State Senator Frank Wagner is back in the news. He slated the Virginia Beach delegation last night in order to all but clinch his victory at next month’s 2nd District convention. You may have heard of Sen. Wagner as that guy who tried to outlaw conventions as a method for parties to nominate their candidates. He wanted to increase participation. Last night he felt otherwise so that he could win something. Principles are nice, but Al Davis taught us to “just win, baby.” Too bad Al Davis was talking about his Raiders playing football and Sen. Wagner was talking about voting, which is much more essential to democracy than how well the Raiders are doing.
During this session of the General Assembly Sen. Wagner proposed to amend Virginia’s Constitution to disallow conventions. Of course he was a little too suave to come right out and say that. He massaged it hard. Here is the full text of SJ72:
“Each political party shall have the right to determine the method by which it nominates its candidates for state, county, city, and district offices. No political party shall determine that its candidates for elective office shall be nominated by a method that will have the practical effect of excluding participation in the nomination process by otherwise eligible active duty military personnel, including military reservists and Virginia National Guard personnel.”
You got to love the first part. “Each political party shall have the right to determine the method by which it nominates its candidates.” Pretty brazen to begin like that and then hit you with a serious limitation to “the right to determine,” which is then followed by that pesky word “method.” You see method here means not all methods, not even close. But the kicker is how cowardly he hides behind our brave men and women of active military duty. The proposed amendment ends by saying that parties cannot choose any method that has “the practical effect of excluding participation” from people who can’t physically be there, such as “active duty military personnel,” which means no conventions. I just wish Sen. Wagner had stood up and said that he wants to outlaw conventions and then told us why. Instead, he couldn’t muster up the courage to do so, so he hid behind the military saying it is all about increasing participation. This attempt to prescribe to parties how to nominate their candidates failed miserably, not making it out of committee.
The session in which Sen. Wagner made his, let’s call it, stand for participation, just ended a few days ago. But a few days in politics is like a few decades, I guess.
Last night the same Sen. Wagner made a stand against increasing participation. Political expediency trumped his principles. Sen. Wagner wants to be 2nd District Chairman so very bad that he help slate the Virginia Beach delegation down to just 32 trustworthy voters out of the 900 who filed. In doing so, he decided that hundreds of Republicans, some of whom are veterans, were disqualified from participating simply because they would vote for not him. Who cares about what he actually said here. Slating here was done to win, no other reason. He can’t claim that his opponent was packing the delegation with people who were ineligible, or unsuited, or America hating Commi devil worshipers.
It is very easy to understand why slating is bad. When I right click on the word “slating” the synonyms that I can choose from are “attacking, panning, knocking, censuring, criticizing.” Are those some words we want to associate with voting? The numbers just don’t add up for Sen Wagner to argue he is consistent in his ideology. VA Beach could have sent hundreds of voters to the 2nd District convention. Sen. Wagner only wanted 32 people to be able to vote at the convention. That is not how you increase, that’s called decrease, and a lot of decrease at that.
State Senator Frank jelly-of-the-month Wagner has caused a stir. He did what it took to win so Al Davis might be happy. It will be interesting to see if Wagner’s power grab for an unpaid position in the party will cost him his paying job as a state senator next cycle. But that’s assuming that more than 32 people will get to vote.