A New Group for Frederick County

Last year, I wrote an article regarding a meeting of the Frederick County Republican Committee.  Although I’ve been involved in politics for the last 22 years, I’ve never witnessed a gathering as blatantly corrupt as what I saw from the FCRC on the evening of August 30th.  The temporary chair, improperly elected, ignored the complaints arising from the expulsion of several of their members, rammed through the introduction of new members without either discussion or a proper vote, and then immediately declared the meeting adjourned.

Given this unchecked abuse of power by the Frederick County GOP, what should honest, limited government folks in Frederick County do?  Should they remain with the local Republican Party?  I’m sure some have.  But others have gone elsewhere.  For example, when I visited the Frederick County Libertarians several months ago, I found one former member of the Frederick Republicans in attendance.

Now, as an additional option, another group has emerged which calls itself the Conservative Caucus.  Created by Dutch Jennings, the former treasurer of the Frederick County Republican Party, the group held their first organizational meeting on March 22nd.  But who are they and what do they stand for?  To answer that question, the group sent out a press release about a week ago.

D.P. “Dutch” Jennings, Chairman of the Conservative Caucus, has announced the forming of a new group in Frederick County.  The Conservative Caucus met for its organizational meeting last Saturday the 22nd,  and a large room of guests were inducted as new members.

A “caucus” is most frequently a segment, or a subset, of an organized political party.  However, the Conservative Caucus is not currently associated with a political party; but may consider a future filing with the Commonwealth of Virginia as a more formally organized group.  At this time it is an independent community association focused only on local issues with primarily economic impacts.

According to the Conservative Caucus Mission Statement, they are an organization for Frederick County, VA conservatives who wish to promote fiscal responsibility, smaller government, lower taxes, adherence to the Constitution and individual liberty.

They are forming to give a voice to Frederick County voters and taxpayers who wish to know more about and participate in decisions concerning subjects impacting the political and financial well-being of the county.  This provides the opportunity for more citizen participation, needed transparency and positive results.

A focus will be working to identify areas deserving public attention such as local elections, the financial position of Frederick County and the cost of new projects.  Some goals are to further inform the community on local public projects in terms of reasonable need, not just want; process and methods of accomplishment; cost effectiveness and impact on county residents. This will be accomplished by a number of initiatives that will be announced later in the year.

According to Jennings, “We look forward to like-minded county residents joining our efforts. Citizens desiring to work in a friendly, cooperative environment to make Frederick County a more honest and open place to live and work are invited to contact the Conservative Caucus via our website cc-fcva.com.”

To join, a citizen must be proposed by a member and be voted in by the Steering Committee.  The Caucus’s policy is to keep member information confidential.

So, there you have it.  Although the Frederick County GOP has driven away a portion of their membership with their shady behavior, some of these folks have come together in this nonpartisan group to further their political objectives, especially at the local level.

If you’d be interested in learning more about this group, you can visit their website or email their chairman at dutchjennings@protonmail.com.

Good Guy Nick Freitas

From the Nick Freitas Campaign Facebook page

As many of you all know, in 2015 Nick Freitas ran for the House of Delegates against a Republican who had been in office for more than a decade.  His opponent wasn’t particularly fiscally responsible, voting for what was billed at that time as the largest tax increase in Virginia’s history, nor was he all that interested in expanding liberty or shrinking the size and scope of the state government.  But Nick Freitas presented himself as something different.  Over the months, I had the chance to speak with Nick and learn about his philosophy and his goals.  And, as such, I enthusiastically supported his campaign.

In the November election, Nick Freitas won the chance to represent the people of the 30th district.  Since that time, he has proven himself to be both a man of his word and a champion of liberty.  In these last two sessions, not only has he voted the right way on just about every piece of legislation, he has sponsored a number of great bills, such as legalizing industrial hemp, creating instant runoff voting, expanding gun rights, opposing the incumbent protection act, and more.

Another important point is that unlike some politicians who are only willing associate with members of their own party, Nick Freitas isn’t afraid to reach out to other like-minded folks who belong to other political parties.  In March, he spoke to an enthusiastic crowd at a meeting of the Rocktown Libertarians.

Now, Nick Freitas is running for re-election to serve another two years in the House of Delegates and he already faces one opponent.  Unless you live in the 30th district (which includes all of Madison and Orange Counties as well as a portion of Culpeper County), you won’t be able to cast a vote for him.  However, you can still assist his campaign by making a donation.

Before you ask, no, I do not work for the Freitas campaign, nor is this article paid for or authorized by any campaign or political group.  I would like my fellow Virginians to elect honest, like-minded delegates and do what we can to support and re-elect those folks already in office.

During his first term, Nick Freitas has shown himself to be one of the good guys in the Virginia House of Delegates.  Whether you are a Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Constitution Party, or independent, if you support liberty and limited government as I do, I would encourage you to chip in a few dollars to help out excellent candidates, like Nick Freitas.  

Let’s send Nick Freitas to Richmond for another two years!

It Is Easy to Hate

It is easy to hate someone of a different skin colour

So long as you don’t know anyone with a different skin colour

 

It is easy to insult folks who have a different religion

So long as you aren’t friends with someone with a different religion

 

It is easy to degrade people of the opposite gender

So long as you don’t respect people of the opposite gender

 

It is easy to dehumanize people from another country

So long as you don’t associate with people from another country

 

It is easy to dismiss members of a differing political party

So long as you never speak to a member of a differing political party

 

It is easy to look down on people who aren’t the same socioeconomic status

So long as you avoid people who aren’t the same socioeconomic status

 

It is easy to deride someone of a different body type

So long as you don’t mingle with someone of a different body type

 

It is easy to hate people who are different from yourself

So long as you don’t interact any people who are different from yourself

 

It is easy to hate

Stewart at First Friday

On Friday, April 7th, Corey Stewart spoke to the First Friday gathering at the Wood Grill Buffet in Harrisonburg.  There were about 30 people in attendance, including a writer and photographer from the local paper, The Daily News Record.  The previous weekend, Mr. Stewart held a campaign rally in the friendly city but had difficulty finding a venue due to protests, first trying at Dave’s, then the Wood Grill Buffet, and finally settling at Court Square downtown.  Corey Stewart is one of three candidates seeking the Republican nomination for governor that will be decided in a June primary.

Arriving about 20 or so minutes after his scheduled time, Mr. Stewart offered introductory remarks for about 15 minutes and then took questions from the audience for about another 30 minutes.  Unfortunately, size restrictions cut off the first minute or two of Mr. Stewart’s speech, but here’s a video of what he said.

The Schmookler & Huffman Show (Episode XLV)

On the morning of Wednesday, April 4th, Andy Schmookler and Joshua Huffman appeared on 550 AM, WSVA for our monthly radio hour.

The main topic of the day was Neil Gorsuch and his appointment to the Supreme Court.  As the confirmation vote draws near, more Democratic Senators, including Virginia’s own Tim Kaine, have announced they will not support Mr. Gorsuch.  Will he be confirmed?  Is this payback for what happened to Merrick Garland last year?  Will Senate Republican use the nuclear option?

The next subject we briefly tackled concerned a speech that Andy Schmookler gave outside of Representative Bob Goodlatte’s Harrisonburg office the previous day. At that time, he challenged Goodlatte to a debate or for him to investigate the possible unethical and illegal actions taken by President Trump both before and after he was elected.

If you missed the show this morning, you can find it here.

Third Time’s the Charm

McClung Tower, home of the political science department at UT-K

Back in 2007, while finishing up my work in Tennessee with Students for Life of America, I began to think about what I ought to do next.  One idea that was particularly appealing, especially considering I very much enjoyed working with college students, was to go to grad school in the hopes of one day teaching my knowledge and passion in political science.  However, before I did so, I wanted to reach what I saw as the zenith of campaign work by getting a position on a presidential campaign.  During this time, I discovered Ron Paul and, after several months of concentrated effort, secured the position of grassroots director for the state of South Carolina on his 2008 presidential run.

After the campaign concluded, I began to study for the GREs and contacted several of my former professors at the College of William & Mary for letters of recommendation.  In 2009, I applied to a half a dozen schools in Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and South Carolina.  I was surprised when I didn’t get accepted at any of these institutions.  I reasoned that perhaps there were too many people seeking too few positions.  Undeterred, after I finished my work for Delegate Phil Hamilton in Newport News, I applied to these same schools again the following year.  And, once again, none accepted me.  As you might imagine, I was quite confused.  According to their posted data, both my GRE scores and my GPA from my undergraduate studies were more than acceptable for all of the schools I applied (with the lone exception of UNC-Chapel Hill).

Curious, I contacted all of the grad schools in the hopes of getting an answer of what happened.  After a multitude of phone calls, the University of Tennessee at Knoxville finally offered a clue.  They told me that one of my professors wrote a negative letter of recommendation.  I could scarcely believe it.  Why would a professor agree to write a letter of recommendation and then use it to sabotage one’s efforts?  I traveled to William and Mary to see if I could figure out what had happened.  After I explained what UT-K told me, the first professor I spoke with was quite cordial and offered to write another letter should I desire it.  The second professor acted in the same manner.  However, I was shocked when the third treated me brusquely and told me that he wasn’t particularly interested in writing me another letter.  As you might imagine, the whole affair was quite disheartening.  I left campus feeling dejected, not knowing if I would ever be able to accomplish my goal of getting a graduate degree in political science.  At the time, I felt that this incident was the greatest betrayal I had suffered in politics, but, as the years went by, I realized that it was merely a prelude for the greater treacheries that were to come.

Although I continued my work in politics, I worried that I would be forever stuck in the rut of campaign work and partisan politics.  Although folks told me that I was quite good at what I did, the work became increasingly less fulfilling and fellow campaign workers and politicos became increasingly nasty.

And so the years passed.  My dream had been crushed but not completely destroyed.

In late 2015, I thought about applying to grad school again after having the opportunity to serve as a political science tutor for a JMU student.  However, given some personal and financial difficulties arising partially from being blacklisted from a number of employment opportunities, I thought it best to wait another year.

Then, in 2016, I resolved to give it another try.  While visiting my aunt who lives in Tennessee, I took the GREs in Knoxville.  I then visited several campuses, found a new recommender while retaining the other two, and sent my applications to four schools.

This time, I was accepted everywhere I applied: the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, West Virginia University, George Mason University, and Virginia Tech.  While West Virginia and VA Tech were new to me, it was my third attempt at UT-K and GMU.

One of the schools has made an offer for a graduate assistantship which comes with a tuition waiver.  As you might imagine, it is presently my top choice.  However, as another school has hinted at the possibility of funding too, it is also still in the running.  One of my professor friends told me that grad schools like to play games with their financial aid, so I suppose it is possible that one of the other schools could come back with an offer of their own.  Either way, the deadline for a decision for three of the four schools is April 15th, so my decision will be announced in the coming weeks.

It took eight years and two previous attempts, but, as the saying goes, it seems that the third time’s the charm.  The dream is deferred no longer!  Grad school here I come!

Rand’s Quest For a Transparent Health Care Bill

Photo from Rand Paul’s Facebook page

Guest piece by Philip Haddad

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) had launched on a mission to find a draft of the House GOP’s bill to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

“I have been told that the House Obamacare bill is under lock and key, in a secure location, and not available for me or the public to view,” he tweeted, and then he went into action.

Paul went to a Capitol meeting room with staff and a photocopier to surprise members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee that were rumored to be discussing the ACA.

“In my state, in Kentucky, it’s illegal to do this,” he said, beckoning to a door where he was told there was no bill. “This is being presented as if it were a national secret, as if this were a plot to invade another country.”

Paul held a press conference on the spot and told a dozen or so reporters that “We’re here today because I’d like to read the Obamacare bill. If you’d recall, when Obamacare was passed in 2009 and 2010, Nancy Pelosi said you’ll know what’s in it after you pass it. The Republican Party shouldn’t act in the same way.”

Later on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Paul said reports claim, “It keeps the Cadillac tax but renames it. It starts a new entitlement program with refundable tax credits, and it also keeps the individual mandate.”

Paul is concerned that a cloak and dagger routine is being employed to hide parts of the bill that would run counter to many wanting to see the ACA repealed, and he fears this maneuvering may be a ploy to force Senate Republicans into a “take it or leave it” mindset when the legislation gets to them.

Whatever someone’s position is on this issue Paul should be applauded for bringing focus to an important issue, namely healthcare and the backroom deals that too often accompany legislation.

Paul produced a reaction not only from the media, but also from establishment politicians with Speaker of the House Rep. Paul Ryan saying, “…I like Rand, but I think he’s looking for a publicity stunt here”, Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger called Paul “the master of theatrics“, and former Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi posted a twitter picture with two dogs with the caption “Just helping out @RandPaul. #ReleaseTheHounds #WheresTheBill,”. However, Paul wasn’t alone in his concern as some Democrat members of the House were also going to different rooms on a quest to find the bill and the Washington Post quoted Rep. Thomas Massie as saying “We asked for the score and all that. We were told we’ll have that by the time it gets to the floor. We need to have that now! You can’t have a discussion about this proposal independent from costs. It’s ridiculous. That’s kind of like, just ‘vote for it to see what’s in it.’”

Paul has introduced his own ACA replacement bill allowing people to:

  1. Choose inexpensive insurance free of government mandates;
  2. Buy insurance across state lines;
  3. Save unlimited amounts in a health savings account (HSA) and expanding options for using said funds; and
  4. Join together in voluntary associations to gain the leverage of being part of a large insurance pool.

It remains to be seen if Paul’s bill will pass but Senators Cruz and Lee are joining with him voicing similar concerns, backing by the House Freedom Caucus, and his tech savvy team continue to capitalize on all of the media attention by creating a Twitter account @randpaulcopier posting pictures of a photo copier with a sign “SHOW ME THE Bill” in front of numerous landmarks in front of the Capital.

It’s tough to disagree with his main message: “This should be an open and transparent process…This should be done openly in the public…”.
Paul continues to be the most interesting person in the Senate and we all are better for him being there!

UPDATE: The GOP’s Obamacare Repeal Bill has finally been released and Paul’s concerns have been vindicated!

American Health Care Act: https://housegop.leadpages.co/healthcare/

 

Philip lives in Harrisonburg with his wife, son, & two cats: Swirl and Rand Paul. He has worked on political campaigns ranging from his city council run to the presidential level. He is the co-editor of the book “Ron Paul Speak”.

Cathy Copeland in for the 26th

Earlier today, Cathy Copeland kicked off her campaign for the 26th district House of Delegates seat.  She is seeking the Democratic nomination.  To the best of my knowledge, for the first time in over 30 years, there will be a fire house primary to determine the Democratic nominee for this seat as Brent Finnegan is vying for the position as well.  Mr. Finnegan kicked off his campaign on Saturday in Broadway.

Ms. Copeland made this speech regarding her candidacy at the Pale Fire Brewery in downtown Harrisonburg.

Unlike most years, where a majority of the elections in the central Shenandoah Valley are uncontested, we now have: 2 Democrats and 1 Republican running in the 26th, a Democrat and a Republican in the 58th, a Democrat and a Republican in the 25th, and a Democrat, a Libertarian, and a Republican in the 20th.

Where do these candidates stand on the important issues of the day?  Will the Democrats and Libertarians field additional candidates?  Will there be any Republican nomination fights?  And will any of these challengers unseat an incumbent?  So far, this election year is shaping up to be far more interesting than usual!

Edwards Announces for the 20th

Today, on the steps of the Augusta County Courthouse in Staunton, Virginia, Michele Edwards announced her intention to seek the Democratic nomination for the 20th district seat in the House of Delegates. Below is a video of her announcement.  Sorry that it is a bit shakey.  In retrospect, I should have worn gloves as it was cold outside.

Republican Dickie Bell has represented the 20th district since 2010.  He has not had a Democratic opponent since 2011 when Laura Kleiner challenged him.  This year, he is facing Libertarian Will Hammer and now Democrat Michele Edwards.

To learn more about Michele Edwards and her campaign, I suggest you visit her website.

The Schmookler & Huffman Show (Episode XLIV)

On the morning of March 15th, Andy Schmookler and I, Joshua Huffman, appeared on 550 AM WSVA for our monthly radio hour.  The topics for discussion included:  Obamacare and Paul Ryan’s attempts to craft his own health care law, the 2017 Virginia elections including the increasing number of contested elections for the House of Delegates in the central Shenandoah Valley, and President Trump’s connections with Russia and whether this issue creates a massive conflict of interest with his duties to the Constitution and the American people.

If you missed the program live, you can find a recording of it here.