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Posts Tagged ‘Bob Goodlatte’

Yesterday, the city of Buena Vista held their 43rd annual Labor Day parade.  As in previous years, this event serves as the start of the countdown to Election Day.  However, unlike previous years, Monday’s parade was smaller than average in terms of both attendance and sign coverage.  Normally, one can find a thick blanket of yard signs from all of the candidates along Route 60 into the city.  By comparison, signs this year were restricted to the parade route itself.

All seven of the statewide candidates participated in the parade and the speeches that followed.  Besides Ken Cuccinelli, Terry McAuliffe, Robert Sarvis, E. W. Jackson, Ralph Northam, Mark Herring, and Mark Obenshain, other elected officials who attended include: Lacey Putney, the longest serving member of the Virginia General Assembly and grand marshall of the event, Representative Bob Goodlatte, Delegate Ben Cline, and Delegate Dickie Bell.

Much like the overall tone of the governor’s race, there seemed to be more anti-Cuccinelli signs than either pro-Cuccinelli or McAuliffe signs.  In addition, at the start of the parade, a plane flew overhead flying a message critical of the attorney general.  As for the winner of this year’s sign wars, both the Obenshain and Jackson campaigns shined.  Sarvis also did well, outpacing both his Republican and Democratic opponents.  Cuccinelli finished fourth and McAuliffe in fifth.  Neither Northam nor Herring had signs of any appreciable quantity.

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Yesterday, Organizing for America and Representative Luis Gutierrez (IL-4) held a political rally at the courthouse in downtown Harrisonburg.  Their purpose was to promote a pathway to citizenship for the countless illegal immigrants currently living within this country; a plan which detractors say amounts to nothing more than amnesty.  It proved somewhat difficult to understand all of what was being said during the speeches given that Spanish was used interchangeably with English and some of their printed materials were only available in Spanish.  Rep. Gutierrez encouraged the crowd to pressure Bob Goodlatte, the area’s member of the House, to support immigration reform.  Toward that end, the organizers passed out bottles of water that included phone numbers for Goodlatte’s office, though curiously it listed his Staunton office as opposed to the closer one in Harrisonburg.

Will the House accept some version of comprehensive immigration reform?  And what will Bob Goodlatte do?

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As with communities throughout America, yesterday the citizens of Harrisonburg celebrated the 4th of July.  The city’s downtown area was filled with an assortment of vendors and entertainment, not to mention politicians and political activists.  Unlike the previous year, the local Democratic Parties did not seem participate  in Thursday’s festivities, somewhat surprising given the three statewide races going on this fall.

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Representative Bob Goodlatte (VA-6) and Delegate Tony Wilt of Broadway greet the crowds.

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During the early afternoon, Council Member Abe Shearer manned the dunk tank for charity.

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli speaks to the media

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli speaks to the media.

VA RLC member Steven Latimer climbs the rock wall.

VA Republican Liberty Caucus member Steven Latimer climbs the rock wall.

JMU's Duke Dog shows his spirit.

JMU’s Duke Dog shows his spirit.

The Republican Procession featuring Delegate Steve Landes of Verona on the far left and Harrisonburg/Rockingham Clerk of Court Chaz Evans-Haywood on the far right

The Republican Procession featuring Delegate Steve Landes of Verona on the far left and Harrisonburg/Rockingham Clerk of Court Chaz Evans-Haywood on the far right.

The banner of the Shenandoah Valley Tea Party

The banner of the Shenandoah Valley Tea Party.

Tea Party Director Donna Moser, Treasurer Nancy Stone, and Co-Director Tommy Moser.

Tea Party Director Donna Moser, Treasurer Nancy Stone, and Co-Director Tommy Moser.

Tea Party Secretary Lois Paul playing the snooping IRS agent

Tea Party Secretary Lois Paul playing the snooping NSA/IRS agent.

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IMG_1089Recently, Virginia Republican gubernatorial nominee Ken Cuccinelli has been promoting the idea of a series of debates between himself and Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe.  The Cuccinelli campaign has suggested fifteen debates across the commonwealth in a variety of locations including one in the Shenandoah Valley, in the city of Harrisonburg.

However, so far the McAuliffe campaign has not accepted this idea.  As a result, the Cuccinelli camp has run a series of ads on Facebook and elsewhere insisting that Virginians deserve a multitude of opportunities to hear from and learn about their choices for governor in November.

Now, I absolutely agree that debates serve as an important tool in campaigning and a handful of lively contests are exceedingly valuable.  For that reason, I wrote against my own representative back in 2010 when he refused to attend a debate sponsored by James Madison University.  Should McAuliffe agree to at least a few debates?  Yes, a thousand times, yes!

Unfortunately in this situation, Cuccinelli has fallen into the same trap as Representative Goodlatte did three years prior; the debate ought to be used as a forum to allow all candidates that will appear on the ballot to express his or her opinions.  Goodlatte would not debate back in 2010 because he only faced third party opposition.  Cuccinelli wants to debate in 2013 but according to fellow blogger Rick Sincere, plans to exclude at least one other candidate, Libertarian Party nominee Rob Sarvis.  This news is deeply disappointing.

This whole situation has echoes back to the national stage.  After Ross Perot’s performance during the presidential elections, Republican and Democratic operatives got together to make certain that independent and third party candidates would be excluded from future debates.  They created a monopoly among their parties.  After the Green, Libertarian, Constitution, and Justice Parties weren’t invited to take part in the 2012 Presidential debates, an organization called Free & Equal hosted a debate where all of the candidates, along with the two major party candidates, were invited to participate.  Not surprisingly, neither Barack Obama nor Mitt Romney chose to attend.

I applaud the Cuccinelli campaign in their effort to bring the candidates to a vast number of citizens across Virginia.  However, to exclude any eligible candidate based upon his or her party (or lack thereof) is unacceptable.  Debates are a great thing, but to be legitimate, they must allow all of candidates the chance to express their opinions.

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Republican primaries are rare here in the Shenandoah Valley.  Yes, there are notable exceptions, most recently Karen Kwiatkowski’s run against Representative Bob Goodlatte in 2012, but, in general, they do not happen…except in the case of an open seat caused by a retiring incumbent.

Well, today’s news bucks that trend.

Delegate Steve Landes(From SteveLandes.com)

Delegate Steve Landes
(From SteveLandes.com)

 

 

According to an email from Delegate Steve Landes of Augusta County, he will be facing a challenger for the GOP nomination for the 25th district House of Delegates seat, a position Delegate Landes has held since 1995.  Today’s Landes campaign email begins “We have JUST gotten the news that Delegate Landes will be opposed for his seat in the Republican nomination…”  Unfortunately, the email makes no mention of the name of Landes’ opponent, but one would assume that this information will be made public soon.

With deadlines to run for the GOP nod fast approaching, one does have to wonder if more candidates will emerge to contest the valley delegation.  For example, given some of his more surprising votes in the 2013 General Assembly session, a handful of organizations and individuals have asked me over the last several weeks if I would be interested in challenging my delegate, Tony Wilt (R-26).  Although I have been disappointed by quite a few his actions lately, I declined this idea.

At this point it is difficult to say whether Landes will be the only delegate with a Republican challenger or is one of several.  Either way, the 2013 elections have just gotten a bit more interesting here in the Shenandoah Valley.

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Representative Bob Goodlatte

Today in the mail, I received a letter from the office of my member of the House of Representatives, Bob Goodlatte (VA-6).  At first, I must confess that I was a bit puzzled by it.  After all, I hadn’t contacted Representative Goodlatte in many months and thus wasn’t expecting any sort of correspondence.

Once opening it, I discovered the letter was in response to a query I sent him back in the first week of January, some two and a half months earlier.  It is a bit disappointing to see the response time of his office hasn’t really improved much.  Nevertheless, I appreciate the fact that his office does answer, sooner or later, unlike Senator Mark Warner’s who has never replied to any inquiries.

Anyway, today’s message was in reference to the vote for the Speaker of the House of Representatives.  If you may recall, I, like my 6th district Republican committee, had urged Representative Goodlatte to vote against re-electing John Boehner for that position.  However, much to the disappointment of my conservative friends and associates in and around the Shenandoah Valley, Mr. Goodlatte cast his vote for Boehner anyway.

In his letter, Goodlatte writes “…I voted for Speaker Boehner and not Nancy Pelosi.  Those were the two choices.”  Was the election for speaker a choice of damnations?  Can we all agree that Boehner may be bad, but if we didn’t support him, we would have gotten Pelosi and that outcome would have been even worse?  To further bolster his position, Representative Goodlatte goes on to list several conservative members of the house who also voted to re-elect Boehner.

However, as I wrote in January, this line of reasoning presents a false dichotomy; a few members of the House of Representatives cast their votes for individuals other than either Boehner or Pelosi.  Now, this kind of move was not without risk.  Voting against the person who would become speaker, especially when he is a member of your own political party, can bring all sorts of trouble, such as the loss of a prized chairmanship or a position on a key committee.  It was a tough spot, no doubt.  Unfortunately, when presented with the choice of damnations of upsetting the leadership in Washington versus upsetting the entire 6th district Republican committee and scores of grassroots activists back home, Representative Goodlatte preferred the second option.

Given the vast multitude of political opinions, it is not realistic for an activist to agree with his or her elected officials all of the time.  On occasion, we must expect our leaders to stand their ground, even when it runs counter to our own principles.  However, even if it ends up making you pariah in either Washington D.C. or Richmond, I prefer it when legislators are more worried about the concerns of their constituents than pleasing the lobbyists or the politically powerful.  Maybe that idea is an old fashioned relic from earlier days in our republic.

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Earlier today, the House of Representatives held a vote for speaker of that body.  Although there was and still remains conservative animosity toward John Boehner, he secured re-election as speaker with 220 votes out of 426 cast.  Nancy Pelosi finished in second place, garnering the support of the Democratic members of that body with 192 votes.

390px-Bob_Goodlatte_OfficialAs you may know, prior to this vote, Virginia’s 6th District Republican Committee, the district that Bob Goodlatte represents in the house, passed a strongly-worded resolution calling upon Representative Goodlatte to oppose Boehner’s re-election as speaker.  It should also be noted that this resolution passed unanimously, favored by Republican political activists throughout the greater Shenandoah, Page, and Roanoke Valleys.

For the record, the resolution reads as follows:

November 10, 2012

Dear Congressman Goodlatte,

The framers of the Constitution of the United States wisely instituted the division of powers, not merely to enable specialization of the respective commissions, but primarily to limit the powers of each community. Under the influence of both Christian thought and the abysmal historical precedents of foreign nations, they recognized the tendency even of the best of men to secure to themselves unlimited and unjust authority, and to employ it for the purpose of enslaving the masses. The authors judiciously embraced their moral obligation by including this mechanism (division of powers) for the simple frustration of such tyrannical efforts.

The imposition of Obamacare against the wishes of the people is an unequivocal expression of the anticipated tyrannical powers. Yet even though every member of the House of Representatives is aware of his ability to thwart this measure, no such effort of protection is forthcoming. Apparently few enough care more about the people they purport to represent than about their own political aspirations.

Speaker Boehner has called for “Repeal and Replace,” all the while he has been fully cognizant of the fact that the Senate and the President would not concur with him.  Such disingenuous acts are intended to defraud the people while leading them to believe he is fighting for their cause. His unwillingness to lead the effort to de-fund Obama’s healthcare, a truly feasible mechanism for restraining this tyranny, is a conscious dereliction of duty. His recent commitment to active pursuit of its funding, coupled with his capitulation on the issue of amnesty and his agreement to raise taxes are acts that are nothing short of treasonous to our interests and our security.

Therefore, we are writing to notify you of our unwillingness to accept such representation; to demand that you oppose the selection of Mr. Boehner as speaker for the next session; that you only select a representative who is willing to engage fully in battle against Obamacare and the many other imprudent and unconstitutional efforts of the Obama administration, and that our future support for you is contingent upon your efforts to lead the fight to deny President Obama every unconstitutional measure, and that this must be done without excuse.

Passed unanimously, this 10th day of November, 2012

The Sixth Congressional District Republican Committee of Virginia

Although some activists may appreciate the willingness of Goodlatte to stand his ground, this move to re-elect Boehner will almost certainly infuriate his base, the conservatives of the 6th district who believe that the federal government has grown well beyond its constitutional limitations and who also think our Republican leadership has been actively leading the country in the wrong direction.

A few moments ago, I called Bob Goodlatte’s D.C. office as well as all of his district offices to confirm his vote on this matter.  Although I have been unable to secure a direct confirmation from these sources, I was told if given a choice between John Boehner and Nancy Pelosi, Goodlatte would choose Boehner.  However, this either/or choice is not entirely correct.  Although it is true that there was no single, unified Republican candidate to stand against Boehner, other options were available as illustrated by the fact that some Republican members of the house cast their votes for Rep. Eric Cantor, former Rep. Allen West, Rep. Justin Amash, Rep. Jim Jordan, Rep. Raul Labrador, or David Walker.  Other also voted present or remained silent when his or her name was called.  According to Republican Liberty Caucus Chairman Dave Nalle, Representative Goodlatte was not among the list of Republican representatives who opposed Boehner.

In this most recent election cycle, Bob Goodlatte faced a Republican challenger for the first time in his 20 years in office.  Karen Kwiatkowski, his GOP opponent, attacked Mr. Goodlatte from the right, claiming that he was not conservative or liberty-minded enough to represent the people of the 6th district.  Although she was unsuccessful in her first attempt, it should be noted that she did win the city of Harrisonburg and almost captured Page County as well.  Today’s vote makes another challenge from either Kwiatkowski or someone else all the more likely.

Conservatives across the country are rightly upset with Boehner’s leadership and many will be unhappy to discover that he retains the position of speaker.  The fact that our representative, Bob Goodlatte, chose today to ignore the wishes of some of his most important and influential constituents, the entire 6th District Republican Committee is quite surprising and could cause a particularly nasty fracture between Goodlatte and the committee.

So, the big question now is how will Virginia’s 6th district Republicans react to this news?

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In the days leading up to the November 6th elections, predicting the outcome of the presidential seemed a bit murkier than one would expect.  A few polls, like Gallup, had Mitt Romney ahead, while others, like Rasmussen, showed a very close race, and some, like Huffington, heralded another strong victory for President Obama.  It seemed to me that a lot of news outlets reported on the outcome that they hoped would occur rather than what would actually happen; Republican pundits predicted a solid Romney victory and their Democratic counterparts made similar claims.  Fellow Republicans were critical, but in 2008 I wrote about Barack Obama’s victory on the day prior to Election Day, as I believed the results were already a foregone conclusion.  However, I wasn’t quite as certain this time around.

In the end, however, Mitt Romney stood no chance of becoming our next President.  In the electoral count, he faired only slightly better than John McCain did in 2008.  He won the tradition Republican states of North Carolina and Indiana unlike McCain, but failed to capture key battlegrounds like Virginia, Ohio, Colorado, and Florida.  Curiously, both Romney and Obama failed to garner as many votes as the candidates did in 2008.  It seems obvious that Obama’s numbers would decline as his presidency has not been particularly popular and the great excitement (or novelty) generated from electing our first black president in 2008 is gone.  But what about Romney?  Although some activists have been urging people to resist resorting to the “blame game”, ultimately I believe that voters had a hard time supporting a rich New England liberal who had difficulty relating to the plight of the average American.  In addition, the actions taken by the RNC and the Romney campaign, which can only be described as unnecessary and spiteful, to exclude Ron Paul and his supporters at the Tampa convention tore open the growing rift in the Republican Party between the establishment and the liberty movement.  As stated earlier, a majority of Paul supporters I know either voted for Gary Johnson, wrote in Ron Paul, or simply stayed home on Election Day.  Speaking of the other party candidates, Libertarian Gary Johnson finished in third with almost 1%, Green Jill Stein was fourth with .35%, and Virgil Goode was fifth with .1%.

Moving on to Virginia’s U.S. Senate contest, as we approached Election Day it became increasingly obvious that George Allen would lose to Tim Kaine.  The conventional wisdom was that an Allen victory hinged heavily upon Romney’s coattails.  If Romney won Virginia by a large margin, then it was likely that Allen would also be victorious.  However, if the election was close or if Romney lost the state, Allen would be defeated.  Although the crossover wouldn’t have influenced the outcome, it is still important to note that Romney had the support of 37,766 more Virginians than did George Allen.

The House races in Virginia were not particularly exciting.  Each incumbent won re-election with a comfortable margin with the exception of Scott Rigell in the 2nd who won by 24,000 votes.  In the 6th, Republican Bob Goodlatte easily dispatched Democrat Andy Schmookler.  However, Schmookler did best Goodlatte in the more urban areas of the district, capturing the cities of Harrisonburg, Lexington, and Roanoke, and boasting a fairly close contest in Staunton.

Given that Harrisonburg voted Democratic for president, senator, and representative, it should come as no surprise that the Democrats faired well in the city council election.  With eight candidates on the ballot, three Republican, three Democratic, and three independent, Democrats Kai Degner and Richard Baugh were re-elected along with newcomer independent Abe Shearer.  Only Degner and Shearer cracked the 6,000-vote mark.  All but one of the other candidates was in the 4,000-vote range; Roger Baker finished in last place with less than 2,500 votes.  Political newcomer Christine Johnson finished at the top of the Republican office seekers, missing out on third place by only 202 votes.

So what does the future hold politically for Harrisonburg, the 6th congressional district, Virginia, and the nation as a whole?  Well, it depends on a number of factors including the strength of the candidates and the overall political climate.  Will the GOP learn anything from the 2012 elections?  It is obvious that they didn’t figure anything out from 2008.  Without strong conservative candidates that can clearly articulate the merits of a constitutionally limited government, the Republican Party will continue to suffer nationally, statewide, and locally.  Let me end this article with a bit of advice: Past big government Republicans who lost in a previous election don’t somehow miraculously transform themselves into either conservatives or winners.  So don’t retread on me.  Don’t retread on me!

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Paul Ryan in Rockingham County
Photo by Helen Shibut

Paul Ryan, the Republican Representative for Wisconsin’s First Congressional District and Mitt Romney’s running mate, made a campaign stop at the Rockingham County Fair Grounds on Friday.  His visit marks the first of any presidential or vice presidential candidate to the central Shenandoah Valley.

Besides Representative Ryan, speakers also included: Delegate Tony Wilt of Rockingham County, Delegate Steve Landes of Augusta County, State Senator Mark Obenshain of Harrisonburg, and Representative Bob Goodlatte of Roanoke.

The event itself was quite well attended.  Most estimates I’ve read peg the audience about 3,000.  Like the recent Obama rally in Charlottesville, each person had to pass through “airport style security” overseen by both the Secret Service and the TSA.

Reaction to the gathering was mixed.  Although most of the people that I spoke with enjoyed Ryan’s speech, the event was plagued with a number of shortfalls.

First, no one could bring in liquids, which was expected.  However, the fact that one could not even get a cup of water without paying for it seemed completed absurd.  Would a person have to suffer through their thirst if he or she could not pay $2.00 for a beverage?

A view of a portion of the crowd and the fence that segregated attendees.

Second, the venue did not allow for a majority of the spectators to see Paul Ryan.  The organizers set up a ring of fences around the platform and only a portion could enter this circle.  Although raised, the platform was not nearly high enough for many people to even catch a glimpse of the man who could very well be our next vice president.

However, one positive aspect, as compared to the Obama event, was that the police did not close down traffic in a highly central location for the better part of an hour, which would have wasted the time of countless residents.

Overall, I would rate Ryan’s event a success even though, as mentioned, there were several aspects that could have been and should have been handled in a better manner.

So the next question is will any of the five presidential candidates: Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, Gary Johnson, Virgil Goode, or Jill Stein, make a stop in the Shenandoah Valley between now and the election?  If you will recall, four years ago Barack Obama won the city of Harrisonburg after making a speech at JMU while John McCain merely sent a relative to the local GOP headquarters.  After all, personal campaigning is an important element to electoral success and Ryan’s visit on Friday should serve to bolster the local Republican effort.  Now how will the other candidates respond?  Our first answer comes tomorrow when Libertarian Party candidate Judge Jim Gray speaks at JMU.

As a final note, I want to shout out a special thanks to Helen Shibut of Madison Liberty for the picture of Paul Ryan.  As mentioned, I happened to be one of the countless spectators who could not get close enough to get a usable shot.

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Representative Bob Goodlatte

A few moments ago, Representative Bob Goodlatte (VA-6th) concluded his 4th annual BBQ at the Rockingham County Fairgrounds, just south of Harrisonburg, VA.  About 400 people were attendance and came from all around the Shenandoah Valley and the 6th district.

Besides Rep. Goodlatte, other Virginia officials of note included Wendell Walker, the 6th district Republican chairman who Goodlatte referred to as his boss, Delegate Tony Wilt of Rockingham County, Delegate Dickie Bell of Staunton, Delegate Chris Head of Botetourt, Rockingham/Harrisonburg Sheriff Bryan Hutcheson, Rockingham County Clerk of Court Chaz Evans-Haywood, and the three Republican candidates for Harrisonburg City Council.  Lastly, Representative Joe Wilson of South Carolina was also there; he is perhaps best known for shouting, “you lie!” to President Barack Obama during a joint session of Congress back in 2009.

Shaffer’s Catering of Woodstock, VA provided the bulk of the food for the BBQ, including the pork and chicken, while many of the attendees brought a variety of desserts.

This event serves as another reminder that there is little doubt that the 6th district of Virginia will vote heavily for the Republican slate in November, as it has done for decades.  The real question becomes, are residents of the Shenandoah Valley excited and organized enough to offset the liberal trends of places like Charlottesville and Northern Virginia?  Given that Election Day is less than two months away, we’ll find out soon.

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