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Posts Tagged ‘Karen Kwiatkowski’

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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A press release from the Republican Women of Shenandoah County and their president, Karen Kwiatkowski

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Photo by Joshua Huffman

The forum held on February 9th at the LFCC campus provided nearly 200 attendees from the upper Shenandoah Valley with an up-­‐close and personal view of the seven Republicans vying for the party nod for Lt Governor.

All seven candidates attended, including Stafford County Supervisor Susan Stimpson and Prince William County Supervisor Cory Stewart, US Senate Candidate Bishop E.W. Jackson, State Senator Steve Martin, Delegate Scott Lingamfelter, entrepreneur Pete Snyder, and former State Senator and delegate Jeanne Marie Davis.

Event sponsors were the Republican Women of Shenandoah County, the Apple Valley Club of Winchester, and the Shenandoah Valley Constitutional Conservatives.  The candidates were placed under the conservative microscope operated by moderator Suzanne Curran, Western Region Vice Chair of the Republican Party of Virginia.

While all candidates represented the values of limited government and individual opportunity, there were fireworks evident between those who have held office at the local level and often suffer from expensive federal and state mandates, and those who work or have worked in Richmond, at times dishing out those expensive mandates.  The theme of liberty and freedom was consistently articulated by EW Jackson, and echoed loudly by the other candidates, especially businessman Pete Snyder who is running a well-­‐funded and innovative campaign of “Big Conservative Ideas.”  Susan Stimpson and Cory Stewart both touted their success in reducing taxation and invigorating local economies.  Scott Lingamfelter shared status of his so-­‐called Boneta Bill (Freedom to Farm without Fear) and many in the audience were very supportive of this effort to get government off of the backs of average people and local farmers.

The candidates all addressed a local issue of interest to Shenandoah County voters.  Each expressed their thoughts on the direct and indirect cost to taxpayers of moral obligation bonds, and various Virginia Bond-­‐Issuing Authority roles within, and relationship to, the Virginia Constitution.  Virginia’s dependence on federal spending within in the Commonwealth was also discussed.

All of the candidates delivered the conservative message with passion, and the audience was large, intently listening, and well informed.  The Republican Women of Shenandoah County wish to thank everyone who worked to arrange this event, the Apple Valley Club and Dody Stottlemyer specifically for personal donation of food and drinks, Shaffer’s Catering for a donation of coffee, the great people at LFCC, the attendees and the candidates, and many more.

For more information on these candidates, their websites are below:

Corey Stewart                                    http://www.coreystewart.com

EW Jackson                                       http://www.jacksonforlg.com/

Jeanne Marie Davis                         http://jeannemarie4lg.com

Pete Snyder                                       http://www.petesnyder.com/

Scott Lingamfelter                           http://vote4scott.com/

Steve Martin                                     http://senatorstevemartin.com/

Susan Stimpson                               http://susanstimpson.com/

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Yesterday, fellow blogger Willie Deutsch posted a 2012 campaign piece in which Susan Stimpson joins Bill Howell in urging voters to support George Allen for the United States Senate in the June 12th Republican primary.  This information, along with a host of other adventures once again begs the question, who is Susan Stimpson?

Susan Stimpson at the Middletown Forum

Susan Stimpson at the Middletown Forum

I first had the opportunity to hear Susan Stimpson at last year’s Ron Paul Legacy Dinner in Staunton, Virginia.  At the time, I thought the list of speakers for the event was rather curious.  After all, I only know of two recent candidates who sought or are seeking either statewide or federal office that have openly supported Ron Paul: these are Karen Kwiatkowski (who sought the 6th district GOP nomination) and Delegate Bob Marshall (who ran for Senate in 2008 and 2012).  Although it is quite easy to support the cause of liberty when it is politically advantageous, it is quite another issue entirely to stand on principle regardless of the potentially negative consequences.  Although Stimpson was unknown to many liberty activists, there is no question that she gained considerable traction through her appearance at this dinner.

There seemed to be an increasing avalanche of support for Stimpson among the liberty community.  However, I have urged and continue to urge my fellow activists to learn about all of the candidates before blindly hopping on any bandwagon.

So who is Susan Stimpson?  I’m still not sure, but one moment that sticks out in my mind took place during the forum at Liberty in Lynchburg.  When asked if she supported random drug testing for welfare recipients, she stated that she did.  As someone who considers himself a constitutional conservative, I found this answer to be particularly troubling for two reasons conveniently voiced by Pete Snyder and Senator Steve Martin.  First, as Mr. Snyder pointed out, these drug screenings would be a considerable invasion of privacy.  Although I do not have any fondness for a permanent welfare program, I’m horrified about the prospect of granting the state more power to control its citizens.  The second concern, mentioned by Senator Martin is one of cost.  How would the state be able to afford to drug test recipients?  Wouldn’t such a move require additional state employees and equipment?  From where would these funds come?  Would the move require additional taxes or cuts in more important programs?

Yesterday’s information from Willie Deutsch brings the question of Susan Stimpson into the forefront again.  Is she the liberty candidate?  Is she the rebellious conservative outsider?  Or is she, as Shaun Kenney over at Bearing Drift suggests, an establishment conservative?  Now don’t get me wrong, if a candidate could successfully wear the mantles of both being an establishment Republican while simultaneously viewed as a liberty-minded libertarian/conservative, he or she would likely enjoy tremendous success.  But is such a designation possible or is it merely a shell game that, if discovered, would result in utter disaster, alienating both wings of the Republican Party?

Scott Lingamfelter recently damaged his chances to win over liberty activists with his negative comments about Ron Paul supporters.  But, to the best of my knowledge, he has never claimed to be the “conservative/liberty candidate”.  By comparison, if Stimpson turns out to be merely an establishment candidate who adopted the clothing of liberty for political advantage, the fallout from such a realization would almost certainly be fatal to her campaign.

As a personal note, I must say that it is an extremely liberating feeling to have not selected a candidate yet, to be able to examine all of the candidates as objectively as I can without worrying if this process offends them or causes my employer or co-workers to view me unfavorably.

So, we return to our first question.  Who is Susan Stimpson?  Is she the liberty champion that many of my fellow Ron Paul supporters are selling her to be?  Or is she something else?  Either way, it is unwise to either rush to praise her or condemn her.

Regardless of your political principles, I once again encourage all of the activists seeking to be delegates to the Richmond convention in May to get informed, stay informed, and to share any and all information that they find.  Don’t simply adopt my opinion or the opinion of someone else.  Sure, it takes time, but do the research for yourself.

Lastly, don’t mistakenly think that the main purpose of this article is to disparage Susan Stimpson, but rather to promote awareness.  After all, who knows?  Once all of the dust settles, and I have sufficient data, I may find myself firmly in her camp, assuming her principles closely match my own and her campaign does a decent job articulating her message.  Remember, it is okay to trust, but you must also verify.

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IMG_1670On Saturday, February 9th, the seven Republican candidates for lieutenant governor gathered for their second forum in Virginia’s sixth district, this time in Middletown, a small town in Frederick County.  The Apple Valley Club, the Republican Women of Shenandoah County, and the Shenandoah Valley Constitutional Conservatives hosted the event.  Suzanne Curran was the moderator and Karen Kwiatkowski kept the time.

The forum began with opening statements from the office seekers, an introduction that lasted for about an hour.  After about a twenty-minute break, Ms. Curran asked a battery of questions on a whole host of topics.  Unlike the previous event in Lynchburg, all of the candidates had an opportunity to answer each of the questions.  It was common for the respondents to exceed their allotted time window; Ms. Kwiatkowski shook a cowbell to silence the candidates once his or her time had expired.  In a particularly amusing moment, Pete Snyder bowed to the bell when it rang for him.

Many of the topics explored at the Middletown forum were the same issues that had been discussed at the last event.  For the most part, it was difficult to differentiate among candidates.  Although their delivery differed, all of them claimed to be conservative; each is supposedly pro-life, each supports the 2nd Amendment, and each decries the erosion of the Constitution and the massive overreach of the federal government.  The only noticeable exception was when Jeannemarie Devolites Davis announced her support of background checks at gun shows.  Presumably, the longer that the seven remain relatively indistinguishable, the bigger bump the E. W. Jackson campaign should receive.  After all, Jackson’s fantastic oratory skills are perhaps the greatest advantage he enjoys over the other six.

However, as the title of this article indicates, there were some moments of particular interest as the forum drew to a close.  Delegate Scott Lingamfelter and Corey Stewart took a few jabs at each other as Stewart blamed the General Assembly for many local problems and for lacking courage while Lingamfelter responded claiming that local government ought to shoulder more of the responsibility.  Given their roles in local and state government, both Chairman Susan Stimpson and State Senator Steve Martin were drawn into fight, though Martin seemed to try to stay above the fray.

Pete Snyder’s closing remarks filled me with some small message of hope as he reminded the audience that if you have love in your heart, just about anything is possible.  Also, at the end of the event Delegate Lingamfelter seemed to make it a point to speak with me personally and ask for my support.  Whether he read my last post chastising him for his remarks about Ron Paul is uncertain, but I do appreciate his willingness to try to mend fences.

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Corey Stewart

In general, most of the candidates appeared a bit more polished at the Middletown event and I did not catch any major gaffes.  However, given his willingness to make bold statements such as claiming that the phrase “I introduced a bill” is almost useless in politics, I believe that Corey Stewart emerged as the clear winner at the forum in Middletown.  I won’t say that I agree with every single position that he articulated, but the idea of nominating a candidate who is willing to call out his or her fellow Republicans is exceedingly important.  Even though I’m admittedly still jaded by his anti-Paul piece, for going toe-to-toe with Stewart, Lingamfelter claimed second place.

To all of the candidates, I would recommend making every effort to stand out in the sea of seven, clearly articulating how your positions are different and better than the rest; failure to do so may mean that soon you will be forgotten.

Fellow blogger Craig Orndorff recorded the entire forum and you can find this video here!  Watch and decide for yourself.

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IMG_1630Last night, former Representative Ron Paul spoke to a packed room in Lee Chapel at Washington & Lee University in Lexington, Virginia.  The building held about 500 while another location was set up nearby to provide live video feed for those unable to fit inside.  The Contact Committee, the W&L Politics Department, and the W&L College Republicans sponsored the event.

Starting at 9 AM the day before, Contact began giving out tickets to Tuesday’s event.  However, in a mere forty minutes, all 350 tickets allotted for early seating were claimed, leaving the multitude with the hope of snagging one of the remaining 150 seats prior to the event on a first come first serve basis.

Given Dr. Paul’s numerous contributions to the rise of the liberty movement, along with the work I did on his campaign staff in 2007/08, and the fact that this event marked his first visit to the Shenandoah Valley, I knew that I had to make every effort to attend.  As I arrived slightly too late to secure one of the early tickets on Monday morning, I left Harrisonburg at about 3:30 PM on Tuesday along with fellow activist and blogger Helen Shibut of the Madison Liberty blog.

Outside the chapel at 4:30 PM

Outside the chapel at 4:30 PM

A light rain marked our departure and it continued to be our constant companion as we traveled along Interstate 81 and into Lexington.  Surprisingly, the parking lot closest to the chapel still had a couple of spots open and so we were able to avoid a lengthy walk.  More shocking still had to be the number of people standing outside the chapel when we arrived.  Given how quickly the tickets were exhausted, I envisioned a lengthy line of people waiting until they could enter the building at 6 PM.  However, due, in part, to the poor weather, we were the 7th and 8th to enter.  Even though not in line at that time, there were others who were already there.  For example, Karen Kwiatkowski and a contingent of like-minded folks were lingering inside a nearby building until the time drew closer.

Helen Shibut, Karen Kwiatkowski, and Cole Trower

Helen Shibut, Karen Kwiatkowski, and Cole Trower

The weather continued to degrade, but the line grew steadily and by the time that the doors opened, one could not see from one end of the crowd to the other.  Although the announcement indicated that attendees would be unable to come in the building without semi-formal attire, several people in line wore casual clothing such as blue jeans; it is uncertain whether these folks were allowed admittance.

Dr. Paul’s entered the main floor of the chapel to thunderous applause shortly after 7 PM.  He spoke on a wide variety of topics important to the liberty movement including, but not limited to: a non-interventionist foreign policy, the need for a sound currency and the impending financial collapse, the importance of sticking to political principles, the proper role of government, and the constant erosion of our civil liberties.  After his speech, he fielded a number of questions from the audience regarding what political party best embodied his principles, the issue of abortion, religious freedom, and concerns regarding the investigation into 9/11.  The entire event lasted for a little less than an hour and a half.

IMG_1637All in all, I would rate Dr. Paul’s visit to Lexington as a success.  The only change that I would suggest would be a larger venue.  According to the various event notices posted on Facebook, W&L could have easily filled a space that was two, three, or even four times larger.  So then, why did they choose the chapel?  Well, there is no question that the location is picturesque and is steeped in history.  The basement formally served as the office for Robert E. Lee and presently holds his remains. In addition, I was told that when Washington & Lee hosted Rudi Giuliani some time earlier, they had considerable difficulty reaching the 500-person threshold.  But, such concerns were not necessary that night.  After all, as Ron Paul reminds us, freedom, much like Dr. Paul himself, is popular.

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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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A little over four years ago, I wrote an open letter to my fellow Ron Paul supporters.  I will not rehash it again, although you can read it here if you care to do so.  Today, I believe it is time to write you again, not to retrace old ground, but to forge ahead into the future.

Earlier this week, a fellow Ron Paul supporter criticized my efforts in supporting Dr. Paul’s 2012 movement.  Specifically, he made mention of the fact that only two Paul supporters signed up to be delegates to the 6th district convention from my hometown of Harrisonburg.  I suppose the thought is that as I am a Paul supporter living in Harrisonburg, I should have done more to get my fellow like-minded activists to the convention in Lexington.  Now, I have heard this complaint before.  According to one of my friends in the southern part of the 6th district, one Paul supporter has spread this point in the Shenandoah Valley presumably to try and discredit me within the movement.  I’m not quite sure why this person would do so, but I did try to find out.  However, I never got a reply when I sent the person an email about the matter.

Although I know that some of you are new, I would like to remind those who are involved in politics to treat all volunteers as a valuable resource.  After all, they are not merely subordinates to be ordered about at our whim.  They are our friends, neighbors, and activists in arms who freely give of their time, not in the hopes of financial restitution, but because they believe in the rightness of our cause.  Until and unless a volunteer engages in a behavior that is either destructive to the movement or completely counterproductive, (such as threatening another worker or masquerading as an official campaign representative) one should never tear down a volunteer’s efforts.  Now, that is not to say that we cannot steer a volunteer toward projects that are more valuable, but to demean a volunteer for not doing enough or not working fast enough is a great way to make certain that the volunteer will not help again in the future.  Having been a volunteer myself for a good many years, once I became a paid staffer, good volunteer relations became one of my top priorities.  After all, much like Christianity teaches us in relations with our neighbors, we should always treat volunteers how we ourselves would like to be treated.

But let’s return to the matter of the Ron Paul campaign.  Prior to Virginia’s March 6th Republican presidential primary, I spent considerable time and effort in volunteering for the campaign.  Regrettably, the Virginia effort was woefully understaffed and under-funded from the national campaign.  As I stated, I found both a location and the funding necessary for a regional campaign office in Harrisonburg but was rebuffed by the head honchos in Springfield.  Although Ron Paul had not won a single state prior to Virginia, given that only Mitt Romney and he would be on the ballot, my state would be an excellent chance for his first victory. Therefore, the volunteer effort had to continue.  Despite the fact that we had no literature, no yard signs, and no bumper stickers, save for the scant few that the state director was under-rationed, we did the best we could to spread the message.  I even had the opportunity to promote Dr. Paul on the local evening news.  On primary day itself, I’m pleased to say that many of the precincts in both in Harrisonburg and the surrounding Rockingham County had Ron Paul supporters handing out materials that the Shenandoah County Ron Paul group had graciously gifted to us.

Although the primary wasn’t all that close either in the state as a whole or in the 6th congressional district, due to the hard work of my fellow volunteers in the area, Ron Paul won a majority of the votes cast on primary day in the city of Harrisonburg.  We showed that a small band of dedicated volunteers could make a difference and I am quite grateful to my fellow activists for their work.

However, March 6th made me realize that there was absolutely no way that Ron Paul could win the Republican nomination.  His national campaign missed an important opportunity to score their first victory on Super Tuesday and the momentum now swung too far in the favor of Mitt Romney.  I’ve heard claims that Paul’s national campaign was nothing more than corrupt nepotism, was generally incompetent, or that they were simply too inflexible to modify their strategy.  I don’t know what their specific problem was, but, if Virginia is a typical example, clearly the national campaign did not accomplish what they needed to.  Nevertheless, if you must place blame, do not thrust it upon the volunteers.

I believe that a lot of other local Paul volunteers felt the same way about the campaign as I did and so they disappeared completely.  Morale was shattered; we thought the national campaign had abandoned us.  How could they ask us to fight on when it was painfully obvious that they were not putting in the needed effort to do so as well?  Another I rule I have when it comes to volunteer relations is that you should never ask a volunteer to do a task that you have not, at some point, done your yourself and would be willing to do again should the need arise.

Anyway, prior to the March 6th primary, I got in a debate with another volunteer over which was more important, winning the March 6th primary or securing Ron Paul delegates to the national convention in Tampa.  I argued that the primary was of far greater value, which is why I focused my efforts there.  It makes little difference the personal positions of our delegates if they are bound to vote how the congressional district voted on March 6th on the first national ballot.  After all, every single delegate in the state could be a Paul supporter, but if they are pledged to vote for Romney then who they are doesn’t make a hill of beans worth of difference.  Bear in mind, if Paul could not win a single state’s primary or caucus, even if he won a considerable number of delegates through clandestine means, then Mitt Romney would be the nominee.

Once the primary was over, I focused my volunteer time on other ways that I thought would benefit the liberty movement.  Specifically, I spent time helping Karen Kwiatkowski and Jamie Radtke, two women who were still viable candidates in their respective races and encouraged many of my fellow volunteers to do likewise.  Sure, volunteers could spend a Saturday in Lexington to pick national delegates, but quite a few of us realized that the Republican nomination for president was lost and over and it was time to find new and more productive avenues.

But, all of the supposed Paul candidates won at the district convention in Lexington.  Therefore, it seems to be particularly strange to quibble about this matter.  Didn’t the Paul slate win?  If so, why should there be any complaint?  It seems foolhardy to lay blame after a victory.  Is someone upset that they did not win by a larger margin?  One important fact to remember here is that Harrisonburg’s votes did not change the outcome nor could they have.  The margins of victory were larger than Harrisonburg’s entire voting strength, even if it had voted as a solid block, could have swayed. After all, we had a scant 39 votes split among the Harrisonburg delegates while some counties like Rockingham County had over a hundred more votes than we did.  Many of my fellow Ron Paul delegates signed up in Rockingham, but when taken as a numbers game, Harrisonburg’s delegation wasn’t all that important in the grand scheme of things.

Anyone who has spent any time dealing with Paul supporters knows that they are a freethinking lot.  Who is to say that Paul supporters would have voted the same way?  Although a sample “Paul friendly” ballot was provided, I’ll freely admit that I voted as I thought best and not merely regurgitated what some piece of paper had written on it.

So, for those who still condemn me for the fact that only two delegates were open Ron Paul supporters from Harrisonburg, should I similarly scorn Paul activists from Roanoke, Staunton, or Lexington?  After all, how did Ron Paul fair in your area on March 6th?  And given that Paul outright won both Covington and Lynchburg, does that result give activists from those cities cause to rebuke the rest of us?  If so, should we apply the same standard to results of the June 12th primaries?  Should we look down upon the efforts of volunteers in other parts of the 6th because Karen Kwiatkowski won Harrisonburg, but not other localities?  The answer is no.  Here in the Shenandoah Valley, we must not devolve into this kind of infighting.  It is detrimental.  How do pointing fingers and tearing each other apart advance the cause of liberty?  Should we be concerned with inflating our own egos and promoting individuals as opposed to the greater concept of liberty?  Heaven forbid!

Given the attacks against me, I assume some people must think that I am all talk and no action.  But this line of thinking is false.  For example, I proudly served the 2008 Ron Paul campaign as the director of grassroots organization for the state of South Carolina.  And although I don’t talk about it much, I was briefly hospitalized with internal bleeding as a result of an injury sustained on the campaign trail.  Unfortunately, it periodically flares up to the present day.  But I continued, for the battle was too important to give up before primary day.  I was a volunteer in 2012, I once again helped out Dr. Paul because he and I share a commitment to the Constitution and to liberty.  I write of these experiences not to make some boast of my greatness or to make the claim that my devotion is greater than anyone else, but merely to illustrate the point that I have been involved for many years and have a good bit of knowledge and experience in the matter.

The main idea of the letter is much more far-reaching than merely who did or did not attend Virginia’s 6th district convention.  Heck, it is more than about you, myself, or even Ron Paul.  It is a matter of respect for volunteers.  Whenever a person, whether he or she happens to be a staff member or a fellow volunteer, berates a volunteer, you should be appalled.  Remember that volunteers are the lifeblood of our movement.  I assure you that without dedicated volunteers, failure is all but a certainty.  An activist or politician working alone can accomplish very little.  If you have a complaint about how 2012 primaries turned out, is tearing down your fellow brothers and sisters in liberty who freely volunteered their time a productive way to vent your frustration?  Therefore, the next time you hear a person speak ill of a volunteer except in the very limited circumstances listed above, you should stop them from doing so immediately.  If they refuse to comply, then have nothing more to do with that person; there is no sense in dealing with people whose words and actions will lead to the destruction of the movement from within.

For liberty with responsibility!

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Karen Kwiatkowski at the Keister Precinct in Harrisonburg

Well, nearly a week has come and gone since Virginia’s Tuesday primary.  I suppose that the end result did not yield any great surprises.  Across the Commonwealth each incumbent House of Representatives candidate emerged victorious.  In the Senate contest the virtual incumbent, former Senator George Allen, also won.

According to the Virginia State Board of Elections, with all precincts but one reporting, George Allen captured the GOP nomination with 65.45% of the vote.  Tea Party favorite Jamie Radtke finished second with 23.05%.  Delegate Bob Marshall and Bishop E. W. Jackson finished a distant third and fourth with 6.76% and 4.72% respectively.

George Allen polled relatively well throughout Virginia.  He only lost two cities and counties; Jamie Radtke won a plurality in Charles City County and Bob Marshall did likewise in Manassas Park.  Other notable results showed very close contests between Radtke and Allen in Amelia, Hanover, King William, Lancaster, Mathews, Northampton, and Powhatan Counties.  Although Radtke captured a clear second overall, E. W. Jackson took runner up in Albemarle and Botetourt Counties while Marshall boasted second in and around his House of Delegates district, Prince William and Manassas.

Although Jamie Radtke attempted to secure the title of the conservative alternative to George Allen, the fact that both Jackson and Marshall were competing had to hurt both her fundraising and numbers at the polls.  However, given his monetary and virtual 100% name recognition, it still would have been a monumental hurdle for Radtke to defeat Allen one-on-one.  Now that the dust has settled, one important question to ask though is, given their low vote totals, why were Jackson and Marshall in the race?

Except during the final months of the campaign, it did not appear that Jackson was actually trying to win the nomination.  He had a pretty small campaign staff and I’ve heard that he made a number of speeches where he didn’t actually reference his candidacy for Senate.  One popular theory is that he was trying to build name ID in order to establish himself for a future political run.

As for Delegate Marshall, it is clear that he entered the race far too late.  If you will recall, he didn’t make an official announcement of his candidacy until late January or early February of 2012.  By comparison, by that point, the Radtke campaign had already been in full swing for more than a year.   Although I cannot comment on the rest of the state, the fact that Marshall spent very little time or effort campaigning in the Shenandoah Valley made his poor showing here a virtual inevitability.

Moving on to the 6th district House of Representatives race, incumbent Bob Goodlatte turned back a conservative/libertarian challenge from retired Lt. Colonel Karen Kwiatkowski.  With 100% of the vote counted, Goodlatte captured 66.49% of the vote as compared to Kwiatkowski’s 33.5%.

With her campaign headquarters based in Harrisonburg, Kwiatkowski won my hometown with 50.57% of the vote.  She also did quite well in Rockingham County, losing by 240 votes and in Page County where Goodlatte won with 13 votes.  However, Goodlatte finished very strong in most of the higher population centers, winning Roanoke County with 76.95%, Lynchburg City with 75.65%, and Roanoke City with 70.93%.

The burning question here is what will happen in 2014?  First, what will Bob Goodlatte do?  After all, Tuesday marked his first Republican primary challenger in twenty years.  Will he move in a more conservative direction, repudiating his earlier efforts to expand the size and scope of government through SOPA/CISPA, federal prohibitions curtailing online gambling, and liberty-weakening measures like the Patriot Act?  And, if he does not, will Kwiatkowski, as she hinted earlier, challenge him again?  Or will a new challenger emerge?

Here are my predictions for November.  Given past trends, the race for the House was more or less decided last week.  The 6th district is far too conservative and Bob Goodlatte has a massive campaign war chest, so he should roll over his colorful Democratic challenger, Andy Schmookler.  However, polls have shown the Senate race to be a tight affair.  Although the outcome of the presidential contest will certainly influence all down ticket races, at this point, I believe Tim Kaine will be our next Senator.  George Allen still has a number of fences to mend on the right and conservatives do not share the great fear for Kaine as they do for Obama. As for the Obama vs. Romney fight, I think the race is too close to call.  Virginia is a toss-up between the two.  However, I cannot envision a path to victory for Romney that does not involve him capturing the Commonwealth.  Obama, on the other hand, doesn’t require a Virginia victory to gain four more years.  For that reason and several others, I would give a slight edge to Obama…at least at this point.

Let me end by thanking all of the candidates who ran, the activists who volunteered, and the citizens who voted on Tuesday.  As we saw, unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, the most conservative candidates don’t always win.  However, if we remain true to our principles and remain organized and active, we will prevail in the long run.  We must continue to fight because it is good for our party, good for Virginia, good for our nation, good for our children, and good for their children.  The sake of the present and the future demands no less of us.

The primaries are over.  Onward to victory!

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A view from the Cross Keys precinct

In about two and a half hours, polls across the Commonwealth of Virginia will be closed.  At that time, we shall discover the 2012 Republican nominee for Senate as well as the various Republican and Democratic nominees for the eleven House of Representatives districts.

During the late morning and afternoon hours, I visited eleven precincts in the city of Harrisonburg and southern Rockingham County.  My purpose in doing so was to gauge campaign supply levels for the Kwiatkowski and Radtke campaigns and measure the level of turnout.  While doing so, I discovered a couple of surprising facts.

First, I noticed that the race for House of Representatives in the 6th district seems to have drawn considerable more interest and enthusiasm than the Senate race.  All eleven precincts had a pretty high number of Kwiatkowski and Goodlatte signs.  In addition, about half of the precincts had volunteers who were handing out materials specifically on behalf of one of these two candidates.

By comparison, there were far fewer Senate signs.  Jamie Radtke and George Allen had about the same number of yard signs at the polls, Bob Marshall had but a handful, and I have not seen yet seen my first E.W. Jackson sign today.  When considering campaign workers, Bob Marshall had a dedicated volunteer handing out materials at one of the precincts in the city, but, surprisingly, I have not found any volunteers specifically working for George Allen, Jamie Radtke, or E. W. Jackson in my travels.

Second, turnout seems to be higher than I expected.  I assumed that we would see about a 5-6% turnout rate on average at the end of the day, which was the result for the March 6th Republican presidential primary.  In addition, it was fairly hot and humid with periods of heavy rain on and off during the day, which would decrease participation.  However, many precincts have already exceeded their March total.  For example, the tiny precinct of Cross Keys, although only reporting 51 votes as of 3:24 PM, had a turnout rate of 8.9% thus far.  An hour and a half prior, Montezuma, another precinct in Rockingham County, reported 7.2%.

So what does this information reflect?  Why are the Senate candidates underrepresented at the polls?  And do these Harrisonburg and Rockingham numbers reflect a general trend that voters taking a greater interest in the outcome of these races?  Does the increased turnout favor the incumbents with their higher level of voter ID?  Or have voters come out today to roundly reject what some perceive as establishment Republicans?  Without exit polling it is difficult to answer any of these questions right now.  However, keep an eye on the totals; either way, it should be interesting.

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Picture from thehollywoodgossip.com

Last week, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky announced on the Sean Hannity show that he was endorsing former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney for president in the 2012 Republican nomination.  The typical response from a number of my Facebook friends was quite hostile.  As the argument went, how could Rand Paul endorse a liberal like Mitt Romney when the champion of liberty and Senator Paul’s father Ron Paul is still in the race?

I would wager that quite a few people who are upset with Rand are fairly new to the political game and therefore don’t understand how the endorsement game works.

For example, closer to home, State Senator Mark Obenshain (VA-26) recently sent out an email encouraging citizens to vote for Representative Bob Goodlatte and George Allen in the Virginia Republican primary on Tuesday.  Now, as you may recall, I have endorsed both Karen Kwiatkowski and Jamie Radtke; obviously I do not agree with Obenshain on this matter.  But, when it comes to his votes in the General Assembly, I maintain that Senator Obenshain is one of the best members of that body.  Should this one simple issue of endorsement outweigh a multitude of good votes and legislation?  Conversely, if a poor candidate or politician endorses a liberty-minded candidate, should that announcement erase a long slate of bad positions?

As I wrote many years ago, Virginians for Life sent out an email about then State Senator Ken Cuccinelli back in 2008.  They compared him unfavorably to the biblical Judas due to his endorsement of Representative Frank Wolf.  I would not have endorsed Wolf as he and I disagree over the underlying philosophy of proper governance.  However, if we all reacted by condemning Cuccinelli over this rather trivial matter, what would be the end result?  Would we still have a spirited attorney general that is willing to fight against Obamacare and other overreaches of the federal government?

Be it for better or worse, endorsements are one way elected officials pay back favors and reward loyalty.  After all, here in the 6th district, both Bob Goodlatte and George Allen have helped a number of our current politicians gain their office and thus many of those folks feel that they need to repay that debt now.  Moving back to the national level, the theory goes that it is the duty of every good Republican politician (who wishes to remain relevant to the party) to offer some measure of support for the party’s presidential candidate.

But let’s return to the first question.  How can Rand Paul endorse Mitt Romney while Ron Paul is still in the race?  The response is quite simple, but not an answer that most Ron Paul supporters will either accept or want to hear.  I hate to say it, but short of a major miracle or divine intervention, Mitt Romney is and will be the Republican nominee for President.

Although it is true, as repeatedly pointed out these last few days, Rand Paul is not Ron Paul, the simple fact remains that Senator Paul is one of the few liberty-minded legislators in the United States Senate.  In one fairly recent example, while most Senators were either apathetic, or downright hostile in the case of Senators McCain (R-AZ) and Graham (R-SC), about defending our civil liberties during the debate regarding the indefinite detention of American citizens without trial, Senator Paul remained firm in his efforts to try to derail this effort.

Regardless of this minor endorsement issue in the grand scheme of things, as long as Rand Paul continues to embrace the key principles of liberty and the Constitution, I am proud to support and defend the Senator from Kentucky.  And yes, if you are wondering, these thoughts do come from a former Ron Paul staffer who actively volunteered for his former boss in this election cycle.  I just hope that the rest of my like-minded brethren will realize that Rand Paul is a great senator and, endorsement or not, we need to support and elect more men and women like him.

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