Nick Kessler

Connecting the dots

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Sunday, June 01, 2003
Chickens coming home to roost

Mark Tate is running against state Senator H. Russell Potts Jr. of Winchester, Virginia, in the Republican primary. Tate is just one of several conservative zealots who are vigorously challenging incumbent Republicans in the Virginia legislature this year, largely on the issues of taxes and abortion. Here’s what Potts has to say about their goals:

"Theirs is a dark politics and a politics of destruction," he says. "I think they want to absolutely bleed all [state] funding. They want to say to every policeman, every schoolteacher, 'We're going to pay you less next year.' As far as I'm concerned, it's a trip down la-la land."

Potts also mentions that Tate and his cohorts make nonsensical arguments and baseless charges about taxes:

"It is the extremist wing of the party that is calling a tax referendum a tax increase," he said. "A tax referendum is when you trust the people. There is a world of difference."

Don’t feel bad for these Republicans. This is what they invited by signing onto Grover Norquist's agenda:

"We are trying to change the tones in the state capitals - and turn them toward bitter nastiness and partisanship," said Grover Norquist, a leading Republican strategist, who heads a group called Americans for Tax Reform…."Bipartisanship is another name for date rape…."

Republicans like Potts were delighted when the right-wingers' crude and relentless attacks—lacking in factual basis but not in fervor—were directed at Democrats. Now they're finding out for themselves what it's like to be on the receiving end.

Voters, too, are making some discoveries. It turns out that the same people who promise them the lowest taxes are also extremists on abortion:

"Taxes here are high enough," Judy Morin tells Tate after he promises never to raise hers. But then she asks where he stands on abortion, and the 65-year-old doesn't like what she hears. "Under no circumstances? I have a problem with that...."

Overall, the stakes in this election are revealingly summarized by Mike Rothfield, another far-right challenger looking to unseat state Senate Finance Committee chairman John H. Chichester:

"This is a fundamental battle between those of us in the party who believe we must stand for smaller government, lower taxes and protection of the unborn, and those of us who want big government run only slightly better than the Democrats did...."


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