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Archive for March, 2013

Harrisonburg City CouncilLast night, the Harrisonburg City Council assembled for their bi-monthly meeting.  Although I had attended several of their gatherings over the last few months, tonight I went for a specific purpose; I planned to speak with the council regarding pedestrian safety in the city.

When the mayor motioned for me to approach the podium, my heart became a jackhammer in my chest.  For those who know me, this reaction might seem rather strange.  After all, I love speaking about politics with anyone and everyone who cares to listen (as well as many people who don’t).  However, this experience brought back a rather harsh memory, a reminder of the last time that I spoke before the council.

If we rewind the clock, 2006 marked both the first and only time that I stood before the Harrisonburg City Council.  Back then, the council held a public forum regarding selling the Harrisonburg High School building to James Madison University.  As it turned out, the hearing was little more than a formality.  Looking back, it seemed that the deal was more or less made and whatever the public opinion happened to be, it mattered little to the members of council.  As I recall, they weren’t a particularly receptive or sympathetic group and offering my opinion to them was a waste of time.

However unreceptive that council happened to be, the Harrisonburg School Board was far worse.  Arguing that the city schools shouldn’t forgo any usable classroom space, I informed the board about my experiences in 8th grade at Thomas Harrison Middle School; where I spent a good chunk of my days in one of those trailer units and how, when we got a heavy rain, I had to place a trashcan on my desk to collect the rainwater which dripped through the leaky roof.  Once I relayed my thoughts, I left the meeting.  I was told that after I did so, one of members of the school board stated that I was a liar.  As you might imagine, news of this allegation made me so incensed that I located my 8th grade homeroom teacher, a woman that I had not seen in many years, to see if she would either deny or confirm what I had said.  Yes, she told me that my memory was correct.  Another bitter pill to swallow was the fact that most of the councilmen and school board members, including the one who claimed I was deceptive, were fellow Republicans!

So, getting back to last night, with all of these thoughts in my mind as I spoke before the council, I felt that my words were horribly nervous and disjointed and, although I had planned what I wanted to say beforehand, nothing came out right.  It was an important issue, but, at that moment, I thought I was a poor spokesman.  I tried to remedy the situation in my mind by reminding myself that all but one of these men were not the same as the ones from 2006, that I had spoken to each previously and, with the possible exception of Mr. Chenault, each knew me and presumably we had some measure of respect for each other.  In fact, in mid 2012, Mayor Byrd told me that he read this blog.  But the memories from over half a decade ago gone by proved to be too strong.  Hopefully, they will lessen in time, but I believe that I must force myself to go before the council again, (once I have something important to discuss) so that these newly rediscovered demons from the past can be put to rest.

My take-home message to you, the reader, is as follows.  No one should ever be afraid to talk with their elected representatives, be they local, state, or federal.  Don’t ever be tricked into thinking that you exist to serve the government; the government exists to serve you.  And so friends, I encourage you once again to study the important political issues of the day, speak out when the time calls for it, and never be cowed into silence, as I was for many years in local matters.

In liberty, now and always!

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After Senator Rand Paul’s filibuster over the use of drones to kill American citizens, Senator John McCain responded by calling him and several other legislators “wacko birds“.  In answer, Representative Justin Amash offered an amusing response on Twitter, which reads:

Amash TweetAs you may know, while Senator Paul and other supporters of liberty launched this filibuster, Senator McCain and others in the establishment crowd were absent from the fight, instead enjoying dinner with President Obama.

I’ll applaud the efforts of any legislator who is willing to stand up for our civil liberties against the ever-expanding encroachment of the federal government.  However, even though it is several days old, to offer such a witty reply, as Rep. Amash has done, cannot pass without mention on this blog.

Now I’m sure some politicians (like Senators McCain and Graham) would like nothing more than for the liberty wing of the Republican Party to shut up and go away.  I’m just glad that there are folks like Rep. Amash and Sen. Paul in Washington who are able to lead with both principles and humor.

You call join me in following Rep. Amash on Twitter here.

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Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell

With the blessing of Governor Bob McDonnell, Virginia’s General Assembly recently passed a transportation bill has upset huge numbers of conservatives across the state.  Labeled as the largest (or second largest) tax increase in Virginia history, many activists see the move as an outright betrayal of McDonnell’s election pledge to find other ways to fund transportation without a tax hike.

Rumors circulate that after leaving office in November, the governor will set his sights on either the 2014 U.S. Virginia Senate seat or even the 2016 presidency.  In order to thwart McDonnell’s higher political ambitions, a group called the Patriot SuperPAC recently ran an ad in Iowa warning voters in that state that McDonnell is not the fiscal conservative he pretends to be.  Today, the PAC released another ad targeting the people of New Hampshire.

Although the 2016 presidential race will not begin in earnest for at least another year, these sorts of messages clearly illustrate an important reality.  Bob McDonnell has upset a whole lot of Virginia conservatives and his effort to cement a legacy for himself through transportation tax hikes likely makes it almost impossible for him to ever win back the support of this key constituency.

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Jeannemarie Davis

Jeannemarie Davis

Since Thursday of last week, visitors to the Virginia Conservative have had the opportunity to voice their support for Republican candidates for lieutenant governor.  With the poll now closed and with 634 votes cast in total, Jeannemarie Davis emerged as the clear winner.

To give you some history, in the early hours of the poll, Susan Stimpson maintained a fairly sizable lead.  However, as the first day continued, Davis overtook Stimpson and continued to hold dominance throughout the remaining time window.  There were a few bursts of activity from Stewart supporters and a smaller influx from the Lingamfelter crowd, but nothing compared to the Davis surge.

The final results are as follows:

Jeannemarie Davis   262 votes or 41.32%

Susan Stimpson       121 votes or 19.09%

Corey Stewart          115 votes or 18.14%

Scott Lingamfelter   64 votes or 10.09%

Pete Snyder              42 votes or 6.62%

E. W. Jackson           26 votes or 4.1%

Steve Martin             4 votes or .063%

So what do these results mean?  Does a victory or a loss on a Virginia Conservative poll necessarily translate into success or failure in May?  Obviously, the answer is no.  As anyone could vote in this poll, (regardless of whether he or she happens to be a delegate), the votes are not weighted or sorted by city or county, and a vast majority of delegates did not participate, the outcome is not useful for this purpose.  You should know this fact already, but the poll is far removed from being anything remotely scientific.

In an amusing side note, on Saturday I spoke with Steven Thomas, the regional campaign representative for the Davis campaign, and asked if he knew of my poll.  He mentioned that he had voted in it, but added that online polls didn’t carry too much weight.  I told him that I agreed with his opinion, but also asked if he knew that his boss, Jeannemarie Davis, was winning at that time.

So, getting back to our previous question, what do these results mean then?  Well, they are fairly useful tools for assessing the online capabilities of a campaign.  Typically, when one of these polls pop up, the campaigns send out messages urging their supporters to go vote for their candidate.  Assuming that they did so, these results would indicate that the Davis campaign was most proficient at this task.  By comparison, I have seen little activity either here on the ground or online from Senator Martin’s campaign in over a month.  Given his total of a mere four votes, this result mirrors this observation.

So what were my expectations?  I’ll admit that when I created this poll, I expected one of two different outcomes.  First, given the relative strength and tenacity of her supporters in the Shenandoah Valley, Susan Stimpson would win this poll.  Although she performed well early and captured second place, Davis had more than twice the vote totals of any other candidate.  Second, given the impressive online capabilities of the Pete Snyder campaign, I wouldn’t have been surprised to see him win either.  However, given his fifth place finish, either the Snyder campaign took little to no notice of this poll, or his support isn’t quite as robust as I had predicted.  Now some people have accused Davis supporters of trolling, but I really hope that they have better things to do than resetting their cookies in order to vote multiple times.

Let me conclude by tipping my hat to the Davis campaign.  Yes, they won this relatively minor poll, but, far more importantly, they continue to show that they are one of the most active lieutenant governor campaigns in the Shenandoah Valley.  At just about every political gathering in this region either Davis or one of her staffers have been faithfully promoting her campaign.  And, whether you agree or disagree with Jeannemarie’s positions, a strong and active campaign is a critical element in political success.

So, once again, I offer kudos to the Davis campaign.

As a final note, if you are looking for a more in-depth questionnaire on the 2013 RPV convention, I strongly encourage you to check out Willie Deutsch’s new poll.  It should be exciting to see his results!

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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!

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Stimpson at FrancosOn Friday evening, political activists gathered at Franco’s in Harrisonburg to meet with Susan Stimpson, a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor.  All in all, about twenty-five folks were in attendance, including several from as far away as Luray, VA.  The campaign offered each person pizza and a selection of soft drinks.

Rather than opening with a speech, Mrs. Stimpson greeted each attendee personally and then sat and spoke about whatever thoughts and issues happened to come up.  Laura Logie, a well-known personality in Republican circles, asked Stimpson about her close connections with Speaker Howell, a concern that is shared by many conservatives.  Susan Stimpson replied that she has had a number of political disagreements with Bill Howell since early 2012 and stated that she stands behind her political principles, not personal relationships.

Another interesting facet of the Stimpson gathering was the impressive number of younger voters.  Unlike many political events which have seen a dwindling or nonexistent number of high school students in recent years, nearly one third of the audience were twenty years old or younger.  Emily Morris, the young woman who organized “A Question of Liberty” last year, played a large part in this turnout.

As I had to leave at 5:30, I cannot report about the rest of the meeting.  Nevertheless, it is always good to see Susan Stimpson and the other Virginia statewide candidates in the Shenandoah Valley.

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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.

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