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Posts Tagged ‘2012 election’

Council Candidates Christine Johnson, Roger Baker, Anthony Bailey, and Richard Baugh

Last month, the Harrisonburg chapter of the Shenandoah Valley Tea Party played host to four of the eight candidates seeking election to the Harrisonburg City Council.  Last night, the remaining four candidates took the stage to offer their ideas and plans for the city.

These candidates were: Christine Johnson, a local business owner and a Republican, Roger Baker, the former city manager and an independent, Anthony Bailey, the local assistant commonwealth attorney and a Republican, and Richard Baugh, the current Harrisonburg mayor, an attorney, and a Democrat.  Although not on stage, Abe Shearer was present as well.  As was the case with last month’s meeting, the audience attendance was a good bit smaller than expected.

Each candidate was allotted a ten-minute window to speak followed by a question and answer period.  Although hoping to offer his thoughts due to his early departure last month, Abe Shearer was not allowed to comment on the issues raised.

Like last month, I took this opportunity to present the same question regarding the city owned golf course.  Johnson, Baker, and Bailey each seemed to support the idea of the course, although admitted that it could have been run more efficiently.  Mayor Baugh did not have a chance to reply due to time constraints.  After the meeting, Abe Shearer mentioned that, despite the financial failings of the course, the council ought to strongly consider whether it is the proper role of government to operate the course.  Given his comments, I believe that if he were on the council when the decision was made, he would have opposed the idea of a city golf course.

After the question and answer period, I took the microphone to remind everyone to vote on November 6th and encouraged them to learn about all of the candidates running prior to the election so that they will make an informed decision.  After all, that concept was one of the key reasons why I pushed for and helped organized these two forums with the city council candidates.  I wanted tea party members to get to know the candidates so that they could gauge each based upon his or her principles and not merely rely on party labels.

Next, the leader of the tea party took the stage to remind everyone that the tea party does not endorse candidates.  However, in what came as a bit of a shock, she then proceeded to more or less remind everyone to vote for George Allen for Senate.  In addition, she recommended that attendees should not “throw their vote away” by voting for either Virgil Goode or Gary Johnson for president given that neither of these two candidates will be listed on the ballot of every state.

The meeting concluded with a reading of Angie Williams’ Vote Your Conscience, which reminds the listener to “put partisan politics completely aside, and let your conscience be your guide.”

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Council Candidates Deb Fitzgerald, Abe Shearer, Rodney Eagle, and Kai Degner

On Thursday of last week, four of the eight candidates vying for a seat on the Harrisonburg City Council spoke to a gathering of the Harrisonburg branch of the Shenandoah Valley Tea Party.  In November, city residents will select three members for the five-member council.

The speakers consisted of Kai Degner, a Democrat and current member of Council, Rodney Eagle, a Republican and former member of Council, Deb Fitzgerald, a Democrat and wife of a former Council member, and Abe Shearer, an Independent with no apparent political ties to Harrisonburg’s governing body.  Christine Johnson, a Republican candidate, watched as a member of the audience.  The meeting was sparsely attended with about 25 people there of whom less than half were self identified city voters.  Both WHSV and the Daily News Record had a reporter in attendance.

Each was allotted a ten-minute speaking slot to provide for an introduction and to outline a few thoughts regarding their future plans for Harrisonburg.  They spoke in alphabetical order by last name with Degner first and Shearer rounding out the pack.

Prior to the question and answer period, Mr. Shearer left the meeting explaining that he was late for a meeting at his church. However, he promised the crowd that he would return for the question and answer period for the October meeting.  The questions from the audience that followed demonstrated a general misunderstanding of the power of the city government.  As Mr. Degner pointed out, Virginia is a Dillon rule state, which means that local governments only have power over matters granted to them by the state government.  Or, to put it another way, the Harrisonburg government has only “those powers that are specifically conferred on them by the Virginia General Assembly…those powers that are necessarily or fairly implied from a specific grant of authority… (or) those powers that are essential to the purposes of government — not simply convenient but indispensable“.

Following upon a line from Mrs. Fitzgerald’s speech regarding the proper role of government, I asked if each of the candidates thought the concept of the city operating a golf course fell within the proper role of city government.  Although a decade old issue, the golf course was and remains a sore spot with many city residents.  The idea was fairly unpopular when first implemented and three of the council members that supported the plan were all voted out of office in the following election.  Three “change” candidates who opposed the course won but continued with the plan anyway and were subsequently voted out four years later.  Since that time, the golf course has hemorrhaged money, running a deficit every year it has been in operation.  Mrs. Fitzgerald offered the “phone book test” for any city project stating that the city should not be in any business that is offered by the private sector and is found in the phone book.  Mr. Eagle, who was part of the Council who approved the golf course a decade ago defended the decision stating that at the time the city did not have a privately run golf course and that the course provides valuable programs to some of the younger residents of the city.  Mr. Degner did not get an opportunity to answer the question on stage, but stated later that as the golf course is a city venture, it should be run as efficiently as possible and that the government has taken steps which have reduced the yearly deficit of the course.

Overall, I was a bit disappointed by both the smaller-than-expected turnout and by some of the less-than-helpful questions and comments.  I both lobbied for and helped organize this forum for the Harrisonburg City Council in the hopes of spreading awareness of all eight of the candidates running for office.  After all, although not as glamourous as the high profile races, voters in the city will have far more impact in the race for Harrisonburg City Council than President, Senate, or House of Representatives given the much smaller number of votes cast in that election.  Therefore, it is the civic duty of each city voter to learn about his or her choices so that each can make an informed decision on Election Day.

I’m hoping next month’s meeting will see both a surge in attendance as well as an improvement in the questions asked when the tea party plays host to the remaining four candidates, but we’ll see what happens.

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Earlier today, President Barack Obama visited downtown Charlottesville, Virginia as he continues his campaign for re-election.  In 2008, Charlottesville proved to be one of Obama’s most favorable cities in Virginia, as he garnered 78.35% of the vote.

Prior to Obama’s speech, the Jefferson Area Tea Party and Americans for Prosperity held an “Oust Obama” rally at Lee Park, which began at noon, three or four blocks from the Pavilion where Obama’s event was slated to be later in the day.  Featured speakers at this meeting included: former Republican Party of Virginia Chairperson Kate Obenshain, Delegate Rob Bell of Albemarle County, and E.W. Jackson, a former Republican candidate for U.S. Senate.  The crowd at this event was estimated to be approximately 160 people, most came from either Charlottesville or the surrounding Albemarle County, but there was also a sizable contingent from Augusta County, Staunton, and Waynesboro as well.

Attendance to Barack Obama’s speech was far more tightly regulated that the relatively informal tea party event.  Each person had to have a ticket, which meant filling out a form that requested a name, address, phone number, and email address.  Once the gates opened at 1:00 PM, the line quickly grew to stretch from one end of the downtown mall to the other, a distance of about a half a mile.  As warned, the attendees had to path through “airport style security” which included emptying pockets and passing through a metal detector.  Fortunately, neither full body scans nor removing shoes was required.  However, as no outside beverages were allowed, many people simply threw their trash on the ground as opposed to finding a proper trashcan.

Although it was difficult to gauge a specific number, attendance had to have been in the thousands.  People were packed as tightly as sardines within.  A vast majority of the area was standing room only; ticket holders gathered both inside the structure and on the grassy slopes around.

After a bit of live music and some brief introductions from some of the local Obama field staff, the politicians spoke.  First up was Tom Perriello, the former member of the House of Representatives for the Charlottesville area until he lost his re-election bid in 2010.  Next was former Virginia Governor Tim Kaine who is looking to claim a seat in the U.S. Senate in November.  He made a handful of jabs against George Allen, his Republican opponent.

Around 3:30 PM or so, Barack Obama took the stage for about a half an hour.  He spent quite a bit of time reminding folks of the November election, as well as his accomplishments and plans for the future.  He spoke on an abundance of topics that would please the mostly liberal audience such as: Obamacare, his support for abortion, and his desire to increase fuel efficiency of automobiles.  One surprise, however, had to be his call to begin the complete withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan beginning in about a month’s time.

Although it was not difficult to leave the downtown area via car, the Charlottesville police did close off traffic in or out of Route 29, one of the busiest arteries of the city, for over an hour until the presidential motorcade had passed by.  One does have to wonder how many thousands of citizens had their schedules disrupted by this unexpected delay.

Even though WSLS 10 reports that enthusiasm for Barack Obama has waned from its high water mark four years ago, today’s event in the liberal bastion of Charlottesville showed that there are still a vast number of people in Virginia who are willing to wait for hours on a fairly hot summer day and in a packed crowd to hear him speak.

Statistics show that Virginia will be one of the most important battlegrounds in the November 6th race for the President.  Whether Barack Obama carries the Old Dominion, as he did four years ago, remains to be seen.  However, as we draw nearer to the election, Virginians should expect more visits from Obama and Mitt Romney as well as counterbalancing gatherings of their detractors.

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Besides the three federal positions that Virginians will elect in November, citizens of Harrisonburg, Virginia will also choose members to serve on city council.  This year, three of the council’s five seats are up for grabs.

There are eight candidates vying for these positions.  The three Democratic candidates are: two current council members Richard Baugh, who also serves as the current Mayor of Harrisonburg, and Kai Degner, a realtor, as well as Deb Fitzgerald, an associate professor of economics at Blue Ridge Community College.  The three Republican candidates are: Christine Johnson, the owner of the University Outpost Bookstore, Anthony Bailey, the Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney, and Rodney Eagle, owner of Eagle Carpet and former Harrisonburg Mayor.  The two independents are: Abe Shearer, a math teacher at Skyline Middle School, and Roger Baker, the former City Manager of Harrisonburg.

Now, unlike most federal or state elections in the Shenandoah Valley, city council seats are not a virtual lock for any particular political party or individual.  For example, on November 4th, 2008, the three Democratic candidates swept all of the seats besting three Republicans and two independents including both Rodney Eagle and Roger Baker.  One should note that Barack Obama also won the city that day.   In 2010, the next time seats were available; there were six candidates running, two Republicans, two Democrats, and two independents.  In that election, one Republican and one independent emerged victorious.

However, as was the case in 2008, I would expect the outcome of the city council race to hinge heavily upon the up-ticket races, especially the presidential.  Left untouched, there will be a large number of voters who will be heading to the polls solely to vote for or against Barack Obama.  I assume that they will know little, if anything, of the council candidates and will end up voting for all of the Democratic candidates if they support Obama or for all of the Republican candidates if they oppose him.

As a result, I would argue that the two party candidates enjoy a significant advantage, but also a distinct disadvantage, when it comes to their independent opponents.  If their presidential candidate does well, then that result should bolster their chances of victory.  Conversely, if their candidate does poorly in the city, then it will make their success all the more difficult.

At this point, any of the candidates should have a reasonable chance of being elected.  But a strong campaign is a critical element that ought not be neglected.  Should a candidate surround him or herself with competent advisors, have a strong organization for fundraising, a base of volunteers loyal to the candidate, and a coordinated plan for voter contact and organization, he or she should do well.  On the other hand, as stated earlier, should a council candidate rely heavily upon the outcome of the presidential race and party activists, trouble could be in store.  If the winds of fortune favor his or her party’s presidential nominee, he or she ought to do reasonably well.  But, if national current runs contrary, and the candidate makes little independent effort on his or her own, he or she shall be destroyed.

All voters in Harrisonburg owe it to themselves and their fellow citizens to educate themselves about their eight choices for city council.  Sure, it might not be as glamorous or high profile as the well-known races, but I assure you that the men and women we select to help run the government of our city will make a tremendous impact, either for good or ill, upon all of us.

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Yesterday evening, Mitt Romney’s “Hope For America” bus pulled into the parking lot of the Republican headquarters on Neff Avenue in Harrisonburg.  Although there were rumors that either Mitt Romney or another member of the Romney clan would be on board, they proved to be unfounded.  Instead, the bus held quite a few members of Romney’s Virginia campaign team.

Despite the lack of the candidate, a throng of enthusiastic Republicans showed up at the victory center including three Virginia state legislators: Delegates Rob Bell, Dickie Bell, and Tony Wilt.

After a short presentation, the Romney campaign invited the crowd to step aboard their vehicle.  The tour bus seemed to contain every possible feature and amenity.  For example, a section of the floors were inlayed with polished stone, there were a handful of televisions, and some of the padded chairs were embroidered with the Romney logo. 

In less than one hundred and twenty days, voters will go to the polls in November to vote for electors who will choose our next president.  During the 2008 election cycle, Barack Obama personally came to Harrisonburg; John McCain sent his relatives.  Obama ended up winning the city by about 2,400 votes, a feat no other Democratic presidential candidate has been able to claim in over thirty years.

So how much effort will the Romney and Obama campaigns put forth in winning Harrisonburg?  And which, if either, of the candidates will make a personal campaign stop in the friendly city?  After looking at all of the data, it seems impossible for Mitt Romney to win the presidency if he does not capture Virginia’s 13 electoral votes.  Therefore, I would expect that there will be quite a few more visits throughout the Commonwealth from both of the campaigns between now and November.

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As my most recent article on examiner.com states, last week I conducted a straw poll at the meeting of the Harrisonburg/Rockingham County Shenandoah Valley Tea Party.  Here are the results:

2012 Republican Presidential Primary

Newt Gingrich – 30%

Michelle Bachmann – 27%

Rick Santorum – 20%

Ron Paul – 7%

Rick Perry – 7%

Jon Huntsman – 7%

Mitt Romney – 0%

Would not vote in the GOP Primary – 3%

2012 Republican Senate Primary

E.W. Jackson – 40%

George Allen – 37%

Jamie Radtke – 13%

Bob Marshall (written in, not listed on the ballot) – 7%

Tim Donner – 0%

David McCormick – 0%

Would not vote in the GOP Primary – 3%

2012 Democratic Senate Primary

No respondents cast a vote in this primary

2012 Republican 6th District House of Representatives Primary

Karen Kwiatkowski – 47%

Bob Goodlatte – 43%

Other (no name filled in) – 3%

Office left blank – 3%

Would not vote in the GOP Primary – 3%

I’m not going to rehash the finer bits about the poll.  If you’d like that information, I encourage you to read my previous article.  Instead of reporting, which is what they primarily request at examiner.com, you’ll find my commentary on each of the three races.

1. President

To be quite honest, I was very surprised by this result.  Why would Tea Partiers embrace Gingrich, a man who is arguably the least conservative in the Republican field?  I’d guess that it has more to do with his surging popularity and his favorable news coverage on places like Fox News rather than areas of policy agreement.  At least I hope that idea is correct.  Neither Bachmann nor Santorum’s strong showing really came as a shock.  After all, whether you agree or disagree with the label, they are billed as “tea party candidates”.  But Paul with only 7%?  If you are wondering, that meant he only got two votes, myself and one other person.  Although Paul may not win a majority of the tea party vote (even though I think he should), he should certainly capture a higher percentage.

So has the Ron Paul campaign reached out to the tea party movement across the country?  I would assume it would be fertile ground.  After all, the tea party supposedly grew out of the dissatisfaction regarding the big government policies of both Democrat Barack Obama and his Republican predecessor, George W. Bush, in a similar manner of the groundswell for Dr. Paul.  In order to spread awareness of Ron Paul and sway my local tea party toward his campaign, I have called his national headquarters many times and, once that failed, even sent them a letter asking for campaign materials.  Each time I contact them I am told that I would be getting something in the mail.  More than a month later, I still have nothing, which is more than a little distressing.  If you will recall, the tea parties in Kentucky helped get Rand Paul elected Senator.  Don’t you think they could be helpful in electing his father to be our next president?

2. U.S. Senate

The result for the Senate race also held a lot of surprises.  As you see, E.W. Jackson finished first.  Although he is likely the strongest, most articulate, and passionate speaker of any of the other Republican or Democratic candidates, I have seen nothing to lead me to believe that he has a particularly strong and organized campaign.

Second, George Allen captured second.  Again, this result might leave your jaw open wondering if the tea party has a heavy minority of establishment Republicans.  Not surprisingly, this poll shows a very strong correlation between support for Newt Gingrich and support for George Allen.  Of Gingrich’s ten votes, seven of them also supported George Allen.

Third, Jamie Radtke, Tim Donner, and David McCormick ought to be concerned by these results.  Although the Senate race is still many months away, I would assume that each would require tea party support to be successful.  With Radtke finishing a distant third and Donner and McCormick with no votes whatsoever, I would recommend that each needs to visit more tea party organizations in order to sway, not only the tea party leaders, but also the regular tea party members.

Fourth, Bob Marshall got two votes.  This fact may seem trivial given that is it such a low number, but given that his name wasn’t even on the ballot; you do wonder how he would fare.  After all, while leafing through the results, one tea partier mentioned to me that she would have voted for Marshall if his name were listed as a choice.  Will Marshall enter?  The answer to that question is still unknown.

3. House of Representatives

Next, we had the race for the Republican nominee for House of Representatives.  Karen Kwiatkowski, the challenger to ten-term incumbent Bob Goodlatte, won by a single vote.  Believe or not, this result was not surprising.  Although neither Goodlatte nor Kwiatkowski have been a featured speaker at the tea party, Kwiatkowski has taken the effort to show up to a handful of meetings.  On other hand, the tea party rallied outside of his office over his support for raising the debt ceiling, and seems to be suffering additional blowback for his sponsorship of the Stop Online Piracy Act. Assuming these trends continue, I wouldn’t be surprised if Kwiatkowski captures at least 2/3rds of the tea party vote up and down the Shenandoah Valley by the time the primaries roll around.

Again, there appears to be a pretty strong correlation between Goodlatte supporters and two other so-called “establishment” candidates, Newt Gingrich and George Allen.  Of Goodlatte’s thirteen votes, 77% also supported Gingrich, Allen, or both.  By comparison, of Kwiatowski’s fourteen votes, 79% supported neither Gingrich nor Allen.

Lastly, as a novel aside, one respondent gave what I dub as the “2012, Year of the Woman” response by voting for Bachmann, Radtke, and Kwiatkowski.  Regardless of whether you support or oppose these candidates, I don’t believe that the sex of a candidate should play a role in whether or not he or she should receive your vote.  After all, look at Margaret Thatcher in the U.K.  I would gladly replace a vast majority of our politicians with either a man or woman who shared Thatcher’s principles and convictions.

Getting back to my article on examiner.com, I find it rather amusing that the folks who have dismissed the survey and article are fellow Ron Paul supporters.  Here’s what I’ve got to say on the matter.  Look, these are the results.  I would have liked to see Ron Paul win the poll, just like you would have.  However, just because I didn’t end up with my desired result doesn’t mean I should suppress the story.  After all, I don’t work for the mainstream media.  And yes, thirty people may not be a very large number, but I still believe it fairly accurately depicts the attitudes of the local tea party.  If you aren’t happy with these numbers then that point should encourage you to get out there and press even harder for our candidate.  After all, I would expect that both members of the local Republicans as well as tea partiers would show up in large numbers to the March 6th primary.  With that thought in mind, who do you think is more likely to vote for Ron Paul?  Rank and file Republicans or tea party members?  That’s what I thought.  Now go and spread the word!

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The internet is full of polls related to the Republican presidential nomination.  Who do you want as the Republican nominee?  That question is likely the hottest political issue in most, if not all, parts of the country.

But let’s try flipping this question around.  Who do you believe is the worst GOP contender?  Even if you will vote for any Republican over Obama, which man or woman do you hope isn’t the standard bearer?

Now don’t think that just because you are not a Republican you shouldn’t answer.  The poll is designed for everyone.  This question is for Republicans, Democrats, Greens, Libertarians, Constitutionalists, and independents alike, regardless if you plan to re-elect the President, vote Republican, or choose a third-party candidate.

So, whether it is a dispute over domestic policy, foreign policy, political philosophy, or even a personality clash, if you had your choice, which of the eight major candidates do you not want to see as the main challenger to President Barack Obama in November of 2012?

Feel free to share your reasons for your vote in the comments section as well.

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A friend recently asked me why I hadn’t written about Sarah Palin’s resignation as Governor of Alaska. While I answer that question, let me share with you a recent comic by Tatsuya Ishida. Certainly her resignation came as quite a shock. After all, how often, besides a scandal or the threat of impeachment, does a public official resign? A good number of us on the right fell in love with Palin when she ran for Vice President, supporting McCain’s bid for the presidency not out of any burning desire to see McCain actually elected, but rather based upon the future hopes of a more conservative Palin administration in 2012. Although I thought Palin to be a good pick, it quickly became apparent that the single choice alone was insufficient to salvage the campaign. Despite what some pundits thought, I was fairly convinced that Palin would not be the Republican nominee in 2012. Now, with her resignation looming, I am certain of it.

How many vice presidential nominees who lost the election went on to become president? Sure, we’ve had one vice president lose an election and later become president, that being Nixon. But vice presidential nominees? In recent memory Bob Dole tried in 1996 and lost. Only Franklin Roosevelt (nominee in 1920 with James Cox) went on to win in 1932 (unless you count James K. Polk in 1840, which you shouldn’t in my opinion given that he was not the official nominee).

Furthermore, resigning as Governor of Alaska makes her further irrelevant. If she couldn’t even finish her term as Governor, what makes you think that she’d be a good choice for President. What skeletons are in her closet? Why couldn’t she finish out her term? Is 2010 just too far away?

I hate to be the one to break it to you, but she is not the conservative leader we need right now. Sure, she is conservative, but there are a considerable number of presidential hopefuls who are more conservative, more constitutionally minded, and more experienced. Therefore, unless something dramatic happens between now and the primaries, Sarah Palin will not be the nominee in 2012. So to answer the question of why did I not comment on Governor Palin before now, it is for the simple fact that her political future and clout will likely vanish as quickly as a gust of wind. I suppose you could say that she’s now palin’ in comparison.

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