Gillespie Excels in Staunton

On Thursday evening, the Ed Gillespie campaign held another gathering in the Shenandoah Valley, this time at the Holiday Inn right off of Interstate 81 in Staunton.  The advertised guest of the evening was Matt Bevin, the governor of Kentucky.  Curiously, the room was set up with a stage against the middle wall with three padded chairs and a couple of tables.  Unlike other events, I didn’t recognize a majority of the folks in the crowd.

The Commonwealth Attorney for Augusta County, Tim Martin, gave a welcome, Travis Witt, the former leader of the tea party federation, offered the prayer, and Augusta County Supervisor Marshall Pattie led the group in the pledge of allegiance.

Next, Pete Snyder, who many folks know from his 2013 run for lieutenant governor, took the stage.  After a few moments, Ed Gillespie and Matt Bevin joined him.

 

Ed Gillespie and Matt Bevin with Greene County GOP Chairman Ed Yensho

The three of them spoke amongst themselves about Gillespie’s campaign for governor as well as Bevin’s experiences as governor of Kentucky.  Afterward, they took a series of pre-submitted questions from the audience.  While this was going on, I thought of a question I wanted to ask regarding political freedom and spoke with the staffer handling such things, but, unfortunately, weren’t able to take it.

In conclusion, Governor Bevin invited all of the attendees to put a Gillespie bumper sticker on their cars as well as get their photo taken with Mr. Gillespie to which Ed Gillespie suggested that the governor ought to join in as well.

Overall, the event was well attended for a Thursday evening as pretty much every seat was filled.  Governor Matt Bevin expressed strong support for Ed Gillespie which helps bolster Gillespie’s credibility.  Snyder, Gillespie, and Bevin all added some humorous moments to the gathering.  And, perhaps most importantly, unlike their last event in Harrisonburg, several people in the crowd had an opportunity to participate in the discussion.

Compared to his 2014 campaign for U.S. Senate, Ed Gillespie’s campaign for governor seems significantly improved, spending more time discussing substantive issues, and bringing impressive political figures, like Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin onboard.

Freedom Gulch #19

On the evening of February 7th, Will Hammer, Andy Bakker, and I gathered online for Freedom Gulch’s 19th podcast. Topics during the hour included: Betsy DeVos and her confirmation as Secretary of Education, recent protests against Milo Yiannopoulos, Charlottesville City Council’s decision to remove the statue of Robert E. Lee from a downtown park, an eye toward the 2017 elections here in Virginia, and more.

If you missed it live, you can find it here!

Perriello Comes to Harrisonburg

On Friday of last week, I received word that former Representative Tom Perriello would be in Harrisonburg on Saturday morning, February 4th.  Mr. Perriello is one of two candidates seeking the Democratic nomination to be Virginia’s next governor.  Although I knew the time and location of the event, the Lucy Simms Center, I had no other details.

When I arrived, I discovered that it was a forum hosted by Virginia Organizing.  However, one surprising element was that it was a gathering designed specifically for deaf individuals.  As such, much on the discussion took place through sign language.  Mr. Perriello brought an interpreter with him.  Although she seemed to have no difficulty translating his words into sign language, she had a bit of trouble explaining what some of the attendees were saying.  Then again, given that much of the conversation focused on technical terms relating to the deaf community, it was understandable.  In fact, even after translation, some of the terms were still foreign to me.  Fortunately, there was another interpreter in the audience so they worked together; one translated Mr. Perriello’s comments into American sign language while the other converted the sign language into English. However, it was difficult to follow chunks of the conversation.

The event highlighted quite a few areas where deaf people face obstacles, many of which the average Virginian is likely unaware of.  But, whether intentional or not, one of the major points I drew from the gathering was that Tom Perriello seemed to advocate greater government power as a solution to many of the issues and concerns of the deaf community, although that seemed to be the message Virginia Organizing was promoting as well.

Before leaving, demonstrating his knowledge of sign language, Perriello made signs for the various letters of the alphabet.

I appreciate that Mr. Perriello visited Harrisonburg.  The next time he comes, I’d like to learn more about where he stands on a number of important issues such as fiscal restraint, restricting the growth of government, eliminating needless laws and bureaucracy, and expanding personal and political freedom here in the Commonwealth.

Riggleman Visits Greene County

On the evening of Monday, January 16th, the Greene County Republican Party held their monthly dinner gathering at the Blue Ridge Cafe in Ruckersville, Virginia.  Denver Riggleman, the newest entrant for the Republican nomination to be Virginia’s next governor, was the speaker for the event.  According to my count, there were 22 folks in attendance.

At the beginning of the dinner, I appreciated being announced by the chairman of the group for my work on this website.  I’ve known quite a few of the Greene County Republicans since working with them in 2012 and unlike some of the groups in the Shenandoah Valley, which have fallen to the establishment, for the most part, the folks in Greene are friendlier and more committed to principle.

Anyway, Denver Riggleman introduced himself and spoke of his experiences in the armed forces, the intelligence industry, and in the distillery business.  He mentioned that before deciding to run for governor his family was considering moving their business to another state, possibly Pennsylvania, due to the unreasonably high excise taxes leveled against liquor producers in the state of Virginia.  If I recall correctly, he stated that his current tax rate was over 40%.

During the question and answer period that followed, Mr. Riggleman fielded quite a few inquiries from the audience.  However, at one point his campaign manager took over and began to answer the questions himself.  Although it was fine for some of the technical aspects of the campaign, it began to take away from the attendees’ opportunity to learn about the candidate.  As a result, one woman requested that she wanted to hear more of Mr. Riggleman’s answers and he obliged.

From there, many of those gathered including Mr. Riggleman joined others at the Greene County Republican business meeting in Stanardsville.  However, given the heavy fog on route 33 through the mountain, I thought it best to return to Harrisonburg in case it got even worse.

In the parking lot after the meeting, I briefly asked a UVA student who sat next to me what drew him to the Riggleman campaign.  Although I agree with most of what he has said, I can understand the present dissatisfaction with the other Republican choices, and I know many good people who are onboard with the Denver campaign, I still haven’t heard enough to compel me to join the team.  I supposed I’d like for him to speak more about specific policy ideas.  The student suggested that Denver Riggleman shares much of my ideology, but I haven’t been in the right venue to catch the spark yet.  I guess we will see what the next stop brings.

Gillespie Comes to Harrisonburg

On Tuesday, January 17th, Ed Gillespie made a campaign stop in Harrisonburg, Virginia.  To the best of my knowledge, he is the first candidate of any political party to come to the city.  He spoke in front of a rather impressive crowd of about 60 or so individuals during the mid-afternoon at the Agrodolce restaurant.

Personally, I though Mr. Gillespie gave a great speech, much improved from any of the speeches I heard him give during his run for U.S. Senate in 2014.  He spoke of the need for limiting government and, as opposed some members of the Republican Party these days, seemed to speak against crony capitalism.  Unlike many first-time candidates, although Ed Gillespie spoke about his personal story, it wasn’t the central focus of his talk.  My only real disappointment was that I wish he would have taken questions from the audience, but his campaign seemed to be in a bit of a time crunch, clearing out of the restaurant soon after the speech was over.

The biggest concern I had about the event had nothing to do with Mr. Gillespie or his campaign, who again put together a quality campaign stop on his kickoff tour, but rather some the individuals who attended.  One could label quite a few of them as establishment Republicans and, while I’ve known some of them for a decade or more, many have unfortunately proven themselves untrustworthy and, just as troubling, more desirous of accumulating power and demanding loyalty to the GOP than advancing any other political principle.  I know that some good, honest, principled people are supporting Ed Gillespie too, and there were some at the Harrisonburg event as well, but I have to say I sensed I was out of place.  Borrowing a line from Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade, I felt like a pilgrim in an unholy land.

But, if Ed Gillespie and his campaign can hold more events like the one in Harrisonburg today, it will likely solidify his status as the frontrunner for the GOP nomination.