This morning, I met with Jeannmarie Davis, one of the seven candidates seeking the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor, at the local Panara Bread in Harrisonburg. We spoke for about 40 minutes or so, discussing policy issues, Virginia politics, and, of course, the most pressing topic, the race for lieutenant governor. Our conversation was one of several stops for her on her busy campaign schedule today.
Speaking with Mrs. Davis in person was a welcome opportunity, a chance to talk without all of the hype and frenzy associated with debates, 30-second ad spots, and the legions of opinionated activists who have already chosen their political camps. After brief introductions, we delved into the heart of the matter, why she is running for this office, her political principles, and what she can bring to the table through her skills and knowledge.
One unique perspective that Jeannmarie Davis offers comes from her time as a member of Governor McDonnell’s cabinet. Several of the candidates have experience serving in the General Assembly, including Mrs. Davis herself, while others currently head local government, are business entrepreneurs, or are leaders in their communities. However, one can certainly make the point that her familiarity with the executive branch of the state government could prove quite valuable as our next lieutenant governor.
An opinion that Mrs. Davis stressed is that the Republican Party needs to nominate the candidate who is the most conservative possible, while still being electable. As she mentioned, despite the Democratic slant of both her former House of Delegates and state Senate districts, she still achieved electoral success while remaining solidly pro-life. Jeannmarie continued by remarking that, given the shifting demographics, if a statewide candidate is unable to run a competitive race in northern Virginia, it is almost certain that he or she will be unable to capture a large enough percentage of the vote in the rest of the state to garner victory. It is certainly a valid argument; purity is relatively meaningless when faced with the harsh reality of electoral failure.
As an aside, as I’ve written previously, at the end of the day I will support whichever candidate I believe is the most conservative/pro-liberty, who also has a competent campaign indicating that he or she has at least a reasonable chance at winning. It is too easy for new activists to fall into the trap of the Sir Galahad theory of politics, “I will win because my heart is pure.”
In addition, she mentioned that the Republican Party has done a particularly poor job in reaching out to many of the ethnic communities and that the party will enjoy very limited success if they simply concede these voters to the Democrats. By comparison, she stated that her campaign is actively courting these voters, not just for the Republican convention, but to also bolster the statewide totals in November.
When it comes to the issue of neglecting certain demographics, I added that the GOP has done a particularly poor job in reaching out to the newest generation of voters, the high school and college students. Drawing on a personal example, when I attended my first local Republican meeting at the age of 15, I was, not surprisingly, the youngest person in attendance. However, at the January gathering of our local GOP, almost 18 years later, regrettably I still had the distinction of being the youngest person there. As was the case at this weekend’s ISFLC, far too many leaders in the Republican Party seem to have forgotten about minorities, the youth, and the cause of liberty, another important factor that has contributed to the party’s decline in recent years.
Given that this issue has not made too much of an appearance in the forums thus far, I was somewhat surprised to hear about Mrs. Davis’ support of federalism and the 10th Amendment, a position that she mentioned has only solidified further during her time working in the Virginia Liaison Office in D.C.
Let me close by thanking Jeannemarie Davis and her staff for the opportunity to speak with her this morning. We certainly have areas where we agree as well as issues in which we don’t, but, as I’ve stressed time and time again, it is critically important for each delegate to the RPV convention to possess a strong understanding of all seven of the lieutenant governor candidates so that he or she can make a rational and informed decision, not merely on the first ballot, but on the second, third, and however many ballots that we end up casting so that we will nominate a candidate who will strongly articulate our values in Richmond for the next four years. Therefore, I encourage you to check out Jeannemarie’s website and record, compare it to everyone else who is running, and decide for yourself your first, second, and even third choice.