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.

Kai Degner in Staunton

Scan 6Earlier today, the Kai Degner campaign held a gathering in downtown Staunton, Virginia.  Mr. Degner, a member of the Harrisonburg City Council, began his campaign about two weeks ago after the unexpected departure of Tom Howarth, the previous Democratic Party nominee.  The event, held in a local coffee shop, attracted about fifteen or so individuals, most of whom came from either Staunton, Waynesboro, or Augusta County.  The meeting also included one full-time staffer for the Degner campaign and a regional employee of the Democratic Party of Virginia.

During the meeting, Degner outlined his three major policy goals: criminal justice reform, sustainable energy policy and climate change, and various election improvements including campaign finance reform and tackling gerrymandering.  In an unusual twist, he asked of the attendees to introduce themselves as well and explain what motivated each to take an interest in this race.

IMG_3170One goal of the Degner campaign is not simply to activate the traditional Democratic base, but also reach out to conservatives and libertarians who have either voted for his opponent in the past, or have not been involved.  As he pointed out, the 6th is a very Republican district.  For example, in recent elections, when Democrat Sam Rasoul ran in 2008, he captured 37% of the vote and Andy Schmookler won 35% in 2012.  With this thought in mind, Degner hopes to draw additional interest in what has been to this point a fairly noncompetitive, safe Republican seat.  He will face Republican Bob Goodlatte, the 23-year incumbent in the fall election.

The campaign had another another event later in the day in Harrisonburg.

You can learn more about Kai Degner and his campaign at KaiForCongress.com.

Time to Retire Bob Goodlatte

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Karen Kwiatkwoski

By Karen Kwiatkowski

What if you lived in a part of Virginia dominated by poultry, hay and cow-calf agriculture, and yet your Congressman of nearly a quarter of a century was a city lawyer from Massachusetts, who thought ethanol subsidies were a good idea, spending your tax dollars to raise your feed costs year after year?

What if your Congressional district was home to well over a dozen institutes of higher learning, in a technological age, and your Congressman responded not to their needs, but to West Coast lobbyists to preserve decades old digital copyrights law, filling his campaign chest by stifling innovation ?

What if you, like many of your neighbors, supported first amendment rights for the various groups known as “Tea Parties” and yet your 12-term Congressman who had headed the House Judiciary Committee for nearly four years agreed to consider impeachment hearings for IRS appointees for targeting tea party groups ONLY after the House Freedom Caucus forced him to last week?

What if your Congressman was never a member of the House Freedom Caucus?

What if your long-serving Congressman is close friends and political allies with removed House Speaker John Boehner and successfully primaried whip Eric Cantor?

What if your Congressman was currently offering a “free” bus for Republican delegates from the 6th District to their district Republican convention on May 21st to choose national delegates and key Republican committee seats – but only if they vote for who you tell them to vote for?

What if your Congressman didn’t understand how modern technology works in the cable business, as stated by Techdirt magazine in early May 2016, yet persisted in pushing the wrong kind of regulations for it?

What if your “republican” Congressman voted to fund Obamacare again and again, while simultaneously telling constituents that he opposed it, again and again?

What if your Congressman had advocated for federal government domestic surveillance, beyond Constitutional statutes, and blindly supported the USA Patriot Act and its extension called the USA “Freedom” Act despite constitutional questions on the legality and ethics of this surveillance and data gathering on US citizens?

This list could go on and on, and it will continue to grow, as long as we continue to send Bob Goodlatte back every two years to vote for more government spending, and more government interference in our lives, year after year.

We have a choice on June 14th to send a different kind of Republican to represent us in the House.  Harry Griego, a military veteran, professional pilot, dedicated to the Constitution and limited government, is a change that is long past due for the 6th District.

Let’s retire Bob gracefully, and leave him to his world of expensive suits and “it’s the best we can hope for” explanations to his constituents.

Let’s send a conservative warrior, who believes in limited government, and who will be a part of limiting that government through strict Constitutional votes, and partnering with likeminded Congressmen and women, who truly care about reducing federal debt and overreach.

Vote with me for Harry Griego on June 14th!

 

Karen Kwiatkowski is a farmer, professor, retired U.S. Air Force Colonel, member of the executive committee of the Republican Party of Shenandoah County, and immediate past president of the Republican Women of Shenandoah County.  In 2012, she challenged Representative Bob Goodlatte for the Republican nomination for the 6th district of Virginia.

Goodlatte Faces Opposition

Representative Bob Goodlatte
Representative Bob Goodlatte

Since Karen Kwiatkowski was the first person to challenge Representative Bob Goodlatte for the Republican nomination for Virginia’s sixth district back in the 2012 elections, conservatives and libertarians in the Shenandoah Valley have wondered when or if Mr. Goodlatte would face another interparty contest.  In 2014, Paul Bevington attempted to seek the nod but fell short of the signature requirement to make the ballot.

IMG_7603Well, today Harry Griego of Roanoke issued a press release announcing his candidacy.  Mr. Griego recently ran for office in 2015, opposing Delegate Chris Head for the Republican nomination in the 17th district and garnered over 47% of the vote.

According to the press release, Harry Griego states, “over and over again voters told me they were unhappy with the lack of leadership and the failure of Republican officials to vote and fight for the Republican principles they campaign on.” As a hint of his possible campaign issues, he mentions, “an end to the expansion of the budget and the crippling national debt.  They want the border secured.”

Will 2016 mark the end of the Goodlatte era of Shenandoah Valley politics that began after the 1992 elections?  Or will Bob Goodlatte fend off this challenge?  Hopefully, this primary will make for some interesting times in the 6th district.

Falling Out With Goodlatte

Representative Bob Goodlatte
Representative Bob Goodlatte

On Friday, January 2nd, I received a notice from my representative, Bob Goodlatte (VA-6th), encouraging me to connect with him on Facebook.  Although I followed him for many years, my enthusiasm for him has waned considerably and I’ve been actively supporting his challengers for the last several cycles.

Rather than pointing to a single issue, for there are many, let me instead offer some background and history.

There is no question that Representative Bob Goodlatte has been a mainstay in Shenandoah Valley politics.  First elected to the House of Representatives in 1992, he has been serving in that capacity for twenty-two years.  Most elections he has been without a Democratic challenger and he has faced an opponent from within his own party only once, Karen Kwiatkowski.

When I first became interested in politics in the mid 90’s, I supported Representative Goodlatte without question.  After all, isn’t that what a “good Republican” ought to do?  Once I graduated from college, seeking a position to make a difference in politics, my first interview was in his office, as I hoped to become his regional representative for Staunton.  That didn’t come to pass but, several years later, I had another interview, this time to work for the House Agricultural Committee which Goodlatte chaired.  That didn’t work out either.

Ah ha, you might say.  You grew bitter about not getting a job then.  Actually, that doesn’t really have anything to do with it.  I’m actually grateful for any opportunity to get work in politics and certainly don’t hold that against him.

Well, is it something personal then?  Again, not really.  He has always been civil to me and I have done my best to be civil toward him.  For example, this year he made it a point to say hello to me even while I wore the shirt of Will Hammer, the Libertarian candidate for the 6th district, and did so again a few months later while he was stumping for the Republican candidates for city council.  I’ve donated my time for his liberty-minded opponents and he donated $500 to my establishment competition for Harrisonburg City Council.

So, what then?

Well, a small portion of it deals with the people in his employ.  Although he does have some good staffers, several of his people over the years are downright unpleasant, egotistical, arrogant, power-hungry bullies whose one goal is to rise as far and as fast in the political ranks as possible, caring little what principle needs to be discarded or what person needs to be eliminated to achieve these goals.  Yes, I’ve encountered people with these traits throughout my adventure in politics, but these kind of individuals seem to flock to Representative Goodlatte at a far higher than average rate.

But that’s only a small part of the problem.  The far larger one deals with the fact that he and I have a radically different political philosophy.  I believe in a small, constitutionally limited federal government while he doesn’t…not really.  Although Representative Bob Goodlatte often uses great rhetoric, his votes and bills often don’t match.

The truth was hard for me to swallow at first.  After all, watching previous political role models such as Newt Gingrich and George W. Bush either fall from grace or completely abandon their principles was hard to accept.  Surely my Representative, Bob Goodlatte, was the good constitutional conservative that he claimed to be.  Like the kid who asked Shoeless Joe Jackson on the steps of the courthouse, “say it ain’t so, Bob.”  Unfortunately, the legislator I assumed Bob Goodlatte was didn’t match who he actually happened to be.  Let me offer some examples to illustrate:

– For a good many years he has been advocating a balanced budget amendment but has voted to raise the debt at least seven times.  Wonder why the country is over $18 trillion in debt?  Representative Goodlatte has been part of that problem.

– He supported the 2014 continuing resolution commonly known as the CRomnibusAs Conservative Review states, “This 1700+ page, $1.1 trillion Omnibus spending bill granted President Obama full funding for 11 of 12 federal departments for the remainder of the fiscal year – without any congressional restrictions on his unilateral action on amnesty, Obamacare, and environmental regulations. Worse, this bill actually provided Obama with an additional $2.5 billion in funds to facilitate his executive amnesty.”

– Has both supported and opposed minimum wage increases (depending on which party holds the White House) despite the fact that Congress has no constitutional authority to set any sort of wage standards.

– A leading advocate to ban internet gambling even though that is yet another power not enumerated to the federal government.

– Was the deciding vote in favor of Medicare Part D, further embroiling the federal government in yet another area it has no legitimate control.

– Voted for George W. Bush’s meddling in education with No Child Left Behind which Republicans are finally starting to publicly admit was a mistake.

– Voted for George W. Bush’s military adventures in Iraq despite the fact that Iraq posed no military threat to the security of the United States.  This conflict has cost trillions of dollars, and resulted in the needless deaths of a multitude of Americans and Iraqis.  In addition, destabilizing the region has only increased the possibility of terrorism against the United States and her citizens.

– Cosponsor of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and supporter of the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) designed to strip away our freedoms on the internet.

– Voted for the Patriot Act.  Although you can make an argument for it in the wake of the 9/11 hysteria, Representative Goodlatte has voted for it each and every time it comes up for renewal, gravely endangering the civil liberties of Americans.

– Voted for the Aviation and Transportation Security Act which created the TSA, needless hassle and harassment at the airport, and has failed to do much to deter or catch terrorists.

– Voted for the National Defense Authorization Act in recent years which, along with the Patriot Act, allows for indefinite detention without trial of terror suspects in violation of the 4th Amendment.

– Voted for the Intelligence Authorization Act of 2014, which, in the words of Rep. Justin Amash (MI-3rd), “permits the U.S. government to acquire, retain, and disseminate nonpublic telephone or electronic communications to or from a U.S. person”.

– Voted to impeach President Clinton and, although now Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and admits that President Obama “is not enforcing the law“, he refuses to consider impeachment for Obama’s gross abuses of executive power.

I could go on to include his advocacy for big ag subsidies and his support for the ethanol mandate, choosing crony capitalism over the free market, but these are some of the more troubling issues of the day.

IMG_0144Just as important, Representative Goodlatte does not feel beholden to his constituents.  At the 2012 6th District Republican Convention, he surprisingly called the 6th district GOP chairman, Wendell Walker “his boss”.  Although his honesty was appreciated, I was horrified to learn “his boss” wasn’t the voters of the 6th district or even the Republicans of the 6th district.  To hammer home this point, despite the fact that the 6th district Republican committee unanimously wrote a letter to demand Representative Goodlatte oppose John Boehner for Speaker of the House in the 2013 election, he ignored them and voted for Boehner anyway.  In 2015, he once again cast his lot with John Boehner.  Although his campaign shirt proclaims, “Bob Goodlatte, Working Hard for Us!” it should more accurately read, “Bob Goodlatte Does Whatever He Wants and Ignores Us!”  After twenty-two years in office, he seems to be far more beholden to the power-brokers and lobbyists in Washington than the citizens he was supposedly sent to represent.

He or his people treat the 6th district of Virginia as his fiefdom, replacing party leaders who oppose him or trying to silence his critics (as was done to me when I was expelled from the Republican Party).  Unfortunately, Goodlatte and/or his supporters have hurt quite a few of my friends and allies who, like me, believe that principle is more important than any single politician.  As a result, an increasing number of them react by treating Representative Goodlatte with utter contempt.

Although the 6th district of Virginia is arguably the most conservative district in the state, one whose people support an extremely limited federal government, we have a representative who has proven time and time again that he does not share this point of view.  Yes, it is a good thing that he encourages a public reading of the Constitution on the Congressional floor, but it is clear that he doesn’t seem to think that all of its provisions, especially the 9th and 10th Amendments, should be used to restrain the power of Washington.

Representative Goodlatte is a member of the Republican Party, but as I’ve illustrated through the issues listed above and The Washington Post agrees, he certainly shouldn’t be mistaken as either a conservative or libertarian.

I hope that Representative Goodlatte and I can continue to be civil toward each other and yes, compared to some legislators (Senator Shelly Moore Capito I’m looking at you), Goodlatte is better.  However, although Goodlatte might be a decent enough fellow personally, if you like a federal government that grows bigger every year, strips away our civil liberties piece by piece, supports endless war, ignores the Constitution, rewards some businesses at the expense of everyone else, works to enslave us all with debt, employs some of the most unsavory of people, and promotes big government Republicans like John Boehner, then Representative Goodlatte should suit you just fine.  Conversely, I oppose them all which puts the two of us at odds.

Believe it or not, I’d love to be proven wrong, that Representative Goodlatte is a strong advocate for liberty, that all the examples I’ve given don’t offer an accurate picture, and I don’t know what I’m talking about.  But I don’t think this is the case.  And so, I’ll continue to speak out against his votes.  I don’t do this because it is good for my political career, on the contrary I’ve been informed that it is personally detrimental for me to stand against such a powerful figure in Shenandoah Valley politics and likely has cost me several jobs, but because principle should come before our own enrichment.

I’ll admit that I’d very much like to support my representative as I once did, but that will either require a change of principle by myself or Congressman Goodlatte…or a change of representative.

Hammer’s Video

Today, Will Hammer, the Libertarian candidate in the 6th District of Virginia, released a campaign video.

This November, Mr. Hammer is challenging Republican Representative Bob Goodlatte.  Representative Goodlatte is seeking his 12th term.

Given the somewhat unusual last names of both of these candidates, the ad plays upon that fact, showing Hammer smashing a multitude of containers of “good latte” bearing labels such as the drug war, NDAA, and the Patriot Act.

So, what do you think?

Is the ad effective?

Does anyone else have the the urge to get a cup of coffee?

The Staunton City Council

IMG_2634Across the state, a multitude of localities held elections for mayor, city council, town council, school board today.  Although Harrisonburg holds their municipal elections in November, citizens in the nearby counties of Page, Shenandoah, and Albemarle, as well as the cities of Staunton and Waynesboro, went to the polls.

Therefore, I traveled to Staunton for two purposes, to collect ballot petition signatures and to observe this election firsthand.  It should be noted that unlike Harrisonburg, all of the candidates ran as independents, none had party labels.

During my several hour adventure, I had the opportunity to speak with a variety of voters, including Bruce Elder, who sought the Democratic nod against Bob Goodlatte before falling ill during the winter.  I also met half of the eight candidates for Staunton City Council.  After a short stint at Ward 1, I spent most of the day at Ward 4, the second most heavily trafficked precinct in the city.

Although I have no idea of the campaigns these individuals ran prior to Election Day, it should be noted that the level of activity at the polls today did not necessarily equate with success.  I spoke with John Hartless (who finished 5th), Sean Harvey (who finished 4th), Terry Holmes (who placed 2nd and thus won a seat on council), and Virginia Kivlighan (who finished 7th).  I did not see any of the other candidates nor any of their supporters.

Some of the volunteers outside the polling place where I stood encouraged voters to select the three Hs (Hartless, Harvey, and Holmes).  Although Holmes posted his best showing at Ward 4 percentage-wise, both Hartless and Harvey found lower numbers at that ward than they did citywide.

While enjoying lunch at Wright’s Dairy Rite with Will Hammer, the newly minted nominee for the 6th district House of Representatives, I ran into one of the Staunton council candidates who introduced me as a future member of Harrisonburg City Council to another fellow.  Although appreciative of these words, I suppose we’ll discover if this prediction comes true.

After the polls closed, I spoke again to Mr. Hammer, who also picked up signatures in Staunton.  Today, he collected over 20% of the signatures needed to make the November ballot (assuming all are valid, of course).

Yes, one election season has drawn to a close for some localities, but the next is getting underway.  Politics is pretty close to being a year-round sport in the Commonwealth.

Whether victorious today or not, I want to offer congratulations to all of the candidates for Staunton City Council.  I have heard each ran positive, issue-driven campaigns; in an age where personal attacks and mudslinging are commonplace, it is refreshing to find a dose of civility now and then.

A Libertarian in the 6th

IMG_2633On Saturday, Virginia’s 6th district Libertarians gathered in Lexington to decide if and who the party would nominate to challenge Bob Goodlatte in the November election.  This year Representative Goodlatte is seeking his twelfth term in the House of Representatives.

Only one candidate sought the Libertarian nomination, Will Hammer of Staunton.   However, he was not a shoo-in as it should be noted that Libertarians have the option to choose “none of the above” rather than have a party nominee.  In what turned out to be a very close vote, the 6th district Libertarians did give Mr. Hammer their party label.  The last time the Libertarian Party nominated a candidate for this office was with Stuart Bain in 2010.

Also at the convention, the Libertarians picked a new 6th district chairman.  Jonathan Parrish from Lynchburg, who ran for a seat in the House of Delegates in 2013, was elected without opposition.

With Mr. Hammer’s nomination, there are at least two candidates that are challenging Representative Goodlatte: Will Hammer as a Libertarian and Paul Bevington as an independent (who previously was running against Goodlatte for the GOP nod).  The Democratic Party has not nominated anyone and will not do so.  There are rumors of another third party candidate, possibly a Green Party candidate, but they are unconfirmed at this time.  The next hurdle will be to collect the thousand plus signatures required to appear on the November ballot.

Who will make the cut?  Who will fall short?  On June 10th, we will have that answer.

6th District Conventions Aplenty

This weekend, the Republican Party will be holding their sixth district convention in Botetourt County.  The details are as follows:  It will be taking place on Saturday, April 26th, 10:00 A.M. at the Lord Botetourt High School located on 1435 Roanoke Road in Daleville, Virginia.  One of the main purposes of this gathering is to elect a chairman of the regional party.  As previously mentioned, they will choose between current chairman Wendell Walker and former Speaker of the House of Delegates Vance Wilkins.  Representative Bob Goodlatte does not have an intra-party challenger (though if he did, that contest would have taken place in a primary at a later date).

Then, on May 3rd, the Libertarian Party will be holding a sixth district convention of their own.  This convention will be held on Saturday, May 3rd, starting at noon at the Macado’s restaurant at 30 North Main Street in Lexington, Virginia.  One of the major features of this gathering will be to determine who, if anyone, will be the Libertarian nominee to run against Representative Goodlatte.  For the record, the Libertarian Party last ran a candidate in the 6th in 2010.  It would not be surprising to see the party field a challenger, especially given that there is not a Democratic candidate in the race.

Thus far I have received no word on whether the Democratic Party will be holding a sixth district convention in the near future or if they have already done so.

Exciting political times here in the central western portion of Virginia!