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 Dunbar has claimed that Constitutional law can be superseded by religious affiliation and various interpretations of the Christian Bible.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.

7 Replies to “Replacing Goodlatte: Republican Candidates for the 6th Congressional”

  1. Little biased not to mention the other 5 candidates, don’t you think?

    You focused on:
    14 years of police funding reduction which allowed more drugs and opiates in the area (his clients too?), no equal pay for women, no plan on jobs, shady NFP associations- Cline.

    Pushed her own book at schools after forcing the Board to use it, added 120k democrat voters on her District in 1 term, causes eye rolls with her constant swamp/war speech – Dunbar.

    Haywood, who would maybe work well as city mayor; has no plan, no idea on any law, and is a carreer bureaucrat.

    For someone that claims to be reporting, you sure went all partial. Reminds me of Democrat reporters talking about Hillary; “she is great” they said; then no one voted for her as expected.

    And judging by your analysis, Democrats have a chance with any of these 3. Because the bigger demographic is swing voters, whom didnt go vote, giving the impression that those you mention are the majority. They are not.

    REpublicans need someone charismatic that moves millenials to vote. For the life of republicans in the District and for the life of the party. These 3, Cline, Chaz, Dunbar are certainly not it.

    But please, do go on ignoring the other 5 candidates and over 200k swing voters from millenials. That will keep the party alive.

    1. My dismissal was not based on policy position, but the reality of the situation. 200k millenials don’t get to vote in the convention. The delegates recruited by the candidates do. And the three candidates I presented have massive advantages, both financially and in brand recognition: Cline is an established politician with the support system in place to run a campaign, Haywood has the backing of the Obenshains and others in their camp, and Dunbar has her national presence and recent victory. I just don’t see enough from the other candidates to think they will make a difference. I’m sorry if this seemed like a slight, but at the end of the day, unknowns don’t pull off miracles very often.

      1. Spoken like a Hillary campaign peon, again.

        I guess Trump won because of those reasons, no?

        Plus, ignored the future of the party to accommodate advertising your choice; obvious by the wording on the column.

        For the sake of the party, I truly hope swamp people like you reconsider. And I say “swamp” because this column is obviously to promote the candidate you like. Adding the other two as to look fair, and justify that answer.

        1. Hello Mr. Justo.

          Thank you for visiting my website. I regret to say that I haven’t had much time to look at all of the various candidates for the 6th yet, as I’m embroiled in my second semester of grad school, though I do hope to learn more about them, including you.

          However, I do find it a bit troubling that in your first comment you use the phrase “for the life of Republicans in the District and for the life of the party” and in the second, “for the sake of the party”. I’d like to think that promoting the shared principles of liberty and limited government is more important than the Republican Party…or any political party for that matter? Would you agree? Or are you a “party first” type of Republican?

          Thank you.

          1. Contrary the one you prefer (which is not me, but should be):
            I would represent the people first. Not just by telling them I will, whilst flashing a pocket constitution that has no crease. Not by using a life as an office bureaucrat as equivalent to reading a resolution, and finding the wrongs in it. Not by using the word “swamp” 17 times in 16 minutes of talk, while having a history of pushing personal gain in an unpleasant display of hypocrisy.

            I would represent the 6th by listening to them and taking their opinions to Congress. Not only listening while on tour for election. But being available all the time as well; doing what a Representative should do. Represent the people. Not personal interests.

            Time will tell if your prediction is correct. And time will tell, as well, if mine. But with yours, we all will suffer the consequences. Either a candidate that does not know the laws he will be involved with and will sell out like his sponsor. Or one that brings a media frenzy to our area with commentary that isolates the party from the people for personal gain.

            For the sake of our farmers, our cops, our geriatric on Social Security, as well as our young; I hope time proves you wrong.

        2. Trump won for a variety of reasons. He managed to tap into a growing right-wing populist movement, but also had several unique advantages to help him edge out other candidates. He had a strong media presence based on decades of self-promotion; constantly said things that attracted media attention, saving himself millions of dollars in advertising; backing from several large media outlets such as Breitbart to help solidify his budding grassroots efforts; and had a large financial backing from his own money. As far as I’m aware, none of the five candidates I didn’t mention are multi-billionaire media moguls with national followings. So they must rely on their own grass roots base to help bring in delegates. Considering the only thing I can find on most of them are websites put up for their campaigns, articles announcing their candidacies, and not much else, that doesn’t bode well for them.

          1. Seems you failed at searching. Just like the candidate you support.

            Keep in mind: I notified the people of Obenshain’s unpausterized milk “list” via twitter, of Dunbars book fiasco before you, of the 1.2 million imported aliens that will come to work under Goodlattes “Puppies and rainbows act” (name is cynical, search for it yourself), among others.

            None of your three had even read the appropriations for the military!! I have. And on the next forum I will tell what is wrong with it. Because I read it. Ask your three what is wrong with it now. Bet they don’t know (I’m sure of it).

            Have a blessed night.

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