No Issues In Rockingham

Last night, the Rockingham County Republican Party held their mass meeting at Spotswood High School in Penn Laird to elect delegates to the 24th district convention.  Russ Moulton of Fredericksburg was the temporary chair for this meeting.  The turnout was relatively small, with a few observers from Staunton, Waynesboro, Harrisonburg, and other portions of the county.  Dan Moxley was the only candidate for the 24th district GOP nomination who attended.

Although no pre-files were allowed, twelve voters sought to be delegates and the same twelve were elected without any controversy.  Each delegate will split the county’s ninety-nine votes, thus giving each eight and a quarter votes…assuming all of the delegates show up at the convention.

All in all, the meeting took about ten minutes, amazingly quick and without controversy; it was very surprising given the rancor which had developed in previous meetings.

Perhaps the only unfortunate aspect of the mass meeting was the cost.  Should the courts decide the convention will not proceed, the money spent by the county party to rent the high school last night would have gone to waste.

Nevertheless, rumor is that the courts could announce the fate of the Incumbent Protection Act as early as today!

Escaping the Routine Republic

Image from Adweek.com
Image from Adweek.com

Several days ago, Taco Bell released an ad of a dystopian society where everyone is forced to conform, eating the same breakfast day after day, consuming something that looks suspiciously like a McDonald’s Egg McMuffin.  The landscape is bleak and harsh featuring elements of a McDonald’s playplace; the residents walled off from everyone else, no doubt “for their own protection.”

Although the video is certainly unusual, it is also thought provoking.  What if we lived in a world where we have no choice in what we eat?  What if the government had the power to make that decision for us?  Reflecting further, how would we like it if our leaders restricted our options in terms of food…our speech…or our political freedom when it comes to who is allowed to participate in political debates or appear on ballots?  Thank goodness we live in a state and country where that doesn’t happen!

Anyway, see what you think of the ad.  I think it is clever.

 

Thanks to Keith Drake for alerting me to this video.

Endorsements Matter

Over the last several years, I have debated the importance of political endorsements with various activists.  Some people argue that endorsements don’t really matter, that they are a mere formality that are doled out without much thought or value.  I disagree.

Endorsements, in my mind, are a strong signal of support, giving a stamp of a approval to a candidate or politician, more or less telling voters and like-minded activists that if you support me you should also support this person that I am endorsing.  Do endorsements make or break campaigns?  Typically not.  But they do say as much about the candidate as they do about the person or group offering the endorsement.

Let me offer some examples.  After Senator John McCain bested Representative Ron Paul in the 2008 Republican presidential primary, did Paul endorse McCain in the general election?  No.  The simple reason for it was that Paul and McCain espoused radically different principles.  While Paul supported the ideas of reducing the size and scope of the federal government and a non-interventionist foreign policy, McCain did not.  The fact that they were both members of the Republican Party was irrelevant.  In fact, Ron Paul went on to endorse Chuck Baldwin, the Constitution Party candidate in that election.  This scenario repeated in 2012 when Dr. Paul declined to endorse Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney for the same reason.  Now, would those of us in the liberty movement have thought considerably less of Dr. Paul if he had endorsed McCain and Romney?  I would think so, because he would be sending a signal that at the end of the day party unity trumps political principles.

Although I obviously wasn’t going to support him given that I was running for the same office, I thought it was impressive that Democratic candidate Alleyn Harned received the endorsement of both Senator Mark Warner and Senator Tim Kaine.  If I supported the positions of either of these senators, this news certainly would have made an impact on my decisions.

Conversely, endorsements can be negative too.  As one example, when Barbara Comstock ran for the Republican nod in the 10th congressional district, some of her listed endorsers, such as John Bolton, Mitt Romney, and Eric Cantor caused considerable concern.  After all, if she was promoted by the nonconservative establishment, chances are she wouldn’t be a particularly conservative legislator when she arrived in Washington D.C.  Unfortunately, her time in Congress thus far have proven these fears to be correct.

And then there is the curious issue of Senator Mark Obenshain.  Although I endorsed and strongly supported his run for attorney general in 2013 and he bills himself as a pro-liberty conservative, I was shocked and profoundly disappointed when he urged his supporters to rally behind “local conservatives” by endorsing the establishment Republican candidates for Harrisonburg City Council in the 2014 elections as opposed to actual conservatives who didn’t bear the Republican label.  Unfortunately, in a reverse situation of Paul, principles took a back seat to party loyalty.

Anyway, the reason I wrote this piece in the first place concerns the presidential candidacy of Rand Paul in 2016.  Unlike his father, the younger Dr. Paul did endorse Mitt Romney in 2012.  Two years later, he endorsed Mitch McConnell over his conservative challenger.  Now, that’s not to say that Rand Paul hasn’t endorsed good, principled candidates as well, but, along with other matters, such as his support of Senator Cotton’s letter to Iran, it certainly should give liberty-minded activists cause for considerable concern.

Endorsements are not like Halloween candy to be given out freely to every person who shows up at your doorstep, but rather a carefully crafted decision to be rationed out only to those who you believe closely mirror your own values.  That is why I have publicly endorsed only one candidate, Nick Freitas, in the 2015 election cycle so far.

Although endorsements certainly aren’t the end all be all, and, given enough time everyone is prone to make an error from time to time, they are important as a helpful guide for both the endorser and endorsee to show who might be worth a closer look, who will be a constant advocate for liberty, or who might be selling out his or her principles for political gain.

The bottom line is that endorsements matter.

Meeting Donald Sheets

Donald Sheets, the most recent entrant into the race for the Republican nomination for the 24th Virginia Senate district, is a mystery to many in Shenandoah Valley politics.  Who is he?  Why is he running?  And why did he file his last minute campaign?  Although there have been a number of speculations into the answers to these questions, they remained unsolved, little more than rumors.  The News Leader recently wrote a story about Mr. Sheets, but it didn’t really address any of these issues.

Last night, before the monthly meeting of the Harrisonburg Tea Party, I had the opportunity to speak to Donald Sheets for the first time in the hopes of shedding some light on his campaign.

He told me that he had lived in the Shenandoah Valley pretty much his entire life.  In fact, his family has been a part of this community since the Revolutionary War.  He has known both Senator Emmett Hanger and Marshall Pattie for years and that they had been a part of the community for quite some time.  However, his third opponent, Dan Moxley, was a relatively new addition to Augusta County.  Mr. Sheets explained that he thought that Mr. Moxley had only moved to the 24th district in order to run for office and added that many of Moxley’s business ventures were far away from the area.

Mr. Sheets also expressed concern that outside groups, such as Americans for Prosperity, were attempting to wrest control of this seat from the people of the 24th district.  It is no secret that AFP has lobbied heavily against some of Senator Hanger’s proposals, such as Medicaid expansion.

He also opposed the lawsuit against the Incumbent Protection Act filed by the 24th district GOP.  Although Mr. Sheets didn’t seem to think the act was fair, he added that the idea of using the judicial branch to overturn Virginia law wasn’t right and was another way to circumvent proper political processes.

As such, Donald Sheets stated that he filed to run for the convention as a way to expose some of the disturbing injustices that are going on in the 24th district.  Doing so, he declared, was well worth the fees required.

I asked if he planned to run in the primary as well, to which he responded that he hadn’t made up his mind.  However, given that the window to submit the necessary paperwork to be a candidate in that contest closed at 5 PM yesterday, he will not be a candidate in that contest assuming the courts decide in favor of that nomination method.

So, if the convention is the path forward, delegates in the 24th will have the choice of Dan Moxley or Donald Sheets.  Although I don’t know what ideological differences separate the two, it is certainly useful to know more about Mr. Sheets and his motivations.

The Unfortunate Case of Dany Fleming

In 2012, Dany Fleming was a candidate to serve on the city school board representing the west district of Harrisonburg.  Running unopposed, it wasn’t much of a shock that he garnered 98.43% of the vote.

Recently, a surprising fact came to the public attention.  Mr. Fleming does not live in the west district of Harrisonburg as defined in the city code.  It is not that he has moved; he has maintained the same residence since his election.  However, when he ran for the school board in 2012, he ran in the wrong district.

According to the code of Harrisonburg, section 17-1-2:

The Harrisonburg City Public School Board shall consist of six (6) members, four (4) members shall be elected from the east school district and two (2) members shall be elected from the west school district.

Each member elected to the school board shall, at the time of his or her election, be a qualified voter and a bona fide resident of the school district from which that member is elected; and if the member shall cease to be a resident of such school district, the member’s position on the school board shall be deemed vacant.

According to reports, when Mr. Fleming decided to run, he spoke to the Harrisonburg registrar to determine in which district he lived.  Although supposedly told he was in the west, that information was incorrect.  In accordance with city code section 1-1-11, the city is split into two wards divided by Main Street.  As Mr. Fleming lived and continues to live east of Main Street, he is in the east ward.

Earlier this week, an attorney approached me regarding this issue.  He was looking to find Harrisonburg residents to join in filing a petition against Mr. Fleming serving on school board due to his ineligibility.  As such, I decided to learn as much about the issue as I could.  I read through the suit, explored the city code, spoke with leaders in the Harrisonburg community, tried to determine the political ramifications of this issue, and even made a stop in to the local registrar’s office.

Now, I should point out that I don’t really know Mr. Fleming nor do I have any strong feelings about him either positively or negatively.  As far as I could tell, he seemed to be a good fellow trying to do his best to serve the citizens of Harrisonburg.  Although I found nothing that would lead me to believe that Mr. Fleming did anything to deceive the public, the simple fact of the matter was that he is not a resident of the district which he was elected to represent and thus could not legally serve on the school board.  There is no joy in telling someone that he cannot serve in elected office, but the law in this instance was quite clear.  Therefore, after several days of consideration, I agree to include my name of the list of Harrisonburg residents who believed Mr. Fleming was ineligible and thus ought to be removed.

As a result of this petition, which was presented to the Harrisonburg City Council last night, Mr. Fleming has announced his resignation.  This whole affair is tragic and it is unfortunate that Mr. Fleming has to pay the price for this error.

This matter brings up several questions that ought to be addressed in Harrisonburg politics before the next election.  Why is the school board divided into two wards when the city council is not?  Why does the east get four representatives while the west gets only two?  Why do candidates have to live in certain parts of the city even though citizens in both the east and west get to vote for both offices?  Hopefully, some of these curious laws can be addressed and amended before the next school board election in 2016 so that situations like Mr. Fleming’s will not be repeated.

Pattie in Madison

State Senate candidate Marshall Pattie on left
Marshall Pattie at his announcement

Continuing coverage of the race for the GOP nomination in the 24th Senate district, on Tuesday of last week, Dr. Marshall Pattie spoke to the Republican Women of Madison County.  At this meeting, Pattie spoke about his campaign, his efforts on the Augusta County Board of Supervisors, his ideas for the state, and also fielded questions about his time in the Democratic Party.

Although unable to personally attend, I was sent this recording of the speech after the event.  Hopefully, it will provide further insight into this race.

What’s Going on In the 24th?

By all accounts, the race for the Republican nomination in Virginia’s 24th District Senate seat is a curious affair.  Two candidates are vying for a convention that may or may not happen.  Three candidates are competing for a primary which also is uncertain.  The final nomination process hinges upon a court case, with a preliminary decision expected either next week or the week after.  What an odd state of an election!

However, what is even more peculiar is how the campaigns are interacting with each other and the public (or perhaps the lack thereof).  For example, on Wednesday, March 18th, Senator Emmett Hanger was the featured speaker at the monthly meeting of the Rockingham County GOP.  Both of his primary challengers, Dan Moxley and Marshall Pattie, were conspicuously absent and, although I arrived at the end of the meeting, there didn’t seem to be a trace of campaign materials for any of the candidates at that meeting, including Hanger himself.  By comparison, I did see Delegate Steve Landes (R-25), who is also running for re-election this year, with a sizable stack of bumper stickers in hand.   From my observations and well as reports I’ve heard from others, this seems to be a common trend for the 24th district race.  None of the candidates seem to be making a big push for support among the party faithful…at least publicly.

Now, perhaps the traditional campaigning is all going on quietly behind closed doors.  And, if so, that sort of maneuvering is exceedingly unusual.  After all, wouldn’t you expect to see the typical bumper stickers, yard signs, and various campaign brochures?  Wouldn’t the campaigns have their staffers clearly visible in the audience, shaking hands, handing out materials, and thanking individuals for their support?  I cannot recall the last time I’ve seen a stealth campaign succeed, but is the strategy each have chosen to employ?

As one example, I’ve never met Donald Sheets (one of the two candidates running in the convention), nor have most people that I’ve spoken to.  Although it is highly likely that his campaign isn’t serious, given the actions of the Hanger, Moxley, and Pattie campaigns, one does start to wonder if he has some sort of hidden network lurking under the surface given the peculiar actions of his opponents.

That’s not to say that the campaigns are inactive, for example, the Pattie campaign is holding a meet & greet in Elkton this evening.  But, in general, things are exceedingly quiet right now.

I don’t mean to be too hard on any of the four, but to me this race is one of the strangest affairs I’ve ever seen.  What the heck are you all doing!?  Yes, it is uncertain if the nomination will come down to a convention or a primary, but if I were an advisor to any of the four campaigns (which I am not), I’d recommend buckling down and making sure that either the candidate or a staffer was present at every single GOP meeting in the 24th district between now and whenever the court decision is announced, with supporters clearly labeled, with a healthy supply of campaign materials in hand.  Or is it that no one has bothered to tell me that the traditional methods of campaigning no longer work?

Moore Official in the 26th

IMG_2850This morning, in Harrisonburg, April Moore officially kicked off her campaign for the 26th district Virginia Senate seat.  Living in Shenandoah County, she is running as a Democrat against three-term incumbent Mark Obenshain, a Republican from Rockingham County.

A little over thirty people came out to hear her announcement, including several local media sources.  According to her speech today, the three major themes of Ms. Moore’s campaign are: combating climate change, reforming ethics and holding elected officials more accountable, and fighting back against Dominion Power and their control of our legislators.  Along these lines, she stated that she will fight for the citizens of the district unlike Senator Obenshain, who she claimed is heavily under the influence of corporate interests.

With April Moore’s entry into the race, she is only the second Democrat in the last four election cycles to seek the 26th district Virginia Senate seat.  The district includes: the counties of Page, Rappahannock, Shenandoah, Warren, a portion of Rockingham, and Harrisonburg City.  At this point, this election is the only contested race in Harrisonburg.

Freitas For Delegate

From the Nick Freitas Campaign Facebook page
From the Nick Freitas Campaign Facebook page

Many of my fellow activists support a limited, constitutional government as well as legislators who will respect our liberty; unfortunately, we are often disappointed.  For those of us on the right side of the political spectrum, we are told time and time again to support the Republican candidate, regardless of  who he or she is and what he or she stands for, arguing that this candidate must be better than the Democratic alternative.  It shouldn’t come as a surprise that when we elect candidates based upon labels rather than a shared political philosophy, we promote self-serving politicians rather than the principled statesmen we so desperately need in Richmond and Washington D.C.

However, every once in a while a candidate comes along that “gets it”, one who understands that our rights naturally come from our creator and are not merely granted by some benevolent government power.   We need men and women who will work to shrink government to its proper role, not merely making big government more efficient.  We crave legislators who possess the needed courage to say no to the establishment in both parties when they tread upon the rights of the citizenry.  I firmly believe that Nick Freitas is one such person and he is the Republican nominee for the House of Delegates in the 30th district.

I had my first opportunity to speak to Mr. Freitas in August of 2014 and, since that time, I have constantly been impressed with his knowledge, drive, and determination to promote values that he, I, and countless other Virginians share should he have the opportunity to serve the people of our Commonwealth in the General Assembly.  Although a trait shared by only a handful these days,  I find the thought of his election quite exciting.

Although I may not live in his district, nor am I a member of the Republican Party, I believe that Nick Freitas would be an excellent addition in the Virginia House of Delegates.  Therefore, I wholeheartedly endorse his candidacy and strongly encourage the people of the 30th district to cast their vote for Mr. Freitas in the November election.