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Archive for April, 2013

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.

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A Radio Broadcast

On Thursday, as a result of the speech that I gave at Tuesday’s city council meeting, I found myself on WHSV TV-3 speaking about Heritage Oaks, Harrisonburg’s city run golf course.  I haven’t seen the clip yet, but once I can find it, I hope to share it with you on this site.

Tomorrow, I’m pleased to say that I’ll have another opportunity to speak with the local media.  Starting at 10 AM, you’ll be able to find me on Jim Britt’s radio show on 550 AM WSVA.  We will be discussing a number of political issues.  I’m not quite sure of the specific topics, but I’m guessing that we will delve into a host of local, state, and national matters including a multitude of current events.

If you happen to be free for some or part of that hour, I hope that you will consider tuning in.  I am told that should this stint go well, it could like turn in to a regular occurrence.  Am I a bit nervous?  Absolutely!  But, tomorrow’s opportunity represents an important culmination of many months of effort.

Exciting times indeed!

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Harrisonburg City CouncilOn Tuesday evening, the Harrisonburg City Council held their annual public hearing on next year’s fiscal budget.  Their proposals included several tax increases, including raising the property tax rate, the water rate, and the sewer rate.

During the public hearing section of the meeting, about a dozen city residents spoke.  The majority of these citizens voiced their support for greater energy efficiency in city buildings, some urging the creation of new position to study and improve this issue.

Fellow blogger Helen Shibut and I focused on a different topic, the city golf course.  Certainly a hot button topic for a number of years since its creation, unfortunately, the matter of the golf course has received scant attention as of late.

As I see it, there are two main problems with Heritage Oaks.

First, to the best of my knowledge, the golf course has lost money every year that it has been in operation.  In this most recent fiscal year, the course had a net loss of $514,951.  It is estimated that next year the course will cost taxpayers $377,666, certainly an improvement, but still a considerable net drain on city resources that could be used on other, more important projects, or, better yet, if eliminated, could lessen the need for these proposed tax hikes.

Second, is it the proper role of the city government to operate a golf course?  If public demand for a golf course were so great, wouldn’t the private sector have met this desire on its own accord?  Given that the course hemorrhages money year after year, does that fact mean that the course is run inefficiently, or simply unneeded?  And, as an added penalty, doesn’t the city-subsidized course hurt the privately owned golf facilities in the area?

For these reasons, I told the council that I believed that the city would be better off if it simply sold the course as soon as possible.

 

Afterward, Roger Baker, the former city manager and 2012 candidate for city council, spoke.  As part of his talk, he argued in favor of the course.

Although the Daily News Record, the local paper, covered the city council meeting in yesterday’s edition, they curiously made no mention of any discussion on the golf course issue.  One does have to wonder why.

Helen & The Council

Helen Shibut addresses the Harrisonburg City Council

During the brief break in the proceedings, several of the council members came over to Helen and me to speak on the matter.  Interestingly, it sounded as if some members of the council would be receptive to selling off the golf course provided they received a suitable offer.

Tuesday’s council meeting left me a bit more optimistic about the future of Harrisonburg and our city council members.

If you or anyone you know is interested in purchasing the Heritage Oaks Golf Course, please let city council know as soon as possible.  It is past time to sell off the golf course, not only for the financial burden it imposes on the taxpayers, but to finally return this pastime to the free market where it belongs.

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LPVA Secretary Marc Montoni & Chairman Chuck Moulton

Yesterday, the Libertarian Party of Virginia held their state convention in Waynesboro.  About forty people attended the event, including a handful of nonparty members.  The main purpose of the gathering was to decide if and who the party should nominate for governor in the upcoming November elections.

The only candidate who submitted his name for consideration was Rob Sarvis.  For the record, Mr. Sarvis previously ran for the Virginia State Senate as a Republican against Dick Saslaw in 2011.

Mr. Sarvis’ candidacy seemed to run into a bit of a roadblock almost immediately.  Chuck Moulton, the chairman of the party, suggested removing the requirement that a person must have been a member of the party for at least 30 days prior to the convention in order to vote.  Presumably such a move would aid Sarvis as it was quite likely he brought several new members to the convention to support his cause.  However, this idea was rejected.

Next, Laura Delhomme, one of the coordinators for the 2012 Gary Johnson campaign, and Bill Redpath, a previous Libertarian candidate for governor, spoke in favor of nominating Rob Sarvis.  James Curtis, treasurer of the Virginia Libertarian Party, argued the position that the party should not have a candidate for governor.

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Virginia Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Rob Sarvis

Then, Mr. Sarvis came to the podium and discussed his political positions and experience.  He declared that his campaign would be “an opportunity to serve the cause of liberty”.  Afterward, he fielded questions and comments from the audience.  One major sticking point with a few of the delegates revolved around his work on an app called Pic Bubbler.  According to the app’s website it seeks to “get people naked” by creating the illusion of nudity.  Some worried that Sarvis’ association with the app could negatively affect perceptions of the party.  In addition, the leadership of the party raised quite a few hard-hitting doubts regarding Mr. Sarvis’ commitment to the party and his ability to spread their message; it seemed quite possible that the Libertarian Party would end up without a nominee.

Although a fair number of the eligible attendees did not vote, Mr. Sarvis was approved by a 14-5 margin.  Thus, assuming he collects the required number of signatures, Libertarian Rob Sarvis will appear on the November ballot alongside Republican Ken Cuccinelli and Democrat Terry McAuliffe.

No candidates stepped forward to be either the lieutenant governor or attorney general nominee for the Libertarian Party and so those two spots will remain vacant.

After that, the two Libertarian Party candidates for House of Delegates who attended the convention (of the ten statewide) spoke about their campaigns.  Keegan Sturdivant is running in the 8th district while Laura Delhomme is doing likewise in the 47th.

Although the convention itself had many contentious moments, with business concluded, the gathering took a more cordial tone, moving to the nearby Greenleaf Restaurant in downtown Waynesboro where attendees enjoyed dinner, drinks, and a few hours of stimulating conversation.

In comparison to the recent Republican conventions, Sunday’s Libertarian gathering was a good bit shorter and less theatrical.

So how will the Libertarian Party fair in the 2013 elections?  Will this year mark the election where they finally capture a seat in state government?  Only time will tell.

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Susan Stimpson M.I.A.

Last night, the Republican Women of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County hosted the seven campaigns for lieutenant governor.  Jeannemarie Davis, Senator Steve Martin, and a rather hoarse sounding Corey Stewart each attended the event while Suzanne Curran spoke on behalf of E. W. Jackson and Scott Lingamfelter and Pete Snyder sent a member of their staff.  Although I didn’t see anyone that I knew from the Susan Stimpson campaign, I assumed that one of her staffers or surrogates was in the audience.

For a few additional details about the evening, Corey Stewart explained that he nearly lost his voice after personally calling each of the Rockingham County delegates.  And, after the event, I appreciated the opportunity to speak briefly to Jeannemarie Davis about her campaign.  She asked about my work and so I spoke of a potentially exciting new development to expand my reach to local radio (hopefully I’ll have more details available soon!)

Getting back to Susan Stimpson, at the Lingamfelter meet and greet in Harrisonburg earlier that day, I had heard that she had to cancel her evening appearance at the last minute.  However, I figured that someone would speak for her that night.  Unfortunately, I arrived to the Republican Women meeting a few minutes late, during the speech of Jeannemarie Davis.  Once all of the candidates gave their presentation and I didn’t hear anyone from the Stimpson campaign, I simply guessed that her representative must have spoken first, before I arrived.  Only just this afternoon did I discover that her campaign was a no show.

Although I would recommend attending every event possible, especially the Republican Women, it is understandable that things do come up.  Regardless, it is natural that some of the local women would feel slighted by an abrupt cancellation.

Now, taken as an isolated incident, this oversight by the Stimpson campaign would be rather trivial.  However, it seems to be indicative of trend for the Stimpson campaign; last night marks their third absence in several months at previously scheduled campaign events in the central Shenandoah Valley.

Let me tell you that I’m not the only one around here who is starting to wonder.  Where is Susan Stimpson?

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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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Richard McCarty with Ed Meese

On April 20th, delegates to the Young Republican Federation of Virginia have a number of important choices to make as they decide who will lead this organization into the future.

I’d like to briefly tell you a little bit about Richard McCarty, one of the two candidates for first vice chairman.

Richard McCarty is someone that I have known for quite a long while.  I first met him through our time in the William & Mary College Republicans.  Some time later, our paths crossed professionally again as we both worked to promote the pro-life cause at college campuses across the nation.  Over the years, he has proven himself to be a tireless advocate for a multitude of important conservative causes.

Now, Richard is running for the position of first vice chairman within the Young Republican Federation of Virginia.  This is a job for which I believe he possesses the necessary fortitude, conviction, and know-how to be a tremendous asset to the YRFV.

During my time in politics, I have been involved in a multitude of different organizations.  Besides writing this blog for almost five years, I have been an employee of the Republican Party of Virginia, proudly was employed as a campaign staffer for Dr. Ron Paul, and currently serve on the board of directors for the Shenandoah Valley Tea Party.  Although I only speak for myself on this matter and not any of these organizations, I firmly believe that the YRFV executive board needs someone like Richard McCarty.

Even though we do not agree on every single issue, I believe that it is impossible to find an individual who is more devoted to his principles and the organizations of which he is a part than Richard.  Let me add that I am pleased, not only to call him my friend, but also work alongside him in the fight for limited government conservatism.

For these reasons, I’m proud to offer my endorsement of Richard McCarty for First Vice Chairman for the YRFV.  I hope that the delegates will strongly support Richard’s candidacy at the upcoming convention on April 20th.

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