On Tuesday, Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling invited bloggers from across the state to join him for his annual Bloggers’ Day. Beginning at 10:15, the all day event gave us an in-depth opportunity to explore the recent activities of the state government as well discuss the upcoming 2012 and 2013 elections. Carpooling with fellow blogger Rick Sincere, I enjoyed a lot of insightful commentary on the path to and from Richmond.
First on the docket, as had been in years past, was a roundtable meeting with Lt. Gov. Bolling as he outlined the state of the Virginia economy in terms of the increase in jobs, capital investment, and the like. Although Virginia continues to pull out of this recession, it was disappointing to see that the Shenandoah Valley is progressing slower than the rest of the state. Nevertheless, I do believe that our leaders are making important strides to encourage businesses to come to the commonwealth.
Afterward, I walked over to the capitol to see the Senate and House in session. However, due to a massive influx of students, supporters of Americans for Prosperity, and other political groups, a policeman blocked the entrance until the crowds has dissipated. I grabbed a sandwich and ate alongside fellow bloggers Charles Young of Newport News and Brian Bridgeforth of Waynesboro.
Once the way was clear, we headed to the House of Delegates chamber. The issue under discussion was the so-called “Tebow bill” which would allow homeschooled students to participate in public school sporting events. Delegate Rob Bell of Albemarle County, the patron of the bill, and Delegate Brenda of James City County encouraged the members to allow the bill to come up for a final vote while Virginia Beach Republican Bob Tata moved to have the delegates “forget” the bill. Nevertheless, by a voice vote, the members chose to engross the measure.
Unfortunately, by the time I got to the Senate doors, that body had already gone into recess.
Starting at 2:30, a panel of various folks in the know spoke more about Virginia politics. First up was Bob Holsworth, followed by Boyd Marcus. Both spoke on the state of the 2012 and 2013 elections. Each seemed to think that Mitt Romney would be the Republican nominee for president although they admit that he faces considerable hurdles to win the election in November.
Next up was Senator Mark Obenshain. His primary focus centered on his various legislative proposals including the imminent domain amendment. Personally, I would have liked to hear him speak a little on his race for Attorney General in 2013, but I suppose that there is still a considerable amount of time before that issue comes to the forefront.
After waiting several minutes for Delegate Rob Bell to arrive and speak with the group, I ducked out to find a fellow Ron Paul supporter who worked in one of the legislative offices on the same floor. Not surprisingly, we both were very disappointed that the Ron Paul campaign seems to be more or less ignoring the state. It seems odd given that he has a very real opportunity to win Virginia as only he and Romney are on the ballot and coupled with the fact that many Gingrich and Santorum supporters here are encouraging their likeminded brethren to support Paul. Given Paul’s fairly lackluster performance in the primaries and caucuses so far, one does have to start to wonder if his national campaign is going to pull out a first place finish anywhere.
When I returned to the conference room, I discovered that Del. Bell had already come and gone. The next speakers were Mike Thomas and Dan Allen, campaign advisors for George Allen. All day, I had been looking forward to asking them about the Allen campaign; specifically how George Allen would answer his critics on the right and prove that he will be the conservative senator that Virginia needs. Unfortunately, this presentation did very little to answer my concerns.
First of all, as one blogger and I agreed, it was a particularly dull presentation. Just about all of the points that the two speakers made, I already knew. Second, and far worse in my mind, was the news that they plan to more or less ignore the Republican primary. George Allen, they said, did not have either the money or time to waste with his lesser Republican challengers.
They spent a good portion of time highlighting Allen’s accomplishments as Governor. Only when questioned by another of my fellow bloggers did they made the briefest of mentions of his potentially troubling votes while he was in the Senate. Defeating Barack Obama and Tim Kaine is key, and, although they did not say this point specifically, despite any objections, reasonable or otherwise, Republicans and conservatives should just get in line and support George Allen. This kind of thinking doesn’t sit well with me nor do I think it will do so with the majority of the Tea Party crowd. Who likes having either themselves or their principles taken for granted? And no, just in case you are wondering, I was not called upon to ask my question.
At the end of the day, we attended a reception at the Governor’s Mansion. I first spoke with fellow blogger Jason Kenney who is advising the Allen campaign. Unlike the two previous speakers, I was able to engage in a dialogue and thus addressed some of my specific issues.
Although I was unable to capture much of the Governor’s time, I did enjoy a good conservation with Lt. Governor Bolling regarding Virginia’s presidential primary. While he is an ardent supporter of Romney, as I am with Paul, we both agreed that neither of our respective campaigns should overlook the Commonwealth.
In closing, I want to shout out a big thanks to the Governor and especially the Lt. Governor and his staff for hosting this event. I wish more leaders would take a cue from Bill Bolling and reach out to the blogosphere. Whether a big site or small, every day citizens from Virginia and across the whole nation read our material and pass it on to others. Therefore, if you either hold a position in government or planning to run for public office, don’t you think it is important to know what is being written and who is saying it?
If you wish to join the conversation, wait no longer. Start your blog today!
I’m already looking forward to Bloggers’ Day 2013.