One of the fun topics to discuss in Virginia Beach political circles is the question "How do we destroy what's left of the Virginia Beach Taxpayers Alliance (VBTA)?" The consensus is that the pivotal issue will be light rail (LRT); the question is exactly how?
One Councilman who is both pro-LRT and pro-referendum wants it on the ballot primarily as a means to finish off the VBTA. The logic is that a referendum win would be the political bullet through the heads of Robert Dean and John Moss.
I disagree with that strategy for a few reasons. First, you have to consider destroying the VBTA much more important than LRT. In fact, you're willing to risk LRT going down the tubes in order to take out Dean and Moss. Second, it ignores recent history: while Deaniacs have had some referenda success in the past 11 years, no Deaniac has won a City Council seat in the 21st Century. Third, for such a strategy to work, light rail would need to win in a landslide. The VBTA could actually gain from a close loss.
Personally, I would lay siege and grind them down. The VBTA should be clinically dead by 2013 if you play your cards smart.
2010 - the last opportunity for the VBTA to make even a half-assed stab for City Council seats. They radically overplay the LRT issue. Couple that with their habitual rhetoric on taxes and they'll sound hopelessly angry on the stump. VBTA Council candidates lose everywhere big.
2012- the Obama reelection ballot. That means a heavy minority turnout, and the VBTA has no traction in the minority communities. No VBTA Council candidate breaks out of single digits. It's over for them.
Back to LRT - in late 2013 or 2014 we have the FFGA Signing Ceremony. Reid Greenmun is the lone picketer outside. After all, the VBTA is clinically dead and has nothing to throw at a done deal.
WHY ARE THEY DOOMED?
Let me count the ways:
1. Extremist Agenda - they are so far to the fringe right that they couldn't find the mainstream with the Hubble telescope. Voters want realistic, constructive solutions. Not conspiracy theories.
2. No Resources - they have no money and few volunteers to throw into City Council campaigns. Last year they put virtually everything they had into trying to get John Moss elected Mayor, and couldn't even get 16% of the vote.
Winning Council seats under Virginia Beach's at-large electoral system requires a pile of money or an army of volunteers. The VBTA has neither and no realistic chance of getting them.
3. Frontbench - Reid Greenmun is the youngster - at age 59. By the time LRT goes operational, many will be in the retirement home or dead.
4. Demographics - the VBTA's only real appeal is among middle class White ultraconservatives. As they shrink as a proportion of Virginia Beach's population, there goes the VBTA's voter base.
Simply keep LRT off the ballot and grind them down. The VBTA will be destroyed with few casualties to sane forces and without risking much in the process.