Friday, September 25, 2009

73rd House District: O'Bannon v. Shields

The race in the 73rd House District is heating up. There has been some considerable interest in this particular race which pits incumbant Dr. John O'Bannon (R) versus challenger Tom Shields. Its a really interesting matchup because if you get the opportunity to speak with these two men you will find that they are very close on many of the issues. In fact, I would say that Shields in my view is the equivalent of a blue dog ( thats politico speak for Conservative Democrat).

As such, Shields is coming under fire from bloggers who understand the threat of his bid for Delegate. Some have resorted to the worst kind of association politics in an attempt to bring irrational debate and take focus away from the real issues at hand facing the Commonwealth.

The two men recently squared off in a rather civil debate at the University of Richmond as compared to many of the recent depictions of the various town halls going into September. If the viewer expected any fireworks they were most likely disappointed.

What did not come up and was quite surprising was the status of the Commonwealth's budget with regard to employee benefits, healthcare and retirement. Healthcare being such a large aspect of the current national debate could have easily been brought into the debate by the Shields camp regarding contributions and donations to Dr. O'Bannon by way of the healthcare and medical industry. This industry according to VPAP represent the biggest donor percentages of any segment to the O'Bannon campaign.

This race could boil over in the next few weeks. The O'Bannon camp must figure out why it is losing support in the City areas of the district while Bob McDonnell in the same canvass is rolling right along. If O'bannon is counting on the top of the ticket helping him out, his campaign may want to rethink that strategy. The groundgame being orchestrated by Tony Coppola and the Shields camp is becoming very effective.

It doesn't hurt that its Tom Shields himself out there knocking on those doors either.

In fact, recently a few bloggers have misrepresented the Shields support as coming from the likes of disgraced groups such as ACORN/SEIU when in fact the Shields camp has never been a recipient of any funds directed either by ACORN of any of its known arms. ACORN currently faces countless investigations and the attempt to link Shields to the organization is simply an attempt to mislead and malign the Shields campaign.

In fact, O'Bannon has secured more donations from organizations and business interests both in and out of the 73rd. Such donors include Medical Society of Virginia, Virginia Dental Assn, Virginia Ind. Insurance Agents, Hospital Corp of America, Virginia Asst Living, Southern Physicians as well as such Richmond mainstays as Ukrops, Goodwin, and Reynolds.

Healthcare related donors account for some 101,000 to the O'Bannon campaign. This makes since given the O'Bannon is of course a Doctor and a Director of Henrico Doctors Hospital. That said, its interesting given the current climate in the healthcare debate whether Shields can leverage the issue regarding exactly whom O'Bannon may be beholden to given these donors and the current state of healthcare. The bills in Congress will likely require State legislators to sign off on certain aspects of the plan with regard to participation.

Tony Copploa, campiagn manager for Tom Shields , has worked an excellant ground game in the 73rd and though Shields has been out-raised by the incumbant, virtually all of the donations Shields has received is FROM the 73rd and from individuals. The largest exception being the donation from the Democrat Caucus, which is seeing the potential in the candidacy of Shields while others in the area have little chance of defeating the incumbant Republican.

Shields recently was endorsed by the Virginia Education Assoc. which has elevated his campaign and local PTA's are enthusiastic about his candidacy.

If you want to understand exactly what kind of guy the 73rd could get in Shields, this says it best:

"We need to reach across the aisle and see what we can do to make the Commonwealth better, not two years from now, but 20"

You got that right. If citizens understood just what dire times lie down the road if the State does not fix its budget woes and have to fund the benefit situation of an ever increasing State employee pool they would get the very point Shields is making.

This race very well may boil down to whom exactly citizens feel the elected Delegate will look after most, them or the those that have contributed for influence. Voters and the Shields campiagn for that matter should examine exactly what the O'Bannon record is on heath related issues during his time in the House and balance that record with his campaigns contributions.


Anonymous said...

Shields has earned the support of the VEA andwill also be supported by parents of younger children currently in the school syste. O'Bannon opposed Gov. Kaine's efforts for pre-k funding to better prepare our children for their educational development. Mr. O'Bannon talking up his delivery of fuinds for Henrico County schools is a hollow political claim. His record on education is clear.Prject Vote Smart and the VEA gave O'Bannon a "0" rating.

Also on 04/19/06 O'bannon voted to reject an Amendment to decrease amount of contributions to a candidate without having to report the donation to the Board of Electiond from 1000 to 500 which later the State Senate adopted 38-0.

Anonymous said...

O'Bannon looks like Elmer Fudd on that stage Alter.

Will S. said...

I appreciate the follow-up you provided regarding the issues facing the 73rd.
The debate at UR was an interesting event. I just wish there had been more than the 75 to 100 people. There is certainly a level of apathy out there for local elections which is the biggest reason why we need a bit more transparency on these officials.

Listening to John O'Bannon it is no wonder he truly is beholden to the medical community. There have been some who seek to make a fine line distinction between the insurance and medical niches but in the end they are very tied together. You are not going to see O'Bannon support any measure that would impact the insurance companies because in the end it would then impact payouts by them to those that have endorsed O'Bannon with their wallets. Mnay such groups will hedge bets at the State level following the passge of any Congressional Healthcare bill hoping that the State's will protect the interests of the industry within the State.

O'Bannon I have been told does not support Bob McDonnell transportation program and potential for selling off the VABC. O'Bannon was silent on the recent closing of many rest areas along the interstate highway that impacted so many traveling Virginians this summer. O'Bannon's speciality is certainly nuerology and if we want a Delegate who can cater to the interest of the medical community than by all means the 73rd should re-elect O'Bannon, but these times require vision and leadership that thus far I fail to see the case having been made for O'Bannon thus far.

Loupassi after defeating Katherine Waddell may simply have just been getting his feet wet this term in the House. This term he should begin to shin or so thats the hope. There is not going to be a real challenge this cycle with Bill Grogan-(I) who always seems to be there running for the 67th House seat. Loupassi contributed to O'Bannon through his campaign as well and it does not look like he should have too much trouble winning re-election even in a lower turnout cycle. We will have to see if the outsider/independent strategy plays up this Fall at the local level. Lee Ware is also being challenge and it seems that race has the potential to be a bit more closer than people think. Ware will get the nod from Powhatan but in Midlothian his challenger is surging. This is an area that elected (I) Daniel Gecker Supervisor over incumbant (R)Sowder in 2007. Thanks for the time.

J. Williams said...

Per your advice J. I checked out VirginiaRight and it appears as though Mr. White is certainly engaging in quite a smear campaign against Shields.

Mr. White asserts that a $500 contribution from the unions, in this case SEIU, is somehow more egregous than the hundreds of thousands Dr. O'Bannon has received from the medical community.

Mr. White somehow sees this fact as independent of the insurance debate whenh in fact they are connected. Very connected. It is obvious Mr. White does not know how insurance or medical reimbursement works in the real world. It is interesting to see that O'Bannon received funds from the Virginia Nurses Assoc because the national arm has basically endorsed Obama's plan on healthcare.

Based on Mr. White's assertion and connection efforts to link Acorn with Shields (rather hilarious by the way) than can we not say that if O'Bannon took money from the VNA that because the national arm has endorsed Obamacare then O'Bannon endorses it.

How do we know exactly? What has O'Bannon done in the Assembly to make healthcare in the Commonwealth more accesible or affordable? I will tell you. Nothing. Being a medical professional or not, can anyone point to one bill proposed to do this by O'Bannon.

Is it not enough that O'Bannon does not support pre-k educational funding and yet says he helped deliver additional resources to Henrico for schools. Why is pre-k funding not worth the investment?

Is not our children's future and starting it off in the right manner with education not a "family value" agenda? O'Bannon says he is for such values and yet fails to deliver of his rhetoric time and time again.

The VEA has endorsed Shields and though that not a breaking story given the fact they tend to endorse mostly Dems, they know that Shields has it right on education and the future of our younger generation and O'Bannon has had it wrong.

Look at the endorsements. If you want the status quo in terms of business interests than O'Bannon is your guy. If you think there needs to be greater balance shared between business and citizens with regard to covering the costs of infrastructure demands than one ought not support O'Bannon.

Does O'Bannon support the notion Sen. John Watkins has proposed regarding "impact fees" over the implementation of cash proffers by the local government or does he and his wife who is a Supervisor in Henrico support the status quo where citizens put up more of the pot in tax revenue than the business community does?

O'bannon seesm to always come down on the side of business interests and leaves the average citizen out in the cold while hiding behind his low taxes mantra and yet in reality transportation continues to remain unfunded without any real solution in sight. Has O'Bannon come out in favor of the McDonnell transportation plan? Does he favor the control status of the VABC and will he support divesting the Lottery??? So many questions and no answers from O'Bannon it seems.

Alter of Freedom said...

JW- good points.

Dr. O'bannon's camp is on the defensive. There is some worry regarding the "mo" and light that Shields has gotten. I heard this morning there may be a positive piece or endorsement coming from the paper. I am skeptical though that the RTD would go the route of undermining O'Bannon.

I have made no secret that I firmly believe that O'Bannon will rally the GOP base in Henrico to get out to the polls and should win this contest. I do however find this Delegate the most interesting. Why?

because its more or less a referendum on conservativism. Sure Shields is on the Democrat ticket, but much of what he has laid out is virtually the position of many Virginia conservatives, blue dogs, and many moderate Republicans. Shields is hardly a "liberal" or "progressive", though afew bloggers have attempted to paint his "academia" as somehow meaning he is liberal. Facts escape these folks or more often than not they see things through the lense of red and blue and nothing else.

JW- your thoughts are always welcome.