Chopra in Harrisonburg

Aneesh Chopra
Aneesh Chopra

Earlier today, Aneesh Chopra, one of the two Democratic candidates to be Virginia’s next lieutenant governor, spoke to a crowd in Harrisonburg.  About 40 people were in attendance at the Beyond restaurant; this group included a number of JMU students, local high school students, and a bevy of Democrats including past and present members of the Harrisonburg City Council.

Mr. Chopra discussed his experience, including his time working for the Kaine administration, as well as his plans to stimulate economic growth in the Commonwealth.  After these remarks, he opened the floor to questions from the audience.  Then, at the end of the gathering, Larry Rogers, the former mayor of the city endorsed Chopra.

I took the opportunity to ask Mr. Chopra about his opinion regarding the organization of the Virginia Senate.  If you may recall, the body was split evenly between Democratic and Republican members after the 2011 elections.  Rather than engaging in some sort of power sharing arrangement, the Republican Party declared that they were in the majority due to the fact that the lieutenant governor was a Republican.  Perhaps not surprisingly, Aneesh Chopra mentioned that, if elected, he would act as the 21st Democratic senator, which would allow the Democratic Party to assume control that body in much the same precedent as set by Bill Bolling several years ago.

Unlike the Republicans who are running a convention, the Democratic Party will be holding an open primary on June 12th to select their nominees for statewide office.  As any registered voter will be allowed to participate, it is important for interested citizens, be they Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Constitutionalists, or independents to learn about our choices and to select which one of them best represents their values.

Late Fireworks In Middletown

IMG_1670On Saturday, February 9th, the seven Republican candidates for lieutenant governor gathered for their second forum in Virginia’s sixth district, this time in Middletown, a small town in Frederick County.  The Apple Valley Club, the Republican Women of Shenandoah County, and the Shenandoah Valley Constitutional Conservatives hosted the event.  Suzanne Curran was the moderator and Karen Kwiatkowski kept the time.

The forum began with opening statements from the office seekers, an introduction that lasted for about an hour.  After about a twenty-minute break, Ms. Curran asked a battery of questions on a whole host of topics.  Unlike the previous event in Lynchburg, all of the candidates had an opportunity to answer each of the questions.  It was common for the respondents to exceed their allotted time window; Ms. Kwiatkowski shook a cowbell to silence the candidates once his or her time had expired.  In a particularly amusing moment, Pete Snyder bowed to the bell when it rang for him.

Many of the topics explored at the Middletown forum were the same issues that had been discussed at the last event.  For the most part, it was difficult to differentiate among candidates.  Although their delivery differed, all of them claimed to be conservative; each is supposedly pro-life, each supports the 2nd Amendment, and each decries the erosion of the Constitution and the massive overreach of the federal government.  The only noticeable exception was when Jeannemarie Devolites Davis announced her support of background checks at gun shows.  Presumably, the longer that the seven remain relatively indistinguishable, the bigger bump the E. W. Jackson campaign should receive.  After all, Jackson’s fantastic oratory skills are perhaps the greatest advantage he enjoys over the other six.

However, as the title of this article indicates, there were some moments of particular interest as the forum drew to a close.  Delegate Scott Lingamfelter and Corey Stewart took a few jabs at each other as Stewart blamed the General Assembly for many local problems and for lacking courage while Lingamfelter responded claiming that local government ought to shoulder more of the responsibility.  Given their roles in local and state government, both Chairman Susan Stimpson and State Senator Steve Martin were drawn into fight, though Martin seemed to try to stay above the fray.

Pete Snyder’s closing remarks filled me with some small message of hope as he reminded the audience that if you have love in your heart, just about anything is possible.  Also, at the end of the event Delegate Lingamfelter seemed to make it a point to speak with me personally and ask for my support.  Whether he read my last post chastising him for his remarks about Ron Paul is uncertain, but I do appreciate his willingness to try to mend fences.

Corey Stewart

In general, most of the candidates appeared a bit more polished at the Middletown event and I did not catch any major gaffes.  However, given his willingness to make bold statements such as claiming that the phrase “I introduced a bill” is almost useless in politics, I believe that Corey Stewart emerged as the clear winner at the forum in Middletown.  I won’t say that I agree with every single position that he articulated, but the idea of nominating a candidate who is willing to call out his or her fellow Republicans is exceedingly important.  Even though I’m admittedly still jaded by his anti-Paul piece, for going toe-to-toe with Stewart, Lingamfelter claimed second place.

To all of the candidates, I would recommend making every effort to stand out in the sea of seven, clearly articulating how your positions are different and better than the rest; failure to do so may mean that soon you will be forgotten.

Fellow blogger Craig Orndorff recorded the entire forum and you can find this video here!  Watch and decide for yourself.

Rebuking Paul & Lingamfelter

On Monday, in response to the death of Chris Kyle, Ron Paul offered the following thoughts on Twitter: “Chris Kyle’s death seems to confirm that ‘he who lives by the sword dies by the sword.’ Treating PTSD at a firing range doesn’t make sense”.  To give a bit of back-story for those who are unaware, in an attempt to help ease his friend’s posttraumatic stress disorder resulting from his experiences in the military, Chris brought Eddie Routh to a shooting range.  While there, Routh killed both Kyle and another man.

Regardless of the medical wisdom or folly of taking a PTSD victim shooting, Paul’s comments were horribly offensive and callous.  After all, when a tragedy such as this incident occurs, about the worst response a person can offer is, “see, I told you so!”

Ron Paul later tweeted, “As a veteran, I certainly recognize that this weekend’s violence and killing of Chris Kyle were a tragic and sad…” If Paul had offered this second statement in place of the first, there would have been no great public outcry, but instead he solidly wedged his foot in his mouth and, as he is seen by many to be the father of the liberty movement, his words helped weaken the momentum that he has been instrumental in developing.

Tuesday, Delegate Scott Lingamfelter, a Republican candidate seeking to be the next lieutenant governor of Virginia, wrote a response repudiating Ron Paul’s comments.  In truth, I agree with a lot of what he says.  For example, his paragraph that states, “Not only was Chris a hero on the battlefield but he was a hero at home.  When Chris realized a hometown veteran was suffering from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), he once again answered the call of duty.  This time, not as a sniper, but as a friend, helping a fellow warrior who suffered mental wounds from the field of battle” was particularly poignant.

However, Delegate Lingamfelter then went on to make a number of comments that are terribly odious to those of us who, despite his unfortunate gaffe, still hold Ron Paul in exceedingly high regard.  He stated, “It sickens me that our party — the party of Reagan — could put on a Republican stage a candidate who holds our party, our process, our principles and our nation in such utter contempt.”  The delegate concluded,As expected, Senator Rand Paul tried to paper over his father’s words.  Don’t you believe it. Today, everyone who ever has served in the military knows exactly what Dr. Paul and some of his supporters think about our country.”

Here are my thoughts on the matter.  Lingamfelter is right to be upset at Paul.  But his remark stating that it is sickening that Paul had a national stage is completely uncalled for and an insult that I had to repeatedly endure from rank and file Republicans when I had the honor of working for Dr. Paul in South Carolina during the 2008 campaign.  Oh, Ron Paul is out of touch with the modern GOP.  His ideas about the Constitution and liberty are antiquated and Republicans ought to embrace the notion of a strong federal government.  He and his supporters are nothing more than a bunch of crackpot conspiracy theorists that shouldn’t be allowed to speak.  I heard all of these arguments and many more like them and appreciate them as much now as I did then.

If I had the chance to speak directly to Delegate Lingamfelter, I’d say yes, I do know what Dr. Paul thinks about our country for his thoughts mirror many of the same ones that I hold.  He has fought diligently to restore our liberty during his time in office, not because his holds his fellow citizens in disdain, but because he knows the history of our nation, the great promise that it once held, and the bright future that our people and our country deserve to enjoy.  And like you sir, he loved America enough to serve in our armed forces when called.

Ron Paul is not perfect and you are quite justified to call him out if and when he blurts out stupid or heartless comments, but, to be frank sir, I’ll be damned if you think I’ll sit quietly by if you or anyone else attempts to completely eradicate his legacy and his supporters from the national scene, state politics, or our political party.  As mentioned in a previous post, I thought you performed excellently at the Lynchburg debate.  Given the conservative values I heard you articulate there, I sincerely hope that you will not simply dismiss my fellow Ron Paul advocates and me, thus squandering any chance to connect to the liberty wing of the Republican Party.

In times of tragedy such those surrounding the unfortunate death of Chris Kyle, emotions run high and it is easy to speak without thinking.  Whether his medical advice was proper or not, Ron Paul ought to be rebuked for the insensitive comments he made on Monday.  In addition, however well meaning he sought to be, due to his over the top response that could alienate some libertarians and conservatives, Scott Lingamfelter should be admonished as well.

Update: This morning, after several articles on this topic were written, one on this blog and another on the Mason Conservative, Delegate Lingamfelter offered the following response on his Facebook page.

First, I do not oppose participation of anyone in the Republican Party who will stand firmly by our Creed. I am a Reagan Republican, period. And if you agree with the leadership model he advanced, I am eager that you join the ranks.

My point about Ron Paul is this. What he said was dead wrong. And frankly I am pleased he even recognized this by clarifying his hurtful and disrespectful comments about Chris. Here is what he said after hearing from many people all across the nation, even from his own supporters.

“As a veteran, I certainly recognize that this weekend’s violence and killing of Chris Kyle were a tragic and sad event. My condolences and prayers go out to Mr. Kyle’s family. Unconstitutional and unnecessary wars have endless unintended consequences. A policy of non-violence, as Christ preached, would have prevented this and similar tragedies. –REP”

Nobody—particularly a veteran—wants to fight a war that does not have both the legal and moral authority of the people. But a soldier’s duty is to the oath he or she takes. You can make the clear points on fighting wars on a constitutional basis without bringing scorn on those who do and are ready to give “the last full measure of devotion”.

I want our party to be the conservative party for America. And we can’t do that by insulting veterans when they die tragically, like Chris. Would Reagan have done that? Would Reagan have been silent with respect to these comments? Not a chance. I spoke out knowing it would upset some folks. But I will never stand by quietly when our veterans are spoken of in the manner we have heard in the last 24 hours. No way.

Record Turnout for Jackson & Stewart

E.W. Jackson
E.W. Jackson

Today, the Harrisonburg and Rockingham County Republican Parties played host to both E.W. Jackson and Corey Stewart at their monthly First Friday gathering.  These two men are vying, along with five other individuals, for the Republican nomination to be the next lieutenant governor of Virginia.

As the title of this article states, this meeting saw a tremendously high turnout.  Normally, the event takes up one of the back rooms at the Woodgrill Buffet in Harrisonburg, but today’s attendence was doubled, a number of activists not reached in at least a year’s time.  Besides Harrisonburg City and Rockingham County residents, there were also citizens from most of the neighboring and nearby cities and counties of Virginia including: Shenandoah, Page, Augusta, Staunton, Charlottesville, and Rockbridge.

Both Stewart and Jackson gave impassioned speeches.  Jackson, arguably the strongest speaker of the seven GOP candidates, invoked the role of religion in the founding of the nation and highlighting his ability to reach out to minority communities, receiving a standing ovation from the crowd, while Stewart offered excellent statements as well, reminding the group of his successes as the chairman of the board of supervisors in Prince William County and also adding that it is not a proper role of government to be in the business of job creation.

Corey Stewart

Upon the conclusion of First Friday, Corey Stewart offered what is likely to be a bit of chilling news to the Republican crowd stating his belief that Bill Bolling, the current Lieutenant Governor of Virginia who earlier dropped his run for the Republican nomination for governor, will announce his bid as either a third-party or an independent candidate for governor soon.  Such a move on the part of Bolling would likely greatly hinder Ken Cuccinelli, the current Republican Party nominee.

Jackson and Stewart seemed to gain a number of followers at this meeting today.  However, as mentioned previously, given the fact that seven men and women are seeking the GOP nod, it is difficult to say which of the candidates currently enjoy the highest level of support.

Remember, the May GOP convention will be here before we know it.