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Posts Tagged ‘Shenandoah Valley Tea Party’

What are the principles of the tea party?  I suppose that question it not particularly easy to answer.  After all, each tea party has its own flavor, each focusing on a multitude of issues they believe is important. Many of the left decry the movement as a bunch of small-minded bigots, while some of the establishment types on the right are quick to marginalize or downplay the importance of these groups as well.

Sure, their principles are varied, but so too are their goals.  Therefore, it is difficult to measure the success or failure of the tea party as each strives to accomplish different tasks including: removing poor leaders, electing “tea party” candidates, advancing legislation, spreading education and awareness, and/or simply providing a forum for political discussion.

But, going back to my original query, a number of weeks ago I was asked that very question about my local tea party.  Although I was tempted to respond off the top of my head with the laundry list of possible answers, I instead pondered the idea and compiled a file of what I thought were the most important tenants.  Here’s the list that I crafted:

The Tea Party supports the ideals of a limited and constitutional government.  Therefore, we believe:

The primary purpose of government is to protect the lives, liberties, and properties of its citizens and those lawfully within their borders.

The federal government has grown well beyond its constitutional limitations as proscribed by the Constitution and reinforced by the 10th Amendment.

The rights of law-abiding citizens to own and use firearms in a responsible manner for recreation, hunting, and protection should be protected.

The current tax code is too lengthy, burdensome, and convoluted and thus ought to be revised or replaced.

The Federal Reserve ought to have no hand or say in the printing or distribution of the money supply and should be abolished.

Education is not a federal issue and ought to be left to the states and localities with primary rights and responsibilities residing with the family.

The federal government has no authority to authorize any national health care plans, meddle with existing plans, nor mandate any person to purchase any insurance or program.

The federal government is crushing current and future generations under the weight of a national debt.  Not only should the government balance its budget, it should greatly curtail spending immediately only to engage in functions proscribed in the Constitution.

We oppose any and all laws and mandates forced upon the citizens by supranational organizations such as the United Nations.

We support greater transparency and openness in all levels and branches of government.

Of course, there are a whole host of other important issues, such as ending abortion or bringing our troops home, but I don’t really see the tea party as dealing with social issues nor do I think there is a majority opinion regarding military policy (unfortunately).  However, I do believe that the above list incorporates most, if not all, of the local tea party principles.

Are you a tea party member yourself?  Or do you view the group with either curiosity or disdain?  Most importantly, what principles would you either add or remove from my list?

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On Monday, political activists from across the commonwealth of Virginia gathered in Richmond to participate in the annual Lobby Day.  Shortly before 7 AM that morning, I boarded a bus headed to the state capital to participate in these activities.  My fellow passengers included other members of the Shenandoah Valley Tea Party as well as the Valley Family Forum, and even a person or two from the Virginia Citizens Defense League.

After Harrisonburg, we made stops in Staunton and Waynesboro, picking up additional folks along the way.  With our busload of around thirty-five, we crossed over Afton Mountain and made our way to our destination.

Shortly before arriving, we discovered that the pro-life presentation offered by the Family Foundation had reached its capacity, so Lois Paul (one of the tea party leaders), Lisa McCumsey, (the campaign manager for Karen Kwiatkowski), and myself decided to explore the capital on our own.

Our first stop was the general assembly office building.  Although most delegates and senators were unavailable, I did appreciate the opportunity to speak with Delegate Landes (R-25) and my own Delegate, Tony Wilt (R-26) about their upcoming legislative proposals.

Jamie Radtke at Lobby Day

From there, we gathered with supporters of the Virginia Citizens Defense League around the bell tower on the capitol grounds.  At this rally, I found two of the Republican candidates for U.S. Senate.  While Jamie Radtke spoke to the crowd, David McCormick milled around the crowd gathering signatures to be on the ballot.

David McCormick at Lobby Day

After that, we enjoyed lunch at the Tobacco Company restaurant.   In the lounge of that establishment, the newly formed Central Virginia Tea Party welcomed visitors.  Surprisingly, I ran into the Virginia chairman for the Gary Johnson campaign while returning from the restroom.  We chatted briefly about the presidential race and each offered a bit of speculation as to the future of the Ron Paul movement.

From there, we toured the capitol building itself.  Unfortunately, by this point, neither the House nor the Senate was in session and so we could not enter those chambers.

Delegate Bob Marshall with his new bill

Shortly before our return to the bus, Delegate Bob Marshall crossed our path.  He was on the way to the capitol to present a new bill.  He stated that his proposal would exempt Virginians from unconstitutional detentions allowed in the recently signed National Defense Authorization Act.  I’m always glad to discover new ways that our legislators are working to protect us from the excesses of the federal government.

On the ride back, several of us collected signatures for the various Senate and House candidates while a good chunk of the attendees took the opportunity to nap.  About half of my fellow riders accepted a DVD explaining why they should support Dr. Ron Paul in the upcoming March 6th primary.

All in all, it was a great trip.  If you couldn’t make it to Lobby Day 2012, I recommend marking your calendars in advance so that you won’t miss out next time.

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As my most recent article on examiner.com states, last week I conducted a straw poll at the meeting of the Harrisonburg/Rockingham County Shenandoah Valley Tea Party.  Here are the results:

2012 Republican Presidential Primary

Newt Gingrich – 30%

Michelle Bachmann – 27%

Rick Santorum – 20%

Ron Paul – 7%

Rick Perry – 7%

Jon Huntsman – 7%

Mitt Romney – 0%

Would not vote in the GOP Primary – 3%

2012 Republican Senate Primary

E.W. Jackson – 40%

George Allen – 37%

Jamie Radtke – 13%

Bob Marshall (written in, not listed on the ballot) – 7%

Tim Donner – 0%

David McCormick – 0%

Would not vote in the GOP Primary – 3%

2012 Democratic Senate Primary

No respondents cast a vote in this primary

2012 Republican 6th District House of Representatives Primary

Karen Kwiatkowski – 47%

Bob Goodlatte – 43%

Other (no name filled in) – 3%

Office left blank – 3%

Would not vote in the GOP Primary – 3%

I’m not going to rehash the finer bits about the poll.  If you’d like that information, I encourage you to read my previous article.  Instead of reporting, which is what they primarily request at examiner.com, you’ll find my commentary on each of the three races.

1. President

To be quite honest, I was very surprised by this result.  Why would Tea Partiers embrace Gingrich, a man who is arguably the least conservative in the Republican field?  I’d guess that it has more to do with his surging popularity and his favorable news coverage on places like Fox News rather than areas of policy agreement.  At least I hope that idea is correct.  Neither Bachmann nor Santorum’s strong showing really came as a shock.  After all, whether you agree or disagree with the label, they are billed as “tea party candidates”.  But Paul with only 7%?  If you are wondering, that meant he only got two votes, myself and one other person.  Although Paul may not win a majority of the tea party vote (even though I think he should), he should certainly capture a higher percentage.

So has the Ron Paul campaign reached out to the tea party movement across the country?  I would assume it would be fertile ground.  After all, the tea party supposedly grew out of the dissatisfaction regarding the big government policies of both Democrat Barack Obama and his Republican predecessor, George W. Bush, in a similar manner of the groundswell for Dr. Paul.  In order to spread awareness of Ron Paul and sway my local tea party toward his campaign, I have called his national headquarters many times and, once that failed, even sent them a letter asking for campaign materials.  Each time I contact them I am told that I would be getting something in the mail.  More than a month later, I still have nothing, which is more than a little distressing.  If you will recall, the tea parties in Kentucky helped get Rand Paul elected Senator.  Don’t you think they could be helpful in electing his father to be our next president?

2. U.S. Senate

The result for the Senate race also held a lot of surprises.  As you see, E.W. Jackson finished first.  Although he is likely the strongest, most articulate, and passionate speaker of any of the other Republican or Democratic candidates, I have seen nothing to lead me to believe that he has a particularly strong and organized campaign.

Second, George Allen captured second.  Again, this result might leave your jaw open wondering if the tea party has a heavy minority of establishment Republicans.  Not surprisingly, this poll shows a very strong correlation between support for Newt Gingrich and support for George Allen.  Of Gingrich’s ten votes, seven of them also supported George Allen.

Third, Jamie Radtke, Tim Donner, and David McCormick ought to be concerned by these results.  Although the Senate race is still many months away, I would assume that each would require tea party support to be successful.  With Radtke finishing a distant third and Donner and McCormick with no votes whatsoever, I would recommend that each needs to visit more tea party organizations in order to sway, not only the tea party leaders, but also the regular tea party members.

Fourth, Bob Marshall got two votes.  This fact may seem trivial given that is it such a low number, but given that his name wasn’t even on the ballot; you do wonder how he would fare.  After all, while leafing through the results, one tea partier mentioned to me that she would have voted for Marshall if his name were listed as a choice.  Will Marshall enter?  The answer to that question is still unknown.

3. House of Representatives

Next, we had the race for the Republican nominee for House of Representatives.  Karen Kwiatkowski, the challenger to ten-term incumbent Bob Goodlatte, won by a single vote.  Believe or not, this result was not surprising.  Although neither Goodlatte nor Kwiatkowski have been a featured speaker at the tea party, Kwiatkowski has taken the effort to show up to a handful of meetings.  On other hand, the tea party rallied outside of his office over his support for raising the debt ceiling, and seems to be suffering additional blowback for his sponsorship of the Stop Online Piracy Act. Assuming these trends continue, I wouldn’t be surprised if Kwiatkowski captures at least 2/3rds of the tea party vote up and down the Shenandoah Valley by the time the primaries roll around.

Again, there appears to be a pretty strong correlation between Goodlatte supporters and two other so-called “establishment” candidates, Newt Gingrich and George Allen.  Of Goodlatte’s thirteen votes, 77% also supported Gingrich, Allen, or both.  By comparison, of Kwiatowski’s fourteen votes, 79% supported neither Gingrich nor Allen.

Lastly, as a novel aside, one respondent gave what I dub as the “2012, Year of the Woman” response by voting for Bachmann, Radtke, and Kwiatkowski.  Regardless of whether you support or oppose these candidates, I don’t believe that the sex of a candidate should play a role in whether or not he or she should receive your vote.  After all, look at Margaret Thatcher in the U.K.  I would gladly replace a vast majority of our politicians with either a man or woman who shared Thatcher’s principles and convictions.

Getting back to my article on examiner.com, I find it rather amusing that the folks who have dismissed the survey and article are fellow Ron Paul supporters.  Here’s what I’ve got to say on the matter.  Look, these are the results.  I would have liked to see Ron Paul win the poll, just like you would have.  However, just because I didn’t end up with my desired result doesn’t mean I should suppress the story.  After all, I don’t work for the mainstream media.  And yes, thirty people may not be a very large number, but I still believe it fairly accurately depicts the attitudes of the local tea party.  If you aren’t happy with these numbers then that point should encourage you to get out there and press even harder for our candidate.  After all, I would expect that both members of the local Republicans as well as tea partiers would show up in large numbers to the March 6th primary.  With that thought in mind, who do you think is more likely to vote for Ron Paul?  Rank and file Republicans or tea party members?  That’s what I thought.  Now go and spread the word!

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Good evening everyone.

I just wanted to draw your attention to my latest two pieces which can be found on examiner.com.  The first asks the question of whether it is more important to select a party nominee based upon his or her political principles or instead upon his or her ability to win the general election.  The second reminds readers of the upcoming tea party meetings taking place in the Valley on December 15th.  Both are worth a read, so head on over to check them out.

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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 Saturday, I received a rather intriguing email from TheTeaParty.net entitled “37 things you should horde…” Inside, it offers several links to a page promising “click here to discover the 37 critical items you need to stay alive and healthy (you won’t be able to buy these things later!)”.  Given recent concerns with the value of the dollar, a weak economy, and the ever-present looming threat of some sort of natural disaster and/or a terrorist attack, people’s fears and concerns will likely draw them to this site.

But what do you find when you get there, you might wonder?  What are these 37 things that you and everyone else in our society need?  The short answer is, after watching the video they offer, I still have no idea.

Let me save you a bit of time.  For about a half an hour you sit through a repetitious video preying upon your fears that promises to save you from the crisis ahead.  After spending so much effort trying to convince you that you are a “good patriot”, that the speaker is your friend and only wants to help, and this information they provide will save you and your family from starvation and mob warfare, you are bombarded with a sales pitch to buy a book that contains the answer to these future panics and more.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you, but if you really care to watch it anyway, you can do so here.

A month or two ago, after receiving one of my first emails from TheTeaParty.net, I called their Washington D.C. office hoping to learn more about their organization.  No one answered my call and, even though I left a message, no one has anyone called me back since.  Surprised?

Looking through their dozen or so emails I have stuffed in my inbox, this so-called tea party seems to only send out two kinds of messages, emails asking for money and emails from their paid sponsors.  This morning’s email was more of the same.  “Do you support the movement?” they ask.  If yes, click here to take a poll.  But, once you do, there is no survey, only another donation page.  I’m sure that these kinds of self-serving messages are terribly useful to the greater tea party goals.

Masquerading as the tea party is all the rage these days.  After all, like the televangelists of old, preaching a message of doom and gloom coupled with a monetary path to salvation is a popular and proven tactic.  How many of our parents and grandparents were deceived by Jim Bakker or someone of his ilk back in the ’80s?  Take from the old!  Take from the naïve!  Their loss can be your gain!  But let me ask you this question: if you generously choose to donate some your hard-earned cash to show your support for the tea party, which would be a better choice?  Your friends and neighbors out working in the community?  Or some unknown group based in D.C.?

Now maybe TheTeaParty.net is on the level but, after a month, it is starting to become apparent to me that they may be little more than a group trying to cash in on the tea party’s name through promotion of their paid sponsors. Sure, you can ask me for a donation once in a while.  Shake me down for money four days in a row?  That tactic seems more than a little fishy.

Getting back to my original point, should you be prepared in the case of a disaster?  Absolutely.  Should we be concerned about the state of the economy?  Of course.  However, as a member of the Shenandoah Valley Tea Party, I don’t want anyone to get suckered in by an astroturf substitute promising solutions to a problem that may or not exist.

But who should listen to reason with so much fear swirling in the air?  After all, tomorrow’s headline might read, “Panic!  At the Supermarket!”  Maybe if I ever look to cash in on a book or newspaper I’ll end up writing such provocative statements.  For now though we have at least two options.  Which course of action will you choose?

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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:  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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Starting on Sunday and running through Wednesday evening, Bearing Drift held a straw poll regarding the Republican nomination for Virginia’s Senate seat in 2012.  Impressively, over one thousand people voted over this several day timeframe.

Here is a visual representation of the results, thanks to the folks at Bearing Drift:

The positions of the top three candidates are of particular interest.  As you can see, Jamie Radtke handily won this poll with 45% of the vote.  George Allen, the current frontrunner according to most polls, finished tied with Tim Donner for second place with 24%.   Therefore, while this poll should serve as a boost to both the Radtke and Donner campaigns, it should be seen as a warning for the Allen folks.  As for the Jackson and McCormick campaigns, these results might be troubling as well especially given that “Other/Democratic” more than tripled McCormick’s total.

Now, some people will quickly dismiss the results of this poll.  After all, it was only available online, anyone could vote, and likely only those with a high degree of interest participated.  Furthermore, the author of the poll, Shaun Kenney, writes that it is “wholly unscientific and non-reliable”.  However, it should also be pointed out that the poll was on Bearing Drift, the most (or second most depending on who is doing the tabulating) well-known and well-read blog in the conservative blogosphere in Virginia.

Here’s another interesting fact to consider; George Allen is easily winning the endorsement race.  Why, just about every elected Republican officeholder in the Shenandoah Valley has thrown his or her support behind our former Senator and Governor.  However, does this poll reflect a general weakness of confidence among the grassroots base?  I know that Bearing Drift has contributors and readers who are vocal in their support of Allen.  But, if he is unable to translate this support into less than one of every four votes in this online poll, could that news spell trouble for Allen’s chances in either the primary or general election?  Are most of Allen’s supporters the silent majority?  Do they not read blogs like Bearing Drift?  Or did they simply choose not to participate?   Under any circumstance, you do have to wonder if a sizable chunk of the online political movers and shakers are either lukewarm to his candidacy or have found a better champion.

The next test in the race for U.S. Senate comes in exactly two weeks when the candidates gather to debate in the town of Verona in the Shenandoah Valley.  Will Jamie Radtke win this contest as well?  Will Tim Donner continue to gain ground among activists?  Will George Allen remind us of his successes as Senator and Governor and regain the momentum?  Or will one of the other candidates capture the hearts and minds of the average citizen?  I encourage all of you to find out in person as the Shenandoah Valley Tea Party plays host to the candidates. The debate begins at 6:30 PM on October 20th at the Augusta Government Center.  See you there!

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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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