workers, per usual convention practice. The idea is to have equal numbers of workers from each campaign, an agreed Convention Chairman, and agreed chairmen of the various convention committees.

Of course, it isn’t mentioned there are plenty of examples of chairmen who run fair processes while doing contract work for or having a financial relationship with a candidate. One need look just a little north to Fairfax to find a large, prime example. Examination of almost every race shows how commonplace it is. The State Board of Elections and the Republican Party of Virginia concur there’s no problem. In other words, this is much ado about nothing.

So, I think that sets the record straight and should put everyone’s minds at ease that my selection of a convention is no surprise and that a convention is the best way to choose a Republican nominee. It is time to look forward.

To that end, I am continuing to work in a spirit of agreement and accommodation. I am happy to announce that the campaigns have agreed upon Pat O’Leary as convention chairman. Pat is a former chairman of the combined PWC-Manassas committee and is well known and liked. He has also graciously agreed to work with me in the other convention preparations to ensure each campaign is satisfied with the processes and, ultimately, the convention’s result. We are targeting a May 10 meeting with the campaigns to finalize convention committee personnel and optimize convention processes for a fair, quick, and efficient convention.

To wrap it all up, with all the talk these past two weeks about primaries versus conventions, I offer the following thoughts on party nominations.

Top 5 Myths About Primary Elections

  1. “The public should decide.”
    Absolutely not. Republicans, only, should choose their nominees. This is a bald argument in favor of Democrats and Independents choosing our nominees. Unacceptable.
  2. “Primaries get maximum participation.”
    This is a sneaky half-truth. With Virginia’s open primaries it’s like inviting us all to go sky-diving but not mentioning that we invited extra people so now there aren’t enough parachutes for everyone. D’s and I’s take away Republicans’ parachutes/votes when they vote in our primaries. In other words, a suicidal notion.
  3. “Primaries are convenient.”
    Convenient for incumbents, that is. In primaries they have name recognition and existing campaign funds, and even franking privileges, to conduct expensive campaigns to the general public rather than to the Republican base.
  4. “Conventions favor conservatives.”
    False. Conventions favor those who care enough to vote. While it is true that conservatives tend to be the most consistent voters within the Republican base, the playing field is absolutely level.
  5. “If a candidate can’t win a primary they can’t win the general election.”
    False. This not only recognizes the openness of Virginia primaries, it argues that D’s and I’s are necessary to select the most electable Republican nominee. Worse it argues that Republicans alone are unable to select their own best nominee. This argument is backwards and self-defeating.

If you have further questions I would be happy to hear from you.


Tom Kopko
Chairman, Pr. Wm. County Republican Committee (HTUPWCGOP.orgUTH)

Julie Lucas has e-mailed Committee members regarding the recent imbroglio over her comments to the Washington Post late last week:
Dear Committee Members,

It is very unfortunate to see controversy arise from the 51
st District Convention.

While I am deeply concerned that my opponent, Faisal Gill paid our Chairman to be a political consultant, I would like to be able to resolve this issue so we can move on to select the best Republican candidate, and ultimately win in November.

April finance reports indicated that Faisal Gill paid our party chairman $1000 for consulting services. An amended filing has revealed the amount is actually $2000.

At the last GOP meeting I chose not to publicly address the issue, but agreed to meet with Faisal Gill and the Chairman, per his suggestion. Unfortunately my opponent did not personally attend the meeting. Whatever issue the Party as a whole has with these actions, we must not allow this to promote infighting among our Party members.

A recent Washington Post article on Faisal Gill's hiring of the committee chairman prompted Tom Kopko to email the Republican Committee explaining his side of the story. There are many areas I feel I must now clarify.

--- I've never advocated for a primary so Democrats could vote for me. In fact, in Tom Kopko's e-mail, he expressed his opinion that discussion of a primary is a veiled attempt to include Democrats in the process.

--- I assure my fellow Republicans that I did not contact the Washington Post and would have preferred to continue with the process that was agreed upon. In fact, I called the Chairman to alert him to the pending article.

Most of you know how hard I work for the Republican Party, over the past 7 years, in Prince William County. My personal belief is that it is a conflict of interest for any candidate to retain the Chairman as a paid staff member. Prior to the filing deadline, I was busy consulting with close friends and associates. My closest advisors knew of my intention to run before January. I continued to make public my intent to file for the 51st District seat at the January 25th meeting of my GOP women's group. Many of the members congratulated me on my decision to run for the 51st District. During Dec/Jan, I was in contact with our chairman many times regarding the 51st race. I had been trying to meet with the Chairman since December 2006 to show my interest in the 51st Delegate race. At no time during these discussions was the paid relationship between Faisal Gill and the Chairman revealed. At this point the bottom line is it doesn't matter when I declared my candidacy, as the filing was still open and any primary candidate could have emerged. Now, we must focus on retaining the 51st District for the Republican Party.

Though I have been encouraged by many people's support for my candidacy, my focus is on representing the people of the 51st district in the Virginia House of Delegates.
I agree with Tom that we must look forward, and regret he tried to divert the issue with inaccurate and disparaging remarks. I can do nothing but what I've always done, work hard for the Republican party, the people of Prince William County and the Commonwealth of Virginia.

I strongly support Republicans choosing their nominee and support Party registration in Virginia, but I have found 51st District voters are confused by the process. With two conventions and a general primary, voters find it difficult to juggle family and participation in the process. The convenience to the voters and the integrity of the process requires giving primaries a consideration whenever possible. I am extremely humbled by how many people want to give a few hours of their time on Saturday, June 2, to help me win the Republican nomination!

Tom and I agree on one major point, we want to bring in new people to the Republican Committee. I am very excited about the opportunity to bring in Republicans that have never participated in a convention before. In order to keep these attendees participating we must do all we can to ensure the convention is run smoothly and efficiently. We have a very strong party and a lot to be proud of, let's welcome fellow Republicans to our party with open arms!
Thank you, for taking the time to read this email, and thank you for your dedication to our Party. If you have any questions for me please visit my web site: or call: (703)597-3233.
Most humble regards,


Unfortunately, there are a couple of problems with some of Julie's claims.

First, Kopko --- so far as has been revealed --- is not and never has been a "paid staff member" for Faisal Gill, or any other candidate since he's been Chairman. Unless the situation was a special election with no other races, I believe that it would be improper for him to do so, since his time would be committed to a single Republican candidate, rather than all It's no unheard of --- Chairman Bill Kling was a paid staffer for the George H.W. Bush campaign in 1992 --- but I've never seen it done locally. He apparently performed contract work for the Gill campaign, a one-shot deal that hasn't been repeated. Julie's suggestion that he was a "paid staff member" is inaccurate, and is contradicted by her other statements.

Second, her comments about the relative merits of primaries over conventions are misplaced. Aside from their lack of merit, the decision to hold a convention has been made. She wastes her time and energy talking about this, and it comes across as both a little whiny and substantially meritless. This is not an argument that will be resolved now, or which will change the outcome.

Third, while Julie denies that she contacted The Washington Post --- and I believe her --- the simple fact is that the could have responded differently if she did not want to "promote infighting": she could simply have said "No comment."

Fourth, and perhaps most importantly, very little that Julie says contradicts significantly anything Tom has said, save for one thing (see below). She claims that they played "telephone tag" in December and January, as though this were unusual. She complains because Tom didn't advise her of his work for the Gill campaign, as though he were required to disclose such things to every potential candidate, and presuming that Kopko's work occurred when he knew of her candidacy. But she also confirms that she had not committed to the 51st District race, claiming that her first public commitment to a 51st District candidacy didn't occur until 25 January, three weeks after Gill's reported payment to Kopko (when the services were provided hasn't been revealed by any of the principles). Kopko's version is different (though I presume he wasn't there) and he states that she said she still hadn't made up her mind at the meeting. Certainly, she never filed to be a candidate until four days later, and contrary to her claim, it certainly does matter when she declared her candidacy. So what if "anyone" could have filed; frankly, I believe that Party officials are entitled to look askance at someone who would jump in at the last minute, since such actions (without a prior statement committing to run) looks very much like the kind of dilletantism that is not good for any political party.

Finally, it is the implied contradiction that is particularly disturbing. While Kopko says that Lucas said that Democrats were her base, Lucas says that she never advocated a primary so Democrats could vote for her.

The problem here is, of course, that Kopko and Lucas are talking past one another. Lucas never denies having said what Kopko attributes to her, she merely says that the reason cited by Kopko is not why she advocated a primary. The two statements are not mutually exclusive, and Lucas never actually disputes Kopko's claim.

Curiouser and curiouser.

1 comment:

Charles said...

Good analysis, although I'd note that since Tom says he talked about a closed primary, and Julie's comments to the post were that he was open to a primary, those were another example of statements that were actually reconcilable -- I note you only went through Julie's stuff, so I thought I'd add that about Tom's e-mail.

But I thought there was more commonality to the stories than differences.

I decided not to do this on my blog, because I'm moving on. I'm guessing someone walked out of the meeeting on the 25th confused about whether Lucas was running, and others "got the message". I'm pretty sure there's mostly a misunderstanding based on perspective -- if Lucas had already decided in her mind she was running, she could think everything she said reinforced that, while those who thought she wasn't could have thought she sounded wishy-washy.

I pretty sure after communicating with both parties that they both tried more to work this out than the other's e-mail suggests, and that both would like to move on and not dwell on this.

I know I got sucked into direct comment on Lucas by Greg's take on this, when my argument was with Greg and his gang, not Julie. They definitely are NOT the same, and I hope a distance remains between those two.