On Saturday, February 9th, the seven Republican candidates for lieutenant governor gathered for their second forum in Virginia’s sixth district, this time in Middletown, a small town in Frederick County. The Apple Valley Club, the Republican Women of Shenandoah County, and the Shenandoah Valley Constitutional Conservatives hosted the event. Suzanne Curran was the moderator and Karen Kwiatkowski kept the time.
The forum began with opening statements from the office seekers, an introduction that lasted for about an hour. After about a twenty-minute break, Ms. Curran asked a battery of questions on a whole host of topics. Unlike the previous event in Lynchburg, all of the candidates had an opportunity to answer each of the questions. It was common for the respondents to exceed their allotted time window; Ms. Kwiatkowski shook a cowbell to silence the candidates once his or her time had expired. In a particularly amusing moment, Pete Snyder bowed to the bell when it rang for him.
Many of the topics explored at the Middletown forum were the same issues that had been discussed at the last event. For the most part, it was difficult to differentiate among candidates. Although their delivery differed, all of them claimed to be conservative; each is supposedly pro-life, each supports the 2nd Amendment, and each decries the erosion of the Constitution and the massive overreach of the federal government. The only noticeable exception was when Jeannemarie Devolites Davis announced her support of background checks at gun shows. Presumably, the longer that the seven remain relatively indistinguishable, the bigger bump the E. W. Jackson campaign should receive. After all, Jackson’s fantastic oratory skills are perhaps the greatest advantage he enjoys over the other six.
However, as the title of this article indicates, there were some moments of particular interest as the forum drew to a close. Delegate Scott Lingamfelter and Corey Stewart took a few jabs at each other as Stewart blamed the General Assembly for many local problems and for lacking courage while Lingamfelter responded claiming that local government ought to shoulder more of the responsibility. Given their roles in local and state government, both Chairman Susan Stimpson and State Senator Steve Martin were drawn into fight, though Martin seemed to try to stay above the fray.
Pete Snyder’s closing remarks filled me with some small message of hope as he reminded the audience that if you have love in your heart, just about anything is possible. Also, at the end of the event Delegate Lingamfelter seemed to make it a point to speak with me personally and ask for my support. Whether he read my last post chastising him for his remarks about Ron Paul is uncertain, but I do appreciate his willingness to try to mend fences.
In general, most of the candidates appeared a bit more polished at the Middletown event and I did not catch any major gaffes. However, given his willingness to make bold statements such as claiming that the phrase “I introduced a bill” is almost useless in politics, I believe that Corey Stewart emerged as the clear winner at the forum in Middletown. I won’t say that I agree with every single position that he articulated, but the idea of nominating a candidate who is willing to call out his or her fellow Republicans is exceedingly important. Even though I’m admittedly still jaded by his anti-Paul piece, for going toe-to-toe with Stewart, Lingamfelter claimed second place.
To all of the candidates, I would recommend making every effort to stand out in the sea of seven, clearly articulating how your positions are different and better than the rest; failure to do so may mean that soon you will be forgotten.
Fellow blogger Craig Orndorff recorded the entire forum and you can find this video here! Watch and decide for yourself.