The Schmookler & Huffman Show (Episode VII)

Today, the radio program featuring Andy Schmookler and Joshua Huffman on 550 AM WSVA recorded its seventh episode.  As Andy Schmookler was out of town on business, filling in was Dr. Jim Lark who, among many titles, is the vice-chairman of the Libertarian Party of Virginia.

The program mainly dealt with thoughts about President Obama’s State of the Union address last night, though it also featured a call-in from 2013 Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Robert Sarvis.  Mr. Sarvis took this opportunity to officially announced that he is running for the Libertarian nomination to be the next U.S. Senator from the state of Virginia.

You can listen to the entire program at the following link.

The Radio Show Returns!

Tonight, President Barack Obama will give his State of the Union.  In response, it is rumored that the Republican Party will offer three differing opinions.  However, in what will likely be a far more interesting discussion, the Schmookler & Huffman show will be airing tomorrow morning starting at 10 AM on 550 AM WSVA.

With Andy Schmookler unfortunately out of town, tomorrow I will be joined by Dr. Jim Lark, the Vice Chairman of the Libertarian Party of Virginia.  In addition, we are slated to have a special on-air guest that you won’t want to miss.  Besides the State of the Union, I expect we will delve into a number of topics such as: the federal indictment against former Governor Bob McDonnell, some of the more interesting bills to emerge from this year’s General Assembly session, Attorney General Mark Herring’s stance against the Virginia Constitution, and more.  Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?

So set your alarms and I hope you can tune in tomorrow!

10 AM to 11 AM on 550 AM WSVA.

Delegate Berg on AG Herring

A few moments ago, Delegate Mark Berg issued the following press release concerning Attorney General Mark Herring and his decision to actively subvert the Virginia Constitution in direct violation of his oath of office.
Berg Calls Herring’s Refusal to Defend VA Marriage Amendment “Inexcusable”
As Attorney General, Mark Herring has an obligation to make
sure the marriage amendment is defended in court.

Richmond, VA | 1/27/2014 On Friday Del. Berg signed a letter from Del. Marshall, along with over fifty members of the House of Delegates, calling on Gov. McAuliffe to appoint a special counsel to defend Virginia’s marriage amendment.  Attorney General Herring swore an oath to defend the VA Constitution.  Within a matter of days he refused to defend a section of the constitution and he and the Governor have yet to appoint a Special Council to defend the measure.  Not only is Attorney General Herring refusing to defend the VA Constitution, but as the lawyer for the state of Virginia he filed suit against the people he is supposed to represent.

Del. Berg stated, “Leaving the state without legal representation is a violation of the law.  If Attorney General Herring feels he can not defend the law in court, he and the governor are still obligated to make sure the law has adequate representation.  It adds insult to injury that Attorney General Herring has decided to join in filing suit against the amendment.  In no other situation does a client’s lawyer file suit against that same client who he represents and who pays his bills.  I hope Governor McAuliffe promptly appoints a special counsel to defend the amendment.  It is inexcusable for the Governor and Attorney General to refuse to uphold their oaths in such a flagrant manner.  If the way for the party in power to kill laws is to refuse to defend them in court, then there is little point for the legislature to vote, and the people to approve them by referendum.  I am committed to standing strong in defense of Virginia’s laws and the democratic process.”
Delegate Berg represents the 29th, which includes parts of Frederick and Warren counties and the city of Winchester.  He currently serves on the Militia Police and Public Safety Committee, and Science and Technology Committee.

Musings on the U.S. Senate Race

Today has been a busy day for Virginia’s U.S. Senate seat in the 2014 elections.  Citing fundraising problems coupled with the fact that a good chunk of his campaign staff has gone elsewhere, Howie Lind has withdrawn from the race.  A few moments ago, Delegate Ben Cline declared that he has decided against tossing his hat into the ring.  State Senator (and 2013 Republican AG nominee) Mark Obenshain announced his endorsement of Ed Gillepsie.  Former Republican U.S. Senator John Warner proclaimed his support for Democratic incumbent Mark Warner.

The GOP convention is still several months away and the general election even farther in the future.  It is important to remember that the field, especially the Republican field, has not necessarily settled.  At this time, I do not know enough about either Shak Hill or Ed Gillespie to make an informed opinion of either.

Given his connections as the former head of the RPV and RNC, it is easy to declare Gillespie the strong favorite over Hill.  However, it is exceedingly curious that Gillespie’s website thus far makes no mention on where he stands on any single issue.  Is he a conservative?  A libertarian?  Another establishment candidate?  It is a question that is difficult to answer.

Shak Hill still has a lot of catching up to do in terms of name ID.  Will he, like an E.W. Jackson candidate, claim an improbable victory in Roanoke?  In a convention it is much easier for an underfunded underdog to win.

And will the Libertarian Party nominate a candidate of their own to add an additional  factor to the race?

Given all these thoughts, at this point I remain uncommitted.

The ’93 RPV Convention

IMG_2435Earlier today, one of my friends presented me with a bag of political materials, primarily from the 1993 Virginia Republican Party Convention.  Although that convention predates my time in politics, it was fascinating to explore these items.  At the time, the George Allen campaign dubbed the ’93 RPV convention, “the largest political convention in the history of the free world”.

In case you don’t remember, that convention featured three candidates for governor: George Allen, Clint Miller, and Earle Williams, two for lieutenant governor: Mike Farris and Bobbie Kilberg, and two candidates for attorney general: G. Steven Agee and Jim Gilmore.

But what was the state of the Republican Party at the time?  Well, the RPV chairman was Patrick McSweeney.  At the federal level, the party had only four Virginia members of the House of Representatives: Herbert Bateman in the 1st, Bob Goodlatte in the 6th, Thomas Bliley in the 7th, Frank Wolf in the 10th, and one senator, John Warner.  Back then Republicans were in the minority in both the state senate and house of delegates.

The program featured three ads from Ollie North and his Virginia Action Committee, no doubt a precursor to his run for U.S. Senate the following year.

As you can see from the picture, the bag included a convention guide for delegates supportive of George Allen as well as a cowboy hat shaped fan.

Scan 38Like many political contests, this convention had its share of negativity.  This flyer, created by a group called “Reclaim the GOP Coalition” attacked the candidacy of Mike Farris.  However, this tactic proved to be unsuccessful at denying Farris the nomination.  His nomination did not condemn the entire Republican to defeat as the flyer claimed, though Farris himself was not victorious in the general election.

Besides the convention materials, the bag also contained: a copy of The Federalist Papers, a brochure from Representative Bob Goodlatte’s 1992 campaign, and a flyer from the 8th Annual Republican Advance in 1991.

All in all, an interesting time capsule from twenty years ago.

Special thanks to Amanda for these items.

A New Challenger Emerges

After Representative Bob Goodlatte faced his first ever intraparty challenge back in 2012, conservatives in the 6th district began to wonder if and when it would happen again?  Would Karen Kwiatkowski return for a rematch two years later?

Picture from Paul Bevington's Facebook page.
Picture from Paul Bevington’s Facebook page.

We now have an answer to that question.  Paul Bevington, a teacher from Buena Vista, has announced his decision to challenge Bob Goodlatte for the Republican nod.  Billing himself as a liberty-minded Republican, Bevington lists his principles and priorities on his website.  Drawing distinction from Goodlatte and himself, he stresses his support for civil liberties such as his opposition to the Patriot Act, indefinite detention found in the NDAA, and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).  In addition, like Republicans advocated several decades ago, he opposes federal involvement in education, declaring it to be “in violation of the 10th Amendment”, preferring power resting in the hands of the state and local governments.  His full platform can be found at this link.

There is no doubt that Bob Goodlatte has a number of considerable advantages in terms of both name ID and money, as he did in 2012.  However, there is considerable resentment against Representative Goodlatte, even among the Republican faithful.  For example, there is his refusal to honor the request of the entire Sixth District Republican Committee to not reelect John Boehner as Speaker of the House of Representatives.  And there is the persistent rumor that Goodlatte is planning to switch his position on immigration in the coming months in order to give amnesty to the children of illegal immigrants.

How will the Bevington and Goodlatte struggle turn out in the June 10th primary?  It should be interesting to see how this contest unfolds.

Mark Herring, Unfit for Office?

Photo from Mark Herring's Facebook Page
Photo from Mark Herring’s Facebook Page

Newly elected Attorney General Mark Herring recently announced that he would work to fight Virginia’s same sex marriage ban.  However, when taking the oath of office, didn’t Herring pledge uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of Virginia?  If so, someone ought to remind him that in 2006 Virginia voters approved the Marshall-Newman Amendment to the Virginia Constitution which declared:

Only a union between one man and one woman may be a marriage valid in or recognized by this Commonwealth and its political subdivisions. This Commonwealth and its political subdivisions shall not create or recognize a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance, or effects of marriage. Nor shall this Commonwealth or its political subdivisions create or recognize another union, partnership, or other legal status to which is assigned the rights, benefits, obligations, qualities, or effects of marriage.

Certainly Virginians ought to revisit their laws from time to time and decide if past decisions ought to upheld or corrected.  Perhaps it is time for the citizens and legislators to address this issue once more.  However, it is deeply troubling to hear news that the attorney general is more or less abrogating his duty for political reasons.  Wasn’t it Herring’s own campaign who declared “The Kind of Attorney General Mark Herring Will Be As Attorney General, Mark Herring will put the law first, not politics.”  If he proceeds down this path, it is clear that Virginians have been deceived.

In response, Senator Mark Obenshain, who narrowly lost last year’s attorney general race, offered the following statement:

Obenshain Statement on Attorney General Mark Herring’s
Decision to Brief Against Virginia in Marriage Amendment Case
RICHMOND — Today, Senator Mark Obenshain (R-Harrisonburg) issued the following statement about Attorney General Mark Herring’s announcement that his office will not defend Virginia’s Marriage Amendment, and will be filing a brief asking the court to strike down a provision of the state constitution.

“Virginians, like millions of others across the country, are engaged in a robust debate over marriage, one that speaks to an important unresolved constitutional issue. Here in Virginia, the state’s Marriage Amendment is a matter of perennial legislative debate, and that Amendment could well fall: the voters could repeal it or a court may strike it down. But it is emphatically not the role of the Attorney General to make that determination unilaterally, and that may well be the consequence of Attorney General Herring’s decision.

“Fair minded people disagree on the issue of gay marriage, but this is, fundamentally, about the rule of law and allowing the system to work. Whether the Marriage Amendment will survive court scrutiny is clearly an unresolved question, but our system of law does not work when one side of the argument fails to show up. It is manifestly the job of the Attorney General to defend the law and let it rise or fall on it merits in court.”

Attorney General Herring, who on the campaign trail refused to take a clear position on whether he would defend Virginia law in this and other instances, will be filing a brief in support of the plaintiffs, according to spokeswoman Ellen Qualls.

“The Attorney General is the Commonwealth’s lawyer,” said Obenshain. “It is deeply inappropriate for the Attorney General to use state resources to actively oppose a duly ratified constitutional amendment. Through this decision, Herring is effectively seeking to unilaterally reverse the actions of the General Assembly in adopting the Amendment, and the people of Virginia in ratifying it. There are deeply held convictions on both sides of this issue, which is why it is all the more important that the case has its day on court—and that both sides of the dispute are ably and robustly argued.”

In a September interview with the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Herring said that he would “poll the attorneys in the attorney general’s office who have the expertise in the particular subject matter” to help him determine whether or not to defend the Marriage Amendment or other laws in court. At a debate on October 2nd, he pointedly declined to state whether he would defend state laws with which he disagreed.

Obenshain concluded, “I look forward to working with the Attorney General on many important issues for the good of all Virginians, and have no intention of highlighting every possible point of disagreement that may arise throughout Herring’s term in office, but I consider the question of whether or not the Office of the Attorney General is to defend Virginia law a matter of utmost importance, something that goes to the heart of the duties of the Attorney General. This is especially true given Mark Herring’s dissembling comments made over the past six months on the campaign trail.  Virginians should be disappointed that he didn’t display the courage to share his intentions when repeatedly asked during his campaign. Today’s decision sets a disturbing precedent and has the potential to deprive Virginians on both sides of this important issue of the legal scrutiny the matter clearly merits.”

Friends, this issue is about much more than the definition of marriage in Virginia.  One shouldn’t fall into the trap of supporting this action just because he or she happens to support gay marriage.  Should Attorney General Herring attempt to redefine the law outside of the legislative process, should he fail to uphold his oath of office, it seems clear that he is unfit for the position for which he was elected and thus ought to either resign or be removed.

Harrisonburg’s March for Life

IMG_2432Today marks the annual March for Life in Washington D.C.  The event commemorates the 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade.  Along with the companion decision of Doe v. Bolton, these cases struck down a multitude of states’ anti-abortion measures.

Locally, a smaller gathering of pro-life activists and supporters congregated on the steps of the Rockingham County Courthouse to remember the day.  Attendees spoke, prayed, sang songs, and walked around the courthouse grounds in the frigid weather.

The event lasted about an hour and was also covered by WHSV TV-3.

What Ails the Republican Party in Virginia and What Can We Do About It?

Photo from Karen Kwiatkowski
Photo from Karen Kwiatkowski

Guest post by Karen Kwiatkowski, President of the Republican Women of Shenandoah County

I’m a liberty Republican, a constitutionalist.  I supported Ron Paul and still do.  I’m from “that” part of the Republican Party.

How many of you Republicans reading or hearing this now have already recoiled?  Got an itchy uncomfortable feeling?   Maybe are feeling a bit nervous, or even angry?  I’m probably what you would see as an unwashed Republican, an angry Republican, someone who claims a purity of mission and theory, and one who looks down on what we have been calling “establishment” Republicans.  Stand up if you think I’m wrong!

Problem #1.  The majority of Republicans in Virginia don’t like Ron Paulers, constitutional conservatives, or liberty wingers.  Some of this is geographical, but a lot of it has nothing to do with geography.  It has to do with prejudice.  We were always here, but we used to be a lot more passive, a lot less trouble.   I get it!

Problem #2.  Republicans are losing the vote.  Our party brand in Virginia is not exciting voters – instead, it is angering them.  When normal people are angry, they don’t become activists.  That’s for us “1 percenters” the politically active, the standout party members.  Most people, the vast majority who are angry, simply turn off.  The Republican Party in Virginia has a happiness problem, and we’ve given the voters an anger problem, and they are turning away.  It is a deafening silence of protest and we are not even listening.

Problem #3.  The Republican leadership, with a few exceptions, is backward-looking. We are behaving like a kicked hound dog, rather than surging at our leash, excited and happy that a hunt is beginning.   We got kicked because we had our head in the cat food bag.  Let me make this as plain as I can.  If Republican legislators and leaders take federal handouts, accrue unpayable debt, grow government by hiring more of everybody, they are eating the cat food.  Private enterprise is where government needs to get out of the way, not involve itself in getting a piece of it.  As a party, we are behaving like a kicked dog, because we knew we shouldn’t have done it.  But we did, and now we want to justify the past.  Yes, it tasted great.  But cat food is for cats, and we ain’t cats.

Here’s what the RPV needs to know:

It doesn’t matter if we like each other.  It’s OK.  We don’t have to be friends to be allies.  At every level, the RPV should be utilizing constituionalists, liberty wingers, fiscal conservatives and angry Republicans in some important way.  Where can we help?  We are pro gun and pro civil liberty.  We are opposed to the security surveillance and police state.  We are young, and we actually are NOT oriented toward being government bureaucrats.  Yes we are difficult to control, but who cares.  We are speaking the language of a lot of people who right now won’t vote, and won’t vote Republican.  But they would if they knew the party cared about them, and was open to them as people, as citizens, and as neighbors.

Money doesn’t matter as much as the older party thinks it does.  The underfunded Cuccinelli race, closing to within 3 points with a 6 point Libertarian in the race tells us that.  But the establishment still thinks it does.  Guess what?  The future Republican Party is going to be poorer than it has been in the past forty years.  I hate to be the one to point it out, but part of why we are the great unwashed in the party is because we tend to be working class and young, meaning by definition, under employed and struggling to make ends meet.  We are too busy for stupidity, and we are upset that fat cats can’t hear our message.   Especially cats that got fat eating the big government cat food.   So if money doesn’t really matter, what does?

Local Republicans matter 10 times more than the state level candidate machines.  Why ten times, and not just two times?  Because local races matter, those votes actually count, and only those races can consistently turn out voters.  And if the local Republican is good, or where the local Republican is running a popular conservative Independent, we bring in the votes for the rest of the ticket.  It’s that simple.  It isn’t about who the state party knows about, and how they voted last time.  It isn’t about candidates lists and top down exhortations to get out the vote.  It is who my neighbors, my friends, my coworkers, and my relatives are supporting in the local race.  Because that’s who we really know, not some lying politician who keeps calling us on the phone and asking for money we don’t have.  There is a lot of money to be made in managing campaigns, and lists, and organizing neighborhood walks, but the easiest thing for our party to do is to run outstanding local conservatives, and let those trusted people bring out our party’s vote.  That’s how you rebuild a brand.

There you have it, RPV!

1)  Get over your sense that we all have to love each other.  We don’t and we never will.  It’s OK.

2)  Drop your obsession with money, because this country has changed.  The rich in this country are more hated than ever, and the poor are the majority, even in the GOP.  Money isn’t power unless you have only three TV channels.  We’re watching Duck Dynasty and Elysium, and hating on the Wolf of Wall Street.  Money doesn’t mean what it used to in our hearts and lives.

3) Finally, use what networks and influence you have to get conservatives elected as Republicans at the local level.  Make sure popular and true (some may be social, and some may be libertarian) conservatives are backed by the Republican Party, not rejected by the old boys and girls at the top.  Shenandoah County is a shining example of how that works, and what an epic fail it has been for the county GOP.   We dumped two RINOs for two conservative constitutionalists.  But that was only after the county party rejected them in a system that is true Tammany Hall in Virginia.  If any of you read Barbara Comstock’s piece after the November election (and if you didn’t shame on you for sitting here uneducated), she gets it.  The R in Republican should stand first and foremost for “Represent!”

I left out one other thing, but it kind of combines all of these.  The RPV has an authenticity problem.  It can’t be fixed from distant capitols telling us what to do, by money or by hating up a good portion of your party affiliates.   We can do better, and I hope you’ll take to heart what I am observing from the trenches.

The Good and Bad Bills in Virginia’s Legislature

Guest Post by Charles Frohman

Virginia’s Our America Initiative (OAI) affiliate reviewed most of the legislature’s 2,000 bills and divided the relevant ones among them – pro and con – through 6 issue areas:

1. Cutting taxes and regulations;

2. Making Law Enforcement comply with the law;

3. Restoring Health Freedom;

4. Expanding School Choice;

5. Respecting Personal Freedom; and,

6. Strengthening Constitutional limits to government.

Virginia Conservative’s readers should take a look at the bills on OAI’s handout – to be used during Lobby Day this Monday, and throughout the 60-day session.

If you agree with these positions, print out a copy of the 1-pager, here (https://ouramericainitiative.com/virginia.html), and share it with your delegate and senator, either by email or in on Lobby Day this Monday in Richmond.  For all the details on Lobby Day, click onto OAI’s Facebook events page, https://www.facebook.com/events/774014455961027/.

Charles Frohman, from Suffolk and now in Williamsburg, worked in DC politics for 2 decades including Governor Gary Johnson’s 2012 presidential campaign.  He is a regional fundraiser for the Our America Initiative, the only national grassroots movement for fiscally responsible activists who also are socially open-minded.  To reach Charles, email CFroh@yahoo.com.