Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Mark Obenshain’

Shortly before 7 AM, a multitude of local Republicans gathered outside of the Harrisonburg GOP headquarters to depart for the 2013 state convention in Richmond.  The Obenshain campaign organized this gathering.  I led one of the two buses of 49 other activists.  We left around 7:15 with the second bus stopping in Staunton to pick up additional supporters.

IMG_1886About two hours later we arrived outside the Coliseum.  The scene that greeted us was daunting.  On both the left and right sides of the entrance, long lines stretched seemingly forever.  Outside, most of the campaigns had a table underneath a tent handing out materials.  The one exception was the Davis campaign which merely had a yard sign where one would expect to find her people.  This development did not bode well for the Davis campaign, which I had previously assumed would survive at least to the second ballot.  In addition, there were a fair number of protesters in pink shirts from Planned Parenthood deriding the candidacy of Ken Cuccinelli.

Inside of the building each of the campaigns had an additional informational table, as did a multitude of other organizations such as The Leadership Institute, Middle Resolution PAC, and others.

IMG_1900In the auditorium itself, each delegate was grouped according to the city or county from which he or she came.  This year, the placement of each locality depended upon the percentage of their delegates who paid the voluntary $35 fee.  This change resulted in Harrisonburg city holding the choicest spot on the convention floor, front and center.  Delegates from Rockingham and Augusta Counties, regions whose delegates also strongly supported Senator Mark Obenshain, flanked Harrisonburg.

After many lengthy speeches from Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, Ken Cuccinelli, and the various candidates running for the Republican nomination, voting could begin.  Although announced ahead of time, it was interesting that neither Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell nor Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling attended Saturday’s convention.  As an additional note, former Representative Allen West spoke on behalf of Delegate Scott Lingamfelter and Ollie North encouraged delegates to support Pete Snyder.

Voting on the first ballot began about 1 PM or so, but the results were not announced until almost four hours later due to either technical difficulties or a recount requested by the Snyder campaign if the rumors circulating were true.  Although the official tallies were not released due to Delegate Rob Bell’s request to withdraw his candidacy, Senator Mark Obenshain became the official nominee for attorney general.  On the race for lieutenant governor, E.W. Jackson captured an early lead, winning 3,732 votes, about twice as many votes as his closest rival, Susan Stimpson.  Corey Stewart finished third, followed by Pete Snyder, Scott Lingamfelter, Jeannemarie Davis, and finally Steve Martin.  As no candidate received a majority of the votes, Martin and Davis were eliminated and delegates voted again.  Unfortunately, the official numbers for the first ballot were not announced until after many delegates had already cast their second ballot, which likely skewed the next results as we were erroneously led to believe that Stewart placed second instead of Stimpson.  Behind the scenes, the Davis campaign encouraged her supporters to rally behind Jackson.

About two hours later, voting from the second ballot was announced.  Jackson increased his totals to 4,558.38, while Snyder jumped to second with 2066.89.  Stewart finished third while Stimpson and Lingamfelter, with the two lowest totals, were eliminated.  Lingamfelter cast his favor to Snyder while the Stimpson campaign did not recommend any particular candidate.

SOThe results for the third ballot came one hour and forty-five minutes later.  Jackson’s vote total again expanded to 5,934.69 with Snyder second with 3,652.97.  At this point, E.W. Jackson had over 49% of the vote and thus his election on the next ballot was a virtual lock.  The Snyder campaign passed out fliers declaring that Corey Stewart had endorsed Snyder as had Mark Obenshain.  The latter revelation came as a complete shock given that Obenshain had remained silent in this race up until now, coupled with the fact that such an endorsement would be particularly foolhardy given that Jackson’s victory was all but a certainty.  I spoke with both Chris Leavitt, Obenshain’s campaign manager, as well as Suzanne Obenshain, his wife, who denied any endorsement.  In addition, Corey Stewart appeared and walked around the floor with Jackson with raised hands.  It was terribly unfortunate that in a desperate bid to win the Snyder campaign would resort to such dirty and dishonest tactics, ploys that were all too common in the closing days of the campaign.

Update:  Bearing Drift reports the following regarding the actions of the Stewart campaign.

A little after 10 PM, Pete Snyder withdrew his candidacy and thus E.W. Jackson was declared the victor.  With voting finally concluded, we returned to the bus and headed back west to our home across the mountain.

On a personal note, unlike many of the delegates, as I did not have a favorite candidate, I ended voting for three different LG candidates over the course of the day.  I intended to cast my final vote for Pete, but, after his campaign spread their misinformation, I couldn’t reward deception and thus proudly cast my vote for E.W. Jackson.

All in all, it was an exciting and tiring day that went much longer than needed.  However, it was filled with a bunch of surprises and uncertainty, regrettably marred by technical difficulties, a bit of misinformation, and a splash of deceit.

Given that the state central committee has selected a convention in 2014 to choose the Republican candidate for Senate, we’ll do it all again next year.  Hope to see you then!

Read Full Post »

On Friday and Saturday, a number of tea party leaders from across the state met alongside officials from the Middle Resolution PAC to examine the nine Republican candidates for lieutenant governor and attorney general.  The purpose in doing so was to evaluate each and determine which of the choices best represent the tea party values.

Now, I first heard about this process in early February and, after reading all of the materials provided on the subject, came out in opposition to the idea.  It was not an easy decision to make, especially given that the Virginia Tea Party Federation was in favor of it and that I worked for We rVirginia in 2012, a group funded by Middle Resolution.  Nevertheless, I believed that it was the right thing to do.  I crafted a couple of similarly worded emails stating my objections which I sent to the leadership of the Shenandoah Valley Tea Party and Middle Resolution.

For the record, here is the text of one such email that I wrote on February 13th of this year:

Good afternoon, everyone.

I’m been thinking a bit more about this vetting on the candidates to produce a “tea party” candidate for both lt. gov. and attorney general and must say that the more I consider this path, the more that I am opposed to it.  Now I understand fully why this plan is being implemented.  After all, we saw what happened last year.  With everyone divided, arguably the least conservative candidate (George Allen) won the GOP Senate nomination.  But is this proposal of rallying most or all of the tea parties in the state behind a candidate the best?

In an ideal situation, I’d like to see the tea parties clearly state their principles for these races as well as inform their membership of the positions of each candidate.  Based upon this information, we would let each person decide who best adheres to his or her principles.  Instead, it seems that we are charting…a very top down/authoritarian course of action where the leadership and a handful of people in Richmond decide for the members who they think is best.

Now being involved in politics for more than half my life, I know how these sorts of things work.  Unfortunately, most people of all political persuasions act like sheep and will dutifully follow their leaders where ever they are taken.  But, I’d like to think that the tea party is something different, something better than just “the leaders have spoken and the faithful membership will follow us without question”.  I have a lot of respect for…[the people involved in the vetting process]… and the leaders of the various tea parties, but that respect alone does not mean that I can allow them to do all of my thinking for me.

I suppose the question becomes, what do we do if we do not agree with the outcome of the vetting process?  Are we beholden to honor it?  I don’t mean to sound like a stick in the mud, but regardless of the outcome, I still plan to support whichever of the candidates that I deem is the best and will encourage everyone I know to learn about his or her choices and decide which person best fits his or her ideology.

Another factor to consider is the members who have already pledged themselves to a candidate.  Once a decision is reached will they reject their previous volunteer efforts and accept an outcome handed down from on high?  Or is it more likely that they will resent what is done and go their own way, thus ultimately weakening the tea party?

Perhaps I’m misunderstanding what plans are moving forth statewide, but, until I am convinced otherwise, I would recommend that the Shenandoah Valley Tea Party have no hand in this vetting process.  There are too many parties, too many interests, and too many candidates involved.  I believe that this plan strips away our political freewill, and without the freedom of choice, are we any better than either the Republicans or Democrats, whose flawed principles and processes led to the formation of the tea party in the first place?

I know that unfortunately this letter goes against the plans of my former employers, but is my reasoning wrong?  Do the ends of ideally nominating a better candidate justify the means of potentially subverting the desires of the individual tea parties and their members?  Am I crazy to think that this plan is dangerous?  Is the idea of molding politically self-aware tea party members that can arrive at their own decisions without mandates from above nothing more than foolish idealism?

What are your thoughts?

Thanks!

Joshua Huffman

Besides the concerns listed above, I worried that this vetting would be seen as an endorsement and that it was quite possible that the process would nominate a candidate who didn’t actually adhere to the core values of the tea party.  Nevertheless, I was assured that this process would not be called an official endorsement.

At the end of the day, based partially upon the recommendation of a former tea party leader, I chose not to participate in this process myself.  After all, if I did so and did not agree with the outcome, then would I still have any room to object?  And, after hearing the results, I must say that I do strongly object.  For the record, Corey Stewart won for lieutenant governor and Mark Obenshain for attorney general.

First, some groups like the Lynchburg Tea Party have declared this outcome to be an outright endorsement, which is what I feared would happen.

Second, from everything that I’ve learned about him, much like Black Velvet Bruce Li, I am not convinced that Corey Stewart is a proper banner carrier for the tea party principles of constitutionally limited government, fiscal responsibility, and a few other important issues that may come up in a future piece.

Third, if the tea parties do feel compelled to stand behind a candidate, let them do so regionally, not statewide.  Let Mechanicsville decide what is best for Mechanicsville, Montross determine what is best for Montross, and the Shenandoah Valley declare what is best for the Shenandoah Valley.

Fourth, my worries that the vetting actually damaged the public perception of the tea party have increased after reading a number of recent blog posts on other sites.

I am well aware that my comments may not be popular with many tea party groups, possibly even my own in Harrisonburg.  Nevertheless, as a member of the Board of Directors for the Shenandoah Valley Tea Party, based upon everything that I’ve written thus far, I feel compelled to urge my fellow tea partiers to consider the results of this weekend’s tea party vetting process with extreme caution.

If you are planning to cast your vote at the Republican Convention on May 18th, do so intelligently.  I’ll tell you right now that I’m supporting my state senator, Mark Obenshain, for attorney general.  However, you shouldn’t merely take my word as the absolute truth or the results of this tea party vetting either.  If you think Rob Bell is more in line with your thinking, then you ought to cast your vote for him.  You can use any endorsement as a guide, but never make that one item your only determining factor.  Otherwise you surrender your vote to the whims of another.

I know it takes time, but let me stress that you need to research the candidates yourself and decide which best represents your values and your principles.

Here I stand.  I can do no other.

Read Full Post »

TPSCThe Virginia Tea Party Patriots Federation released their first ever legislative score cards, ranking the members in the General Assembly based upon their votes in the 2013 legislative session.  As has been the case with special interest groups like the Family Foundation and the NRA, score cards are a useful tool to let voters know how their government officials vote on particular issues of importance.  This new  score card graded based upon 15 different pieces of legislation.

In the House of Delegates, Delegate Todd Gilbert (R-15) and Delegate Peter Farrell (R-56) were the only two members in that 100 person body to post a perfect score.  Here in the Shenandoah Valley, most of the other legislators also received high marks with Delegate Rob Bell (R-58) at 95%, Delegate Dickie Bell (R-20) 95%, Delegate Ben Cline (R-24) 95%, and Delegate Steve Landes (R-25) 90%.  My delegate, Tony Wilt (R-26) scored the lowest of any of those in the region with 60%, though he did vote rather curiously in 2013, supporting the implementation of Obamacare in Virginia and the creation of a state-run EPA.  Speaker of the House of Delegates Bill Howell (R-28) was awarded a rather dismal 35%.  You can download and view the entire House of Delegates score card with the link provided. Tea-Party-Patriots-house_scorecard_2013_v2

Moving over to the Virginia Senate, my state senator, Mark Obenshain (R-26), and Bill Stanley (R-20) were ranked the highest among the 40 with 70%.  Elsewhere in the Valley, Senator Emmett Hanger (R-24) got 45% and Senator Creigh Deeds (D-25) was awarded 5%.  By comparison, Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment (R-3) finished with 30%.  The Senate score card is here. Tea-Party-Patriots-senate_scorecard_2013_v2

As the political landscape in Virginia continually evolves, the Virginia Tea Party Patriots Federation has been adapting to fit this changing environment.  This tea party score card is one of several new developments that the federation has in the works.  I encourage you to check these cards to see what you think.

Read Full Post »

Around 3 PM on Saturday, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli arrived at the Republican Party headquarters in Harrisonburg to officially kick off the opening of that office.  About seventy-five people attended including several elected officials such as Delegate Ben Cline of Rockbridge County and Harrisonburg/Rockingham Sheriff Bryan Hutcheson.  Also on hand were representatives from a handful of other campaigns: Jeannemarie Davis’, Corey Stewart’s, and, of course, State Senator Mark Obenshain’s.

After a prayer and a few introductory remarks, Delegate Tony Wilt spoke to prep the crowd for Ken Cuccinelli.  The following video captures the entirety of the attorney general’s speech.

Cuccinelli & BootsOnce Ken Cuccinelli finished, Georgia Long, a 6th Congressional District State Central Party Representative, offered him a gift of flowers in a boot-shaped pot.

After Mr. Cuccinelli left, with the start of the campaign season officially underway for the Republican Party in Harrisonburg, volunteers manning the phones to begin anew the process of identifying and targeting voters.

In the Shenandoah Valley, the long and likely heated contest to select the next governor of Virginia has begun!

Read Full Post »

For many activists in the central Shenandoah Valley, Dean Welty is a very familiar name.  For those who do not know him, Mr. Welty is the Director of the Valley Family Forum, a particularly active political and religious group with ties to organizations like The Family Foundation (based in Richmond) and Focus on the Family.  Issues important to this group include: the sanctity of life, the protection of traditional marriage, promotion of school choice, and the free expression of religious freedom.

About an hour an a half ago, Dean Welty sent out an email regarding his personal choices for the three Republican candidates for statewide office as well as his reasoning.  They are as follows:

For Governor: Ken Cuccinelli

Ken Cuccinelli is the uncontested GOP candidate with an exceptional record as State Senator and as Attorney General for defending Life, Marriage and the Family, and Religious Liberty, and for his unwavering fight to protect our Constitutional rights.  There is no one better suited by character and conviction to be our next Governor.

“Related to this, Lt. Governor Bill Bolling has indicated that he may run against Cuccinelli as an independent.  If he does, that will split the vote in November and virtually guarantee Cuccinelli’s defeat. Therefore, please click on the following link in which Bolling has asked for our opinion, and respectfully urge him not to run:  http://www.billbolling.com/survey-on-the-2013-virginia-race-for-governor/.”

For Lt. Governor: E. W. Jackson

“In a crowded field of strong candidates, E.W. Jackson nevertheless stands out like none other, as reflected in his bold call for all God-fearing Americans to “Exodus Now” from the Democrat Party.  An ex-Marine, Harvard Law School graduate, business leader, and pastor, Jackson is a fighting statesman who can raise the standard and stir our hearts like no one else has been able to do.  In addition, he has been a close friend and supporter of the Forum and a powerful champion for Faith, Family, and Freedom.

“Beyond that, Jackson is a man of great vision who transcends party and politics in his commitment to restore our Judeo-Christian heritage and to defend our Constitution.  No one expresses it better than when he quotes from Thomas Paine in the fight for independence in 1776:

 ‘These are the times that try men’s souls: The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.  … Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation …, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.’”

For Attorney General:

“In a nutshell, Senator Mark Obenshain not only votes right but, even more importantly, he leads right on issues of principle that others sometimes avoid as being too “controversial”.  To cite just a few, he has led the Senate in the fight for life from conception to natural death, for marriage as only between one man and one woman, for private property rights, for religious liberty, and for quality education and choice – to name only a few.  Like Jackson, Mark has also been a close friend of the Forum and, with his wife Suzanne, received our annual Wilberforce Award in 2011.”

Whether you happen to agree with Dean Welty’s picks or not, it is beneficial for an informed voter to hear a multitude of opinions.  Use them, along with a variety of others, as you make your choice as a delegate for the May RPV convention.

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

For many Americans, the Fourth of July is a day filled with cookouts and family gatherings capped off by a night filled with a colorful fireworks display.  However, given that the date serves as the commemoration for the birth of the nation, it is also steeped in politics.

On Wednesday afternoon, the city of Harrisonburg, Virginia held its annual parade to celebrate the day.  The weather was quite hot and sunny, a marked difference from last year when a virtual monsoon threatened to cancel the affair.

The parade boasted the usual assortment of floats and vehicles: musicians, fire and rescue teams, antique cars, and, of course, political groups.  This year, there were four different sets of folks who entered: the Republican Party, the Democratic Party, the Tea Party, and Abe Shearer for City Council.

Overall, the candidate who could claim the largest number of visible supporters in the parade had to be Representative Bob Goodlatte (VA-6).  There was a veritable sea of matching blue Goodlatte shirts among the Republicans.  Other Republican candidates were promoted as well including: Mitt Romney, George Allen, Mark Obenshain, and the various City Council hopefuls.

The Democratic Party had an impressive showing as well.  They waved signs in favor of Barack Obama, Tim Kaine, Andy Schmookler, and two City Council candidates. I spoke with Deb Fitzgerald, one of the Democratic candidates running, to ask if the Democratic Party only fielded two folks for the three seats up in November.  I discovered that although Kai Degner is running for re-election, he apparently had no signs printed to be used in the parade.

Running as an independent for City Council, Abe Shearer also made his presence known.  Even though some might be tempted to disregard independents, recent elections have shown that they offer beat the two party candidates for this particular office.  The outcome for this race will hinge heavily upon the battle between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama at the top of the ticket and the strength of the campaigns of each of the council candidates.

During the trip down Main Street, I walked alongside the Tea Party float handing out copies of the Constitution.  In general, the crowd was very receptive and so I ran out of materials a good distance from the end of the route.

Given that the Fourth is now five days passed, you might find it odd that it has taken me so long to write about it here.  Well, I’m afraid that I didn’t feel much like writing on the evening of the event.  On the drive back to the parking lot, I decided to catch a ride on the Tea Party float.  As we turned onto a side street, the mast holding the tea party sign struck a low-hanging branch and came loose.  Unfortunately, I happened to be in the path of the heavy wooden board as it fell to the ground.  Although it was only a glancing blow, the plank did graze the side of my head and collided with my shoulder.  At the time, I was worried about the severity of the injury, and, as a result of the pain, did very little for the rest of that evening.  However, I’m pleased to say that several days later, only a yellowish bruise and a bit of residual soreness seem to be the only lingering effects.

I suppose that one could see a bit of irony in the idea of a person who opposes the idea of government-run health insurance and also does not presently have health insurance due to the tremendous cost involved, becoming injured himself and possibly in need of assistance.  Nevertheless, if a person does find him or herself in such a state of need, should one demand that the government redress this problem?  Although freely given charity is laudable, the idea of a person compelling his or her neighbors to care for his or her needs through either force or coercion seems to completely reject the basic political tenets of liberty and freedom under which this country was supposedly founded.

Anyway, to sum up, except for the surprise accident at the end, I would say that the parade was a rousing success for all of the parties who choose to participate.  Speaking specifically of the tea party, I hope that I’ll see a few new faces at our meeting later this month.

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 61 other followers

%d bloggers like this: