Replacing Goodlatte: Republican Candidates for the 6th Congressional

A Guest post by Kevin Stiles

Bob Goodlatte will not be the 6th Congressional district representative for the first time since 1992. Hardly news, but since I was two years old when he took office, this is a brave new world for me and many others. The 6th is considered one of the safest Republican seats in the country, and as such, it is very likely that the Republican convention decides who gets the seat. As of the time of writing, there are currently eight Republican candidates. However, given the candidate is selected by convention, I highly doubt the five least connected candidates: Ed Justo, Mike Desjadon, Elliot Pope, Doug Wright, and Kathryn Lewis really have a chance for a Congressional seat. Let us then consider the three main candidates:

Cynthia Dunbar

Photo from the Dunbar for Congress Facebook page

Cynthia Dunbar is probably the most well known outside of Virginia. Dunbar rose to prominence during her controversial tenure on the Texas Board of Education winning a seat in 2006 and serving from 2007 to 2010. While serving on the Board, Dunbar came under criticism for comments she made regarding religion and its place in education; government’s role in education; and pushing for textbooks on Mexican-American studies that were labeled Anti-Mexican. Dunbar continues to monitor the education situation in Texas and has worked closely with her mentor, David Barton. Dunbar recently ran against Suzanne Obenshain for National Committeewoman to the RNC from Virginia and won an upset in a narrow vote. Dunbar served as a professor of law at Liberty. Dunbar has claimed that Constitutional law can be superseded by religious affiliation and various interpretations of the Christian Bible. The form of the primary seems to favor her (see below). While Scott Sayre, 6th district chair for the RNC, hasn’t made it clear if he supports her, Deputy chair Matt Tederick has been publicly supportive of Dunbar. However, Dunbar’s political baggage could prove costly. Her radical stances on many issues may strike a chord with many Democratic voters, as the Dems continue to see larger than expected turnouts for off-year elections and special elections. Dunbar may prove the most vulnerable to what some are calling the “blue wave”  that may follow Trump’s victory in 2016.

Chaz Haywood

Photo from the Haywood for Congress Facebook page

Mr. Haywood is the current Rockingham-Harrisonburg Clerk of Court. Mr. Haywood seems to be the establishment choice, having gotten the Obenshain endorsement, as well as the endorsement of Georgia Long (former 6th District RPV State Central Representative). Unfortunately, not much is known about Mr. Haywood. He hasn’t had a whole lot of public activity to really flesh out his positions beyond campaign platitudes. He served as a representative for both Mr. Goodlatte and former Governor George Allen. His website is full of well-worn phrases about “putting people first” and “standing with veterans.” Predictably, he plans to “stand with President Trump in his efforts to improve business and job growth, protecting our manufacturing jobs here and working to bring back jobs lost overseas.” However, substantive policy issues are noticeably lacking.

Ben Cline

Photo from the Cline for Congress Facebook page

Mr. Cline has been a member of the House of Delegates since 2002. This extensive political background gives Cline the most well-defined policy positions. He is co-chair of the Virginia Joint Legislative Caucus and House Chairman of the Conservative Caucus.  Cline has sponsored several more libertarian-leaning pieces of legislation such as the recent medical marijuana bill and his proposed limit on Law Enforcement drone usage. He also pushed for recorded votes in committees in the General Assembly. Cline has called for defending Confederate statues and has an A+ rating from the NRA, Virginia Chamber of Commerce, and the Virginia Citizen’s Defense League. He’s received low marks from the Sierra Club for his stance on the environment and mixed results from the Virginia Education Association. He has also received multiple endorsements from several Trump staffers such as the national field director Stuart Jolly and Mike Rubino, Trump’s Virginia State director. Cline earned the endorsements of Delegate Nick Freitas and Denver Riggleman as well.

The convention will be held May 19th at the JMU convocation center in Harrisonburg. At the moment the convention will be single ballot plurality, rather than a multi-ballot majority. This is subject to change, but this seems to favor Dunbar. Dunbar, seen as an outsider, could mirror Trump’s own rhetoric of “draining the swamp.” The plurality would mean she would not need to go through the strenuous process of deal-making that normally goes into finding a majority approved candidate. The convention process also lends itself to more conservative candidates. The 6th district is, by-and-large, Trump country. Predominantly Caucasian, with lower rates of higher education, large numbers of unemployed and underemployed blue-collar workers, and a sizeable evangelical population all seem to point towards an advantage for Dunbar. However, as we’ve seen in Alabama and other elections, the independents and conservatives that have traditionally voted for the GOP candidates are not turning out for radicals such as Dunbar. Additionally, they inspire Democrats to vote in near-record numbers. We do not know for certain if this trend will continue, and even if it does, the 6th is notoriously safe and the Democrats are fielding two new-comers to challenge for the seat. But the GOP should be wary before unleashing a firebrand like Dunbar.

Kevin Stiles is a resident of the Shenandoah Valley in Luray, VA. He attended Bridgewater College where he got a degree in History and Political Science.

Ron Paul Endorses Dunbar

Image from the Dunbar campaign

Earlier today, Ron Paul, a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives (and my boss in 2007 & 2008), endorsed Cynthia Dunbar for the House to represent the 6th district of Virginia.  In addition, Dr. Paul ran for president three times, once as the Libertarian nominee in 1988 and also sought the Republican nod in 2008 and 2012.

If I am not mistaken, this is only the second time Dr. Paul has endorsed in a Virginia race, the first being for Ken Cuccinelli in the 2013 election for governor.

As Ron Paul states:

“I have given my life to fight for liberty. It is always refreshing to encounter others with the same passion, conviction, and understanding necessary to defend our Constitution. Cynthia not only encapsulates these traits, but also has the integrity and fearlessness to stand up to politicians who wish to expand our government and infringe upon our rights. I have known Cynthia for over a decade now and she has always proved herself to be a stalwart defender of the freedoms guaranteed to us as Americans. Her voice will be heard loudly and clearly across the nation in defense of liberty, and she is the best candidate to represent our shared values in Congress. I am pleased to give her my endorsement and full support in her campaign to represent Virginia’s 6th district.”

Ms. Dunbar faces a somewhat crowded field for the Republican nomination, with four or five likely opponents.  In addition, several Democrats are vying for the position as is at least one independent and a potential Libertarian candidate as well.

The Republican convention to determine the party’s nominee will take place on May 19th in Harrisonburg.

 

Getting to Know Matt Waters

On January 3rd, I wrote an article about Matt Waters, a fellow seeking the Libertarian nomination for the U.S. Senate in the 2018 elections.  Today, the Old Dominion Libertarian posted an interview with Mr. Waters.  As I thought it was a good introduction to Matt Waters, (I still don’t know much about him yet either) I have gotten permission to repost it on my site.

If you’d like to check out the piece on the original site or explore other topics of interest, please visit https://olddominionlibertarian.wordpress.com.

INTERVIEW WITH VIRGINIA LIBERTARIAN MATT WATERS

Matt Waters And His Family.

Matt Waters And His Family.

Matt Waters plans to seek the Libertarian Party of Virginia’s nomination for U.S. Senate in 2018 to run against Tim Kaine and an as yet unknown Republican.  He is currently collecting signatures to get on the ballot.

Mr. Waters lives in Alexandria, Virginia and has been a member of the Libertarian Party since 2008. He was raised in Hampton, Virginia and graduated from George Mason University. He is married and has five children.

We recently conducted an interview with Mr. Waters and we have included that interview below.


1. Have you run for office before? Why did you decide to run for U.S. Senate and not a lower office?

Waters: No. Never run before. I have been involved in many campaigns, mostly conservative Tea Party Republican, as a fundraiser. I looked at the 8th district here, the Fairfax Co. Alexandria area, and it’s heavily democrat. I would not have had the opportunity to get the message out. I wanted to go big.

2. How long have you been a member of the LP and the LPVA?

Waters: National LP going back to April 2008 (according to my membership card). LPVA, I’m a recent member.

3. Nick Freitas is considered the libertarian-leaning candidate in the Republican primary. He has received the endorsement of Rand Paul, Mike Lee, and a few others. If he wins the primary and runs in the general election, why should a libertarian/Libertarian vote for you over Nick Freitas?

Waters: If Freitas wins, let’s revisit this question. He is an underdog and that is partly why I’m running, to give voters a choice in November. This November here in Virginia is shaping up to be a mirror of what 2020 will look like: a Trump Republican, a milk-toast Democrat, and a Libertarian.

4. Has Trump done anything to advance the libertarian agenda?

Waters: Yes, he has made Republicans look awful, and that may incline disillusioned Republicans to look at Libertarians—but we must be Libertarian—not faux. But we should not bet on Republicans joining us, as if they haven’t gotten the memo yet, I don’t think they ever will. It’s kinda like smoking—if you don’t know it will kill you—well, keep smoking. That’s what Republicans are doing—still smoking.

5. Would you support a constitutional amendment pertaining to term limits or a balanced budget? Why or why not?

Waters: Yes on both. George Will had a great column on this the other day, where he pointed out the two professors at Harvard who have a sound plan towards getting our books to balance. I’d support anything Will is saying—as he may be the most respected Libertarian in the country. On Term Limits, yes, got to take the professionalism out of this. But the only risk here is you have a deep state of professional bureaucrats who never leave Washington. I’d think we need to term limit public service in certain departments at certain levels. We sort of do that with political appointees, but take a deeper dive here. Needs to be looked at.

6. Do you agree with Gary Johnson, the 2012 and 2016 Libertarian Party nominee for President, that our immigration system needs to be streamlined to make it easier for people to come here legally?

Waters: I lean that way. I also lean towards cutting up the welfare state that may be having a disproportional impact on illegal immigration. I would also want to encourage our Latin American friends to focus on rule of law, private property rights, regulation reform, all of the things that make it hard for individuals to succeed. The Acton Institute did a study on how long it takes for an ordinary Hatian to open a business – a person not connected to government—about 260 days. Yet, someone connected to government, who knows someone, took them like a week. These governments are bankrupt, corrupt, and hurt individuals. They need to get their own houses in order.

7. If elected, who would you caucus with? How would you be able to work with other elected official in Washington, D.C. if you are the sole Libertarian candidate?

Waters: The others would caucus with me! I’d remain independent and attempt to be as non-political as possible—meaning, if R’s do something that makes sense, I’d vote for it; same with D’s. At some point the Libertarian Party will send a representative to Congress, and just like others in smaller parties who went to Congress before us, with the hope that one day the independents in this country will decide to do something different. They did it with Trump.

8. You have already spoken with members of the LPVA State Central Committee (SCC) about your candidacy and they seemed receptive. How do you feel about receiving the nomination to run as the LPVA candidate for U.S. Sentate in 2018?

Waters: I am excited about it, as we need to offer an alternative to the status quo.

9. Do you have petitions up online that volunteers can download to help get you on the ballot? How many signatures do you need?

Waters: I do have a petition on my Facebook page, and on signatures, we need to capture 400 signatures in each of Virginia’s Congressional districts, so 4,400 valid signatures in the 11 districts, and 10,000 overall.

10. What will be the issue(s) that your campaign will focus on?

Waters: If you ask Americans what the number one concern is in this country, they will tell you that their government is. They love the country, they are afraid of the government. If Libertarians cannot capitalize on this, then we may as well pack up and go home. The IRS was weaponized against the Tea Party; the Department of Education is making us dumb and dumber. The FDA is a failure that is responsible for millions dead. The Defense Department is anything but. I think of the snow days here in DC – they tell federal workers – “all non-essential employees” no need to come in to work. If you are non-essential on a snow day, you are non-essential every day. Cut Commerce, Education, HUD, Energy—all a total waste. I ask friends to “Name one thing the federal government gets right?” Blank stares. And all that for $4.5 trillion a year. C’mon, it’s time to wake up and cut spending. My budget would cut spending $1 trillion a year, and would eliminate all federal personal income taxes for all Americans through the Liberty Amendment—eliminating the 16th Amendment and replacing the income tax with NOTHING.

12. How can volunteers contact you if they want to get involved with your campaign?

Waters: Go to MattWaters.com, it points to my facebook page, and the webpage is going live soon.

13. A lot of times we hear that voting for a Libertarian candidate is a “wasted vote” or that it will help the Democrat or Republican win (depending on who you talk to). What would you tell voters who are concerned about your candidacy affecting the election in a way that they perceive as negative?

Waters: I think Democrats and Republican voters are wasting their votes; after all, what has Tim Kaine done in the US Senate? Name one thing. These voters are on their way to becoming non-voters because they know nothing changes.

14. It has been reported that you are pro-life. Can you elaborate on this a little bit? Would you seek to have a “Personhood Amendment” added to the Constitution? 

Waters: Yes, 100% pro-life, more so than any of the Republicans running. I have worked for and with multiple pro-life organizations over the last 25 years. I became pro-life in the mid-80’s reading Jesse Jackson and Al Gore’s statements—both were pro-life at one time—and both sold out their principles seeking higher office. I won’t do that. I’m encouraged that the Democrats—the party of Death according to Ramash Ponnuru’s book, are actually entertaining supporting pro-life candidates. So on personhood, on a Life Amendment, etc, yes, I would support nearly anything that protects life. That is at its very heart what it means to be an American—after all, its life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Life is first on the list. The life position also falls under the Libertarian banner of “do no harm”.

Our Friend Freitas

Image from Delegate Nick Freitas’ Twitter page

The 2018 General Assembly session is upon us, kicking off today, Wednesday, January 10th.  In recent years, I’ve written about several important pieces of legislation that either expand or degrade freedom in the Commonwealth of Virginia which have come from both Republican and Democratic legislators, such as Delegate Sam Rasoul (D-Roanoke), Delegate Ben Cline (R-Rockbridge), and Senator Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax).  I’ve noticed that these legislators usually craft one or two exemplary bills that all Virginians who value freedom, regardless of party affiliation, ought to support.

However, this year, Delegate Nick Freitas (R-Culpeper) is sponsoring some truly fantastic legislation.  Not content with one, two, or even three bills, his list of patronage on Virginia’s Legislative Information System is, quite frankly, amazing.

Highlighting some of my favorites, we have HB 534, a repeal of the so-called incumbent protection act (which stifles political competition by allowing incumbents to select the nomination method of their political party).

Next, there is HB 539, which requires political parties to pay for their own nomination contests rather than forcing the Virginia taxpayer to pick up the tab for their primaries.

Then, there is HB 540, which lowers the threshold for the state to recognize new political parties from the rather onerous 10% in a statewide contest to a far more reasonable 3%.  Doing so would likely result in more contested elections and more candidates for voters to choose from.  Thus, it should more accurately reflect the political preferences of Virginians rather than the present system of either being presented only one choice or often choosing between the lesser of two evils.

Following that, we have HB 553, ranked choice voting, which will permit voters to rank their choices on the ballot (assuming they have more than two).  Doing so would eliminate the so-called spoiler effect and mean that voters could actually vote for their preferred candidate without worrying about the idea of “throwing their vote away”.

Lastly, there is HB 900, civil asset forfeiture reform, which means that if you are found innocent of a crime, law enforcement doesn’t get to keep your property that they seized during the investigation.  It seems like common sense, but some politicians and law enforcement agencies support this theft (and it truly is state-sponsored theft) as a way to pad their operating budgets.

That’s a lot of great stuff coming from Delegate Nick Freitas, isn’t it?  The only other issues that I can think that I’d like to see resolved this session are a lowering of the signature requirements for ballot access in both statewide and congressional races and an end to the observance of Daylight Saving Time.

Although I normally don’t feel it necessary to mention this detail, given recent events please note that the opinions expressed in this article are my own and this piece has not been paid for nor authorized by either Delegate Nick Freitas or his 2018 campaign for U.S. Senate.

If you value liberty, please thank Delegate Nick Freitas and his staff for these bills!

A Libertarian for Senate

In 2018, Virginia will hold elections for U.S. Senate.  On the Democratic side, barring any major surprises, current Senator Tim Kaine will be the nominee.  For the Republicans, so far we have Corey Stewart, Nick Freitas, E.W. Jackson, and Ivan Raiklin vying for the nomination.  And, as of 15 hours ago according to Facebook, we also have a Libertarian seeking the position too.

Image from the campaign Facebook page

A fellow by the name of Matt Waters has now begun to collect the 10,000 signatures necessary to appear on the Virginia ballot.  Although I first heard news of his possible candidacy shortly before the new year, it seems that he has decided to go forward with the plan.  At this point, I cannot say I know anything about him, other than I’m told he is pro-life (which is exciting!).

Even when there is only one candidate running for the party’s nomination, getting the Libertarian stamp of approval isn’t a guarantee, as delegates to their state convention can vote for none of the above if the person seeking the position doesn’t share enough of their principles.  I believe that this is a position that both the Republicans and Democrats ought to adopt given the positions of some of their nominees over the years).

Who is Matt Waters?  I’m told by some of the Libertarian leaders in Virginia that he will be a strong, credible, and value-focused candidate, but I’m looking forward to finding out for myself.

The Virginia Republican Pravda

Image from https://infograph.venngage.com/p/193819/what-is-the-pravda

There is usually excitement surrounding a new addition to the Virginia political blogosphere.  Such was the case in mid-2017 when I heard the announcement of something called The Republican Standard.  However, after it has published a number of pieces in the first few weeks, it quickly became apparent that The Republican Standard was something different from your typical blog.  Rather than a blog which mixed factual reporting and opinion pieces, from the beginning it seemed to have a specific agenda, doing whatever it could to promote the candidacy of then Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie.  Instead of posting articles based on factual evidence, it seemed The Republican Standard would heavily distort the facts or post outright misinformation in order to promote the Gillespie campaign.  As someone who enjoyed a friendly relationship with the senior editor of this website, it became increasingly painful to read their articles as they were not based on truth, but rather what they wanted the truth to be.  As such, I began to hate seeing new articles posted on The Republican Standard because they consistently reminded me of propaganda.

On September 18th, Constitution Day, I attended a panel presentation at the law school of West Virginia University concerning political journalism.  During the question and answer period that followed the talk, I asked the panelists about the tactics of The Republican Standard, mentioning that I saw their editor as a friend, and what I could do to help the situation.  The response I got was that it might be best to simply ignore the site as we have seen a rise in fake news since the 2016 elections.  As more and more articles from TRS entered my Facebook feed, I thought the only solution was to defriend the editor in the hopes that would put an end to me seeing this steady stream of disinformation.  But, given my Facebook friends and groups to which I belonged, The Republican Standard continued to pop up with its outlandish headlines, declaring that the Northam campaign was failing and that Gillespie was all but certain to win the November election.

Sometime later, I found an article from the Chicago Tribune entitled, “GOP Governors Launch ‘News’ Site Critics Call Propaganda”.  In it, they specifically mention The Republican Standard.

“The first test is in this fall’s Virginia governor’s race pitting Democratic nominee Ralph Northam against Republican Ed Gillespie. Virginians already have seen another site, The Republican Standard, that is run by Virginia Republican operatives with ties to Gillespie, a former state and national party chairman, and to a firm that has been paid by the RGA. The Free Telegraph and its social media accounts frequently link The Republican Standard.”

Doing a bit of fact-checking on VPAP, the claims made in the Chicago Tribune were verifiable; as of early October, The Republican Standard had received $10,000 in outside contributions, $5,000 from something called the Colonial Leadership Trust PAC (tied to the likely future Speaker of the House of Delegates Kirk Cox) and $5,000 from the Ed Gillespie campaign.  According to VPAP, the sponsorship money came from Gillespie and the PAC about the same time that The Republican Standard went online.  However, I was unable to find any statement on their site that their content had been paid for by these outside groups, thus although giving the appearance of honest blogging, in fact being driven by the Gillespie campaign and others.  Suddenly, it all made sense why The Republican Standard wrote misleading pieces about the 2017 Virginia Governor race: they were paid to do so which is why, like the Soviet-run newspaper, the Northam campaign declared that the Gillespie campaign and the Virginia Republicans were “creating their own Pravda.”

Shortly before the November elections, one of my Facebook friends declared the Gillespie campaign was most likely going to win and shared a piece from The Republican Standard which said as much.  In response, I told him to remember the source; The Republican Standard could hardly be considered objective as they were paid by the Gillespie campaign.  A few moments later, the editor and my former friend responded to my post by saying that I needed to show the VPAP filings backing up my claim or to contact a lawyer.  In retrospect, I realized later that he was threatening me, but as I had the proof, I posted it.  The editor didn’t reply further, but instead immediately blocked me.

I have to say in my nine and a half years writing this blog, I have never seen a campaign or a politician sponsor another blog nor have I seen a campaign spend $2,500 on advertising on one of these sites.

I spoke with the writers at The Bull Elephant about this issue, but at the time they didn’t want to write an article exposing what The Republican Standard was doing as it could very well ruin the Gillespie campaign’s chance of success in the election.  Although I believed that a Gillespie victory would be detrimental to the liberty of the people of Virginia, I refrained writing anything in the hopes that a larger and more prestigious site than mine would pick up the story.  However, as no one has done so, I felt it my duty to share this information before the matter was completely forgotten.

I firmly believe that there is something dishonest and wrong when campaigns, interest groups, and/or political parties clandestinely sponsor websites in order to improve their public image or to bolster their chances of electoral success.  Although I have collected a paltry sum accumulated through ads, which isn’t sufficient for the yearly hosting costs, it has never altered or affected the content of this website.  Even though some have tried, no campaign has successfully paid for any favorable coverage on this site.  And, whenever a blog includes a piece from a campaign, a disclaimer ought to accompany it, letting the reader know that someone else sponsored the content.

When political groups can pay for stories and opinion pieces under the guise of objective reporting, the blogosphere as a whole suffers for then all of us will be viewed with suspicion, that we are not offering our honest thoughts, but ones paid for by the highest bidder.  I’d like to think that our purpose is to inform, entertain, and/or convince our readers of the merits of our reporting and thoughts and spread the truth, rather than serving secretly as a mouthpiece for some well-funded political group much like the Soviet-era Pravda.

The Schmookler & Huffman Show (Episode LIII)

Yesterday morning, Andy Schmookler and I took to the air on WSVA, 550 AM for our 53rd monthly installment to discuss local, state, and national politics.  A central focus was the U.S. Senate in Alabama which took place the day before.  In addition, we also spoke about the impending retirement of 6th district House of Representatives member Bob Goodlatte and the continuing investigation of collusion between the Russian government and Donald Trump.

As always, if you missed the program live, you can find it here.

A Toast to Bob Goodlatte

Today, Virginians across the 6th district have received excellent news.  Bob Goodlatte, the area’s legislator in the House of Representatives since 1993, will not be seeking reelection.

Since moving out of state and beginning my Ph.D. work, I have not had a drop of alcohol.  But tonight, after more than seven years of false starts and rumors, hoping and waiting for this news, I thought a celebration is most certainly in order.

Here’s a toast to the end.

Here’s to the end of your more than two-decade-long reign.

You have claimed to be a limited government conservative, but your record in Washington speaks otherwise.

You speak of liberty and limited government and then write and vote for bills which curtail freedom and enlarge the state.

You have left a legacy of debt which will no doubt cripple our nation for generations to come.

You have expanded government programs to suit your needs and the desires of your donors.

You have ruled the Shenandoah Valley with an iron fist, crushing those who question your edicts.

You have meddled in political affairs throughout the 6th, installing or attempting to install elected officials and party chairmen, not based upon good political principles, but rather loyalty to you and your minions.

You have sought to smash the careers of fine people in the Shenandoah Valley who refuse to kiss your ring.

In these last few years, you have ignored and purposely dodged your bosses, the people of the 6th district.

You have hired some of the most unsavory of characters, giving both power and protection to those of low morals.

Soon, so very soon, it will finally end.

So may your successor be just and fair.

May he or she promote liberty, honor, and honesty in all facets of public service.

May he or she reverse many of the policies you helped enact and actually defend the Constitution you swore an oath to protect.

May the people of the 6th shout “never again” when they think of your time in office.

And may your legacy be forgotten.

Tonight, I raise my glass to you, Representative Bob Goodlatte.

Finally, at long last, the end is in sight.

The Schmookler & Huffman Show (Episode LII)

On the heels of a historic election in the state of Virginia, Andy Schmookler and I returned to 550 AM, WSVA to discuss the results.  Although a majority of the polls predicted a victory for Democratic Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam, few pundits thought that the Democrats would make such massive gains in the House of Delegates.  As one might expect, it was the focus of our discussion today.

If you missed today’s live broadcast at 9 AM, you can listen to it here.