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Conservatives Step up Pressure to Oust Howell

Tim Craig

Joseph Blackburn, a conservative who narrowly lost his challenge to Sen. Walter A. Stosch (R-Henrico) in this year's Republican primary, has stepped into the debate over whether House Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford) should replaced.

On Sunday, the House Republican caucus will meet to decide Howell's fate. Several conservative Republicans, including Del. Robert G. Marshall (R-Prince William), are trying to unseat Howell because they blame him for straying from his party's core conservative principles, which they say cost the GOP support in recent elections.

Blackburn, whose been mentioned a possible candidate for House in 2009, has sent a letter to Del. John M. O'Bannon III (R-Henrico) calling on him to join the effort to unseat Howell.

You can read Blackburn's letter below.

Dear John:

Three years ago, I expressed to you my disappointment that you "took a walk" from a committee vote that enabled the biggest tax increase in Virginia's history to get out of committee. You told me then that the Speaker felt the issue was important enough to justify a floor vote but that he had the votes to defeat it. A few days later, the House of Delegates passed the biggest tax increase in Virginia's history, and a Democratic Governor, who had campaigned on a promise not to raise taxes, signed it into law. As a result, he received national attention and is now the front runner for the U.S. Senate.

This weekend you will be meeting with fellow Republican Delegates to elect leaders of the Republican Caucus. The events of three years ago show that the current Speaker either had a secret deal with Chicester and other members of the Gang of Five in the Senate or that he simply could not count votes. In either case, it shows that he was and is a very poor leader.

Events since that tax increase vote also demonstrate a lack of leadership in our party. My wife tells me that while working the polls with you on election day, you were attempting to defend the indefensible, that being HB-3202. Not only is that bill seriously flawed from a Constitutional standpoint, it is obviously a disaster politically. The leadership of the Senate and House crafted it in an effort to maintain a majority in both chambers, not to promote good government. Not only did the Republican party lose the Senate, it continues its downward spiral in the House. If the trend continues, maintaining the current leadership will result in the loss of control of the House in two years.

Republicans are disgusted with our party leaders straying from its principles, and their disgust is shown by the election results. We need new leadership in our party, and as my Delegate, I hope you will lead an effort this weekend to promote a change in leadership in the House Republican Caucus. Please don't "take a walk" again.

Sincerely yours,
Joe Blackburn

By Tim Craig  |  November 16, 2007; 12:36 PM ET
Categories:  Abusive Driver Fees , Election 2007 , Election 2009 , General Assembly 2008 , Mark Warner , Tim Craig , Transportation  
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