On Monday, a host of political activists made their way to the streets of Buena Vista, Virginia. Although certainly a small city, Buena Vista plays host to the largest political parade in the state, a decades old tradition.
Although last year was the smallest gathering I had seen in my several years of going, 2014 was more robust. Republican activists nearly doubled the Democratic crowd. As is typical, countless yard signs littered the parade route with Mark Warner emerging as the victor in the sign war. It was unfortunate that some supporters of Mark Warner used their signs to cover the Republican ones, but, then again, Gillespie supporters did likewise.
After the mile and a half trek through downtown, which culminated at Glen Maury Park, each of the candidates were invited on stage to speak to the crowd. This group included: Senator Mark Warner, Ed Gillespie, Robert Sarvis, Representative Bob Goodlatte, Will Hammer, and Delegate Ben Cline. Both the Republican and Democratic activists cheered loudly for their candidate(s).
Interestingly, Bob Goodlatte didn’t speak about his own race, where he faces Libertarian Will Hammer and Independent Green Elaine Hildebrandt (who did not attend the Buena Vista event) but rather the need to elect Ed Gillespie. Delegate Cline made some critical remarks about Senator Warner which led some of us to wonder if he would be yanked from the microphone.
After Warner and Gillespie spoke, they left the gathering along with Bob Goodlatte before Robert Sarvis took the microphone. Although that development was disappointing and disrespectful to their Libertarian opponent, what I thought was far worse was that 90% of the Republican crowd walked out as well. By comparison, a majority of the Democratic activists showed far more decorum, having enough courtesy to listen to what Sarvis and Hammer had to say.
All in all, it was encouraging to see an upswing in Buena Vista this year. Hopefully, this Shenandoah Valley tradition will continue to thrive.