Negative Endorsements & Agreeing to Disagree

Although this might be a controversial statement to some activists, I firmly believe that not all endorsements are beneficial to a political campaign.

Image from the Dunbar 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.

Image from Jerry Falwell Jr’s Twitter page

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.

Image from the Freitas campaign

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.

Image from

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.

As stated at the beginning of this piece, I firmly believe that there are endorsements that can help a campaign and others that hurt it.  Although we might disagree on who falls in which camp, I’d like to think we can be respectful when we have political disagreements and not result to throwing around insults and attacks.  Hopefully, the political climate hasn’t deteriorated so much that this sort of thinking isn’t realistic.  Let me end by borrowing part of a speech Delegate Freitas recently gave on the House floor that seems to have gone viral.  “If we want to have an open an honest debate, I am all for that.  Let’s do that.  But it does start with a certain degree of mutual respect.”

The Schmookler & Huffman Show (Episode LV)

This morning, Andy Schmookler and I had our monthly appearance on 550 AM WSVA.

In the past, we have been told that the subjects of guns and abortion are off limits for discussion.  Therefore, I was caught off guard when, before going on the air today, we were informed that we would be starting off the show talking about firearms and the 2nd Amendment due to the recent school shootings in Florida.

Although that issue took up most of the time in the show, we also spoke briefly about the situation in the Middle East including the corruption charges against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the potential for greater conflict in an almost constantly volatile region.  Last, was the issue of Mitt Romney’s run for the U.S. Senate representing the state of Utah and whether or not he would stand up to Donald Trump if Romney were elected.

As always, if you missed the show live, you can catch it here.

Fake News & The Republican Standard

Image from the Open Source RVA Facebook page.

For those who didn’t catch the story, on December 28th, I wrote a piece called The Virginia Republican Pravda.  It examines some of the content of the website called The Republican Standard which was highly favorable toward Ed Gillespie and Kirk Cox.  Normally, this type of thing wouldn’t be much of an issue, but when you also consider their lack of disclosure regarding sponsorship payment from the 2017 Ed Gillespie for Governor campaign as well as Virginia House Speaker Kirk Cox’s PAC, it raises a bunch of red flags regarding any hope for honest and objective news coming from this site.

As a result of this article, Richmond’s Style Weekly recently ran a column on the matter.

Around the same time, Open Source RVA & Don Harrison did a segment on their radio program which included an interview with me.

If you didn’t hear the program when it was aired, you can listen to it here.  

Replacing Goodlatte: Republican Candidates for the 6th Congressional

A Guest post by Kevin Stiles

Bob Goodlatte will not be the 6th Congressional district representative for the first time since 1992. Hardly news, but since I was two years old when he took office, this is a brave new world for me and many others. The 6th is considered one of the safest Republican seats in the country, and as such, it is very likely that the Republican convention decides who gets the seat. As of the time of writing, there are currently eight Republican candidates. However, given the candidate is selected by convention, I highly doubt the five least connected candidates: Ed Justo, Mike Desjadon, Elliot Pope, Doug Wright, and Kathryn Lewis really have a chance for a Congressional seat. Let us then consider the three main candidates:

Cynthia Dunbar

Photo from the Dunbar for Congress Facebook page

Cynthia Dunbar is probably the most well known outside of Virginia. Dunbar rose to prominence during her controversial tenure on the Texas Board of Education winning a seat in 2006 and serving from 2007 to 2010. While serving on the Board, Dunbar came under criticism for comments she made regarding religion and its place in education; government’s role in education; and pushing for textbooks on Mexican-American studies that were labeled Anti-Mexican. Dunbar continues to monitor the education situation in Texas and has worked closely with her mentor, David Barton. Dunbar recently ran against Suzanne Obenshain for National Committeewoman to the RNC from Virginia and won an upset in a narrow vote. Dunbar served as a professor of law at Liberty. Dunbar has claimed that Constitutional law can be superseded by religious affiliation and various interpretations of the Christian Bible. The form of the primary seems to favor her (see below). While Scott Sayre, 6th district chair for the RNC, hasn’t made it clear if he supports her, Deputy chair Matt Tederick has been publicly supportive of Dunbar. However, Dunbar’s political baggage could prove costly. Her radical stances on many issues may strike a chord with many Democratic voters, as the Dems continue to see larger than expected turnouts for off-year elections and special elections. Dunbar may prove the most vulnerable to what some are calling the “blue wave”  that may follow Trump’s victory in 2016.

Chaz Haywood

Photo from the Haywood for Congress Facebook page

Mr. Haywood is the current Rockingham-Harrisonburg Clerk of Court. Mr. Haywood seems to be the establishment choice, having gotten the Obenshain endorsement, as well as the endorsement of Georgia Long (former 6th District RPV State Central Representative). Unfortunately, not much is known about Mr. Haywood. He hasn’t had a whole lot of public activity to really flesh out his positions beyond campaign platitudes. He served as a representative for both Mr. Goodlatte and former Governor George Allen. His website is full of well-worn phrases about “putting people first” and “standing with veterans.” Predictably, he plans to “stand with President Trump in his efforts to improve business and job growth, protecting our manufacturing jobs here and working to bring back jobs lost overseas.” However, substantive policy issues are noticeably lacking.

Ben Cline

Photo from the Cline for Congress Facebook page

Mr. Cline has been a member of the House of Delegates since 2002. This extensive political background gives Cline the most well-defined policy positions. He is co-chair of the Virginia Joint Legislative Caucus and House Chairman of the Conservative Caucus.  Cline has sponsored several more libertarian-leaning pieces of legislation such as the recent medical marijuana bill and his proposed limit on Law Enforcement drone usage. He also pushed for recorded votes in committees in the General Assembly. Cline has called for defending Confederate statues and has an A+ rating from the NRA, Virginia Chamber of Commerce, and the Virginia Citizen’s Defense League. He’s received low marks from the Sierra Club for his stance on the environment and mixed results from the Virginia Education Association. He has also received multiple endorsements from several Trump staffers such as the national field director Stuart Jolly and Mike Rubino, Trump’s Virginia State director. Cline earned the endorsements of Delegate Nick Freitas and Denver Riggleman as well.

The convention will be held May 19th at the JMU convocation center in Harrisonburg. At the moment the convention will be single ballot plurality, rather than a multi-ballot majority. This is subject to change, but this seems to favor Dunbar. Dunbar, seen as an outsider, could mirror Trump’s own rhetoric of “draining the swamp.” The plurality would mean she would not need to go through the strenuous process of deal-making that normally goes into finding a majority approved candidate. The convention process also lends itself to more conservative candidates. The 6th district is, by-and-large, Trump country. Predominantly Caucasian, with lower rates of higher education, large numbers of unemployed and underemployed blue-collar workers, and a sizeable evangelical population all seem to point towards an advantage for Dunbar. However, as we’ve seen in Alabama and other elections, the independents and conservatives that have traditionally voted for the GOP candidates are not turning out for radicals such as Dunbar. Additionally, they inspire Democrats to vote in near-record numbers. We do not know for certain if this trend will continue, and even if it does, the 6th is notoriously safe and the Democrats are fielding two new-comers to challenge for the seat. But the GOP should be wary before unleashing a firebrand like Dunbar.

Kevin Stiles is a resident of the Shenandoah Valley in Luray, VA. He attended Bridgewater College where he got a degree in History and Political Science.

Ron Paul Endorses Dunbar

Image from the Dunbar campaign

Earlier today, Ron Paul, a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives (and my boss in 2007 & 2008), endorsed Cynthia Dunbar for the House to represent the 6th district of Virginia.  In addition, Dr. Paul ran for president three times, once as the Libertarian nominee in 1988 and also sought the Republican nod in 2008 and 2012.

If I am not mistaken, this is only the second time Dr. Paul has endorsed in a Virginia race, the first being for Ken Cuccinelli in the 2013 election for governor.

As Ron Paul states:

“I have given my life to fight for liberty. It is always refreshing to encounter others with the same passion, conviction, and understanding necessary to defend our Constitution. Cynthia not only encapsulates these traits, but also has the integrity and fearlessness to stand up to politicians who wish to expand our government and infringe upon our rights. I have known Cynthia for over a decade now and she has always proved herself to be a stalwart defender of the freedoms guaranteed to us as Americans. Her voice will be heard loudly and clearly across the nation in defense of liberty, and she is the best candidate to represent our shared values in Congress. I am pleased to give her my endorsement and full support in her campaign to represent Virginia’s 6th district.”

Ms. Dunbar faces a somewhat crowded field for the Republican nomination, with four or five likely opponents.  In addition, several Democrats are vying for the position as is at least one independent and a potential Libertarian candidate as well.

The Republican convention to determine the party’s nominee will take place on May 19th in Harrisonburg.


Getting to Know Matt Waters

On January 3rd, I wrote an article about Matt Waters, a fellow seeking the Libertarian nomination for the U.S. Senate in the 2018 elections.  Today, the Old Dominion Libertarian posted an interview with Mr. Waters.  As I thought it was a good introduction to Matt Waters, (I still don’t know much about him yet either) I have gotten permission to repost it on my site.

If you’d like to check out the piece on the original site or explore other topics of interest, please visit


Matt Waters And His Family.

Matt Waters And His Family.

Matt Waters plans to seek the Libertarian Party of Virginia’s nomination for U.S. Senate in 2018 to run against Tim Kaine and an as yet unknown Republican.  He is currently collecting signatures to get on the ballot.

Mr. Waters lives in Alexandria, Virginia and has been a member of the Libertarian Party since 2008. He was raised in Hampton, Virginia and graduated from George Mason University. He is married and has five children.

We recently conducted an interview with Mr. Waters and we have included that interview below.

1. Have you run for office before? Why did you decide to run for U.S. Senate and not a lower office?

Waters: No. Never run before. I have been involved in many campaigns, mostly conservative Tea Party Republican, as a fundraiser. I looked at the 8th district here, the Fairfax Co. Alexandria area, and it’s heavily democrat. I would not have had the opportunity to get the message out. I wanted to go big.

2. How long have you been a member of the LP and the LPVA?

Waters: National LP going back to April 2008 (according to my membership card). LPVA, I’m a recent member.

3. Nick Freitas is considered the libertarian-leaning candidate in the Republican primary. He has received the endorsement of Rand Paul, Mike Lee, and a few others. If he wins the primary and runs in the general election, why should a libertarian/Libertarian vote for you over Nick Freitas?

Waters: If Freitas wins, let’s revisit this question. He is an underdog and that is partly why I’m running, to give voters a choice in November. This November here in Virginia is shaping up to be a mirror of what 2020 will look like: a Trump Republican, a milk-toast Democrat, and a Libertarian.

4. Has Trump done anything to advance the libertarian agenda?

Waters: Yes, he has made Republicans look awful, and that may incline disillusioned Republicans to look at Libertarians—but we must be Libertarian—not faux. But we should not bet on Republicans joining us, as if they haven’t gotten the memo yet, I don’t think they ever will. It’s kinda like smoking—if you don’t know it will kill you—well, keep smoking. That’s what Republicans are doing—still smoking.

5. Would you support a constitutional amendment pertaining to term limits or a balanced budget? Why or why not?

Waters: Yes on both. George Will had a great column on this the other day, where he pointed out the two professors at Harvard who have a sound plan towards getting our books to balance. I’d support anything Will is saying—as he may be the most respected Libertarian in the country. On Term Limits, yes, got to take the professionalism out of this. But the only risk here is you have a deep state of professional bureaucrats who never leave Washington. I’d think we need to term limit public service in certain departments at certain levels. We sort of do that with political appointees, but take a deeper dive here. Needs to be looked at.

6. Do you agree with Gary Johnson, the 2012 and 2016 Libertarian Party nominee for President, that our immigration system needs to be streamlined to make it easier for people to come here legally?

Waters: I lean that way. I also lean towards cutting up the welfare state that may be having a disproportional impact on illegal immigration. I would also want to encourage our Latin American friends to focus on rule of law, private property rights, regulation reform, all of the things that make it hard for individuals to succeed. The Acton Institute did a study on how long it takes for an ordinary Hatian to open a business – a person not connected to government—about 260 days. Yet, someone connected to government, who knows someone, took them like a week. These governments are bankrupt, corrupt, and hurt individuals. They need to get their own houses in order.

7. If elected, who would you caucus with? How would you be able to work with other elected official in Washington, D.C. if you are the sole Libertarian candidate?

Waters: The others would caucus with me! I’d remain independent and attempt to be as non-political as possible—meaning, if R’s do something that makes sense, I’d vote for it; same with D’s. At some point the Libertarian Party will send a representative to Congress, and just like others in smaller parties who went to Congress before us, with the hope that one day the independents in this country will decide to do something different. They did it with Trump.

8. You have already spoken with members of the LPVA State Central Committee (SCC) about your candidacy and they seemed receptive. How do you feel about receiving the nomination to run as the LPVA candidate for U.S. Sentate in 2018?

Waters: I am excited about it, as we need to offer an alternative to the status quo.

9. Do you have petitions up online that volunteers can download to help get you on the ballot? How many signatures do you need?

Waters: I do have a petition on my Facebook page, and on signatures, we need to capture 400 signatures in each of Virginia’s Congressional districts, so 4,400 valid signatures in the 11 districts, and 10,000 overall.

10. What will be the issue(s) that your campaign will focus on?

Waters: If you ask Americans what the number one concern is in this country, they will tell you that their government is. They love the country, they are afraid of the government. If Libertarians cannot capitalize on this, then we may as well pack up and go home. The IRS was weaponized against the Tea Party; the Department of Education is making us dumb and dumber. The FDA is a failure that is responsible for millions dead. The Defense Department is anything but. I think of the snow days here in DC – they tell federal workers – “all non-essential employees” no need to come in to work. If you are non-essential on a snow day, you are non-essential every day. Cut Commerce, Education, HUD, Energy—all a total waste. I ask friends to “Name one thing the federal government gets right?” Blank stares. And all that for $4.5 trillion a year. C’mon, it’s time to wake up and cut spending. My budget would cut spending $1 trillion a year, and would eliminate all federal personal income taxes for all Americans through the Liberty Amendment—eliminating the 16th Amendment and replacing the income tax with NOTHING.

12. How can volunteers contact you if they want to get involved with your campaign?

Waters: Go to, it points to my facebook page, and the webpage is going live soon.

13. A lot of times we hear that voting for a Libertarian candidate is a “wasted vote” or that it will help the Democrat or Republican win (depending on who you talk to). What would you tell voters who are concerned about your candidacy affecting the election in a way that they perceive as negative?

Waters: I think Democrats and Republican voters are wasting their votes; after all, what has Tim Kaine done in the US Senate? Name one thing. These voters are on their way to becoming non-voters because they know nothing changes.

14. It has been reported that you are pro-life. Can you elaborate on this a little bit? Would you seek to have a “Personhood Amendment” added to the Constitution? 

Waters: Yes, 100% pro-life, more so than any of the Republicans running. I have worked for and with multiple pro-life organizations over the last 25 years. I became pro-life in the mid-80’s reading Jesse Jackson and Al Gore’s statements—both were pro-life at one time—and both sold out their principles seeking higher office. I won’t do that. I’m encouraged that the Democrats—the party of Death according to Ramash Ponnuru’s book, are actually entertaining supporting pro-life candidates. So on personhood, on a Life Amendment, etc, yes, I would support nearly anything that protects life. That is at its very heart what it means to be an American—after all, its life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Life is first on the list. The life position also falls under the Libertarian banner of “do no harm”.

Our Friend Freitas

Image from Delegate Nick Freitas’ Twitter page

The 2018 General Assembly session is upon us, kicking off today, Wednesday, January 10th.  In recent years, I’ve written about several important pieces of legislation that either expand or degrade freedom in the Commonwealth of Virginia which have come from both Republican and Democratic legislators, such as Delegate Sam Rasoul (D-Roanoke), Delegate Ben Cline (R-Rockbridge), and Senator Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax).  I’ve noticed that these legislators usually craft one or two exemplary bills that all Virginians who value freedom, regardless of party affiliation, ought to support.

However, this year, Delegate Nick Freitas (R-Culpeper) is sponsoring some truly fantastic legislation.  Not content with one, two, or even three bills, his list of patronage on Virginia’s Legislative Information System is, quite frankly, amazing.

Highlighting some of my favorites, we have HB 534, a repeal of the so-called incumbent protection act (which stifles political competition by allowing incumbents to select the nomination method of their political party).

Next, there is HB 539, which requires political parties to pay for their own nomination contests rather than forcing the Virginia taxpayer to pick up the tab for their primaries.

Then, there is HB 540, which lowers the threshold for the state to recognize new political parties from the rather onerous 10% in a statewide contest to a far more reasonable 3%.  Doing so would likely result in more contested elections and more candidates for voters to choose from.  Thus, it should more accurately reflect the political preferences of Virginians rather than the present system of either being presented only one choice or often choosing between the lesser of two evils.

Following that, we have HB 553, ranked choice voting, which will permit voters to rank their choices on the ballot (assuming they have more than two).  Doing so would eliminate the so-called spoiler effect and mean that voters could actually vote for their preferred candidate without worrying about the idea of “throwing their vote away”.

Lastly, there is HB 900, civil asset forfeiture reform, which means that if you are found innocent of a crime, law enforcement doesn’t get to keep your property that they seized during the investigation.  It seems like common sense, but some politicians and law enforcement agencies support this theft (and it truly is state-sponsored theft) as a way to pad their operating budgets.

That’s a lot of great stuff coming from Delegate Nick Freitas, isn’t it?  The only other issues that I can think that I’d like to see resolved this session are a lowering of the signature requirements for ballot access in both statewide and congressional races and an end to the observance of Daylight Saving Time.

Although I normally don’t feel it necessary to mention this detail, given recent events please note that the opinions expressed in this article are my own and this piece has not been paid for nor authorized by either Delegate Nick Freitas or his 2018 campaign for U.S. Senate.

If you value liberty, please thank Delegate Nick Freitas and his staff for these bills!

A Libertarian for Senate

In 2018, Virginia will hold elections for U.S. Senate.  On the Democratic side, barring any major surprises, current Senator Tim Kaine will be the nominee.  For the Republicans, so far we have Corey Stewart, Nick Freitas, E.W. Jackson, and Ivan Raiklin vying for the nomination.  And, as of 15 hours ago according to Facebook, we also have a Libertarian seeking the position too.

Image from the campaign Facebook page

A fellow by the name of Matt Waters has now begun to collect the 10,000 signatures necessary to appear on the Virginia ballot.  Although I first heard news of his possible candidacy shortly before the new year, it seems that he has decided to go forward with the plan.  At this point, I cannot say I know anything about him, other than I’m told he is pro-life (which is exciting!).

Even when there is only one candidate running for the party’s nomination, getting the Libertarian stamp of approval isn’t a guarantee, as delegates to their state convention can vote for none of the above if the person seeking the position doesn’t share enough of their principles.  I believe that this is a position that both the Republicans and Democrats ought to adopt given the positions of some of their nominees over the years).

Who is Matt Waters?  I’m told by some of the Libertarian leaders in Virginia that he will be a strong, credible, and value-focused candidate, but I’m looking forward to finding out for myself.