A Cry for Party Unity?

Delegate Mark Berg
Delegate Mark Berg

This morning, I read a piece on Bearing Drift where Brian, the author, calls for party unity in the Republican Party.  Specifically, he points to the 29th House of Delegates district in Virginia where some supporters of Delegate Mark Berg have openly declared that they will be writing in Berg’s name as opposed to voting for the Republican who defeated him in the June primary.  The writer is upset that Delegate Berg has not publicly denounced this grassroots plan.  Chris Collins, the Republican candidate in the 29th is running unopposed in the general election.

Unfortunately, this sort of thinking is all too common in the Republican Party these days.  Support the party no matter what!  It doesn’t matter what the candidate stands for, at the end of the day all Republicans must support him!

I think back to my expulsion from the local GOP over a year and a half ago.  And it’s true, although I was member of the Republican Party (and a former employee of the state party), I began to openly oppose Republicans who I felt didn’t represent my values.  When I was removed, I got into a discussion with one of the local leaders about the situation.  I said that we needed to support strong conservatives and libertarians who stood up for the Creed of the Virginia Republican Party.  She disagreed declaring that “a good Republican” was one “that supports all of the Republican candidates”.  What an unfortunate state of affairs.  Think about what is being said.  Where a candidate stands, what his or her principles and ethics are doesn’t really matter.  All Republicans are expected to support the Republican nominee…no matter what.

Yes, I supported Delegate Berg in the 2015 primary even though I didn’t live in the district and I took off part of the day to campaign for him at the polls.  In response, my state senator’s former legislative assistant, an entrenched establishment Republican, began attacking me on Facebook saying that it wasn’t right for me to help a candidate I believe in because I wasn’t a member of the party any longer.  That’s funny.  I thought we lived in a nation where we still enjoyed freedom of speech and freedom of association.  Do you think he would have complained if I had aided Berg’s establishment backed opponent?

What I’ve noticed is that the establishment calls for party unity when they want to get their hack of a candidate elected, but have no problem leaving principled people high and dry.  The driving motivation of some people is to elect members of their party and, unfortunately, it really doesn’t matter what these people stand for.  In fact, it is better if they are ruled by their ambitions rather than ideology for these people will be more likely to avoid controversy because they will do whatever the party leadership in Richmond or Washington tells them to do.  They feel that they must keep the conservatives and libertarians quiet and under a tight leash or the leaders could be exposed as the frauds they are.  Party unity in the GOP is a joke.  A sad, pathetic joke.

12105703_10153363121401051_4033843500359479141_nAlthough I certainly have policy disagreements with Dr. Ben Carson, I think he hits the nail on the head with his quote, “the problem with Washington is that we’ve all become Democrats and Republicans instead of Americans.  Everything is aimed at enhancing a political position instead of strengthening America.”

Make whatever jokes about the Libertarian Party you like, but recently the chairman of the Libertarian Party of Florida resigned instead of supporting a potentially fascist Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate.  Are there many Republican Party leaders who would do likewise if placed in a similar situation?

At this point frankly, I don’t care if the Republicans or the Democrats control Congress.  Speaker John Boehner made it abundantly clear that he would sell-out the grassroots and punish principled legislators who tried to hold him to account.  Will his replacement be any better?  In addition, I don’t care which of the two parties wins control of the Virginia Senate in the 2015 elections.  What I do care about is electing men and women who will boldly and unreservedly stand up for my principles and who are more worried about advancing liberty and limiting the size and scope of government at all levels instead of pleasing the party bosses and maintaining their power base for as long as possible.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  If I lived in the 29th House of Delegates district, I would write in Delegate Mark Berg on November 3rd.  Then again, maybe I have the freedom to say such things because I’m a liberated former Republican.

One reason why this country is so screwed up is that politicos have forgotten that principles should guide political parties and not the other way around.  Want to know why outsiders are currently leading in the Republican presidential primaries?  It’s because honest, hard-working Americans are sick of this “party first” crap.  Given their current disdain for him, will the establishment remember this call for unity next year and rally behind Donald Trump if he becomes the party’s nominee?  I’m glad I have liberty to make that decision for myself.

Vote Berg on June 9th!

Delegate Mark Berg
Delegate Mark Berg

Two years ago today, I sat down to coffee with Dr. Mark Berg, who was at that time a Republican hopeful for the House of Delegates in the 29th district.  Although Harrisonburg (where I live and vote) is outside of the district, I certainly appreciated the fact that he made the hour drive to speak with me.  In that 2013 primary, he was challenging a twenty-year incumbent, a delegate who voted for the Republican-led massive transportation tax hike.

Learning more about Dr. Berg, I came to the conclusion that he wasn’t your typical run-of-the-mill Republican who would advocate a message of limited government conservatism and liberty to the voters before being elected and then switch to support the expansion of state power once in office.  Although he was running against the establishment machine, which is always an uphill fight, Mark Berg won both the 2013 primary and the general election that followed.

I’m pleased to say that Delegate Berg has not disappointed me during his two sessions in office.  As one great example, despite an overwhelming Republican majority in the House of Delegates, Delegate Berg was only one of only two members in that entire body to call for a repeal of the onerous transportation tax hike passed by his predecessor.

Now, the Republican establishment is fighting back against Delegate Berg and he faces a primary opponent.  As you likely know, unfortunately there are many leaders, politicians, and activists within the Republican Party who embrace crony capitalism and the expansion of government power so long as their guys are in power.

Friends, Delegate Mark Berg needs our help.  If you live in the 29th district, I sincerely hope that you will cast your vote for Delegate Berg on June 9th.  However, even if you don’t live in the district, you can still promote the cause of liberty by making a donation to his campaign or volunteering to help him get re-elected.  Regardless of your party affiliation, we need to make sure that people that boldly represent our values continue to have a voice in Richmond.

We need leaders like Delegate Mark Berg in the General Assembly and I can think of no one more deserving of re-election; I was happy to offer him my endorsement in 2013 and gladly do so again this year.

Coffee With Dr. Berg

Mark BergOn Friday morning, I had the opportunity to sit down to speak with Dr. Mark Berg.  Dr. Berg is running for the Republican nomination for Virginia’s 29th district House of Delegates seat, a seat that encompasses the city of Winchester along with a portion of Frederick and Warren Counties.  In the June 11th primary, he will be squaring off against Beverly Sherwood who has represented the district since 1994.

In the approximately hour long conversation, we spoke about a variety of issues, most notably why Republican voters should vote for Dr. Berg over Delegate Sherwood.  The reasoning against Sherwood is fairly clear for most conservatives.  Sherwood has not compiled a record that indicates she favors limited government.  For example, in the most recent General Assembly session, she voted for the transportation tax hike, labeled the largest tax increase in Virginia’s history, as well as approving the implementation of Obamacare in this state, expanded Medicaid, and creating a virtual statewide Environmental Protection Agency through the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.  Dr. Berg also stated that in recent years Delegate Sherwood “has voted for four out of the five big tax increases.” Certainly these are all issues that would make just about any fiscal or constitutional conservative cringe.

But what motivates Dr. Berg?  Well, professionally and politically he is a retired family practice doctor who has served on the Republican State Central Committee for the 10th district since last year.  However, as is the case with any candidate, it is his position on the issues that is most valuable.  When I asked him about his principles, Dr Berg responded by saying,  “There are two big principles that I think are not promoted and not adhered to well and that’s limited government and individual liberty.”  Unlike Sherwood, Dr. Berg opposes Obamacare and the tax bill.  Regarding Obamacare, he stated, “I know what it is going to do, as a physician I can see what it is going to do and it is a huge mistake both financially for the state and for personal liberty.”  He believes that the state needs to stand up for itself and for its citizens against the ever-expanding encroachment of the federal government.

One big challenge, according to Mark Berg, is that a lot of Sherwood’s constituents don’t know her record.  Her thinking doesn’t match the Republican creed and the traditional conservative values of the Shenandoah Valley.  Government policy should not be designed merely to pick winners and losers.  Too many politicians, in his mind, say one thing and then vote another way.  However, Dr. Berg believes that each legislator ought to be able to justify his or her votes according to his or her own political philosophy.  With those thoughts in mind, given that this year marks the first that Delegate Sherwood has faced a challenge from within her own party, will she listen to the conservative voices in her district by transforming herself into a legislator who promotes their values?  Dr. Berg thinks it is unlikely.  “…After nineteen years of being an incumbent, (she) pretty much continue(s) to do what she’s done.  I don’t think her record is what we need to go forward with right now.”

It seems that Dr. Berg’s message of liberty coupled with a general distaste for Delegate Sherwood’s policies, is attracting considerable support from both within the 29th district, in a coalition of conservatives and the local tea party, as well as recruiting volunteers from other portions of the Shenandoah Valley.   His goal is to speak with as many voters in the district as possible, either in person or through his supporters, in order to form a connection with them and gather feedback, rather than simply blanketing the area with glossy direct mail pieces.

Given that 29th district Republican primary happens to fall on the same day as the statewide Democratic primary and that voters will only be able to vote in one of these two primaries, it seems unlikely that too many Democrats will participate.  However, Dr. Berg thinks that this fact could likely benefit his campaign given that he is the more conservative of the two candidates in the race.

I very much appreciate Dr. Mark Berg taking a bit of time from his campaign schedule to travel down to Harrisonburg to share his message with the readers of The Virginia Conservative.

Lastly, as a bit of personal commentary, for those fellow conservative and liberty-minded voters and activists, I’m sure you’ll agree that Dr. Berg seems to be a candidate who not only shares our values, but also is willing to ardently fight for them in Richmond.  Given everything that I know about the two candidates, if I lived in the 29th district, not only would I be voting for Mark Berg, I’d also do my best to help spread his message to my friends and neighbors and encourage them to get informed and be involved.

Don’t forget to vote on June 11th!

New Challengers Emerge?

Delegate Todd Gilbert
Delegate Todd Gilbert

As hinted in my previous piece, Delegate Todd Gilbert of Shenandoah County could also be facing a Republican primary challenger this election cycle.  The 15th district, which Mr. Gilbert has represented since 2006, includes Shenandoah and Page Counties as well as a portion of Warren and Rockingham Counties.  As reported in today’s issue of the Daily News Record, Mark Prince, a retired airline pilot from northern Shenandoah County may seek the nomination as well.  Should Mr. Prince choose to run, his central issues are, as of yet, unknown.

 

Last night at the meeting of the Harrisonburg Tea Party, I had the opportunity to meet with Mark Berg, a 10th district representative on the Virginia Republican State Central Committee.  He announced that he is challenging Beverly Sherwood for the GOP nod in the 29th district.  The 29th district, which Ms. Sherwood has represented since 1994, includes the city of Winchester, Frederick County, and a portion of Warren County.  As Mr. Berg mentioned, Delegate Sherwood is among a number of Republicans who voted for the recent transportation tax hike, called the largest tax increase in Virginia history.

The Shenandoah Valley is quickly entering uncharted political territory, incumbent legislators facing intraparty challengers.  For the nearly two decades that I’ve been involved and active, most elected officials in this region have captured the Republican nomination without question, year after year for as long as they choose to remain in that office.  So is 2013 the dawn of a new era of political competition?  Will even more candidates emerge to challenge the status quo?  Or will this election serve as a mere hiccup in the normal routine?  Only time will tell.