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Archive for April, 2010

During the Tea Party rally about a week ago, the promoters were selling a number of political items: Tea (or Tee) shirts, bumper stickers, Gadsden flags, and the like.  As a casual poker player, one particular novelty that caught my eye was a deck of playing cards called “America’s Most Wanted”.  Similar to the most wanted cards printed during the Iraqi invasion, this deck contains pictures of a number of politicians, though U.S. not Iraqi.  The two ties, which bind this assortment of fifty-four leaders together, are their support for big government policies and the fact that they are up for re-election in the 2010 election cycle.  Of course you can find the usual suspects, Speaker Nancy Pelosi as a Joker, Rep. Barney Frank as the Queen of Hearts, Senator Chuck Schumer as the King of Spades, but what caught my eye was the Aces of Spades.  It may surprise you to know that the deck includes a handful of Republicans.  As they put it, “Republicans and Democrats alike, who have betrayed the American traditions of individual liberty & personal responsibility by voting for or supporting these four issues [TARP, the Stimulus Bill, socialized healthcare and Cap and Trade] are represented.  As a result, for the twin acts of supporting TARP and Cap & Trade, on that Ace, we find none other than Arizona Senator and 2008 Republican Presidential nominee, John McCain.

Now I’ve outlined my objections to John McCain during the 2008 Presidential cycle, so I won’t rehash them here.  Nevertheless, I believe it is healthy for political activists to question the positions of any political candidate regardless of party affiliation and so I’m glad to see the Tea Party take another stand for principle.  It is my hope that the Tea Party movement will serve as the catalyst to push both the Republican and the Democratic Party toward greater constitutional conservatism.  Only then will we be able to begin to restore the Republic.

If you want your own set of cards, you can find them at the Shenandoah Valley Tea Party Patriots website.

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Note:  News courtesy of Senator Mark Obenshain and hburgnews.com.

A little while ago, Tony Wilt was declared the winner of the Republican nomination for the 26th district House of Delegates.  Although the official vote totals will not be released to the public for the sake of party unity, in total, 1597 votes were cast.  Being a numbers kind of guy, I would be greatly interested in seeing the percentages, especially how they differed in the city and the county, but I can appreciate the desire to end any potential divisiveness.

With this win, Mr. Wilt will face the Democratic nominee, Harrisonburg Mayor Kai Degner, in the June 15 special election.  With less than two months to go, I’m sure both candidates will be campaigning hard in order to claim the open seat.

So congratulations Mr. Wilt.  I expect many great and conservative things of you.  I also want to say congrats to both Mr. Elledge and Mr. Byrd.  Although I’ve never been a candidate myself, I know full well that campaigning is not an easy task.  It requires a will and a resolve that only a select few can muster.

I’ll post more news as it becomes available.

And on to June we go!

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Can you believe that the day has arrived so quickly?  Tomorrow, we will be selecting the nominee for the Republican Party here in the 26th district.  When I got home from work tonight, my inbox was stuffed with emails from the three candidates (The count stands at ten from 12:30 to 10:40 PM).  Believe it or not, I’m still undecided.  I haven’t had sufficient time to study the candidates and I still think the process was rushed.  Nevertheless, I’ll continue to read about them this evening and tomorrow morning so hopefully when 4:00 PM comes, I’ll be able to make an informed decision.

I plan to support whichever candidate I believe is the most conservative in the three key areas:  socially, fiscally, and constitutionally.  Of course I want a delegate who shares our valley values, but, in addition, I want a leader who will boldly patron conservative legislation.  So then, who is the best candidate?  To help with our decision, I’d like to share with you the responses the three candidates gave to the Shenandoah Valley Tea Party.

SPECIAL EDITION–CANDIDATES FOR 26th House of Delegates District Answer Tea Party Questions

1. John Elledge

2. Tony Wilt

3. Ted Byrd

Please scroll down to read all answers.    Information Only.  The SVTPP Does Not Make Endorsements.

John Elledge Answers SVTPP Nine Questions


1. Please provide a short essay that introduces you and your background?
I am John Elledge and I am running to represent the 26th House District in the Virginia General Assembly.  Delegate Matt Lohr, re-elected this past November, will be vacating his position, leaving the seat open less than halfway through the term.  I am determined to fill his position because the citizens of the 26th District need a Delegate who can hit the ground running.  I know that I am the right man for the job.

I know the institution of the Virginia General Assembly because I worked ten years as a Legislative Assistant to former Delegate Glenn Weatherholtz.  I am the only candidate who knows the procedures and processes of the legislature.  I have drafted bills, monitored them, and developed a strategy to pass important legislation over those ten years.  I am aware of the ins and outs of the committee structure, and the tricks and setbacks that legislators face.  I know the players in Richmond and in the District, and I know the mysteries of the budgeting process.

My political values were developed under the guidance of Delegate Weatherholtz, who had a distaste for politics as usual.  He served 24 years as Rockingham County Sheriff.  During those years and during his service in the General Assembly, he made it a point of genuine pride to never spend his entire budget.  He was also a tough man who knew his own mind and did not give in easily to the pressures of the insiders in the political class.  It is my goal to emulate Glenn Weatherholtz in all these ways.

2. Please describe the three most important achievements that you would like to accomplish for the citizens of the 26th District?
I will consider it an achievement every time I successfully work for the failure of government-expanding legislation proposed by a Democrat or a Republican.

I will consider it an achievement if I can make a dent in the status of the 26th District as a net exporter of resources.  I want to bring our fair share back home to be spent in our communities, not in the district of those who cater to expansive local governments in their districts.  I will work to fund core services of Education, Public Safety and Transportation, to relieve upward pressure on our local tax system.

I will proudly limit the amount of legislation I introduce each session.  Not every idea needs to become law.  What legislation I do introduce will have a priority of reducing the size of government.

3.  If elected, will you hold frequent town hall meetings and tele-town hall meetings for the 26th District citizens?
Yes, I will employ the latest technology to stay in touch with my constituents, to be as responsive and accessible as possible.

4. What are your three top concerns for the Commonwealth of Virginia?
That we eliminate services that are not the core role of government.

That we resist the intrusion of the federal government into the province of the government of the Commonwealth, and that we demand that the federal government lives up to its obligations to all the citizens, like protecting our borders, and spend on core infrastructure like Interstate highways, rather than expansive social programs.

That we fund core services in a focused and efficient manner: Education, Public Safety, and Transportation.

5. Is the size of Virginia government and the Virginia 2010-2012 Budget: adequate, too large, or too small?
It is too large.  Much of what makes it too large is the result of the imposition of unfunded mandates, like Medicaid and spending.  The current budget takes the Commonwealth back to the 2006 spending level, which were prosperous economic times.  We must prevent the budget from swelling back to its size before the recession.  We also need to see that a significant portion of revenue growth from the recovery goes to a Rainy Day Fund, and to repaying the frequently-raided Transportation fund.

6. Will you sign a “no-new taxes” pledge?
Yes.

7. What are your three top concerns at the Federal level?
Runaway spending
The imposition of mandates on states, especially unfunded mandates.
The Federal government’s failure/refusal to seal our borders.

8. Do you vigorously support Virginia 10th Amendment legislation such as, H.B. 10 (Virginia Health Care Freedom Act) and H.B. 69 (Virginia Firearms Freedom Act)?
I absolutely support both these legislative efforts, and further support sound legal challenges to the Federal government’s imposition of its healthcare rules and firearms regulations on Virginians, recognizing that success in these challenges will probably require the Supreme Court’s reversal of bad precedent in terms of its Commerce Clause jurisprudence (Wickard vs, Filbrum) and the extension of its good decision in U.S. vs. Lopez, which found the Gun-Free School Zones Act unconstitutional as an application of the Commerce Clause.

9. If you believe that Virginia must cut spending in state government, what spending category would you cut first?
This goes hand-in-hand with my views on question # 8.  The primary and fastest growing segment of the budget causing the explosion in spending has to do with unfunded mandates, especially Medicaid spending.  A forceful resistance to these impositions with the efforts of strong organizers and activists like the Tea Party groups working to change the makeup of Congress could do wonders to reduce this forced area of state spending.

Apart from that, I am generally supportive of Governor McDonnell’s approach to the planned cuts he offered before the General Assembly.

Tony Wilt Answers SVTPP Nine Questions

1. Please provide a short essay that introduces you and your platform?

My name is Tony Wilt and I’m vying for the Republican nomination to run for the 26th District House of Delegates seat.  I’ve never run for public office.  However, I’m excited about the prospect of representing the people of the 26th District.  Vickie and I have been married for 25 years and have a grown daughter and son.

I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman.  I am pro-life.  I believe the 2nd Amendment gives each qualifying citizen the right to keep and bear arms.  I was born, raised, and lived in the 26th District all my life, except for two brief times in California and North Carolina, while my dad served in the U.S. M.C.  I urge you to seek out those who know me.  My actions will speak out louder and truer than my words.  I trust that you will find that my actions and words are one in the same.

I’ve worked at Superior Concrete, Inc. for 30 years and am the President/General Manager.  I stand firm against any new taxes, regulations, mandates, and entitlements, and will fight to lessen or repeal current ones.  I believe in limited government intrusion in every aspect of our lives.  But along with that, I demand personal responsibility.

2. Please describe the three most important achievements that you would like to accomplish for the citizens of the 26th District?

Greater freedom of government intrusion in our lives.

Re-evaluate the state budget for what is supported, and for how much.

Secure alternative sources of revenue, instead of raising taxes on hard-working Virginians.

3. If elected, will you hold frequent town hall meetings and tele-town hall meetings for the 26th District citizens?

Yes.

4. What are your three top concerns for the Commonwealth of Virginia?

Out of control Federal government.

Efficiency of state and local governments.

Stagnant economy.

5. Is the size of Virginia government and the Virginia 2010-2012 Budget: adequate, too large, or too small?

Too large.

6. Will you sign a “no-new taxes” pledge?

Yes.    (This candidate submitted a signed and witnessed Taxpayer Protection Pledge with Americans for Tax Reform, that pledges he will oppose and vote against any and all efforts to increase taxes.)

7. What are your three top concerns at the Federal level?

Disregard for the Constitution.

Ignoring national security and sovereignty.

Mandates passed on states and locales.

8. Do you vigorously support Virginia 10th Amendment Legislation such as H.B. 10 (Virginia Health Care Freedom Act) and H.B. 69 (Virginia Firearms Freedom Act)?

Yes.

9. If you believe that Virginia must cut spending in state government, what spending category would you cut first?

This is a tough one, I believe two-fold.  Every agency must strive for efficiency, but I don’t know if that will do the trick.  We must prioritize just what the government should be involved in, and cut the rest.  That definitely means operations within each agency, but maybe the agency itself.
Ted Byrd Answers SVTPP Nine Questions
1. Please provide a short essay that introduces you and your platform?
I am running for the Republican nomination for the 26th District of the House of Delegates, because I believe my experiences in Agriculture, Economic Development, Business, Transportation, and Local Government enable me to have a balanced perspective and will represent our community’s interest in Richmond.  I am committed to listen carefully to constituents and make decisions that will best address our local and state concerns.

2. Please describe the three most important achievements that you would like to accomplish for the citizens of the 26th District?
I would be a Champion of our local Family Farmers.
I would work hard to ensure we have a business climate that encourages the creation of jobs.
I would continue to strive for fair funding for our local schools to enable children to compete for future jobs.

3. If elected, will you hold frequent town hall meetings and tele-town hall meetings for the 26th District citizens?
Yes.

4. What are your three top concerns for the Commonwealth of Virginia?
We need to return to prioritizing state funding for our core services which are: public safety, education, and maintaining our road infrastructure.

5. Is the size of Virginia government and the Virginia 2010-2012 Budget: adequate, too large, or too small?
It is still too large.

6. Will you sign a “no-new taxes” pledge?
Yes.

7. What are your three top concerns at the Federal level?
National Debt.
National Security.
The massive size of the Federal government and its reach into each of our lives.

8. Do you vigorously support Virginia 10th Amendment Legislation such as H.B. 10 (Virginia Health Care Freedom Act) and H.B. 69 (Virginia Firearms Freedom Act)?
I do support the state of Virginia Federal lawsuit to uphold Virginia’s Health Care Freedom Act and await the ruling from the federal court.  I was unable to get information on H.B. 69.*

* Newsletter Editor’s note:  While H.B. 10 passed in the recent legislative session, H.B. 69 was sent to an unfavorable committee where the legislation died for this session.

9. If you believe that Virginia must cut spending in state government, what spending category would you cut first?
Non-core services.  Through the years there has been pork or special interest funding inserted into the state budget and that would be the first place I would look to make cuts.

For some more information, I’d recommend that you read a recent article provided by hburgnews.com.

Remember that polls will only be open from 4 to 8 PM tomorrow.  If you are in the city, you vote at Keister Elementary, 100 Maryland Avenue.  If you are in the county, you vote at Lacey Spring Elementary School, 8621 North Valley Pike.

Be an informed voter!

Update: Assuming you lived in the 26th District (which of course many of you do not), based upon the above information which of the candidates would you support and why?  Please feel free to comment.

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I’m pleased to announce that the Tea Party gathering in downtown Harrisonburg on Tax Day went quite well.  Coming on the back of the recent JMU riot, I suppose some folks feared the worst from a political gathering like this one.  (If you missed hearing about the JMU fiasco, head on over to hburgnews for the story.)  Despite some liberals’ misgivings, the only message was principled politics, not personal hatred.  Unlike events elsewhere, there were no signs threatening violence and no signs calling for Obama’s head.  All they asked was for limited government and liberty.  Although sometimes people from other parts of the state and country malign citizens of the Shenandoah Valley as backwards and rednecks, I’m pleased to say that we have enough decency and common sense to act in a dignified manner.  (To return to that JMU matter, you should know that most of the people charged with felonies and misdemeanors were neither JMU students nor Valley residents.)

Along with the Shenandoah Valley Tea Party members, were former Senator George Allen, former RPV chairwoman Kate Obenshain, Americans for Prosperity’s Ben Marchi, and Senator Mark Obenshain.  They all gave impassioned speeches in favor of our shared principles.  I don’t know how many hundreds of people were gathered on the courthouse grounds yesterday, but you can use my pictures to get a rough estimation.  Fortunately, the day was blessed with perfect weather.

I cannot tell you how inspiring it is to see so many of my fellow citizens getting involved.  But, simply showing up for an event is the easy part.  We must stay active in politics and constantly promote our principles whether it is through the local tea party, the Republican committee, or some other means.  A word of warning, however, is that we cannot and must not be complacent, marginalized, co-opted, or taken for granted.  Then, and only then, can we create the real change we need in our city, our state, and in our country.

Thank you Shenandoah Valley Tea Party.  Y’all enjoy the photos!

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Well, today is April 15, the dreaded tax day.  I just finished up and e-filed my returns.  Man, when you have to pay even more into the system, it is really tough.  Unfortunately, I just don’t simply have hundreds or thousands of dollars simply lying around, just waiting for me to hand them over to the federal and state government.  My non-discretionary spending these last couple of months has been practically nonexistent!  But enough on Tax Day…I’ll save that for the article about today’s Tea Party event downtown.

The wait is over; The Harrisonburg Times is now online.  Sure, I still have a lot of unanswered questions.  Will it bleed liberalism?  Will a conservative like me have a welcome place?  Only time will tell.  I encourage you to trot on over to the Harrisonburg Times’ website to check it out.   As you know, on The Virginia Conservative, I freely share my ideology.  For my first submission for the Times, I chose a bit of neutral ground, calling for a shred of civility in the political debate.  Although I encourage you to browse the site to get a better feel for it, you can find my post, “The Need for Political Dialogue” here.  As for the article itself, I like the picture the mayor selected, showing an elephant and donkey butting heads.

Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the whole Republican vs. Democrat, liberal vs. conservative thing that we fail to realize that our ideological counterweights have as much of a right to an opinion as we ourselves do.  Politics shouldn’t always be about us against them.  So many talking heads on both the left and the right spend most of their time vilifying and belittling the other side that neither can legitimately offer any sort of rational political discourse.  Well, does that failing mean we should just give up our beliefs?  Should I stop being a conservative?  Absolutely not!  After writing the Times article, I remembered an event from my college days when I met a now good friend for the first time.  As is typical with my discussions, the conversation eventually turned to politics.  Do you know what I said to him as soon as I learned that he was a liberal?  “Please don’t hate me for being a conservative!”  It’s true.  Can you imagine?  Unfortunately, especially in political circles, we learn at an early age to hate those who are different, those with whom we disagree.  As a result, many of us become timid, afraid to speak out or take sides for fear of condemnation.  I learned that lesson the hard way from a few liberals, but I assure you that I know a handful of conservatives who act the very same way!  Sadly, that hard truth echoes in our government today.  Those with power subdue those without.  Speeches are just for show.  There is no dialogue, no free exchange of ideas, just calculated vote tallies and predetermined outcomes.  Is this conclusion the desired end result of the great American experiment…to live in a society where political questioning is an outdated relic of the “old days”?  Do we now toil in the age of dictatorship of the majority?  Is there no recourse?

Yes, my friends, there is a solution.  We need political dialogue in the home, in the school, in the workplace, in the media, in the church, in the political parties, and especially on the ever-expanding Internet.  Be a conservative (ideally), be a libertarian, or heck, and even be a liberal or an authoritarian if you must.  Just get informed and remember always to be polite, especially with those who hold an opinion different than your own.  Your enemies may mock your beliefs and, if that fails, they may try to tear you down personally, but stand firm.  You have as much a right to your opinion as they to theirs.  Whatever you do, don’t allow yourself to be threatened into silence or to resort to their bullying tactics.  By doing so, not only do you and your cause become weaker, but society suffers too.  Personally, I may strongly disagree with you and offer my own opinions, but as long as you are knowledgeable and courteous, I will respect you.  The great questions of the day should not be decided by blood and iron or through fear, ignorance, or intimidation, but rather as a result of well-reasoned discussion and a respect for the law and humanity.  Hold on just a minute…am I in the wrong business?

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If you will recall, back about a year ago, I wrote about creating/restarting the Young Republicans in Harrisonburg.  Well, after a couple of false starts and a snow delay, I’m pleased to announce our first meeting this Saturday, April 17.  It will begin at 6:00 PM at Hams Restaurant (221 University Boulevard in Harrisonburg).  So if you are between the ages of 18 to 40, a conservative, a lover of liberty, a fan of limited government, and live in the cities of Harrisonburg, Staunton, Waynesboro, or the counties of Rockingham, Augusta, Shenandoah, Page, or Greene, you have to join us.   Heck, even if you live in the People’s Republic of Charlottesville, Albemarle County, or someplace else nearby, you are welcome too.  According to facebook, we’ve got 20 people confirmed so far, so don’t be left out!

So to recap:
What: Harrisonburg/Central Shenandoah Valley Young Republican Meeting
Where: Hams Restaurant 221 University Boulevard in Harrisonburg
When: 6 PM – 7 PM Saturday, April 17

See you on Saturday!

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Good evening.

Thanks to all readers for bearing with me.

Recently some members of the local tea party have become involved with the local Republican Party. Personally, I welcome their involvement. So many of their ideals mirror my own and the stated goals of the Virginia Republican Party that their addition seems like a natural fit. As stated on the tea party website, they support: “fiscal responsibility, Constitutionally-limited government, and adherence to free-market principles”. Don’t they sound like my kind of people? With their help, I hope we will compel our representatives and leaders to faithfully uphold our supposedly shared principles.

Unfortunately, their arrival heralded a bit of mistrust and confusion. Rumor spread that tea party members sought to take over the Rockingham County Republican Party. I was baffled. I don’t understand how anyone could honestly accuse David Huffman and the Rockingham County GOP of not advocating constitutional conservatism. After all, I believe that the Shenandoah Valley represents the true heart and soul of conservatism in both the state and the nation. Thankfully, the potentially problematic crisis turned out to be only a misunderstanding and miscommunication and was therefore quickly defused. I hope that more tea partiers will follow the example of the handful of members who attended our First Friday. In addition, traditionally conservative Republicans should follow Scott Sayre’s example and welcome these new allies with open arms.

And so I offer a hardy welcome to the tea party members. I respect your principled stand. I hope that the GOP and the tea party movement can work hand in hand. Together we can and must reform local, state, and federal government before they continue to grow into a nanny state, an unconstitutional sprawling leviathan.

With that being said, I want to alert you that the Shenandoah Valley Tea Party is holding two similar events on April 15 from 5:30 to 7:30. One is at the Gypsy Hill Park in Staunton while the other is at Court Square in Harrisonburg. Both events feature former RPV Chairwoman Kate Obenshain, Americans for Prosperity Virginia chapter’s Ben Marchi, and former Governor and Senator George Allen. I strongly encourage you to attend. Assuming that I’m not working, you should find me downtown on Thursday evening.

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A Special Request

Good evening fellow lovers of liberty.

Assuming you celebrate it, I hope your remembrance of the resurrection was joyous. Mine was filled with good food, good family, and a good sermon. Switching to a different topic, tonight I am wrestling over what may very well be my most important decision to date. Therefore, though it may sound odd, I have a special request of you.

Please pray for me.

Thanks for reading.

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Well, it has been decided.  On Wednesday evening, representatives from both Harrisonburg City and Rockingham County got together to determine the method for selecting the Republican nominee to replace the newly promoted Matt Lohr.  Their decision is to hold a firehouse primary.  But what is a firehouse primary you may ask.  Unlike traditional primaries where polling places are open during regular polling times, a firehouse primary is more restrictive…in this case, a lot more restrictive.  There will be one and only one voting location for the entire 26th district.

Here, let me quickly go through all the details.  After the meeting on March 31, party leaders decided to close the filing deadline on April 10.  Ten days later, April 20, the primary will take place at Lacey Spring Elementary School for 4 PM to 8 PM.

Personally, I have a lot of reservations about the process and timetable selected.  First of all, I believe the timeframe is way too short.  Currently there are two declared candidates in the race, Tony Wilt and John Elledge.  Unfortunately, I still don’t really know too much about the political positions of either.  Besides an email from one and a Facebook group from the other, I haven’t gotten any additional information.  The voters need time to learn about the candidates and 20 days (now we are down to 18) is far too short a window.  Second, although the 26th district is not a large district geographically, I think we should have more than one polling place.  At least give us one in the city and one in the county.  Third, given that the polling place is only open for four hours on a weekday, it is likely that I will have to take time off from work in order to cast my vote.  Fourth, no candidate will be able to create an effective campaign team or campaign message in so short a time, so he or she will have no idea whether or not these strategies will be successful in the general election.  As mentioned earlier, this district trends very heavily toward the GOP, so I still suspect that whoever wins the nomination will win the election; nevertheless, will we have enough time to discover the best candidate and campaign?

Now there are arguments in favor of the process they have selected.  Namely, greatly restricting the time and place of voting along with a very narrow campaigning window will ensure that only the truly dedicated will come out and vote.  The possibility of Democrats and Independents coming out to vote will be very low and only the very committed Republican activists will show up.

Given the rushed nature of the process, I therefore predict that voter turnout will be at an all-time low.  This race will be determined by just a handful of voters.  The question becomes, who can get more of their people to the poll on April 20?  I guess we will have to wait and see.

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