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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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On Tuesday afternoon, Representative Bob Goodlatte of Roanoke and Delegate Dickie Bell of Staunton gathered with a reporter, staff, and the general public inside the city council chambers in Staunton.  Although I was unaware beforehand, the primary purpose of this meeting was to announce Goodlatte’s endorsement of Bell.  Delegate Bell faces a Democratic challenger in the November 2011 election.  This fact is a tad unusual for this area as no other General Assembly race in the Shenandoah Valley is contested.

Besides the endorsement, Representative Goodlatte also offers a few thoughts regarding future developments and plans for the federal government.

Unfortunately, the video cuts off abruptly when the camera runs out of power.  When a camera displays half a charge remaining, you would expect it to last longer than five minutes.

Nevertheless, I hope you enjoy.

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For the last several days and the next week or two, I’ve temporarily transferred to the city of Staunton, Virginia.  Located twenty-five miles or so south of Harrisonburg, Staunton is a place rich in both history and culture.  Not only can you find places like the Frontier Culture Museum and the American Shakespeare Center, but also Wright’s Dairy-Rite and Woodrow Wilson’s birthplace and Presidential Library.  If you are wondering how Wright’s fits in with the rest, like Jess’ Quick Lunch in downtown Harrisonburg, it is an iconic restaurant that serves as a gathering place for politicians and political campaigns over the decades.

On Thursday, I had the chance to attend a meeting of the Staunton branch of the Shenandoah Valley Tea Party Patriots.  Although I had hoped to visit with this group earlier, the fact that so many of their gatherings took place at the same time that the Harrisonburg group met, I felt I had to wait until their schedules were separated.  Speaking of such matters, during that same evening Senate hopeful Jamie Radtke was meeting with the Page County branch.  I would‘ve loved to have gone there as well, but I still haven’t found the trick to be two places at once.

Besides electing a Staunton representative to the SVTPP board (more on this issue later), the main highlight of the event was Karen Miner Hurd and her Virginia Tea Party Alliance PAC.  A relatively new organization in Virginia politics, Ms. Hurd’s PAC seeks to transform Virginia politics by not merely electing Republicans, but by electing Republicans who embrace the conservative ideology.  While wearing a pin declaring her disdain for RINOs (Republicans in name only), she ardently advocated challenging the Republican establishment types who have previously and continue to water down the Republican brand.

Given my frustrations with lackluster and non-conservative candidates (like John McCain in 2008), I can certainly appreciate the purpose of the VATPA.  After all, electing Republicans is not of much value if they govern and legislate in more or less the same fashion as the average Democrat.  If some Virginia Republicans steadfastly refuse to adhere to the principles outlined in the RPV Creed, then why should conservatives support their election or reelection?

After Karen Hurd spoke, Senator Mark Obenshain (R-26) offered a few thoughts to the audience as well.  He regaled us of his early days in the Senate when he butted heads with then Senator John Chichester, a fellow Republican.  As you may recall, Chichester, a villain to many fiscal conservatives, helped pass one of the largest tax increases in state history.  I always appreciate the chance to hear Senator Obenshain speak and, as you already know, given his voting record and sponsored legislation, I believe him to be one of the best, if not the best, member of that body.  One does hope that should the Republican regain control of the Virginia Senate this year that men of Obenshain’s caliber will lead the body as opposed to business as usual Republicans.

Getting back to the main focus of this article, given their commitment to our shared principles as well as a determination to influence local, state, and national elections here in the Commonwealth, you can be sure that I’ll be eagerly watching the activities of this new PAC.  I’ll provide more details as they become available.

I have no other news from Staunton at this time.  if you happened to be in the Harrisonburg area, I hope you had a chance to meet with the Ron Paul group. I would have loved to have gone myself, but given the high price of gas, I had to sit this one out.

Until next time, just remember; stay informed and stay active!

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Virginia is gearing up for another election year.  Then again, every year is an election year in this state.  Like New Jersey, Virginia is a bit of an oddity in that we elect our representatives in state government in the odd numbered years.  Although this method does allow our state government to be partially detached from fluctuating national trends, it also means that we elect some legislator or another every November.

Here in the central Shenandoah Valley, office seekers to the House of Delegates, State Senate, and the various constitutional offices are in the early stages of winning allies and expanding their coffers.  We have five House members up for re-election as well as two State Senators.  Right now the field is pretty stable.  None of the present members (all Republicans) have any primary challengers and only one of them, Delegate Dickie Bell of Staunton, currently has a Democratic opponent for the fall.  I’m working on an in-depth analysis of the 20th district contest for an upcoming post.

No doubt the biggest race in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County for 2011 has to be sheriff.  Currently, there are three people seeking the post.  Kurt Boshart and Bryan Hutcheson are vying for the Republican nomination that will be decided on July 12th.  The winner of this contest will face independent candidate C.M. Hess on the November ballot.

But what are my predictions regarding these two races?  Well, for the House of Delegates, Laura Kleiner is pretty green politically (her experience only reaches back to 2009 according to her website) and the newly drawn 20th district is still conservative.  Also, the more I listen to Delegate Bell, the more I like him.  I have to assume that other conservative activists in the Valley are reacting likewise.  Given these factors, I expect Dickie Bell will retain the seat.

As for the sheriff’s race, I’ll wager that once next month’s dust settles that Boshart will be the GOP nominee.  He seems to have a greater support among the Republican faithful and, as far as I can tell, has done a better job courting their support.  However, if the general election were held today, I believe Mr. Hess will prove victorious.  First of all, he is winning the sign war.  Drive around the city and especially the county and you’ll likely see a much greater number of his signs up at local businesses and the yards of supporters than either Hutcheson or Boshart.  Second, partisan leaning seem to have little influence over this race.  Although the area is heavily conservative, voters don’t necessarily favor the Republican nominee over an Independent when it comes to sheriff.  For example, in the last contested race in Harrisonburg in 2003, the Independent beat the Republican by a hefty 18.5%.

When considering either the sheriff or the delegate race, one should always remember that a lot can happen between now and Election Day.  After all, it is only late June now.  As 2006 and 2009 showed, one grievous slip of the tongue or a perceived ethical lapse by a candidate can easily scuttle months or years of effort.  Barring any major setback, the strength or weakness of a campaign effort will have a far greater impact than anything else…except maybe the lines of the district in question.

As with any political campaign, it should be interesting to watch.

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Starting at noon today, members of the Shenandoah Valley Tea Party stood outside Representative Bob Goodlatte’s Staunton office for an hour.  Waving signs and chanting slogans, their purpose was threefold: to draw attention to the problem of massive federal spending, to encourage their elected representatives to vote against the continuing resolution for the budget, and for a return to some sort of fiscal sanity.

Today’s event brings us to an important question; is the Tea Party upset with Representative Goodlatte?  Although one of the members commented that the Representative was right on “99% of the issues”, she firmly stated that he can and should take a leading role to reduce the runaway debt and spending.

After the rally (or protest depending on your definition of the word), the Tea Party presented the Representative’s office a document signed by around fifty of his constituents in support of their cause.   With the deadline for the continuing budget resolution looming at the end of this week, we will soon discover what impact groups like the Tea Party will have on our elected officials.

However, a few questions linger.  Can the government maintain a balanced budget?  Will we ever pay off our staggering federal debt?  Do our Representatives and Senators have the sheer force of will to enact meaningful cuts in our bloated budget or will they continue the status quo?  And, if there is no agreement, will the government suffer a shutdown of nonessential functions due to funding issues like what briefly happened back in 1995?  If so, what impact, if any, will this potential decrease of services have on the lives of the average American?

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