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Picture by the JMU College Republicans

Picture by the JMU College Republicans of the April 22nd, 2012 debate

Tomorrow, April 3rd, three student groups on the campus of James Madison University will be participating in a spirited political debate.  Katie Pillis and Mitch Weissman will be representing the College Democrats, Cole Trower and Nicole Clark will speak for the College Republicans, and Helen Shibut and Luke Wachob will offer their perspective from Madison Liberty.

For the past several semesters, these organizations have come together to enhance dialogue at JMU.  For those who have not attended previously, here is a short write-up and video from their April 22nd, 2012 debate.

The debate will be taking place starting at 7:00 PM on April 3rd, at Miller Hall in Room 1101.  As with previous gatherings, it should prove to be both an enjoyable and informative time and so I hope to see you there tomorrow!

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Maybe due to geography or conflicting obligations you ended up missing the Shenandoah Valley Tea Party’s U.S. Senate debate on October 20th.  Well, for those who did, I’m pleased to report that you can now watch the entire event from the comfort of your home computer.  Special thanks for this effort should go to the Tea Party, Sandy Garst, Dave Mason, and the Shenandoah Area Working Group.

To whet your appetite, here is the first segment:

You’ve already read my thoughts on the debate.  You’ve also heard from Helen Shibut, Karen Kwiatkowski, Luke Wachob, and Sarah Prescott.   But why not listen to the whole presentation and decide for yourself?  You can view the rest of the videos here.

There is a lot going on the Shenandoah Valley these days.  Besides reading local blogs such as mine, I highly recommend signing up for the Shenandoah Valley Tea Party’s newsletter.  You can do so by simply sending an email request to shenvalleyteaparty@hotmail.com.

Watch these videos, visit the candidates’ websites, and attend their gatherings when they come into town.  As voters, we have an obligation to select the candidate who will best represent our principles in Washington.  Do you know who that person is for you?

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On Thursday, four Senate candidates gathered in Verona to participate in the Shenandoah Valley Tea Party’s debate.  These participants include three Republicans, Tim Donner, E. W. Jackson, and David McCormick and one Independent candidate, Kevin Chisholm.  There were also three vacant chairs on the stage set aside for George Allen and Tim Kaine who both declined the invitation as well as one of Jamie Radtke who withdrew less than a week prior to the event.

The debate itself included a wide variety of issues: the size of the federal government, national debt, the 10th amendment and federalism, property rights, among others. It was gratifying, not only to be selected by the Tea Party to craft some of the debate questions, but also to hear the candidates discuss ideas that I think are important.  However, I would have liked to have the four gentlemen share their thoughts on foreign policy.  Unfortunately, there just wasn’t enough time to cover everything.  Hopefully, the next debate will delve into this topic and more.

Here are a few impressions of the candidates.  In the early portion of the debate, Kevin Chisholm spoke favorably of Woodrow Wilson, the League of Nations, and the United Nations.  Presumably these viewpoints would not find much traction among the tea party faithful.  In addition, he was either unfamiliar with or offered no strong opinions regarding the Patriot Act, Agenda 21, and Kelo vs. City of New London.  Although no candidate can claim to know everything, this lack of knowledge could weaken his chances.

From earlier reports, I expected a great debate from both E. W. Jackson and Tim Donner.  They both have a reputation as forceful speakers and I think that this debate reinforced this idea.  Bishop Jackson seemed to win over the crowd as he garnered the most applause of any of the candidates.  Given his statements, I have mixed feelings about him.  He advocates removing U.S. involvement in the U.N. and supports state nullification of unconstitutional federal laws, which shows his commitment to federalism.  Conversely his almost unconditional support for Israel may needlessly embroil the nation into another unnecessary war.  Also, if I understood him correctly, although he opposes the invasive TSA searches, planning to vote to extend the Patriot Act creates worrisome questions regarding his support of civil liberties.

Switching to Tim Donner, his most memorable line came when he compared the government in Washington D.C. to our pre-Revolutionary oppression with Great Britain.  Although he held his ground well, he didn’t offer much in the way of any other bold comments and thus lost a bit of ground to the other candidates.

Flanked by both Jackson and Donner, David McCormick remained in the background for most of the debate.  His soft-spoken style seemed more akin to a storyteller than a debater.  Nevertheless, as the debate continued, I began to pay more attention to Mr. McCormick once he stated that he would not vote to renew the Patriot Act as well as the idea that the federal government ought to have no role in our health care.  He came alive toward the end of the event, but time expired before he could make serious inroads with the crowd.

There was also a straw poll at the debate.  Yesterday, I thought I heard unofficially that E. W. Jackson emerged the victor with around 45% of the vote.  A few moments ago, I received the official results and they are as follows:

George Allen 1%

Jamie Radtke 1%

Kevin Chisholm 1%

Undecided 3%

David McCormick 8%

Tim Donner 20%

E. W. Jackson 65%

Congratulations to Mr. Jackson for his convincing victory in the debate.  I once again encourage you to learn more about Mr. Jackson and the rest of the field, but in recognition of this feat, I’ll include a link to his website here.

I appreciate that these four candidates faced the voters to answer some very difficult questions.  Although the frontrunners were absent, one cannot win the hearts and minds of voters with mere mailings and T.V. ads.  Clearly advocating shared principles through personal contact is a key to representative government.

Overall, although attendance was less than I had hoped, I rate the event as a success.  Thanks to the Shenandoah Valley Tea Party for this event.  Hopefully all of the candidates will take the time to participate in the next debate.

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VC Note:  I received this article yesterday from Karen Kwiatkowski, a Republican candidate for Virginia’s sixth district House of Representatives seat.  She writes concerning last week’s debate in Verona between four of the U.S. Senate candidates.

The Shenandoah Valley Tea Party Patriots debate for U.S. Senate candidates was revealing.  Some of the good:

  • All candidates wanted to reduce the size of government, both budget and power.
  • All candidates believed state’s rights and the constitution were important, preferring decentralized government.
  • Most were willing, as Ronald Reagan once promised, to eliminate the Department of Education and the Department of Energy, and to reduce EPA funding.
  • Most were willing to repeal or alter the Patriot Act; one candidate advocated dissolution of the TSA, to loud applause.

Some answers were bad, reflecting an alarming lack of awareness about how the economy works and how much the federal government spends.

  • When asked if they would scrap the current tax code, all candidates said they wanted lower and smarter taxation.  But they offered revenue neutral proposals, such as Fair tax or Flat Tax, or “making up the difference” in targeted and sin taxes.   No Independent or Conservative candidate was willing to seriously reduce the overall federal haul.
  • Several “conservative” candidates said they would actually vote to raise the federal debt ceiling under the “right” circumstances.
  • To create jobs, candidates advocated incentives, protectionism, import tariffs to force us to buy American, tax code manipulation, and reducing regulations.  None clearly stated that prosperity, liberty and productive entrepreneurialism – real job creation — is sustained only when government remains small, limited, and strictly constitutional.

In terms of ugly, I noted these:

  • When asked about how they would stop executive overreach, and presidential and regulatory lawmaking, all expressed concern, but none had a solution.  As aspirants to the Senate, they should have simply said:  “Executive agencies attempting to “legislate” through rulemaking will be defunded.”
  • When asked about the Occupy Wall Street movement, most candidates expressed distaste and disgust.  None pointed out demonstrators would be better off in D.C., protesting federal agencies, departments and the Federal Reserve for rewarding improper financial activities, and for creating the environment, rules, and incentives in which Wall Street financial institutions exist and operate.

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Over the weekend, I received some very disappointing news.  Republican Senate candidate Jamie Radtke has decided to withdraw from the Shenandoah Valley Tea Party’s October 20th Senate debate.  Citing that former Governor George Allen will not be participating, the Radtke campaign announced that they too would be absent despite an earlier commitment to attend.

In my opinion, this decision could prove to be a key misstep for the Radtke campaign for at least three key reasons:

Everyone who will be attending the debate knew well in advance that George Allen would not be there.  Therefore, it is likely that many of the attendees who will be showing up are doing so in the hopes of finding an alternative to Mr. Allen.  With Jamie Radtke absent, she will lose a chance to convince these voters both of her merit and to prove herself as the worthy conservative front-runner for this title.

Every occasion a candidate has to speak is another prospect of raising funds.  According to the Radtke Facebook page, after speaking at an event in Virginia Beach the other day, one gentleman volunteered to donate $1000 to her campaign.  How many audience members in this debate will be similarly inspired by a no-show?  I’ll give you a hint; it rhymes with zero.

Most importantly, this move will likely alienate a portion of Jamie Radtke’s base, namely the tea party.  One of Jamie Radtke’s greatest claims to political fame centers on her involvement with the Richmond Tea Party and the statewide rally.   If her campaign simply dismisses opportunities offered by tea party groups, how many passes can she take before those opportunities are no longer offered?

Furthermore, as an active participant of the Shenandoah Valley Tea Party Patriots, I’ve witnessed firsthand the efforts put forth by a multitude of members to bring this debate to life.  To be surprised with this brush-off, especially less than one week before the debate, will certainly generate some kind of blowback.

Readers of this blog will note that I’ve been particularly critical of George Allen for his refusal to attend the October 20th debate.  After all, a debate serves as excellent tool for voters to learn about their choices for candidates.   Unfortunately, it seems that the Radtke campaign disagrees.  How can the Radtke campaign call for a debate featuring all of the Republican candidates while at the same time refusing an opportunity to debate with all but one of the Republican candidates?  As I’m sure you can tell, I’m profoundly disheartened by their decision.

But the show must go on.  Don’t pass up an opportunity to hear from Kevin Chisholm, Tim Donner, E. W. Jackson, and David McCormick at the debate this coming Thursday!  Make sure to show up by 6:30 PM at the Augusta County Government in Verona.

Who knows?  Maybe you’ll find your ideal choice for our next Senator at the event.  Either way, I look forward to seeing you there.

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VC Note:  This article is the latest opinion piece from Karen Kwiatkowski, a Republican candidate for Virginia’s sixth district House of Representatives seat.  As I look forward to the event on October 20th, like Kwiatkowski, I am profoundly disappointed by this trend of incumbents and frontrunners in Virginia to avoid debating.

The Shenandoah Valley Tea Party Patriots are sponsoring a U.S. Senate Candidate’s Debate on Thursday, October 20th from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Augusta County Government Center in Verona.  This debate will be attended by four of the eight U.S. Senate candidates seeking to represent Virginia in 2013.  Three Republicans and an Independent candidate have enthusiastically agreed to participate.

The format includes a set of questions prepared in advance for all candidates, and will be moderated by WMRA’s Tom Graham, host of the news program “Virginia Insight.”

This debate is a public opportunity for the people of the 6th District to get to see the candidates in action.  It’s an opportunity to become better informed as to what these candidates offer, how committed they are to truly representing the interests of the voters, and how courageous they are.  Can they stand up for what they believe?  Are they proud of their record as politicians, as businesspeople, and as Virginians?   Do they know what they are talking about?

The debate will include Independent candidate Kevin Chisholm, and Republicans Tim Donner, E.W. Jackson, and Jamie Radtke.

It appears the anointed ones in both of the major parties – George Allen and Tim Kaine — will be missing in action.   It is unfortunate but understandable that the Democrats will not be present on October 20th.   But the George Allen’s refusal to face his conservative opponents is less so.

Perhaps Allen takes conservative support for granted.  Perhaps he is afraid of his articulate and impassioned Republican competitors.  Perhaps he is arrogant.   Perhaps he believes that he doesn’t need the voters in the Central Shenandoah Valley to win the nomination.  Perhaps his advisors have told him to ignore the conservatives and maybe they will fall in line.

I know how difficult it can be to get an honest answer or a commitment out of an incumbent candidate.  There seems to be a very real, and very ugly, sense of entitlement among those who hold or have held public office.  As the constitutional conservative challenger to the 6th District’s ten-term incumbent Bob Goodlatte, I’ve formally invited the incumbent to a series of debates, including one sponsored by the JMU Debate Society on March 13, 2012.  Even though I have repeatedly contacted his office and spoken to his staff, I have received not even a form letter or email in response.

It is no coincidence that nine months before the Virginia GOP Primary, the self-proclaimed, self-anointed, big-government Republican George Allen promotes his candidacy using a shared bumper sticker with similar self-proclaimed, self-anointed, big-government Representative Bob Goodlatte.  The presumption of these statist Republicans in this day and age of real constitutional crisis in this country is simply astounding.

While Allen hasn’t had a chance to spend and borrow as a Senator recently, Goodlatte has apparently never met a budget he couldn’t support, as long as he could earn an atta-boy from the Republican House leadership, or a tradeoff for one of his pet projects.  For his current crusade for a Balanced Budget Amendment, all he had to do was not propose savings, or make hard decisions, but simply vote with Boehner and Cantor for over $2 trillion in additional federal borrowing in July 2011.   When you consider this record, and Goodlatte’s repeated votes to fund Obamacare and Obama’s unconstitutional war in Libya, maybe it’s clear why he wouldn’t want to debate a constitutional conservative on the hard facts.

The larger problem here isn’t that Bob Goodlatte presumes his right to avoid any debate with, or even acknowledgement of, a farmer and military veteran from Shenandoah County who has never before run for public office.  It isn’t that George Allen can’t spend an hour or two in Verona on October 20th to talk about issues with his conservative competition for the Senate.

Here’s the problem.  These big-government Republicans exhibit an attitude of entitlement to public office.  Allen and Goodlatte behave as if they have been somehow anointed to represent us, in an era where only 6% of Americans, according to a recent Rasmussen poll, believe candidates keep their promises once elected, and in an era when the U.S. Congress is held in wide contempt by the rest of the country.   I believe we’re smarter than that.  I know we deserve better than that.

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VC note:  To follow is the latest press release from the Donner campaign regarding the issue of U.S. Senate debates.  I wish they could have offered additional specific details, such as which GOP committee passed the resolution and which other candidates are involved.  Nevertheless, given my previous posts, I’m quite interested to hear how this issue turns out.
Great Falls, VA – September 28, 2011 – At least three US Senate candidates have joined forces to call on the Associated Press to sponsor primary debates for both parties.

Republican Senatorial Candidate Tim Donner initiated the bipartisan call after AP announced that it was sponsoring a general election debate that excludes all but the two establishment candidates for the US Senate almost nine months before the primaries. The two real primary debates would be in addition to the previously announced general election debate on December 7.

Donner told Richmond’s WRVA talk show host, Doc Thompson, on his program earlier this week, “I am calling on the AP to use this opportunity to correct the situation by inviting all of the announced candidates in both the Republican and Democratic parties to participate in actual primary debates.”

“This will allow the AP to constructively advance the cause of informing voters of all the choices available to them and hold true to its own statement that ‘any time a question is raised about any aspect of our work, it should be taken seriously,’” Donner added.

At least one GOP County Committee has already passed a resolution insisting that all candidates be invited to participate in the December 7 debate.

“It is heartening to see the momentum building for this effort. And I am hopeful that Republicans and Democrats can present a united front in what is most certainly a fair and reasonable request on behalf of the voters of Virginia,” Donner said.

A full list of Senate candidates participating in this initiative will be released once all the campaigns have responded to the invitation. Donner has called on voters to contact Dorothy Abernathy, AP Bureau Chief, at (804) 643-6646, and ask her to sponsor primary debates that include all candidates.

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Starting at 6:30 PM, on October 20th in Verona, the Shenandoah Valley Tea Party will be holding the first debate between the various candidates for Virginia’s Senate seat.  Although Republican hopefuls Jamie Radtke and Tim Donner have already confirmed their participation, I’m disappointed to say that one candidate has declined to participate.  That person is our former Senator and Governor, George Allen.

Once I heard that news, I contacted the Allen campaign personally in hopes of getting some sort of explanation.  According to the person who spoke with me, the Allen campaign is presently declining to attend any debate prior to November.  Even with the most basic understanding of politics, one can come up with multiple reasons why the Allen campaign would choose to maintain such a stance.  I’m just hoping that with enough outcries from the folks in the Tea Party and the rest of the citizens of Virginia, we can help change their minds.

I’m of the opinion that debating ought to be vigorously encouraged.  After all, political discourse and education is vital to health of both a republic and a representative democracy.  With proper information, citizens can decide for themselves who not only best articulates our values, but also assess the desirability of their plans once in office.  Without such knowledge, voters must rely solely on glossy mailers, media buys, slogans, and thirty-second sound bites.  Which type of electorate do you prefer?

Now, maybe you’ve heard about the upcoming Senate debate in December sponsored by the Virginia Associated Press and the Virginia Capitol Correspondents Association?  However, for this debate, the hosts have set such a high threshold in both fundraising and poll numbers that currently only Tim Kaine and George Allen qualify.  Looking for Radtke, Donner, Jackson, or McCormick?  At this point, none of the other candidates will be given the right to speak.  That unfortunate set of circumstances makes the Tea Party debate all the more important.

Now, this isn’t merely an argument of whether you prefer George Allen or someone else, but an issue of principle.  Virginia citizens have a right to hear about each qualified person running for office so that, when primary season arrives, they have sufficient wisdom to make an informed decision.  Therefore, I encourage you to call George Allen’s campaign office (804-726-2012) and let them know that you want to listen to him alongside Donner, Radtke, and everyone else who chooses to participate in the October 20th debate.

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The rift between Texas Governor Rick Perry and Texas House of Representatives member Ron Paul seems to be growing rapidly.  After the Paul campaign released their video comparing Paul’s support of Ronald Reagan in 1976 to Perry’s support of Al Gore in 1988, the Perry campaign fired back with Ron Paul’s GOP resignation letter.  I’m sure their line of thinking is, how can Paul be a “good Republican” if he left the party for a time?  Although the letter can be found on Perry’s site (and I encourage you to read it), it expresses Paul’s extreme disappointment with Republican politicians.  As Paul stated, “I want to totally disassociate myself from the policies that have given us unprecedented deficits, massive monetary inflation, indiscriminate military spending, an irrational and unconstitutional foreign policy, zooming foreign aid, the exaltation of international banking, and the attack on our personal liberties and privacy.”   Gee, is Ron Paul talking about 1987 or 2011?

During the debate last night in California, Perry and Paul went at it again.  However, the most interesting exchange seemed to have taken place when the cameras were not rolling.  One or more photographers caught the following pictures during the downtime.  I’d be very interested to know what was said between the two of them especially considering how hostile Perry appears:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So what happened?  Maybe only Perry, Paul, and Huntsman know for sure.

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