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Posts Tagged ‘Steve Landes’

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_1848At 11:30 AM today, Delegate Scott Lingamfelter (R-31) came to Harrisonburg to speak about his campaign for lieutenant governor.  Later in the evening, the Republican Women of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County held an event featuring each of the seven Republican candidates.  However, as Delegate Lingamfelter was unable to attend this gathering in person, he decided to meet with the local delegates beforehand.

Prior to Delegate Lingamfelter’s speech, two Valley legislators offered their thoughts and praise for him, Delegate Tony Wilt (R-26) and Delegate Steve Landes (R-25).  Both men have previously endorsed his candidacy.

Expecting a similar message to his last trip to Harrisonburg, I did not record Delegate Lingamfelter’s words.  However, he offered a bit of a different message, focusing upon the proper role of government and ways in which he can make an impact as lieutenant governor to promote his philosophy.  He stressed that one should never abandon his or her principles for the sake of political power.

During the question and answer period that followed, I asked Scott Lingamfelter about one of my greatest reservations, his harsh condemnation of Ron Paul and his supporters after Paul’s unfortunate and ill-timed comments made after the death of a U.S. soldier.  Presumably quite a few Paul supporters would appreciate a good bit of the Delegate’s record and rhetoric if not for his anti-Paul rebuke.  Lingamfelter admitted that some of his words were written out of the anger stemming from the moment, given his personal experience dealing with the death of fellow soldiers and praised Paul for raising awareness for important issues such as auditing the Federal Reserve.  As he pointed out from his campaign card, Delegate Lingamfelter has been advocating an audit of the state government.  He also added that his greatest regret arising from that situation included his statement made against Senator Rand Paul, given Paul’s impressive effort to curtail the power of the federal government over the domestic drone issue.

Lastly, I briefly spoke with Delegate Lingamfelter’s campaign staff regarding American’s for Growth and Prosperity [sic], the group responsible for anti-Lingamfelter attack pieces.  Although I have no objection to criticizing the record of any candidate, I do not approve of a person or campaign that attacks a person anonymously.  Such a move is not only questionable from a legal standpoint, but also reeks of cowardice.  A word of advice to the other six candidates: if your campaign is behind this action, I urge you to admit it and come forward now.  Yes, point out your objections to Delegate Lingamfelter, but do so openly.  I doubt many undecided delegates, myself included, would look upon your campaign favorably should ties be unearthed between your candidacy and this anti-Lingamfelter front group.

Getting back to my main point, Delegate Lingamfelter seems have build up a considerable statewide following, though his previous statements immensely weakened his chance of capturing any segment of the pro-liberty/Paul delegates.  Will today’s comments in Harrisonburg help erase these misgivings?  Is more required?  Or is the damage simply irreversible?  We’ll find out in about a month, once the 2013 RPV Convention delegates select their nominee.

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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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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.

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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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On Monday, political activists from across the commonwealth of Virginia gathered in Richmond to participate in the annual Lobby Day.  Shortly before 7 AM that morning, I boarded a bus headed to the state capital to participate in these activities.  My fellow passengers included other members of the Shenandoah Valley Tea Party as well as the Valley Family Forum, and even a person or two from the Virginia Citizens Defense League.

After Harrisonburg, we made stops in Staunton and Waynesboro, picking up additional folks along the way.  With our busload of around thirty-five, we crossed over Afton Mountain and made our way to our destination.

Shortly before arriving, we discovered that the pro-life presentation offered by the Family Foundation had reached its capacity, so Lois Paul (one of the tea party leaders), Lisa McCumsey, (the campaign manager for Karen Kwiatkowski), and myself decided to explore the capital on our own.

Our first stop was the general assembly office building.  Although most delegates and senators were unavailable, I did appreciate the opportunity to speak with Delegate Landes (R-25) and my own Delegate, Tony Wilt (R-26) about their upcoming legislative proposals.

Jamie Radtke at Lobby Day

From there, we gathered with supporters of the Virginia Citizens Defense League around the bell tower on the capitol grounds.  At this rally, I found two of the Republican candidates for U.S. Senate.  While Jamie Radtke spoke to the crowd, David McCormick milled around the crowd gathering signatures to be on the ballot.

David McCormick at Lobby Day

After that, we enjoyed lunch at the Tobacco Company restaurant.   In the lounge of that establishment, the newly formed Central Virginia Tea Party welcomed visitors.  Surprisingly, I ran into the Virginia chairman for the Gary Johnson campaign while returning from the restroom.  We chatted briefly about the presidential race and each offered a bit of speculation as to the future of the Ron Paul movement.

From there, we toured the capitol building itself.  Unfortunately, by this point, neither the House nor the Senate was in session and so we could not enter those chambers.

Delegate Bob Marshall with his new bill

Shortly before our return to the bus, Delegate Bob Marshall crossed our path.  He was on the way to the capitol to present a new bill.  He stated that his proposal would exempt Virginians from unconstitutional detentions allowed in the recently signed National Defense Authorization Act.  I’m always glad to discover new ways that our legislators are working to protect us from the excesses of the federal government.

On the ride back, several of us collected signatures for the various Senate and House candidates while a good chunk of the attendees took the opportunity to nap.  About half of my fellow riders accepted a DVD explaining why they should support Dr. Ron Paul in the upcoming March 6th primary.

All in all, it was a great trip.  If you couldn’t make it to Lobby Day 2012, I recommend marking your calendars in advance so that you won’t miss out next time.

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On Saturday, the Harrisonburg GOP, the Rockingham County GOP, and the local Republican Women held a fundraiser at the Stone Family Barn in Harrisonburg.  The event featured delicious local BBQ and a wide range of tempting desserts prepared by the Republican Women.  In addition, Dave Kyger and his band provided some excellent bluegrass music.

Harrisonburg’s own State Senator Mark Obenshain was the first of many well-known speakers, which included Susan Allen, the wife of former Governor and U.S. Senate candidate George Allen, and U.S. Representative Bob Goodlatte (VA-6).  The audience brimmed with elected representatives and Republican hopefuls, a virtual who’s who role call in local politics.  The complete list (and I hope I haven’t left anyone out) also included: Karen Kwiatkowski of Shenandoah County (a candidate for Virginia’s 6th district House of Representatives seat), State Senator Emmett Hanger of Augusta County, Delegate Tony Wilt of Rockingham County, Delegate Steve Landes of Augusta County, Delegate Rob Bell of Albemarle County, Bryan Hutcheson (a candidate for Harrisonburg/Rockingham County Sheriff), Commonwealth Attorney Marsha Garst, Clerk of Court Chaz Evans-Haywood, Rockingham County Treasurer Todd Garber, Rockingham County Supervisor Pablo Cuevas, Rockingham County Supervisor Fred Eberly, Rockingham County Commissioner of the Revenue Lowell Barb, and Harrisonburg School Board member Greg Coffman.

This event proved to be another excellent opportunity to collect signatures to get both Representative Ron Paul and former Governor Gary Johnson of New Mexico on Virginia’s ballot for the 2012 Republican primary.  Whether you support Paul or someone else, I encourage you to sign these petitions so that each Virginian can have a great range of options when we go to vote next year.

As the event came to a close, the party held an auction to raise additional funds.  There were a wide variety of items on the block including many of the same desserts we previously enjoyed with our meal.  Of course, I would be remiss if I failed to offer thanks to Chuck Ahrend whose hard work made this experience possible.

Overall, the event seemed to go quite well.  If you are a local Republican who unfortunately missed Saturday’s event, I encourage you to mark your calendars in advance for next year’s gathering.  You shouldn’t let this occasion pass you by.

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Well, with the summer winding down, fair season is in the air.  This week, Augusta County is holding their annual festival.  In every year past, I have attended the Rockingham County Fair and skipped the one to the south.  However, as I’m still in the city of Staunton, I figured that I might as well experience theirs while I am so close.

My first stop inside was the Republican Party booth.  As is the case back at home, a fair serves as an excellent opportunity to spread information about candidates and causes that many attendees might not hear otherwise.  Standing in front of the table was Delegate Dickie Bell (R-20, Staunton).  Besides folks running for city and county offices, I could also find information on Delegate Cline and Delegate Landes.  However, short of a few signs, there was nothing for Senator Emmett Hanger.  This fact might seem odd, but given that Delegate Bell is the only member of the General Assembly in the entire Shenandoah Valley who faces a Democratic opponent, I guess Senator Hanger didn’t want to spend any money to campaign.  Perhaps the greatest surprise was the stack of bumper stickers and brochures from former Senator George Allen.  Although the 2012 primary is a good way off, it never hurts to remind people that you are running.

In general, I found the Augusta Fair to be a bit disappointing when compared to Rockingham.  Although all of the display booths are rented already in Rockingham, this fair had numerous empty spots in the exhibition hall.  There wasn’t even a Democratic table.  Also, the layout was pretty poor.  At the entrance, they force attendees down a certain path, like rats in a maze.  As a whole, the grounds aren’t as large and don’t offer as wide a range of activities and vendors.  I’ll freely admit that the bear show was an amusing (and free) aspect, but, overall, the fair lack pizzazz. Then again, prior to today, I’ve only been to two other fairs.  Perhaps the grandeurs of Rockingham County and Münster (Germany) have spoiled me.  After all, according to Wikipedia, The LA Times has rated the Rockingham County Fair as one of the best rural fairs in the country.

Therefore, my recommendation is to visit the Augusta Fair if you get the chance, but, if you can only attend one, make sure not to miss Rockingham.

Now that I’ve hyped it, we’ll have to see what the Rockingham Fair holds in store in the coming days.  For those politophiles out there, I hear that the Governor will be coming to that event in the early part of next week.  I’ll try to snag some pictures.

Until then!

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Continuing our series on redistricting, I’d like to focus on the likely new boundaries for the lower house of the  Virginia General Assembly, the House of Delegates.  In today’s segment, we will be looking at my home past and present, the city of Harrisonburg and the surrounding county of Rockingham.

The city of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County in western Virginia

The first question we ought to ask is, how are the House of Delegates districts currently drawn?  Well, as of the last Census, they looked as follows:

As you can see, the 26th district (represented by Del. Tony Wilt of Broadway which is a town in Rockingham) encompasses the city and the northern half of the county.  The rest is split between the 20th (represented by Del. Dickie Bell of Staunton city), the 25th (represented by Del. Steve Landes of Weyers Cave, a town in Augusta County), and the 15th (represented by Del. Todd Gilbert of Mt. Jackson, a town in Shenandoah County).

Here’s a modest redistricting proposal.   Because Harrisonburg has a greater population density than the surrounding county, both Harrisonburg and Rockingham County could be represented by two delegates assuming one collected the pieces from the 20th, 25th, and 15th.  Although I believe that all four delegates have done a good job representing our shared Valley values, wouldn’t it make more sense to shave that number to two (or three depending on how the lines break)?  Doesn’t it seem logical to have Rockingham County voters represented by, oh I don’t know, a citizen from Rockingham County?  Instead we have only one Rockingham resident Delegate, as listed above, the rest are from Staunton, Augusta, and Shenandoah.  Nevertheless, even if they aren’t all from Rockingham or Harrisonburg, at least they are all from the Shenandoah Valley.

So what fate will redistricting have on Rockingham County?  The most likely outcome, offered by Delegate Chris Jones of Suffolk and passed by the Virginia Senate looks like this:

Del. Jones' Plan

Disappointingly, this map still quarters Rockingham County between four seats.  Like before, the 26th comprises the bulk while the remainder is divvied up between the 15th, the 25th, and a surprising newcomer, the 58th.  As you might notice, the 25th takes an ugly jut through southwest Rockingham County as it swallows up territory formerly in the 20th.  Traveling south and east we see that both the 20th and 25th districts are both heavily gerrymandered under this plan.

Regarding the 25th, does anyone else see a problem with a house district that goes from the West Virginia border to the outskirts of the city of Charlottesville around 50 miles away?  Can you honestly tell me that the citizens of Rockingham have much in common with those living in the suburbs of Charlottesville?  Having personally lived in both localities, I can assure you that they are as similar as night and day.

And what of this 58th district?  That seat is currently held by Delegate Rob Bell of Charlottesville.  Again, I have no complaints against this Del. Bell, but if Rockingham residents can’t be represented by their neighbors shouldn’t they at least be represented by folks in the culturally connected Valley?  Guess what citizens of Rockingham!  In order to visit the office of your new delegate, you’ll have to cross the Blue Ridge Mountains, travel through Greene County and then into Albemarle County.  For some of you, that likely means a forty-five minute drive.  Good luck with that.

All of this discussion begs the question, why is Rockingham split as it is?  Well, both Rockingham County and Augusta County to the south are some of the two most reliably Republican voting areas of the state.  Think back to 2008 when Jim Gilmore was absolutely destroyed in the race for U.S. Senate.  What were two of the measly six localities he won?  Rockingham and Augusta.

2008 Virginia Senate Race

So why has Rockingham County swapped one Delegate Bell (Dickie) for another (Rob)?  The answer may be seniority.  After all, any Republican politician would love to have some rich conservative Rockingham soil in his or her district.  Given that Del. Bell of Charlottesville has been in office for eight more years than Del. Bell of Staunton, I’m guessing padding his district is of greater importance to Del. Jones and whoever else had a hand in drawing this map.  All the while, the voters of Rockingham are mere pawns in this political horse swap.

If for no other reason than for the sake of my friends and family who are spread around Rockingham County, I hope this plan fails.  Sure, it helps conservative Republicans, which is desirable for those who share my ideology, but it does so at the unacceptable expense of undermining our political process.  Rockingham County is more than just a wheel of cheese to be sliced up as is politically convenient.

Anyway, the take home point is this:  For gerrymandering pure and simple this plan ought to be rejected by the General Assembly, the Governor, and the courts.

Something is rotten in Rockingham.  I can’t be the only person who notices this truth!

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