Last week, the Government Department of the College of William & Mary announced the death of Professor George Grayson; He died on March 4th.
My relationship with Professor Grayson was interesting to say the least. I took but one of his classes, Latin American Politics. I must say that I found the subject rather depressing, decades of one party rule, military juntas, and coups backed by the U.S. Government. Although I earned a B or higher in all the rest of my political science classes, in Professor Grayson’s class I had to struggle mightily to acquire a C.
Also, when I began my studies at William & Mary, Professor Grayson had served as the delegate for the area since 1973. Perhaps not surprisingly, he was a Democrat. I was an exceedingly active member of the College Republicans and our group had hoped to unseat him. He did leave the General Assembly during my time at William & Mary, but not due to any efforts on our part but rather as a result of his residence being redistricted into the 64th. He did not challenge fellow Democrat Delegate Barlow and thus did not seek re-election after the 2000 Census.
Although I didn’t have a particularly grand rapport with Professor Grayson given our unfortunate adversarial relationship, it is my hope that my fellow classmates have good memories of him. I can recall one instance when he opened his home to me and my fellow students. More importantly, I was impressed by his constant enthusiasm for the subject that he taught, spending considerable time in Mexico and elsewhere, often meeting with the leaders of those countries.
In memory of Professor Grayson, I wanted to share the image of one of his campaign signs, which I have held onto all these years.
On Friday, Will Hammer of Staunton declared his intent to run for the Virginia House of Delegates for the 20th district. As mentioned in his announcement, he plans to be the Libertarian Party candidate. Also running is Delegate Dickie Bell of Staunton, the recently certified Republican candidate who has represented the 20th district since 2010. The 20th district includes the cities of Staunton and Waynesboro as well as Highland County and portions of Augusta and Nelson Counties.
Mr. Hammer, as some readers may recall, ran as the Libertarian Party candidate against Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-6) in the 2014 election cycle. To the best of my knowledge, he is the first ever Libertarian to run for House of Delegates in the Shenandoah Valley. One can find the official press release of his announcement on his website.
Unlike most districts in the Shenandoah Valley, the 20th has seen quite a few races lately, being contested in two of the last three election cycles with Erik Curran running under the Democratic banner in 2009 and Laura Kleiner doing likewise in 2011. However, so far, no Democratic candidate has announced this year and it is growing increasingly doubtful that anyone will do so.
On a lighter note, given their last names, I expect that we will see quite a few puns appear dealing with this race.
This evening, Republican representatives from across the 24th Virginia Senate district gathered in Elkton to discuss the pending lawsuit against the State Board of Elections and the Incumbent Protection Act. At the beginning of the meeting, it was also restated that only one candidate, Dan Moxley, had properly filed to be a candidate at the upcoming convention.
Then, one of the attorneys handling the lawsuit got up and briefly discussed the details of the case. He was of the opinion that the chances of getting the Incumbent Protection Act declared unconstitutional should be pretty good. Following that, the committee moved to a closed session and all of the oberservers were asked to leave.
For quite some time, we milled about in the hallway, engaging in random conversations about politics. I appreciated the opportunity to speak with several activists from Greene County with whom I worked in 2012.
When we finally returned, the conversation took a strange turn as they began discussing preparations for the upcoming convention. This talk seemed very strange, especially given the earlier declaration. After all, they said at the beginning that there was only one properly filed candidate and, according to the rules of the call, if there was only only candidate then the convention would be cancelled. It was at this point we learned that a fellow named Mr. Sheets had also filed to be a candidate. It was exceedingly peculiar news. Was the earlier information wrong? Did the attorneys encourage the 24th district to bend or break the rules of the convention? It was all rather confusing and disconcerting.
I have to confess that on the drive back to Harrisonburg that I felt that Mr. Moxley had been cheated a little tonight. Sure, I doubt Mr. Sheets will be able to mount a credible challenge, but why should the Moxley campaign have to put in the time and money to prepare for a convention if indeed he was the only candidate to properly pre-file according to the rules in the call? It didn’t seem fair.
Although I’m glad that they seem optimistic that the lawsuit will be successful at striking down an unfair law and I appreciated the chance to speak with many good folks that I’ve met in my political journey, I sorely wish that the 24th district GOP would have either announced there were two candidates at the beginning of the meeting or not allowed this potentially questionable newcomer to skirt the established rules.
So that’s the political intrigue from this part of the state tonight.
In case you haven’t been paying attention to politics in the central Shenandoah Valley, three candidates have been vying for the GOP nomination for the 24th district Virginia Senate seat. Senator Emmett Hanger of Mount Solon is opposed by both Marshall Pattie and Dan Moxley.
Pattie was the first to publicly announce his intentions for office, running since the end of June. Moxley didn’t officially throw his hat into the ring until December 2nd, and, although not unexpected, Hanger made his entry quite recently.
Even though the 24th district Republican Party made the decision that they would be holding a convention to determine their nominee, when Senator Hanger entered the race, he declared that they would instead run a primary, citing the Incumbent Protection Act. As such, the 24th district Republican Party filed suit in court.
Now, one can make an argument as to why Emmett Hanger didn’t file his paperwork for this convention. After all, doing so would add some legitimacy to a convention that he will be fighting in court. From a political perspective, Hanger would face a considerably uphill battle in a convention as it would likely be populated by Republican activists eager to oust Hanger due to his support of Medicaid expansion and previous tax hikes.
However, it makes little sense to me why the Marshall Pattie campaign didn’t take the necessary steps to be a candidate at this convention. Yes, it is possible that the convention will be overturned, that the district will end up with a primary, and thus convention preparation will be unnecessary. But, if the convention is upheld, then the Pattie campaign has just discarded any chance for him to be the Republican nominee. At the end of the day, is the time necessary to file or the $500 fee too much of a hurdle? Seems like a heck of a lot of earlier effort and money to gamble upon the outcome of this court case. It makes even less sense given that the Pattie campaign has certainly been the most visible thus far. As one example, his was the only campaign to send a representative to last Thursday’s meeting of the Harrisonburg Tea Party.
When Nick Freitas, chairman of the Culpeper Republican Party, (and Republican candidate for House of Delegates in the 30th District) declared on Facebook last night, “Congratulations to Dan Moxley in the 24th District. As the only candidate who pre-filed for the convention, he will be our Republican nominee in November,” that news certainly caught me by surprise, as I’m sure it did many. So far, there has been no public word from either the Hanger, Moxley, or Pattie campaigns or from the 24th District GOP as a whole about this development.
Will the Incumbent Protection Act be upheld and a primary be conducted? Or will the original convention stand, Moxley be declared the winner, and thus the 24th District GOP nomination has been decided?
More news and commentary will be posted as it becomes available.
On Friday, February 27th, I appeared live on WHSV TV-3 along with fellow local activist Rick Castaneda and anchor Bob Corso to discuss President Obama’s recent executive actions regarding immigration.
Although neither of us were certain of the questions we would be asked beforehand and I wish we would have had a bit more time to hash out our differences, I thought it was an important and interesting discussion. You can find the clip from Friday’s show here.