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Posts Tagged ‘Jamie Radtke’

IMG_1815On the typical day, both the Cuccinelli campaign and the Republican Party of Virginia send out a multitude of press releases.  For example, when I opened my email this morning, I had already received four, one at 8:00 AM, another fifteen minutes later, a third at 9:30, and the most recent at 10:45 while I was writing this piece.  Each topic bore a similar theme to the multitude dispersed weeks and months prior.  Today’s headlines read, “McAuliffe Biggest Obstacle Seems to be Himself”, “Terry McAuliffe’s Payday Lending Double Standard”, “McAuliffe’s Sales Pitch Starts to Sour”, and “Breaking: McAuliffe’s GreenTech courted Obama’s Solyndra aide”.  For comparison, yesterday’s titles include: “Hardly Recognizable McAuliffe”, “Editorials Across Virginia Focus on the SEC Investigation Surrounding McAuliffe’s GreenTech”, “Meet McAuliffe’s Environmental Sugar Daddy Tom Steyer”, and “ICYMI: New TV Ad Scandal”.

Notice a theme? Not a single email is centered on Cuccinelli’s record in public service, either as a state senator or as our sitting attorney general.  Instead, each seeks to degrade, demonize, or question the ethics of Terry McAuliffe, Cuccinelli’s Democratic opponent for governor.

Don’t misunderstand the point of this opinion piece.  I firmly believe that negative campaigning serves an important purpose when used constructively and in moderation.  Some Republicans cried foul when Jamie Radtke attacked George Allen during the 2012 Republican Senate primary.  However, she didn’t just simply criticize Allen, but offered a contrast how a Senator Radkte would differ from a Senator Allen.

These Cuccinelli pieces are different.  They offer nothing positive other than to suggest that voters ought to elect Ken simply because he is not Terry; that McAuliffe is so ethically challenged that anything or anyone is a better alternative.

Although I haven’t watched each race as closely as this one, as someone who has followed politics for 19 years, I’ve never seen anything quite like the tactics that the Cuccinelli campaign and the RPV is employing.  For at least a month previously, the Cuccinelli campaign harassed (and yes, harassed is a good word for it), McAuliffe to release his tax returns.  As far as I know, a person’s tax returns are his or her own private business and aren’t required to be released when he or she runs for public office.  Many people within the Cuccinelli camp argued that if McAuliffe had “nothing to hide then he would have nothing to fear”.  Even though politically useful in this situation, that line of thinking is exceedingly dangerous and works to further erode the privacy rights of our citizens, especially future office seekers.

As a conservative, I believe that Ken Cuccinelli has made many laudable accomplishments during his time as attorney general.  However, I am absolutely disgusted by these daily messages, especially the constant barrage from the RPV, seeking only to deride Terry McAuliffe even further.  It is as if they are blindly throwing darts as fast as they can, hoping that at least one will hit the board.  No.  The ends do not justify the means.

Who’s to blame for all of this excessive negativity?  Is it Ken Cuccinelli?  Cuccinelli’s staff?  RPV Chairman Pat Mullins?  Or is it someone else within the state party?  To be fair, a majority of these emails come from the Republican Party of Virginia.  However, I suppose it doesn’t matter, for as long as these messages continue without being denounced by Ken Cuccinelli, all are complicit.

Given the tone the campaign has taken thus far, I suspect it won’t be too long until we start seeing ads like Elizabeth Dole’s completely outlandish attack against Kay Hagen in 2008.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve reached a breaking point.  I’m on the verge of non-discriminately trashing everything the Cuccinelli campaign and the Republican Party of Virginia sends out.  This unconstructive, unrelenting negativity has to end!

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VC Note:  Jamie Radtke, if you will recall, sought the GOP nomination for a U.S. Senate seat representing Virginia earlier this year along with several candidates.  She finished second to former Senator and former Governor George Allen.  Unlike the other candidates, after the primary finished, she indicated that she would endorse Mr. Allen if he pledged to hold to several principles.  To follow is an email I received from Jamie Radtke a few moments ago.

I hope this email finds you well. After a year and a half of eighteen hour days campaigning on the road before the Primary, I made the most out of the summer by spending much-needed quality time with my husband and children. I’ve enjoyed every minute of eating three meals each day at our own kitchen table, playing games, swimming, hiking, and laughing with my family. It has been wonderful!

At the same time, I’ve spent a lot of time praying and reflecting on what my campaign accomplished, and on what you’ve meant to me during the campaign. I shared my thoughts on my personal Facebook page recently. If you missed it, the Virginia Conservative blog [VC:  Not me, but rather someone else who uses the Virginia Conservative name.] posted it, so you can read it there. I received a tremendous response from my posting, and I would love to hear from you as well. However, I am writing to you now for a different reason. Please allow me to explain.

It’s no secret I’ve been a harsh critic of George Allen’s past record of spending and debt. As you know, I have always pushed for responsible fiscal policy to benefit families, businesses and our nation as a whole. Win  or lose – - a primary election challenge to George Allen was important to confront the issues of excessive spending and accumulating debt in our own party. Likewise, I didn’t rush to endorse George Allen after he won the Republican Primary in June, simply because I couldn’t endorse any candidate who didn’t have the strong resolve to tackle our debt crisis.

I endured some criticism for not endorsing George Allen right away, but I’m a big girl and I’m not shaken by it. I don’t take endorsements lightly and I simply refuse to engage in politics for politics’ sake. This isn’t a game; the future of our nation is on the line.

Several weeks ago, I met with George Allen and his campaign manager. I explained the concerns you and I share about his prior record of spending and debt in Washington. As you’ve heard me say many times, “if we don’t deal with spending, nothing else is going to matter.” You know  I’m a crusader on this issue.

During our meeting, I said I have always appreciated George Allen’s opposition to higher taxes and his determination to exploit the energy resources we have in our Commonwealth. However, I asked him to define concrete proposals to tackle the looming financial crisis.

In short, I offered an endorsement for George Allen on two conditions. First, he had to put on paper substantive plans to curtail spending and reign in the federal debt. Second, I needed to see him publicly herald those plans in his campaign as a demonstration of his commitment to them. To his credit, he has done both.

Recently George Allen sent me a four-page document detailing short and long term proposals to address spending and debt. Frankly, I was encouraged by what it contained. We would benefit greatly from many of the items he proposes, like capping spending at 19% of GDP, stopping earmark spending, freezing federal hiring, rolling back to 2008 spending levels, blocking Medicaid grants to the states, reforming Medicare to return control to individuals, reforming social security by raising the age for the younger generation to keep it solvent for them, and supporting the REINS Act to stop the very expensive, freedom-robbing overregulation by federal agencies. Since putting his plans on paper, he has promoted it in several public forums – - promising to work toward solving our nation’s financial crisis.

I’ve heard positive reports from several people who’ve seen him promote his plan in private meetings as well as public forums. I’m encouraged by Allen’s substantive proposals, and I believe you will be, too.

Allen’s proposals are far better than the government-driven, tax-and-spend ideas advocated by Tim Kaine and Barack Obama. Nobody should believe that Tim Kaine is fiscally conservative! I have no doubt that Tim Kaine and Barack Obama, if elected again, will destroy our economy through their job-killing Keynesian economics that suppresses individual achievement. You only must look back at the last four years to see the abuse we have taken under their failed leadership. You can read, for yourself, Allen’s positive plan for fiscal recovery here.

Based on George Allen’s newly detailed plans to restore fiscal sanity to Washington, I endorse George Allen. I wanted to write to you, to let you know first. I’m excited about the opportunity to help take this message across Virginia. Voters need to know that George Allen is committed to responsibly and immediately tackling this looming financial crisis.

I hope you will join me in helping George Allen defeat Tim Kaine over the next few weeks. You did so much for my campaign by knocking on doors, contributing financially, and phone banking. In the counties where we had a strong ground game, we did very well. I don’t have to exaggerate to say that this election could literally come down to a few thousand votes, since all the pollsters are projecting a very close outcome. Your help could be the difference in avoiding further fiscal calamity and greater threats to our freedoms.

I will be doing a number of events between now and November 7th. I hope you will join me in promoting fiscal sanity in this November election and offer your support to George Allen for U.S. Senate.

I look forward to seeing you on the campaign trail!

All my best,

Jamie Radtke

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A little over four years ago, I wrote an open letter to my fellow Ron Paul supporters.  I will not rehash it again, although you can read it here if you care to do so.  Today, I believe it is time to write you again, not to retrace old ground, but to forge ahead into the future.

Earlier this week, a fellow Ron Paul supporter criticized my efforts in supporting Dr. Paul’s 2012 movement.  Specifically, he made mention of the fact that only two Paul supporters signed up to be delegates to the 6th district convention from my hometown of Harrisonburg.  I suppose the thought is that as I am a Paul supporter living in Harrisonburg, I should have done more to get my fellow like-minded activists to the convention in Lexington.  Now, I have heard this complaint before.  According to one of my friends in the southern part of the 6th district, one Paul supporter has spread this point in the Shenandoah Valley presumably to try and discredit me within the movement.  I’m not quite sure why this person would do so, but I did try to find out.  However, I never got a reply when I sent the person an email about the matter.

Although I know that some of you are new, I would like to remind those who are involved in politics to treat all volunteers as a valuable resource.  After all, they are not merely subordinates to be ordered about at our whim.  They are our friends, neighbors, and activists in arms who freely give of their time, not in the hopes of financial restitution, but because they believe in the rightness of our cause.  Until and unless a volunteer engages in a behavior that is either destructive to the movement or completely counterproductive, (such as threatening another worker or masquerading as an official campaign representative) one should never tear down a volunteer’s efforts.  Now, that is not to say that we cannot steer a volunteer toward projects that are more valuable, but to demean a volunteer for not doing enough or not working fast enough is a great way to make certain that the volunteer will not help again in the future.  Having been a volunteer myself for a good many years, once I became a paid staffer, good volunteer relations became one of my top priorities.  After all, much like Christianity teaches us in relations with our neighbors, we should always treat volunteers how we ourselves would like to be treated.

But let’s return to the matter of the Ron Paul campaign.  Prior to Virginia’s March 6th Republican presidential primary, I spent considerable time and effort in volunteering for the campaign.  Regrettably, the Virginia effort was woefully understaffed and under-funded from the national campaign.  As I stated, I found both a location and the funding necessary for a regional campaign office in Harrisonburg but was rebuffed by the head honchos in Springfield.  Although Ron Paul had not won a single state prior to Virginia, given that only Mitt Romney and he would be on the ballot, my state would be an excellent chance for his first victory. Therefore, the volunteer effort had to continue.  Despite the fact that we had no literature, no yard signs, and no bumper stickers, save for the scant few that the state director was under-rationed, we did the best we could to spread the message.  I even had the opportunity to promote Dr. Paul on the local evening news.  On primary day itself, I’m pleased to say that many of the precincts in both in Harrisonburg and the surrounding Rockingham County had Ron Paul supporters handing out materials that the Shenandoah County Ron Paul group had graciously gifted to us.

Although the primary wasn’t all that close either in the state as a whole or in the 6th congressional district, due to the hard work of my fellow volunteers in the area, Ron Paul won a majority of the votes cast on primary day in the city of Harrisonburg.  We showed that a small band of dedicated volunteers could make a difference and I am quite grateful to my fellow activists for their work.

However, March 6th made me realize that there was absolutely no way that Ron Paul could win the Republican nomination.  His national campaign missed an important opportunity to score their first victory on Super Tuesday and the momentum now swung too far in the favor of Mitt Romney.  I’ve heard claims that Paul’s national campaign was nothing more than corrupt nepotism, was generally incompetent, or that they were simply too inflexible to modify their strategy.  I don’t know what their specific problem was, but, if Virginia is a typical example, clearly the national campaign did not accomplish what they needed to.  Nevertheless, if you must place blame, do not thrust it upon the volunteers.

I believe that a lot of other local Paul volunteers felt the same way about the campaign as I did and so they disappeared completely.  Morale was shattered; we thought the national campaign had abandoned us.  How could they ask us to fight on when it was painfully obvious that they were not putting in the needed effort to do so as well?  Another I rule I have when it comes to volunteer relations is that you should never ask a volunteer to do a task that you have not, at some point, done your yourself and would be willing to do again should the need arise.

Anyway, prior to the March 6th primary, I got in a debate with another volunteer over which was more important, winning the March 6th primary or securing Ron Paul delegates to the national convention in Tampa.  I argued that the primary was of far greater value, which is why I focused my efforts there.  It makes little difference the personal positions of our delegates if they are bound to vote how the congressional district voted on March 6th on the first national ballot.  After all, every single delegate in the state could be a Paul supporter, but if they are pledged to vote for Romney then who they are doesn’t make a hill of beans worth of difference.  Bear in mind, if Paul could not win a single state’s primary or caucus, even if he won a considerable number of delegates through clandestine means, then Mitt Romney would be the nominee.

Once the primary was over, I focused my volunteer time on other ways that I thought would benefit the liberty movement.  Specifically, I spent time helping Karen Kwiatkowski and Jamie Radtke, two women who were still viable candidates in their respective races and encouraged many of my fellow volunteers to do likewise.  Sure, volunteers could spend a Saturday in Lexington to pick national delegates, but quite a few of us realized that the Republican nomination for president was lost and over and it was time to find new and more productive avenues.

But, all of the supposed Paul candidates won at the district convention in Lexington.  Therefore, it seems to be particularly strange to quibble about this matter.  Didn’t the Paul slate win?  If so, why should there be any complaint?  It seems foolhardy to lay blame after a victory.  Is someone upset that they did not win by a larger margin?  One important fact to remember here is that Harrisonburg’s votes did not change the outcome nor could they have.  The margins of victory were larger than Harrisonburg’s entire voting strength, even if it had voted as a solid block, could have swayed. After all, we had a scant 39 votes split among the Harrisonburg delegates while some counties like Rockingham County had over a hundred more votes than we did.  Many of my fellow Ron Paul delegates signed up in Rockingham, but when taken as a numbers game, Harrisonburg’s delegation wasn’t all that important in the grand scheme of things.

Anyone who has spent any time dealing with Paul supporters knows that they are a freethinking lot.  Who is to say that Paul supporters would have voted the same way?  Although a sample “Paul friendly” ballot was provided, I’ll freely admit that I voted as I thought best and not merely regurgitated what some piece of paper had written on it.

So, for those who still condemn me for the fact that only two delegates were open Ron Paul supporters from Harrisonburg, should I similarly scorn Paul activists from Roanoke, Staunton, or Lexington?  After all, how did Ron Paul fair in your area on March 6th?  And given that Paul outright won both Covington and Lynchburg, does that result give activists from those cities cause to rebuke the rest of us?  If so, should we apply the same standard to results of the June 12th primaries?  Should we look down upon the efforts of volunteers in other parts of the 6th because Karen Kwiatkowski won Harrisonburg, but not other localities?  The answer is no.  Here in the Shenandoah Valley, we must not devolve into this kind of infighting.  It is detrimental.  How do pointing fingers and tearing each other apart advance the cause of liberty?  Should we be concerned with inflating our own egos and promoting individuals as opposed to the greater concept of liberty?  Heaven forbid!

Given the attacks against me, I assume some people must think that I am all talk and no action.  But this line of thinking is false.  For example, I proudly served the 2008 Ron Paul campaign as the director of grassroots organization for the state of South Carolina.  And although I don’t talk about it much, I was briefly hospitalized with internal bleeding as a result of an injury sustained on the campaign trail.  Unfortunately, it periodically flares up to the present day.  But I continued, for the battle was too important to give up before primary day.  I was a volunteer in 2012, I once again helped out Dr. Paul because he and I share a commitment to the Constitution and to liberty.  I write of these experiences not to make some boast of my greatness or to make the claim that my devotion is greater than anyone else, but merely to illustrate the point that I have been involved for many years and have a good bit of knowledge and experience in the matter.

The main idea of the letter is much more far-reaching than merely who did or did not attend Virginia’s 6th district convention.  Heck, it is more than about you, myself, or even Ron Paul.  It is a matter of respect for volunteers.  Whenever a person, whether he or she happens to be a staff member or a fellow volunteer, berates a volunteer, you should be appalled.  Remember that volunteers are the lifeblood of our movement.  I assure you that without dedicated volunteers, failure is all but a certainty.  An activist or politician working alone can accomplish very little.  If you have a complaint about how 2012 primaries turned out, is tearing down your fellow brothers and sisters in liberty who freely volunteered their time a productive way to vent your frustration?  Therefore, the next time you hear a person speak ill of a volunteer except in the very limited circumstances listed above, you should stop them from doing so immediately.  If they refuse to comply, then have nothing more to do with that person; there is no sense in dealing with people whose words and actions will lead to the destruction of the movement from within.

For liberty with responsibility!

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Karen Kwiatkowski at the Keister Precinct in Harrisonburg

Well, nearly a week has come and gone since Virginia’s Tuesday primary.  I suppose that the end result did not yield any great surprises.  Across the Commonwealth each incumbent House of Representatives candidate emerged victorious.  In the Senate contest the virtual incumbent, former Senator George Allen, also won.

According to the Virginia State Board of Elections, with all precincts but one reporting, George Allen captured the GOP nomination with 65.45% of the vote.  Tea Party favorite Jamie Radtke finished second with 23.05%.  Delegate Bob Marshall and Bishop E. W. Jackson finished a distant third and fourth with 6.76% and 4.72% respectively.

George Allen polled relatively well throughout Virginia.  He only lost two cities and counties; Jamie Radtke won a plurality in Charles City County and Bob Marshall did likewise in Manassas Park.  Other notable results showed very close contests between Radtke and Allen in Amelia, Hanover, King William, Lancaster, Mathews, Northampton, and Powhatan Counties.  Although Radtke captured a clear second overall, E. W. Jackson took runner up in Albemarle and Botetourt Counties while Marshall boasted second in and around his House of Delegates district, Prince William and Manassas.

Although Jamie Radtke attempted to secure the title of the conservative alternative to George Allen, the fact that both Jackson and Marshall were competing had to hurt both her fundraising and numbers at the polls.  However, given his monetary and virtual 100% name recognition, it still would have been a monumental hurdle for Radtke to defeat Allen one-on-one.  Now that the dust has settled, one important question to ask though is, given their low vote totals, why were Jackson and Marshall in the race?

Except during the final months of the campaign, it did not appear that Jackson was actually trying to win the nomination.  He had a pretty small campaign staff and I’ve heard that he made a number of speeches where he didn’t actually reference his candidacy for Senate.  One popular theory is that he was trying to build name ID in order to establish himself for a future political run.

As for Delegate Marshall, it is clear that he entered the race far too late.  If you will recall, he didn’t make an official announcement of his candidacy until late January or early February of 2012.  By comparison, by that point, the Radtke campaign had already been in full swing for more than a year.   Although I cannot comment on the rest of the state, the fact that Marshall spent very little time or effort campaigning in the Shenandoah Valley made his poor showing here a virtual inevitability.

Moving on to the 6th district House of Representatives race, incumbent Bob Goodlatte turned back a conservative/libertarian challenge from retired Lt. Colonel Karen Kwiatkowski.  With 100% of the vote counted, Goodlatte captured 66.49% of the vote as compared to Kwiatkowski’s 33.5%.

With her campaign headquarters based in Harrisonburg, Kwiatkowski won my hometown with 50.57% of the vote.  She also did quite well in Rockingham County, losing by 240 votes and in Page County where Goodlatte won with 13 votes.  However, Goodlatte finished very strong in most of the higher population centers, winning Roanoke County with 76.95%, Lynchburg City with 75.65%, and Roanoke City with 70.93%.

The burning question here is what will happen in 2014?  First, what will Bob Goodlatte do?  After all, Tuesday marked his first Republican primary challenger in twenty years.  Will he move in a more conservative direction, repudiating his earlier efforts to expand the size and scope of government through SOPA/CISPA, federal prohibitions curtailing online gambling, and liberty-weakening measures like the Patriot Act?  And, if he does not, will Kwiatkowski, as she hinted earlier, challenge him again?  Or will a new challenger emerge?

Here are my predictions for November.  Given past trends, the race for the House was more or less decided last week.  The 6th district is far too conservative and Bob Goodlatte has a massive campaign war chest, so he should roll over his colorful Democratic challenger, Andy Schmookler.  However, polls have shown the Senate race to be a tight affair.  Although the outcome of the presidential contest will certainly influence all down ticket races, at this point, I believe Tim Kaine will be our next Senator.  George Allen still has a number of fences to mend on the right and conservatives do not share the great fear for Kaine as they do for Obama. As for the Obama vs. Romney fight, I think the race is too close to call.  Virginia is a toss-up between the two.  However, I cannot envision a path to victory for Romney that does not involve him capturing the Commonwealth.  Obama, on the other hand, doesn’t require a Virginia victory to gain four more years.  For that reason and several others, I would give a slight edge to Obama…at least at this point.

Let me end by thanking all of the candidates who ran, the activists who volunteered, and the citizens who voted on Tuesday.  As we saw, unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, the most conservative candidates don’t always win.  However, if we remain true to our principles and remain organized and active, we will prevail in the long run.  We must continue to fight because it is good for our party, good for Virginia, good for our nation, good for our children, and good for their children.  The sake of the present and the future demands no less of us.

The primaries are over.  Onward to victory!

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A view from the Cross Keys precinct

In about two and a half hours, polls across the Commonwealth of Virginia will be closed.  At that time, we shall discover the 2012 Republican nominee for Senate as well as the various Republican and Democratic nominees for the eleven House of Representatives districts.

During the late morning and afternoon hours, I visited eleven precincts in the city of Harrisonburg and southern Rockingham County.  My purpose in doing so was to gauge campaign supply levels for the Kwiatkowski and Radtke campaigns and measure the level of turnout.  While doing so, I discovered a couple of surprising facts.

First, I noticed that the race for House of Representatives in the 6th district seems to have drawn considerable more interest and enthusiasm than the Senate race.  All eleven precincts had a pretty high number of Kwiatkowski and Goodlatte signs.  In addition, about half of the precincts had volunteers who were handing out materials specifically on behalf of one of these two candidates.

By comparison, there were far fewer Senate signs.  Jamie Radtke and George Allen had about the same number of yard signs at the polls, Bob Marshall had but a handful, and I have not seen yet seen my first E.W. Jackson sign today.  When considering campaign workers, Bob Marshall had a dedicated volunteer handing out materials at one of the precincts in the city, but, surprisingly, I have not found any volunteers specifically working for George Allen, Jamie Radtke, or E. W. Jackson in my travels.

Second, turnout seems to be higher than I expected.  I assumed that we would see about a 5-6% turnout rate on average at the end of the day, which was the result for the March 6th Republican presidential primary.  In addition, it was fairly hot and humid with periods of heavy rain on and off during the day, which would decrease participation.  However, many precincts have already exceeded their March total.  For example, the tiny precinct of Cross Keys, although only reporting 51 votes as of 3:24 PM, had a turnout rate of 8.9% thus far.  An hour and a half prior, Montezuma, another precinct in Rockingham County, reported 7.2%.

So what does this information reflect?  Why are the Senate candidates underrepresented at the polls?  And do these Harrisonburg and Rockingham numbers reflect a general trend that voters taking a greater interest in the outcome of these races?  Does the increased turnout favor the incumbents with their higher level of voter ID?  Or have voters come out today to roundly reject what some perceive as establishment Republicans?  Without exit polling it is difficult to answer any of these questions right now.  However, keep an eye on the totals; either way, it should be interesting.

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Picture from thehollywoodgossip.com

Last week, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky announced on the Sean Hannity show that he was endorsing former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney for president in the 2012 Republican nomination.  The typical response from a number of my Facebook friends was quite hostile.  As the argument went, how could Rand Paul endorse a liberal like Mitt Romney when the champion of liberty and Senator Paul’s father Ron Paul is still in the race?

I would wager that quite a few people who are upset with Rand are fairly new to the political game and therefore don’t understand how the endorsement game works.

For example, closer to home, State Senator Mark Obenshain (VA-26) recently sent out an email encouraging citizens to vote for Representative Bob Goodlatte and George Allen in the Virginia Republican primary on Tuesday.  Now, as you may recall, I have endorsed both Karen Kwiatkowski and Jamie Radtke; obviously I do not agree with Obenshain on this matter.  But, when it comes to his votes in the General Assembly, I maintain that Senator Obenshain is one of the best members of that body.  Should this one simple issue of endorsement outweigh a multitude of good votes and legislation?  Conversely, if a poor candidate or politician endorses a liberty-minded candidate, should that announcement erase a long slate of bad positions?

As I wrote many years ago, Virginians for Life sent out an email about then State Senator Ken Cuccinelli back in 2008.  They compared him unfavorably to the biblical Judas due to his endorsement of Representative Frank Wolf.  I would not have endorsed Wolf as he and I disagree over the underlying philosophy of proper governance.  However, if we all reacted by condemning Cuccinelli over this rather trivial matter, what would be the end result?  Would we still have a spirited attorney general that is willing to fight against Obamacare and other overreaches of the federal government?

Be it for better or worse, endorsements are one way elected officials pay back favors and reward loyalty.  After all, here in the 6th district, both Bob Goodlatte and George Allen have helped a number of our current politicians gain their office and thus many of those folks feel that they need to repay that debt now.  Moving back to the national level, the theory goes that it is the duty of every good Republican politician (who wishes to remain relevant to the party) to offer some measure of support for the party’s presidential candidate.

But let’s return to the first question.  How can Rand Paul endorse Mitt Romney while Ron Paul is still in the race?  The response is quite simple, but not an answer that most Ron Paul supporters will either accept or want to hear.  I hate to say it, but short of a major miracle or divine intervention, Mitt Romney is and will be the Republican nominee for President.

Although it is true, as repeatedly pointed out these last few days, Rand Paul is not Ron Paul, the simple fact remains that Senator Paul is one of the few liberty-minded legislators in the United States Senate.  In one fairly recent example, while most Senators were either apathetic, or downright hostile in the case of Senators McCain (R-AZ) and Graham (R-SC), about defending our civil liberties during the debate regarding the indefinite detention of American citizens without trial, Senator Paul remained firm in his efforts to try to derail this effort.

Regardless of this minor endorsement issue in the grand scheme of things, as long as Rand Paul continues to embrace the key principles of liberty and the Constitution, I am proud to support and defend the Senator from Kentucky.  And yes, if you are wondering, these thoughts do come from a former Ron Paul staffer who actively volunteered for his former boss in this election cycle.  I just hope that the rest of my like-minded brethren will realize that Rand Paul is a great senator and, endorsement or not, we need to support and elect more men and women like him.

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Karen Kwiatkowski, Emily Morris, and Jamie Radtke

Here in Harrisonburg, at 6:30 this evening, Senate Republican candidate Jamie Radtke and House Republican candidate Karen Kwiatkowski spoke at a gathering entitled “A Question of Liberty”.  This event was both hosted and sponsored by a local high school student by the name of Emily Morris.

As the label of the forum indicates, each of the two candidates spoke on the issue of liberty, explaining her vision to reform the federal government in Washington.  After brief introductions, the host fielded questions from the audience that covered a wide range of matters such as: cutting spending and the deficit, abolishing federal agencies and departments, immigration, foreign policy and the necessity for the declaration of war, abortion, the future of social security, and state sovereignty and federalism.

Not surprisingly, both Radkte & Kwiatkowski seemed to be in relative agreement on just about every issue discussed.  However, two area of difference appeared over the subjects of drug decriminalization and homosexual/state-sponsored marriage.  While Kwiatkowski took a sort of laissez-faire or hands-off approach to these questions, Radtke supported a more traditional social conservative line of thinking.

At first, this report of general consensus may not be too surprising given that they are both Republican candidates.  However, it is also true that there is also a widening gulf between Republicans over the matter of liberty and adherence to the Constitution.  After all, just because a candidate is labeled as an “R” on the ballot, that little letter does not necessarily mean that he or she supports a certain policy position.  Far too many politicians of both parties treat the Constitution like a novelty of a bygone age than the actual framework of the law of the land.

Overall, the event should be considered a success.  It seemed to generate considerable enthusiasm from the audience, at least judging from the applause and level of participation in questioning.

Special recognition should be paid to the organizer, Emily Morris.  If all students throughout the Commonwealth were inspired in the same way to promote political dialogue, imagine how our both government and our society would be transformed.  It is terribly unfortunate that the average citizen doesn’t take the time and interest to be actively involved in the process.

We race at a seemingly breakneck speed toward the June 12th primary.  On Tuesday, will voters select candidates like Radkte and Kwiatkowski who cherish the ideals of liberty?  Let’s hope so.

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In the upcoming Senate primary, we are blessed (or cursed depending on your perspective) with four choices for the Republican nominee.  But whom should Virginia voters choose?  There is no doubt that we must select a strong leader, one with the courage to always stand up for our principles.  But more than that, we also need a senator who inspires confidence among the grassroots activists and has the organization necessary to run a statewide campaign.  These criteria, I believe, are the two most important elements when selecting a candidate in the June 12th primary.

During the last year, I have had the privilege to meet and speak with all the candidates running for Senate.  I must say that each has an interesting assortment of qualities.  However, only a single person has consistently demonstrated steadfastness to the two critical standards I listed above.  That one candidate who stands alone is Jamie Radtke.

One of Jamie Radtke’s most impressive characteristics is her ability to inspire my fellow citizens.  Over the past several months and weeks, I’ve met many ordinary hardworking people from across the Commonwealth of Virginia who are volunteering considerable amounts of time and energy to help elect Jamie Radtke.  Now, a lot of these folks have never been politically active before, but they realize that they must take a stand now, if we ever hope to curb the excesses of the federal government.  We must fire the reckless and unprincipled leaders we sent to Washington D.C. to supposedly fix this mess; after all, they’ve only made the problem worse!

Last week, when Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell surprisingly praised the use of drones in Virginia, Jamie Radtke quickly pointed out that his support of this kind of policy is just plain wrong.  This example of sticking up for principle is only one among a multitude.  Throughout the campaign season, she has shown time and time again that she is not afraid to call out Republican legislators who support big government programs.  Remember, it takes only a little courage to stand against opponents in an opposing party, but true statesmen will stand against their own party when necessary, even when doing so means that they must stand alone.  Jamie Radtke has proven that she will be that kind of leader.

Jamie Radtke supports our principles and has both the statewide volunteer base and campaign team necessary to win in November.  Now she needs our help.  I’m proud to endorse Jamie Radtke for U.S. Senate and I will cast my vote for her in the primary on June 12th.  Please join with me so that we can send a strong, conservative voice to Washington.

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Photo from the George Allen 2012 Campaign

Recently, the Republican Party of Virginia held their third and final Senate debate between the four candidates.  Although, to the best of my knowledge, none of the previous debates were televised statewide, I was appreciative that I was still able to watch them through the blog Bearing Drift.  However, despite my searching, I haven’t been able to find the entire video of the third debate.

Shortly after this last debate, one of my friends shared a rather curious quote from George Allen, one of the four hopefuls vying for the GOP nomination.  Regarding war and U.S. foreign policy, Allen stated, “The concern I have is not whether we have a (congressional) authorization of force, it’s whether or not our military is going to have the equipment, the armament, the up-to-date technology that is paramount as they’re trying to protect our freedoms.”

Given that any conservative should find such a statement troubling, I searched the web in the hopes of finding video of Allen making this comment.  Although I was unsuccessful, I did find a Washington Post article, which confirmed the above quote as accurate.  In addition, I received a video from the Radtke campaign from the debate on this very issue last night.

In response to this matter, I wrote on Facebook was that “anyone who makes such a statement should be declared unfit for federal office”.  Now the average Republican voter might think that my statement is outlandish…at least at first glance, but allow me the opportunity to explain my rationale.  What is George Allen really saying here?

Let’s first focus on the positive aspect.  The second part of his statement is that he wants our military to have the best equipment possible.  I don’t find anything wrong with this line of thinking.  It is actually laudable.  After all, if we ask our brave men and women to risk their lives on behalf of their countrymen, it is only proper that we supply them with the best tools to protect them from harm.

However, the first segment is what is truly damning.  He doesn’t care whether or not Congress authorizes the use of force?  What’s going on here?  Has he ever read the Constitution?  Does he know that only Congress has the power to declare war?  And if he doesn’t care if Congress gives their approval, who does Allen believe should have control of the military?  Should we have an imperial presidency where the executive branch rules unchecked?  Or should these decisions be left up the generals like some sort of South American military junta?  Mr. Allen, how can the military protect our freedoms abroad while they are sent on missions that run contrary to rules that underpin the foundations of both our government and society?

Although George Allen was widely denounced by the media in 2006 for his so-called macaca moment, isn’t his statement here far more troubling?  It is not merely some case of either racism or perceived racism, but rather shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the Constitution, the separation of powers, and the proper role of a United States Senator.  It would be one thing if he were merely an ill-informed private citizen with no ties to the government, but it is quite another when he has actually served six years in the Senate and is seeking to do so again in the June 12th GOP primary.

Last I checked, conservatives believe in things like federalism and a government bound by the restraints of the Constitution.  Through his quote in the recent debate, George Allen has shown once again that his philosophy of government does not align with the conservative mindset of actually limiting government.  I don’t know about you, but I’m terrified of the prospect of electing more leaders from either party who will trample upon the rule of law and disregard the Constitution.  I sincerely pray that Mr. Allen recants the statement he made in the above video.

Photo from the Jamie Radtke Campaign

Don’t forget that in just a few short weeks, Virginia voters will go to the polls to select the GOP nominee for Senate.  I just hope that all Virginians will remember Allen’s words here.  After all, we can ill afford to continue an irresponsible foreign policy ruled by a single person or cabal which is all done without congressional approval and oversight.  Given that issue, do you really want to return a man like George Allen to such an important position of power?  Or should we elect someone like Jamie Radtke who understands the proper role of a United States Senator?  Seems like an obvious choice, doesn’t it?

Update:  It seems like the folks at Citizen Tom have a link to the video of the entire third debate.  Check it out here!

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Although I’ve likely been to more tea party meetings that most people who read this article, all of these meetings have taken place within the Shenandoah Valley.  Last week, however, I had the opportunity to meet with two groups outside the region.

The Montross Tea Party

The first gathering took place in the town of Montross, Virginia on May 15th.  For those unfamiliar with Virginia geography, Montross is in the Northern Neck, the northern most peninsula of the state.  As you might imagine, it is a pretty rural area.  This tea party mainly draws from the citizens of Westmoreland County, a county comprised of 17,454 people as of the 2010 census.  Despite this relatively small population base, the tea party still boasted a turnout of 25 people.

The Mechanicsville Tea Party

The second meeting was the Mechanicsville Tea Party on May 17th.  49 people attended this assembly.  Mechanicsville, for those who don’t know, is an unincorporated community of 34,648 folks in Hanover County, a few miles north of the city of Richmond.  Apparently, there are a whole host of tea party organizations in and around the city of Richmond including several in Hanover County itself.

Parke West of We rVirginia

The featured speaker at these two events was Parke West of We rVirginia.  We rVirginia is a relatively new group; their purpose is to educate, activate, and inspire conservatives throughout the Commonwealth in order to elect likeminded legislators in the 2012 election cycle.  Part of their technology includes the rVotes system, a database and program similar to the Republican Party’s Voter Vault.

One common thread I noticed between the two tea parties was the high level of support for Jamie Radtke for Senate.  Although Jamie Radtke won the most recent straw poll in the Harrisonburg and Staunton Tea Parties, apparently, she has an even stronger following in other regions of the state.  For example, approximately one out of every three of members of both the Montross and Mechanicsville Tea Party meetings self-identified as an active volunteer with the Radtke campaign. How will the efforts of this multitude of volunteers impact the June 12th Republican Senate primary?

Another interesting tidbit to note was the complete lack of Cantor materials at the Mechanicsville Tea Party.  Although I would argue that Karen Kwiatkowski is the tea party favorite in the June 12th Republican primary for the 6th district, Representative Bob Goodlatte still makes an attempt to reach out to the Shenandoah Valley Tea Parties.  However, at the Mechanicsville meeting, there were neither Cantor campaign signs nor his literature.  By contrast, I could easily find brochures for his opponent, Floyd Bayne.  I have to wonder, is this situation an anomaly?  Do many of the grassroots organization in the 7th congressional district oppose majority leader Eric Cantor?  Or has his campaign simply chosen to ignore tea party groups like Mechanicsville?

Although it is easy to assume that all tea party groups are the same given that each presumably adhere to the Constitution and the ideals of limited government, it is also true each are comprised of a variety members who each hold a multitude of beliefs, have differing levels of political experience, and view the world through their own personal lenses.  I look forward to learning about other tea party organizations as we strive to promote our shared principles in 2012 and beyond.

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