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Virginia Libertarian gubernatorial candidaete Rob Sarvis

Virginia Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Robert Sarvis

This week, Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Robert Sarvis will be making a multitude of campaign stops in the central Shenandoah Valley.  These events mark his first trip to the area since securing the party’s nomination back at the Waynesboro convention in April.

First, on Wednesday, August 14th, Sarvis will give a speech on the steps of the Harrisonburg/Rockingham County courthouse beginning at 5:30 PM.

From there, he will travel to a meet-and-greet at the home of a local supporter who lives just west of the city.

Then, on the following day, he will converse with voters at Wright’s Dairy Rite in Staunton from 4 PM to 5 PM.  Wrights’, for those who don’t know, is a 1950s style burger and milkshakes diner that has been in operation since 1952 and is located at 346 Greenville Avenue.

Afterward, starting at 6:30 PM, Robert will address the Staunton Tea Party.  These days, the Staunton Tea Party holds their monthly gatherings at the VFW on 212 Frontier Drive.

Lastly, on Friday, Robert Sarvis will tour the Rockingham County Fair for a good portion of the day.  This year, the Libertarian Party has a booth alongside the Republican and Democratic Parties.

As the 2013 election season begins to kick into high gear, it should be interesting to see how many times the various statewide candidates visit the Valley.  Only a few weeks ago, E. W. Jackson held a particularly successful fundraiser on the campus of James Madison University.  With both Rockingham and Augusta Counties being typically among the most Republican (if not the most Republican) localities in the state coupled with cities like Harrisonburg and Staunton, which have been trending Democratic in recent years, the area provides a variety of political opinions and perspectives.  And, given that none of the statewide candidates have opened up a considerable lead in the polls thus far coupled with the relatively untested variable of the Libertarian Party and Robert Sarvis, politics in this part of the state might be a bit more entertaining than it has been in previous cycles.

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IMG_1656If a fellow political activist were to tell me on the morning of the Virginia Republican convention that E. W. Jackson would be the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor, I would have been highly skeptical.  Not only did he finish with a rather dismal 4.72% in his last election, the 2012 Senate Republican primary, but also his campaign had fallen significantly behind in fundraising totals when compared to most of his six rivals.  And, as a result, his staff suffered an important loss.  Originally, I had predicted that Mr. Jackson would not pass the first ballot at the convention.  However, after seeing a considerable swell in grassroots support in the days leading up to the convention, I didn’t think it too unreasonable for him to survive into the second round.  He was successful in capturing the hearts and minds of a significant number of my fellow delegates, especially those from Harrisonburg and Rockingham County.  However, Jackson not only led on the first ballot, but also led in each successive ballot until he won the nomination.  He performed exceedingly well among religious conservatives, who turned out to Richmond in surprisingly large numbers.

Many Republicans, myself included, quickly dismissed the idea of a Jackson victory in November.  After the results for the third ballot were announced at the convention, where Jackson’s nomination was all but a certainty, I leaned over to a fellow delegate and remarked that the GOP had conceded the lieutenant governor race.  Now why would anyone make this claim?  Well, beside last year’s electoral drumming and continued fundraising difficulties, Bishop Jackson has a history of untempered speech.  Over the years, E.W. Jackson has made a considerable number of controversial statements, ones that I certainly wouldn’t make if running for public office, and many that I think are needlessly inflammatory and/or happen to disagree.  It is profoundly difficult for such a galvanizing lightning rod, like Jackson, to win the independent vote.

E.W. Jackson

So is the Jackson campaign quixotic?  It’s easy to think so, as many in the establishment seem to have written him off as politically dead.  However, I have noticed an unusual spark as of late.  Many of these same delegates who attended the convention are donating significant time and money to assist the Jackson campaign.  Given that both his funding and name identification are lower than they ought to be, across the state his volunteers, in conjunction with the campaign, are organizing gatherings and fundraisers at homes, businesses, and at universities (as is the case in Harrisonburg).  Although supporting the entire ticket, they walk their neighborhoods to primarily promote this unique candidate called E.W. Jackson.  They seem to comprehend an important concept, that electoral victory is not achieved simply by being correct in one’s principles, but through continued hard work and dedication.  Truly, any campaign would be blessed to have such a dedicated core of support.

Whether you are an E.W. Jackson fan or not, it is undeniable that he faces a tremendous uphill battle in the upcoming months.  Yes, the smart money says that the Democratic nominee, Ralph Northam, will win in a landslide.  Nevertheless, the Jackson supporters are motivated, organized, and, most importantly, active.  Can they pull off a November upset?  At this point, it is unlikely…but not impossible.

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Shortly before 7 AM, a multitude of local Republicans gathered outside of the Harrisonburg GOP headquarters to depart for the 2013 state convention in Richmond.  The Obenshain campaign organized this gathering.  I led one of the two buses of 49 other activists.  We left around 7:15 with the second bus stopping in Staunton to pick up additional supporters.

IMG_1886About two hours later we arrived outside the Coliseum.  The scene that greeted us was daunting.  On both the left and right sides of the entrance, long lines stretched seemingly forever.  Outside, most of the campaigns had a table underneath a tent handing out materials.  The one exception was the Davis campaign which merely had a yard sign where one would expect to find her people.  This development did not bode well for the Davis campaign, which I had previously assumed would survive at least to the second ballot.  In addition, there were a fair number of protesters in pink shirts from Planned Parenthood deriding the candidacy of Ken Cuccinelli.

Inside of the building each of the campaigns had an additional informational table, as did a multitude of other organizations such as The Leadership Institute, Middle Resolution PAC, and others.

IMG_1900In the auditorium itself, each delegate was grouped according to the city or county from which he or she came.  This year, the placement of each locality depended upon the percentage of their delegates who paid the voluntary $35 fee.  This change resulted in Harrisonburg city holding the choicest spot on the convention floor, front and center.  Delegates from Rockingham and Augusta Counties, regions whose delegates also strongly supported Senator Mark Obenshain, flanked Harrisonburg.

After many lengthy speeches from Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, Ken Cuccinelli, and the various candidates running for the Republican nomination, voting could begin.  Although announced ahead of time, it was interesting that neither Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell nor Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling attended Saturday’s convention.  As an additional note, former Representative Allen West spoke on behalf of Delegate Scott Lingamfelter and Ollie North encouraged delegates to support Pete Snyder.

Voting on the first ballot began about 1 PM or so, but the results were not announced until almost four hours later due to either technical difficulties or a recount requested by the Snyder campaign if the rumors circulating were true.  Although the official tallies were not released due to Delegate Rob Bell’s request to withdraw his candidacy, Senator Mark Obenshain became the official nominee for attorney general.  On the race for lieutenant governor, E.W. Jackson captured an early lead, winning 3,732 votes, about twice as many votes as his closest rival, Susan Stimpson.  Corey Stewart finished third, followed by Pete Snyder, Scott Lingamfelter, Jeannemarie Davis, and finally Steve Martin.  As no candidate received a majority of the votes, Martin and Davis were eliminated and delegates voted again.  Unfortunately, the official numbers for the first ballot were not announced until after many delegates had already cast their second ballot, which likely skewed the next results as we were erroneously led to believe that Stewart placed second instead of Stimpson.  Behind the scenes, the Davis campaign encouraged her supporters to rally behind Jackson.

About two hours later, voting from the second ballot was announced.  Jackson increased his totals to 4,558.38, while Snyder jumped to second with 2066.89.  Stewart finished third while Stimpson and Lingamfelter, with the two lowest totals, were eliminated.  Lingamfelter cast his favor to Snyder while the Stimpson campaign did not recommend any particular candidate.

SOThe results for the third ballot came one hour and forty-five minutes later.  Jackson’s vote total again expanded to 5,934.69 with Snyder second with 3,652.97.  At this point, E.W. Jackson had over 49% of the vote and thus his election on the next ballot was a virtual lock.  The Snyder campaign passed out fliers declaring that Corey Stewart had endorsed Snyder as had Mark Obenshain.  The latter revelation came as a complete shock given that Obenshain had remained silent in this race up until now, coupled with the fact that such an endorsement would be particularly foolhardy given that Jackson’s victory was all but a certainty.  I spoke with both Chris Leavitt, Obenshain’s campaign manager, as well as Suzanne Obenshain, his wife, who denied any endorsement.  In addition, Corey Stewart appeared and walked around the floor with Jackson with raised hands.  It was terribly unfortunate that in a desperate bid to win the Snyder campaign would resort to such dirty and dishonest tactics, ploys that were all too common in the closing days of the campaign.

Update:  Bearing Drift reports the following regarding the actions of the Stewart campaign.

A little after 10 PM, Pete Snyder withdrew his candidacy and thus E.W. Jackson was declared the victor.  With voting finally concluded, we returned to the bus and headed back west to our home across the mountain.

On a personal note, unlike many of the delegates, as I did not have a favorite candidate, I ended voting for three different LG candidates over the course of the day.  I intended to cast my final vote for Pete, but, after his campaign spread their misinformation, I couldn’t reward deception and thus proudly cast my vote for E.W. Jackson.

All in all, it was an exciting and tiring day that went much longer than needed.  However, it was filled with a bunch of surprises and uncertainty, regrettably marred by technical difficulties, a bit of misinformation, and a splash of deceit.

Given that the state central committee has selected a convention in 2014 to choose the Republican candidate for Senate, we’ll do it all again next year.  Hope to see you then!

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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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E.W. Jackson

E.W. Jackson

Lately, E. W. Jackson has been promoting a very pro-liberty message as he campaigns for lieutenant governor of Virginia.  Currently, on his website, he offers a rather inspiring video encouraging Virginians to “defy, not comply” with the unconstitutional overreaches of the federal government including agencies like the EPA and laws and regulations that rob us of our rights like the Patriot Act and NDAA.  These are all ideas which should make liberty-minded Virginians quite happy.

Although I certainly agree with many of the statements made in this recent video, I do have a few concerns.  As I wrote previously, back in late 2011 a variety of U.S. Senate candidates gathered in Verona to discuss a multitude of pressing issues.  I recall coming away from this forum a bit distressed regarding E. W. Jackson’s position on the Patriot Act as it seemed rather statist.  Later, I spoke with one of his campaign staffers, but that person assured me that I had misunderstood his opinion on this important matter.

Recently, however, I obtained a link to a video of that 2011 forum including Bishop Jackson’s own words on the Patriot Act.

In this clip, E. W. Jackson seems to suggest that we should be willing to jettison both our liberty and property in order to do all we can to preserve American lives.  However, to echo the words of former Virginia Governor Patrick Henry, we must ask, “Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery?”  Henry has the answer, “Forbid it, Almighty God!”

So this situation begs an important question.  Has E. W. Jackson had a political awakening, casting off his previous positions and embracing the ideals of liberty by completely rejecting measures like the Patriot Act?  Or, as he seems to say in 2011, does he believe that it is a quality program simply in need of a bit more oversight?  Although I’m greatly hoping that the first answer is the truth, I’ve seen too many politicians play the political shell game to rule out that latter possibility.  As constitutional conservatives and libertarians increase their clout within the Virginia Republican Party, it is becoming increasingly more important, but also more difficult, to differentiate the true believers and converts from the opportunists.

It is an important question that I hope will be resolved prior to the Virginia Republican Convention in May.

Let me close by offering thanks to Sandy Garst for the clip from the 2011 forum.

Update:  In response to this article, I have been sent the following statement from the Jackson campaign:  “Having served in the US Marine Corps, I will not apologize for being open to ways of protecting the American people from those who want to kill us. But we must do that without robbing Americans of our freedoms. NDAA and the Patriot Act both fail that test.”

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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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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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