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.