On July 21st, the Virginia Bar Association will be holding the first debate for the race for the 2018 U.S. Senate election in Virginia. However, like the debates they have held in previous years, they will be excluding one of the candidates who will be on the November ballot, Libertarian Matt Waters. Although the organization claims to be nonpartisan and “the VBA debates are not intended to in any way promote or advance one candidate over another”, it is obvious that through their exclusionary practices they intend to advance the candidacies of two of the options at the expense of their third.
Virginia has one of the most difficult hurdles for statewide candidates to achieve ballot access. An independent or third party candidate (or a Republican or Democrat competing in a primary but not a convention) needs to submit the signatures of 10,000 registered voters to the Election Board with at least 400 from each of Virginia’s 11 congressional districts. After a majority of Republican presidential candidates failed to make the cut in 2012, the Virginia General Assembly lowered the threshold for that office (and that office only) to 5,000 signatures.
If you are tired of being forced to select between the lesser of two evils, you don’t think that the Virginia Bar Association ought to be picking winners and losers in elections, and/or you feel that every candidate who succeeds in making the ballot ought to be given the same equality of opportunity of having his or her voice heard, I encourage you to visit the Facebook page of the Virginia Bar Association and let them know you don’t support their sham of a debate. I’ve spoken to them already and perhaps if enough of us make our opinions known, then politics in Virginia can become more free and fair.
On Wednesday, June 20th, Andy Schmookler and I appeared on Early Mornings on 550 AM, WSVA for our monthly political radio show. We spent a majority of our time speaking about President Trump and the recent issue of children separated from their parents who are seeking to live in the United States.
Although I would have preferred to speak more on the subject, we also touched on the 2018 primaries, the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate and the Democratic primary for the 6th district seat to replace Bob Goodlatte.
Leading up to the primary on June 12th, I asked activists who they thought would win the Republican U.S. Senate primary in Virginia. As is the case in many elections, most people stated that their preferred candidate would win. Stewart people assumed Corey Stewart would be victorious while Freitas people thought likewise about Nick Freitas. Although I supported and ended up casting my vote for Delegate Freitas, I stated that I thought Stewart would win.
Why? Well, as stated above, it wasn’t because I wanted Mr. Stewart to be the Republican nominee. At this point, Corey Stewart has almost reached the status of a perennial candidate. He briefly ran for U.S. Senate in 2011-12, finished third for the Lt. Gov nomination in 2013, and came close to winning the Republican nomination for Virginia Governor in 2017. However, if you look back the last time that Corey Stewart ran for statewide office, in 2017, he narrowly lost the Republican nomination to Ed Gillespie. Gillespie won 43.74% and Stewart got 42.5%. If he had gotten blown out last year, it is unlikely that anyone would have taken him seriously in 2018. As an example, consider E.W. Jackson, who was the Republican candidate for Lt. Governor in 2013. He ended up losing the general election by over 10 points thus making it far less likely that the Republican Party would ever give him another statewide nomination. Stewart, conversely, was close in his last attempt.
Next is the matter of name ID. Although none of the three candidates were terribly well-known across the state, presumably Stewart was bolstered by his previous runs. Chances are that activists who had supported Stewart in 2017 would likely do so again. Therefore, he already had an established base to build from. Although he traveled the state during the election cycle, Freitas was a less well-known name without a cadre of longtime supporters scattered across the various corners of Virginia.
Another aspect concerned endorsements and the ideology each candidate represented. While Corey Stewart represents Trump populism, Freitas is part of the liberty/small government movement, and Jackson has the religious right. Although President Trump isn’t particularly popular with Virginians as a whole, he does seem to command a loyal and active following among a sizable segment of Virginia Republican voters. Oddly, unlike just about every other year, there wasn’t a candidate from the establishment wing of the Republican Party. Several months ago, I was told that Representative Barbara Comstock would be entering the race but that never happened. As such, many in the Republican establishment endorsed Nick Freitas. At face value, you might think that the establishment combined with the liberty-wing would be enough for a winning coalition in the primary. After all, the establishment more or less propelled Ed Gillespie to the Republican nomination in 2017 single-handedly. Liberty-minded folks may have cast a vote for Gillespie, but I doubt many were excited about it.
However, upon further reflection, it is likely that many in the establishment weren’t all that enthusiastic about Freitas, but it was rather a lesser of three evils type of scenario for them. In 2013, Jackson demonstrated that it would be nearly impossible for him to win statewide and some of his comments derided as bigoted or closed-minded could hurt the GOP in other races. As for Stewart, his ties to the alt-right with to the Unite the Right rallies in Charlottesville, his previous false or misleading statements about Ed Gillespie in 2017, the fact that he represented the same Trump faction that lost Virginia in 2017, and that he was likely seen as an uncontrollable force resulted in some of them viewing his nomination as an unmitigated disaster for the Republican Party of Virginia. Given some of Freitas’ outstanding bills in the General Assembly which would curb the power of the party bosses, my assumption was that the establishment ended up supporting Freitas out of perceived necessity, not desire, and thus I assumed that their level of support would be far lower than it would be for someone like Gillespie.
The night before the primary, I stopped by my local polling place in Harrisonburg to see which campaigns had placed signs at the precinct. Although signs don’t win elections, they are one way to gauge levels of campaign activism. When I arrived, I found Brent Finnegan, the 2017 Democratic candidate for the 26th House district placing signs for Jennifer Lewis. There were also signs for Peter Volosin, but none for any of the Republican Senatorial candidates. However, when I went to cast my vote for Nick Freitas around noon the next day, several of his signs had appeared in the interim.
Once polls closed at 7, I sat in front of my computer, watching the results on both the VPAP and NY Times websites. To my surprise, Freitas took an early lead…but could it last? Were my predictions wrong? At one point, E.W. Jackson jumped out in front with a commanding lead due to results from Virginia Beach. However, upon closer inspection, I discovered that one precinct had erroneously given Jackson several tens of thousands of extra votes, likely the result of a few misplaced additional zeros in his totals. When it was corrected, Jackson did not come close to leading for the rest of the night. As results continued to come in, the difference between Freitas and Stewart began to tighten. At around 85% of the vote reporting, Freitas was still leading. But I thought it prudent to check where the bulk of the outstanding votes were left to report. Most were either in Prince William County (where Stewart is the chairman of the board of supervisors) or Fairfax County directly to the north. Although Freitas was still leading, I realized at that point that Stewart had almost certainly won the election once all the votes were in.
During the evening, I wondered if either the Stewart or Freitas camps would deride E.W. Jackson as a spoiler, declaring that his candidacy cost them victory. If he weren’t in the race, I assumed that a majority of his votes would have gone to Stewart, but without seeing the exit polls, it is difficult to say with any measure of certainty. Jackson won about 12% of the vote. If asked, I would have recommended that Jackson not run as I believe it would only hurt his future prospects of holding elected office (if any). Nevertheless, I believe he had every right to run (just like anyone else) no matter how slim his chances happened to be and that it is unfair to call him a spoiler.
In November, Virginia will likely have three candidates on the ballot, Republican Corey Stewart, Democrat Tim Kaine, and Libertarian Matt Waters. At this point, I would assume that Kaine will best Stewart by at least 10 points. However, regardless of my predictions, I recommend to you, dear reader, to research all three of your choices and vote for the one who best embodies your values. I know I will.
For those who follow Virginia politics, I’m sure many people were stunned to recently hear that Representative Tom Garrett (VA-5) would not be seeking re-election this year as a result of alcohol issues. As such, it was announced that the 5th district Republican committee would be selecting a candidate to replace him.
Immediately, candidates threw their names in for consideration. Within an hour or two of Garrett’s announcement, Denver Riggleman was the first announcement I saw. Other names for consideration (or potential consideration) included: Martha Boneta, Senator Bill Stanley, Senator Jill Vogel, and Michael Del Rosso.
When Bearing Drift reported on June 1st that Cynthia Dunbar would be seeking the nomination, I didn’t believe it. After all, she had lost the nomination in the 6th district convention a few weeks before. In addition, although not a requirement for office, she lives in the 6th district, not the 5th. Nevertheless, I needed to find out for myself if what was reported on Bearing Drift was true. I wrote to a Dunbar supporter seeking an answer but did not receive a reply.
On Saturday morning I hopped on Facebook, hoping to learn more about what was going on in the 5th. Fortunately, one of my friends offered regular updates on what was taking place in Nelson County. Much to my surprise, Bearing Drift was right and Dunbar was indeed a candidate.
At first, I was disturbed by this news. Why was Dunbar running a stealth campaign in the 5th? More importantly, why was Dunbar running in the 5th at all? As I wrote at the time, “I feel like this move damages her credibility statewide.” The final list of candidates for consideration was: Martha Boneta, Michael Del Rosso, Cynthia Dunbar, Denver Riggleman, Michael Webert, and Joe Whited.
After the first vote, Dunbar led the pack with 15 votes. Riggleman and Whited had 6 and Del Rosso had 5 with the rest of the field eliminated. A candidate needed 19 votes to get the nomination. Not only was I surprised by Dunbar’s strong performance, I was also shocked that Senator Stanley didn’t end up running and, after her growing list of endorsements, the fact that Martha Boneta didn’t make it to the next round.
The second round of voting resulted in Dunbar losing a vote with Dunbar 14, Riggleman 13, Del Rosso 9, and Mr. Whited not making the cut.
The third round found Dunbar still leading with 16, Riggleman with 15, and Del Rosso eliminated. Looking back to the rather nasty Garrett/Del Rosso fight from 2016, I assumed that Del Rosso would direct his supporters to Dunbar and that she would win on the final ballot. Given my experiences and what I knew of the candidates as well as the fact that I respected many of the members who spoke in favor of her if given the choice I would have voted for Dunbar over Riggleman.
Nevertheless, on the final ballot, Riggleman won the nomination 19-18. According to the Washington Post, “During a fourth and final vote, Riggleman’s team used control of the House as a negotiating tactic, telling members that if Democrats win the majority they will impeach Trump.” I wouldn’t have predicted it, coming remarkably close, Dunbar’s gambit came within one vote of success.
Although the 5th district of Virginia is a Republican district, without an incumbent in what I believe will be an impending blue wave for the Democrats, I believe that Riggleman and the Republicans can still win, but it won’t be nearly as easy as they would like. If Mr. Riggleman is elected, I sincerely hope that he distinguishes himself as one of the most pro-liberty members of the House as his supporters claim he will be.
On Saturday, May 19th, Virginia Republicans held their 6th district convention in Harrisonburg. However, before discussing the event itself, I think it is important to discuss some of the events leading up to the convention.
For starters, until last week I wasn’t expecting to attend the convention. I had signed up to be a voting delegate but had my application rejected as I refused to sign a loyalty oath to the Republican Party and her candidates. Specifically, they required all attendees to sign a pledge to support all of the Republicans candidates in the 2018 election cycle without knowing who these candidates are and what they stand for. For a political party who supposedly advocates freedom, liberty, and limited government, one would assume that most of their activists would find such an oath unacceptable and yet they, like Esau and the pot of lentils, presumably bartered away their free will in order to participate.
Second, I had no idea who I would be supporting. Only one candidate asked for my endorsement by personally calling me on the phone, Delegate Ben Cline. I came to the conclusion that on the issues Cline was closest to my values of the three most well-known candidates. Although I had known both Cynthia Dunbar and Chaz Haywood for many years, I was deeply concerned that Dunbar had become far too pro-Trump and worried that her campaign was promoting loyalty to the president over adherence to principles. And Haywood I saw as the establishment’s choice. Given my extremely negative opinion of Bob Goodlatte, I was worried that Haywood would fall in with the same people that have worked to squelch liberty in the 6th district these last several decades.
I appreciated Cline’s efforts in the House of Delegates and had previously invited him to speak at a Libertarian gathering. But, I was particularly concerned about the hiring of one of his campaign staffers, a person I considered unethical who had engaged in dirty tactics in a previous campaign. As such, I wrote a piece about it for this website (which I have not published) and sent it to Delegate Cline. In January, he said he would get back to me about the matter “soon” but I never heard anything more, even after I sent another message a month later. As more time passed, I found myself drifting toward neutrality, wishing I knew more about the other candidates who were running.
Leading up to the convention, the mudslinging against the candidates grew increasingly ugly. For example, led by the Cline campaign, the others (with the exception of the Dunbar and Pope campaigns) attacked 6th district chairman Scott Sayre saying, “We have concluded that the current plans put forth by Chairman Scott Sayre will not ensure a fair, orderly, and unbiased convention for the Sixth Congressional District.” In addition, rather than sticking to the issues, often anonymous sources attacked people personally. One website that popped up a day before the convention was SwampyScottSayre.com, which accused Scott Sayre of rigging the convention in favor of Cynthia Dunbar. I consider such attacks from the shadows to be unethical and have tried to determine who is behind it. Given the previous behavior of some Cline staffers, I am worried that they might have had a hand in it. If you (the readers) are able to tie a person or an organization to this website, I would appreciate hearing of it. Considering Ginger Burg of Amherst was the first person I saw sharing the site, I would expect that she is either behind it or knows who is responsible.
As mentioned, as I was rejected as a delegate, I didn’t plan to attend the convention. However, on May 15th, John Fredericks wrote the following on Facebook.
After I read that, I was determined to find out the truth for myself. I have known Scott Sayre for many years and considered him a decent and fair fellow. Was he trying to suppress the media? Was he attempting to rig the convention? Although I hadn’t covered a Republican convention since 2013, I thought it best to witness it for myself rather than rely on what others said. After sending a few messages and making a phone call, I secured my press credentials several days before the event.
Even though conventions are harder to predict than primaries, my assumption was that Cline was the most favored candidate, followed by Dunbar, and then Haywood.
It was a rainy Saturday morning and it had been raining in Harrisonburg for the last several days. The convention was slated to begin at 10 AM. Although I found myself on Port Republic Road at 9:30, there was considerable traffic at this time and due to some construction at JMU, I ended up parking about a mile away and had to walk to convocation center. Before I left my car, I decided to wear a Ron Paul 2008 campaign pin in the hopes of reminding some of the delegates that they ought to remember their principles. In the closest parking lot, I found that one member of the House of Delegates had made his or her own parking space and wondered if he would be ticketed or given a free pass due to his or her status.
I arrived at the convocation center shortly before 10 and picked up my press pass. Although I didn’t know who I would vote for to replace Bob Goodlatte, I also checked in with the credentials committee to see if they would let me vote as a delegate. I found Anne Fitzgerald leading the effort and she asked me if I would sign one of two documents pledging that I would not support any non-Republican candidates, specifically Libertarian ones. I could not honorably sign such a paper and that was the end of the discussion.
I want to pause for a minute to speak about the Fitzgeralds. For those who don’t know, Matt Fitzgerald is the chairman of the Staunton GOP. Unlike some other folks in Republican politics in the 6th district, I have found that the Fitzgeralds are friendly, honorable, and principled activists. If you live in the area, share similar values, and haven’t met them yet, I would encourage you to seek them out. I’ve always been glad to see them.
Anyway, after a few false leads, I found the media section and had a seat reserved next to Bob Stuart of the News Virginian. Despite what Mr. Fredericks stated, there seemed to be ample room for the media and it was nice to be in a spot removed from the noise and the traffic of the general public. In addition, it was nice to have internet access provided for the press as the building seemed to block out a general signal. I planned to give live updates throughout the day but was disappointed to find that when my computer went to sleep it had forgotten the internet password and I had foolishly failed to jot down the password on a piece of paper when I had the opportunity.
One of the first orders of business was the election of the temporary chair. The Scott Sayre people preferred Mr. Albertson (who runs the Bull Elephant) while the Jennifer Brown people ran Mr. Wilson. The Brown people combed the convention center holding signs for Wilson declaring that Albertson would rig the convention. With a break in the action, I took the opportunity to wander around the convention and found some folks I knew in both the areas for Harrisonburg delegates and in Shenandoah County. I ran into Elliot Pope, one of the lesser known 6th district candidates. He sounded like a good fellow, but I would need more than a minute to learn more about him. Hopefully, I’ll run into him in the future. Also, I asked one of my friends who voted for Wilson why she did so; she repeated that Albertson would rig the convention. I asked what proof was being offered for these allegations but it seems that none could be offered. Although Mr. Albertson won several localities (Bedford, Highland, Page, Staunton, Warren, & Waynesboro), the result wasn’t particularly close. I assumed that this result didn’t bode well for Sayre’s reelection chances.
When lunchtime came I found myself carrying a bag for my friend Laura. As we approached a staffer for Doug Wright, she asked if we would like a free box lunch. Apparently, the Wright campaign had ordered a number of lunches for their supporters and had quite a few left over. I don’t know how much JMU meal services charged for the boxes, but I was certainly appreciative of the Wright campaign’s generosity.
After lunch, I ran into Ed Yensho, the chairman of the Greene County GOP. Along with several other folks outside the district, he was recruited to help maintain order should the convention grow particularly nasty.
As it came time for the regional candidates to give their speeches, I returned to the press area. It was good to speak with and spend time with some of my fellow bloggers. There was Rick Sincere and Willie Deutsch and I also got to meet Mick Staton of The Bull Elephant.
I found it very curious that when the candidates for Central Regional Vice Chairman were supposed to speak, one of the candidates, Wendell Walker was absent. Given his status as former 6th district GOP chair, I was certain that he knew the proper procedure and the fact that he was absent meant that he did not intend to take the stage. As a result, his opponent took the opportunity to voice his support for Jennifer Brown.
The two candidates for chair, Scott Sayre and Jennifer Brown, took the stage. While Sayre spoke of his experiences and what his plans were for the 6th district, Brown spoke of principles instead, not offering any sort of idea what she would tangibly do to put her principles into action. In addition, when she called Bob Goodlatte the best member of Congress, I was deeply concerned that she represented a return to the same policies as Goodlatte of a top-down approach where the people of the 6th were servants of the congressman and not the other way around as the founders had intended. Her campaign signs mirrored both the font and colors previously used by Goodlatte. On the other hand, it seemed to me that perhaps Brown wanted to win more than Sayre, her campaign had stickers and signs throughout the convention hall while, as far as I could tell, he didn’t have any.
Then it was time for the main event when all of the candidates for the 6th district Republican nomination spoke. Here I observed something else strange. While Dunbar’s and Cline’s supporters waved signs for their candidates, not a single person held a sign for Haywood. It was darn peculiar. After checking the FEC reports, he had sufficient funds to do so and the few Haywood signs sitting on the tables at the luncheon were of particularly poor quality, looking as if they were printed on a home printer. I anticipated two or more ballots given that with eight candidates it would very difficult for any candidate to get 50% of the vote on the first ballot. However, after giving his speech, Haywood announced his withdrawal, instead endorsing Cline. The timing of his withdrawal didn’t sit right with me. It felt as if it were staged; given that there were no Haywood signs on the floor, he must have decided to withdraw sometime before the day of the convention. In addition, like E.W. Jackson at the Republican state convention in 2013, it seemed that Dunbar gave the best floor speech, but would that win the day?
To be honest, at that point I couldn’t come up with an outcome that I was particularly excited about. Walking to an area with internet access, I wrote a friend in Nevada who has been following the race “I think I might not be voting Republican in November.”
Although I did not endorse any candidate, it was peculiar that I felt more at ease around Dunbar supporters than Cline people (with a few exceptions and, if a particular Cline staffer is reading this, I assume you know who you are). I guess it was offputting to see some people who I felt had bartered away their honor wearing Cline stickers. As the votes were being cast and counted, Scott Sayre came by the press table and spoke to me, voicing some similar opinions regarding what had happened with the Central Vice Chairman speeches and Haywood’s withdrawal.
While we waited for the results, the three Republican Senate candidates were given a chance to speak to the masses. None of them, Nick Freitas, E.W. Jackson, or Corey Stewart passed up this opportunity.
I was dismayed to hear that in the 6th district chairman race Brown won 58% of the vote to Sayre’s 42%. From what I observed, I felt that the accusations of a rigged convention and disreputable conduct leveled against Sayre were false. I began to wonder if these allegations were possibly been a deflection to try and mask underhanded conduct on the part of his opponents.
Lastly, with Haywood’s withdrawal, they announced that Cline had won on the first ballot with 52.62% of the vote. At the time I could not hear how the rest of the candidates ended up because the roar coming from the crowd was far too loud.
During his acceptance speech, Delegate Cline spoke of his support for President Trump and his desire to build a border wall which I found disheartening.
I hoped to leave the convention in good spirits, but I felt despondent instead. It felt as if the Republican establishment had struck back, that liberty was once again on the retreat in the 6th district Republican Party. While walking back to my car I thought to myself, after one sees the sausage being made, he starts to lose his taste for it.
I hope that in the coming days we can determine definitively that the Cline campaign had nothing to do with these anonymous attacks. I still personally like Ben Cline and want to vote for him in November, but the convention left a dark cloud in my mind that has yet to dissipate.
On the morning of May 16th, Andy Schmookler and I returned to 550 AM, WSVA for our monthly radio hour. Given my time away at grad school, this show marked my first recording in the studio in quite some time.
The main topic of the day was the 6th district Republican convention, which will be taking place in Harrisonburg this Saturday, May 19th. Although it is difficult to predict the outcome, given the current acrimony and allegations of wrong-doing by many parties, it should be entertaining to watch.
In addition, we also spoke of the Mueller investigation which is entering its second year. I wish we could have gotten into a discussion about the current state of the Middle East, but unfortunately, we ran out of time.
On Wednesday, April 11th, both Andy Schmookler and I, Joshua Huffman, made our monthly appearance on 550 AM, WSVA. We started off discussing the recent announcement of the retirement of Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. From there, we moved to the recent hostilities in Syria and possible U.S. reactions. Lastly, we briefly touched on the ongoing Mueller investigation of President Donald Trump.
On Wednesday of this week, Andy Schmookler and I had our 56th hour on 550 AM, WSVA. The discussion this month focused on Donald Trump, including his congratulatory phone call to Vladimir Putin for winning re-election as President of Russia, his actions with Stormy Daniels (and perhaps others related individuals) and the growing political divide between pro-Trump and anti-Trump activists which is making political dialogue increasingly difficult.
Although this might be a controversial statement to some activists, I firmly believe that not all endorsements are beneficial to a political campaign.
For example, in this cycle in Virginia races, former Representative Ron Paul has endorsed Cynthia Dunbar for the 6th district in the House of Representatives and Nick Freitas for U.S. Senate. I see these as positive endorsements given that not only is Dr. Paul my former boss, I respect Ron Paul due to our shared principles and I believe he is an honorable man. Over the years have I supported everyone he endorses? No. Nevertheless, I believe Paul’s endorsement is particularly positive.
For comparison, the present representative for the 6th district of Virginia, Bob Goodlatte, also has made endorsements (though none in this cycle as far as I know). Given that we do not share much in the way of ideology when Representative Goodlatte endorses a candidate that fact makes it less likely, but certainly not an automatic disqualifier, that I will also support him or her. His endorsement, in my mind, is negative.
Recently, the campaign of 6th district candidate Ben Cline announced that Jerry Falwell, Jr. has endorsed Cline. As someone who both likes and respects Delegate Cline, I ended up speaking with a member of the Cline campaign regarding it. Given Falwell’s unwavering support for Donald Trump despite the overwhelming evidence of Trump’s sexism, authoritarianism, and his flippant attitude toward religion, I believe that Mr. Falwell is leading otherwise good Christian men and women astray. I wrote about the matter in late 2016 when I penned “The Fall of the Religious Right“. Therefore, the staffer and I had a brief exchange about Mr. Falwell, respectfully disagreed about the value of his endorsement to the Cline campaign, and that was the end of the matter.
That dialogue, in my opinion, is how political disagreements ought to be discussed and resolved. Obviously, no two people do nor ought to agree on every political matter. That doesn’t mean that one side or the other is necessarily stupid or evil. However, there are those who disagree.
Last week, the Nick Freitas campaign announced that former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell has endorsed his candidacy. As regular readers know, I have a great admiration for Mr. Freitas. However, I don’t think much of Bob McDonnell. Although I voted for him for attorney general in 2005 and governor in 2009, he demonstrated that he neither shared my political principles, by signing the largest tax increase in Virginia nor supported my values through his unethical conduct in the governor’s mansion, later revealed during his corruption trial and his conviction. Although his sentence was later vacated (though he was not acquitted), as Chief Justice Roberts wrote,“There is no doubt that this case is distasteful; it may be worse than that. But our concern is not with tawdry tales of Ferraris, Rolexes, and ball gowns. It is instead with the broader legal implications of the Government’s boundless interpretation of the federal bribery statute.” As a result of his actions, whenever I hear of McDonnell, I am reminded of the image below.
Therefore, when the Freitas campaign announced Bob McDonnell’s endorsement to a private group of which I am a part, I expressed my concern stating, “I’m not sure this is a positive.” Although the first response was to offer a counterclaim, to which I explained why many Virginians might view McDonnell unfavorably (for the reasons listed above), the resulting conversation got rather nasty.
For example, here are some things that were said to me and about me:
“There are also some people who think bigfoot is real.”
“No, some opinions are quite literally BS.”
“The entire Supreme Court of the United States agree on very little, but they agree those people are morons.”
“‘I disagree with a few bills he signed into law. Therefore, we should pervert the law and arrest him.’ How very libertarian…”
“Thankfully libertarians and us liberty lovers consider folks innocent until proven guilty.”
“There are some people who think the moon landings were faked.”
“‘I only want endorsements from pure libertarians.’ is my favorite political posturing.”
One of Freitas’ staffers called for restraint after initially making a negative comment, but it went unheeded; it seemed that the rest sensed blood in the water. So, apparently, because I believe that Bob McDonnell that is sleazy and not someone I would want to associate with, according to some staffers and diehard supporters of Freitas that is a BS opinion of a moron akin to believing that Bigfoot is real, the moon landings were faked, and is also an example of political posturing. Given that the last comment was made by an out of state staffer who I’ve never met, there was a part of me who really wanted to tell the guy to go **** himself. Those who know me know that that this something that I’ve never said, but he made me so irate I didn’t know at that moment what else to do. Afterward, the same staffer mentioned above contacted me to apologize for what had transpired but, by that point, the damage had already been done.
Good heavens! After reading these comments you’d think that I was a bitter critic of Nick Freitas, not one of his ardent supporters! And yet, despite having a different opinion of Bob McDonnell, so many of them treated me with utter contempt and disrespect. If this kind of behavior is indicative of how they interact with their volunteers who have differing opinions, they won’t have to worry about running against Tim Kaine in November because they will have already lost the Republican primary in June, having driven away all of their supporters!
Yes, there are good people who think that Bob McDonnell is pretty scummy but there are also decent people who still support him. I think the Freitas campaign touting his endorsement is a mistake, but I’d like to believe such an opinion, especially expressed in a closed Facebook group wouldn’t result in such nastiness.
As you might imagine, this exchange upset me quite a bit, for about the next 24 hours actually. On Wednesday afternoon, while still feeling dejected, I spoke to one of my fellow grad students about what transpired, and he said it demonstrated the dangers of groupthink. As someone who prided himself on cultivating and maintaining mutually rewarding volunteer relationships whenever I served on a campaign, to call the behavior I witnessed appalling is an understatement. Although I still plan to vote for Freitas in June and encourage every other registered voter in Virginia to do likewise, I am sorely tempted to throw up my hands and refuse to lift a finger to help the campaign further.
Nick Freitas is a good and principled man and he ought to be represented by a good and principled campaign. That is why I believe the Freitas campaign needs to do something to prevent this sort of thing from happening to someone else and they need to do it now.