Obenshain v. Dunbar

In just a handful of days Republicans across the state will gather in Harrisonburg, my hometown, for their state convention. There they will be voting for a new committeewoman. The two choices for this position are Suzanne Obenshain and Cynthia Dunbar. Having had the opportunity to get to know both women, I’d like to offer a few thoughts.

The Obenshains in Richmond in late 2012
The Obenshains in Richmond in late 2012

I’ve known Suzanne Obenshain for well over a decade. While I was growing up in Harrisonburg we both attended the same church and were both quite active in local Republican Party politics. She’s a person whose opinion I’ve valued. For example, when in 2013 I started to consider running for local office in the 2014 elections, speaking to Suzanne Obenshain was of prime importance. To highlight some of my activism, I was a bus captain for the Obenshain for Attorney General campaign at the 2013 Virginia Republican convention and later the campaign asked me to serve as her chauffeur, though I only ended up driving her once and it was just around Harrisonburg.

My last meaningful conversation with Suzanne Obenshain was a little over two years ago. However, as I’ve written in previous pieces, after about 19 years of activism I was kicked out of the Harrisonburg GOP in February 2014. Given that I had been a loyal supporter and volunteer for the Obenshains since Senator Obenshain first declared his intent to run for office in late 2002 or early 2003, the first person I called looking for assistance with this matter was Suzanne Obenshain. In the moment I needed her help the most she refused to provide aid. During the call she asked me if I knew what a “good Republican” was. I explained that I thought it was someone who held fast to principle and advocated the values found in the Virginia Republican Creed. Instead, Ms. Obenshain explained that being a good Republican had nothing to do with ideology, but instead a good Republican was a person who supported all the Republican candidates. I was shocked when I heard these words, but perhaps I shouldn’t have been.

After all, after the 2012 Republican National Convention, which screwed over the Ron Paul delegates, I presented a resolution to the local Harrisonburg GOP from the Virginia Republican Liberty Caucus that condemned both John Boehner and Reince Priebus for their role in this matter. However, it was Suzanne Obenshain herself who scuttled any attempt to either discuss it or bring it to a vote.

Also, during the 2012 Harrisonburg City Council elections, much to my disappointment I discovered that one of the Republican candidates promoted a lot of big government policies, more so than even the Democratic candidates. Given this realization, there was no way I could bring myself to either support or vote for this person. After the election, when all three Republican candidates went down in defeat, I spoke with Suzanne Obenshain, as she was the person who recruited our local candidates. I asked why the local GOP would nominate a person who couldn’t be called a conservative by any stretch of the imagination. She responded by telling me that no one else wanted to run. However, wouldn’t it have been better to have one fewer nominee than running a full slate if that meant rallying behind someone who was antithetical to our principles? Does being a Republican actually mean anything?

Getting back to 2014, although no longer a member of my local committee, I still requested to attend the state convention. Both the chairman and Ms. Obenshain told me that I could go as a voting delegate. However, I was dismayed to discover that the call for the convention included a strict loyalty oath to the party and her candidates, declaring that all delegates from Harrisonburg would support all of the Republican candidates that year. Neither knowing who they were nor whether or not they would uphold the principles of the RPV Creed I felt could not honorably sign such a document. I asked who decided to include this oath in the call, which was considerably more stringent than other local calls, such as the one from Waynesboro, and was told that it was Suzanne Obenshain who did so.

One of my relatives asked Suzanne Obenshain why the Republicans had treated me poorly and I was told that she responded saying that the Republicans were afraid of me, in part because I was unwilling to compromise on most principles and because I openly criticized my representative, Bob Goodlatte when he voted against what I always assumed were supposedly Republican values.

After the convention I spoke to a local friend who was also a Shak Hill supporter and convention delegate. At the time Shak Hill was running as the more conservative option for Senate. However, my friend told me that several Ed Gillespie supporters, including Suzanne Obenshain, attempted to intimidate him on the voting floor into supporting their preferred candidate.

I still ran for local office but I did so as an independent since I wasn’t a member of the Republican Party any longer; I felt someone needed to represent my principles. I ran on a platform of limiting the power and scope of the city government and to the best of my knowledge, I was the only candidate who mentioned the Creed of the Republican Party of Virginia or sought to advance the values which it advocated. Party labels aside you’d think that limited government Republicans would be happy that at least one of the candidates actually advocated limiting the government. Nevertheless, several of my friends told me that Suzanne Obenshain was furious with me because I had the audacity to run for office against the Republican nominees. When I went door-to-door for my campaign I stopped by the houses of several friends who had signs for the Republican council candidates in their yard. When I asked them about it, I was told that they had not requested the signs but instead Suzanne Obenshain placed them in their yards simply because they were members of the Harrisonburg Republican committee. By comparison, due in part to my principles, many Libertarians supported my campaign either through time or money as did some disaffected local Republicans.

Photo of Cynthia Dunbar with Suzanne Curran and Mark Berg. Image from the Dunbar campaign.
Photo of Cynthia Dunbar with Suzanne Curran and Mark Berg. Image from the Dunbar campaign.

On the other hand, I first spoke to Cynthia Dunbar on New Years Eve of 2015. She called me while I was picking up a few pizzas for a party that was taking place that evening. Although I wasn’t a member of the Republican Party and had no plans of rejoining, we spoke about her candidacy, the GOP, and political principles. I met her in person on Saturday at a meeting of the Shenandoah Valley Constitutional Conservatives in Mt. Jackson.

Over the last several months, I’ve had the chance to listen to Cynthia Dunbar on a handful of occasions.   She seems to be a person guided by conviction that promises to stand up to the party bosses and elected officials who betray their principles and/or the grassroots activists who elected them in the first place. In addition, she’s picked up endorsements from a number of good Virginia political activists and elected officials I respect including: Delegate Brenda Pogge, Delegate Bob Marshall, Senator Dick Black, Suzanne Curran, Anne Fitzgerald, Steven Thomas, and Ed Yensho. However, the most exciting endorsement comes from my former boss, the godfather of the modern liberty movement, Dr. Ron Paul.

Some of her detractors have attacked Dunbar for the fact that she has lived in Virginia for only a handful of years. But don’t we all have to come from somewhere? One of my Republican opponents for city council used this issue against the Democrats and the Libertarian candidate because they lived within the city limits for only several years. Although I am a native of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County, that was as a result of the choices my parents made, not my own. Honestly, what should matter more, political principles and character or something transient like geography? I’d like to think this is an easy question and we should not treat people as outcasts simply because their roots are not as deep as our own.

Let me offer you a few fun facts. Since 2009, only one Republican candidate has beaten a Democratic candidate in Harrisonburg. If Senator Mark Obenshain had won our hometown in 2013, he would be Virginia’s attorney general. Here’s another fact. In 1995, at the age of 15, I was the youngest Republican activist in Harrisonburg. In January of 2013, at the age of 32, I was still the youngest person who regularly attended monthly meetings of the Harrisonburg Republican Party.

The facts and experiences I’ve mentioned might leave you with several important questions. Why don’t Republicans win Harrisonburg? Although I don’t know their current membership, when I was a part of the party why did the Harrisonburg GOP fail to recruit newer, younger members? Well, when you have leaders of a political party which values loyalty to the party over principle, what do you think happens? When you have a local unit, which forces its members to sign onerous loyalty oaths to the party and her candidates, it is possible that the members begin to build up resentment? When you have a political party that is more concerned with pleasing elected officials and party bosses at the expense of the volunteer grassroots activists, why in the world would anyone choose to join such a group? When a local party recruits candidates who are indistinguishable from the Democrats, why wouldn’t voters select the genuine article? When the local leaders of the Republican Party treat conservatives and libertarians who are outside of the party as hostile enemies, should there be any wonder why Republicans no longer win Harrisonburg and the local unit is so dreadfully small and ineffective? Lastly, I have to ask you, are these kinds of values ones that Virginia Republicans want at the national level?

It should be obvious that this election for Republican National Committeewoman is one of important contrasts. Like my hero Ron Paul, if I were a delegate to the Virginia Republican Convention, given my experiences and knowledge of the two candidates, I would have no hesitation in casting my vote for Cynthia Dunbar.

Lingamfelter on the Convention of States

Delegate Lingamfelter in Harrisonburg, April 2013
Delegate Lingamfelter in Harrisonburg, April 2013

VC Note:  Last night, Delegate Scott Lingamfelter, patron of HJ 497, (calling for a convention of states under Article V of the Constitution) sent out the following email in response to earlier messages from Delegate Bob Marshall and Senator Dick Black.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Friends,

I am sorry for the length of this, but it’s really important.

For those of you who are in support of an Article V Convention of the States, please read this important rebuttal by Michael Farris to Senator Dick Black’s email sent yesterday that is, I am sad to say, utterly untrue.

First, many of you know that I am the Chief Patron of this effort (HJ497) in the House of Delegates.  http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?ses=151&typ=bil&val=HJ497&submit=GO

Those who are opposed to the states coming together to rein in Federal power have panicked, because we are on the verge of victory.  They are putting out blatant distortions to make people and their Delegates fearful.  Consider this:the following conservatives SUPPORT a convention of the states:

Ken Cuccinelli, Mat Staver, Governor Bobby Jindal, Randy Barnett, Sarah Palin, Mark Levin, Glenn Beck, David Barton, Colonel Allen West, Senator Ron Johnson, Retired Senator Tom Coburn, and countless other conservative leaders.  And we are joined by very brave Delegates in the House including Delegates Anderson, Morris, Ware, Berg, Bloxom, Cole, Cox, Edmunds, Fowler, Garrett, Greason, Head, Jones, LaRock, Massie, O’Bannon, Peace, Poindexter, Webert and Wilt.  They have the courage to take a stand and I hope you will also.  Others are signing on too as they come to realize that we must act now.

Do you think these conservative leaders are trying to scare you?  No, they are conservative leaders and they have the courage to stand up to Federal overreach and not cower to the fear tactics of the John Birch Society.

Second, there is an utter lie being circulated that the NRA opposes the Convention of the States.  The NRA has NOT taken a position and in fact their chief Counsel supports our effort.  So let’s be straight. Lies to scare folks won’t work.  Please call your delegate and senator this weekend, and tell them that this week when this comes up for a vote, to please act boldly and support HJ 497 and SJ 269, calling for a Convention of the States.

 

ANSWERING DICK BLACK: Michael Farris, J.D., LL.M., Constitutional Lawyer & Chancellor of Patrick Henry College

At the 1787 Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, George Mason of Virginia insisted that there would come a day when the federal government would abuse the authority it was given under the Constitution. Mason therefore insisted that the States be given the power to propose amendments to the Constitution to rein in the Federal Government. Mason said that Congress would never propose amendments to restrict federal power. And he has been proven right.

Dick Black’s “Urgent” Appeal is false, deceptive, and demeaning to all Virginians. Here’s why:

 

1. BLACK CREATES A FALSE IMPRESSION OF IMPENDING CHANGE TO THE CONSTITUTION.

 

Black claims that “Virginia will vote to change the Constitution of the United States in a few days.” This is a far cry from the reality both as to the timing and as to the scope of the Convention. Virginia is set to vote on whether to begin the process of considering the proposal of specific amendments to the Constitution. We are years away from making any amendments (34 states must first approve the call, the convention must be held, and 38 states must ratify any proposals coming out of the convention before any change is made to the Constitution.

Black claims that Virginia could be the “tipping point” to get to 34 states. This is based on the idea that many states have already called for a convention, and that adding Virginia to the list would bring us to the needed number.

This claim is demonstrably false and nothing better than a blatant attempt to incite panic.

The two specific resolutions in front of the Virginia General Assembly are for an Article V Convention to limit federal power and jurisdiction (HJ 497) and an Article V Convention to propose a Balanced Budget Amendment (HJ 499).

Three states have passed the first application, and 24 states have passed the second. Virginia would not be the 34th state for either measure.

Black’s assertion that Virginia could be the tipping point is based on the clearly erroneous assumption that Article V applications can never be rescinded.

Every serious Article V legal scholar understands that rescissions are valid. I personally litigated a case regarding rescissions of ratifications of proposed constitutional amendments under Article V. The federal court holding is that rescissions of ratifications are indeed binding. Idaho v. Freeman, 529 F.Supp. 1107 (D.Idaho 1981).

The simple truth is that we are years away from voting on actual amendments to the Constitution. If these applications pass, Virginia will be the 4th state to call for a Convention of States to restrict federal power and the 25th state to call for a Balanced Budget Amendment. These applications can only trigger a convention where amendments will be debated, drafted, and then sent on to the states for ratification. They will “change” the Constitution only if ratified by 38 states.

 

2. LIBERAL ORGANIZATIONS CITED BY DICK BLACK ARE NOT “PUSHING FOR THIS.”

 

Black claims that George Soros, Code Pink, MoveOn.org, New Progressive Alliance and 100 other liberal groups “are pushing for this.”

None of these entities have endorsed or “pushed for” the Convention of States (HJ 497) or a Balanced Budget Amendment (HJ 499) in Virginia or any other state.

Not one of these entities even mentions Article V on their website (georgesoros.com, codepink.org, moveon.org, occupywallst.org, and newprogs.org). Not once. Moveon.org mentions Article V of the Wisconsin Constitution and Article V of the Geneva Convention. The Occupy Wall Street website includes reader comments discussing Article V. But not once is there any mention of Article V of the U.S. Constitution by these organizations. Pure silence.

Dick Black’s source for this claim is a website operated by a group that is seeking an Article V convention for a wholly different purpose. This group seeks to repeal the Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court. The organizations listed are endorsing the repeal of Citizens United. No organization with that movement has “pushed for” or endorsed either the Convention of States (HJ 497) or a Balanced Budget Amendment (HJ 499) in Virginia or any other state.

Black’s claim that these liberal organizations are “pushing for this”-referring to the bills slated to be voted on by the Virginia General Assembly-is a blatant falsehood.

 

3. WE DO KNOW HOW DELEGATES ARE CHOSEN

 

Dick Black says that there is no law which states how delegates to the Convention are chosen. There was no such law in place in 1787 when Virginia chose its delegates to the Constitutional Convention. The legislature had the inherent power to appoint delegates-who represent Virginia-and it did so. The Virginia General Assembly has that same power today, and it comes from Virginia’s sovereign power and Article V of the Constitution.

 

4. THE CONVENTION WILL BE LIMITED TO PROPOSING AMENDMENTS THAT LIMIT THE POWER OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.

 

Black claims (citing a video by the John Birch Society) that a convention cannot be limited to the subjects identified in the state applications, but will necessarily throw open the entire constitution. In fact they claim that our original Constitution is invalid because it, too, was adopted by a “runaway convention.”

This argument has been thoroughly discredited.

Dick Black needs to explain why he is listening to and promoting these dangerous people, who have admitted that they will pursue secession if their “plans” for nullification are unsuccessful.

 

5. CONGRESS HAS NO CONTROL OVER THE CONVENTION ONCE IT IS TRIGGERED.

 

You can see from the text of Article V itself that Congress only has two duties with regard to the Convention mechanism. It aggregates the applications and “calls” the Convention once 34 states apply for a Convention to propose a certain type of amendments. Then it chooses between two specified methods of ratification for any amendment proposals that come out of the Convention-each of which requires 38 states to ratify.

The term “call” used in Article V is a legal term of art with regard to the Convention process. To “call” a Convention is not to control it, determine its rules or decide who represents the parties! Rather, to “call” a Convention is to announce the date, time and location for it to facilitate its occurrence. Virginia “called” the Constitutional Convention in 1787. But did it unilaterally determine the rules or select the delegates from other states? Of course not!

Some of the arguments made by Dick Black are matters of opinion, and as such, are not untruthful per se–even if they have been rejected by most legal scholars. But when he says that Virginia could be the “tipping point,” and when he says that George Soros and Moveon.org are “pushing for this,” he has spoken untruthfully about material facts.

If Black is not willing to play straight with the facts, then his opinions do not merit serious consideration.

The “questions” Black poses about the Article V Convention process have answers that are grounded in fact, history, and law. For him to suggest otherwise is to purposefully sow confusion and fear.

The conservatives who have endorsed this effort include:

Ken Cuccinelli, Mat Staver, Mark Levin, Glenn Beck, David Barton, Col. Alan West, Sen. Tom Coburn (ret.), and many others. These are the people who, in fact, are “pushing for this.”

Senator Dick Black, what is your plan to stop the abuse of power in Washington, D.C.?

The Looming Con-Con

Picture from bobmarshall2012.com
Picture from bobmarshall2012.com

According to an email from Delegate Bob Marshall sent a few moments ago, tomorrow two pieces of legislation regarding a constitutional convention will come before the Rule Committee in the Virginia House of Delegates.  They are HJ 497 sponsored by Delegate Scott Lingamfelter and HJ 499 by Delegate Jim LeMunyon.

Although many of us would agree that the federal government has grossly exceeded the authority granted to it by the U.S. Constitution, we have considerable reservations about a constitutional convention.  Given that the 9th and 10th Amendments are routinely ignored, why would the federal government decide to honor some new amendment that would limit its power?  Unfortunately, an Article V Convention, as proposed by these bills and others, could end up merely legitimizing the century and a half of usurpation that has already taken place.

As Delegate Marshall writes, “Once called by Congress, the Convention cannot be stopped or limited and will have complete authority to change any part of our Constitution!   The only other convention, held in 1787, re-wrote the Articles of Confederation, and changed the ratification requirements from unanimous to three fourths!  Yes, it gave us our present Constitution, but we had many statesmen of moral conviction who fought the War of Independence leading the nation at that time.  Madison said he trembled at the thought of a second convention after witnessing the first!”

He goes on to add, “The state legislators planning the Article V Convention rejected a motion that would have prevented Members of Congress, the US Senate, federal judges and governors from serving as convention delegates.  They also tabled a motion to restrict the subject matter of the convention.”

Anyone who cares about a constitutionally limited government certainly can be sympathetic to the aims of those proposing an Article V Convention.  However, so far the case has not been sufficiently made to do so.  It seems a far better remedy is to demand that our legislators in Washington adhere to the Constitution and replace though who have failed in this duty.  In addition, we need to elect representatives to the General Assembly in Richmond who are not afraid to draw the line and say no to the federal government, show how the feds have violated the Constitution, and fight against any and all encroachment when necessary.

Delegate Marshall concludes his email by saying, “Please also urge your own state delegate and senator to OPPOSE ALL APPLICATIONS ASKING CONGRESS TO CALL AN ARTICLE V CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION.”

Marshall On The Court Ruling

Delegate Bob Marshall
Delegate Bob Marshall

With the Supreme Court’s decision to not hear an appeal regarding marriage laws in Virginia and elsewhere, it seems almost certain that marriage between any two consenting adults will be legalized across the nation.  In response, Delegate Bob Marshall, co-author of the 2006 amendment to the Virginia Constitution which prohibited gay marriage, authored the following statement:

Dear Friends,
The US Supreme Court has left the scene of a “hit and run” it caused by letting stand the decision of two federal Appeals judges striking down Virginia’s voter-approved Marriage Amendment.
By failing to gain the support of four justices to hear the appeal of Virginia’s marriage case, the Supreme Court has placed the Government of the Commonwealth in the hands of two federal judges whose very names are unknown to “We the people.”
The Supreme Court’s decision disregards the “Laws of Nature and Nature’s God,” and will fundamentally compromise and seriously erode the bonds of allegiance by the most patriotic of citizens, to government at all levels because this is not the America of the Founder’s vision!
Nor did the Founders establish a system of Government whereby a few unknown appointed federal judges could establish and impose their own law on the the populace which contradicts the laws passed by the people’s duly-elected representatives.  
Shortly before he was appointed Chief Justice in 1969, Chief Justice Warren Berger noted, “A Court which is final and unreviewable needs more careful scrutiny than any other.   Unreviewable power is most likely to self-indulge … no public institution, or the people who operate it, can be above public debate.”  
The Founders gave Congress vast authority over the cases federal courts are permitted to rule on:
Congress has “unlimited control over the Court’s appellate jurisdiction, as well as total jurisdiction of the lower federal courts. … Congress is in position to restrict the actual exercise of judicial review at times, or even to frustrate it altogether.”
          (Edward S. Corwin, Understanding the Constitution)
Failure of Members of Congress or candidates for Congress of either political party to rein in such abuses of power by federal judges by abolishing their ability to hear such cases as is expressly provided for in the Constitution should be disqualified from holding office.  
Make no mistake: Once natural marriage is abolished, marriage will soon include polygamy, or threesomes, leaving innocent children to suffer the consequences and other far reaching consequences of attempting to force legal acceptance of so-called same sex marriage.

Thank you for your continued help!

Sincerely,

Delegate Bob Marshall

Marshall Not In…Yet

Picture from bobmarshall2012.com
Picture from bobmarshall2012.com

Yesterday, a fellow blogger at the Mason Conservative announced that Delegate Bob Marshall will be running for the GOP nomination to replace retiring Representative Frank Wolf (VA-10).  Given that I have not heard an official announcement, I decided to investigate the matter for myself.

According to my source, Marshall has not yet reached a decision and is still weighing his options and chances.  Barbara Comstock is the clear front-runner at this point and has garnered many endorsements, including RPV Chairman Pat Mullins.  Like Shak Hill, I was irked by Mullins’ endorsement, considering it to be inappropriate.

So will Marshall decide to run?  Knowing what I know, coupled with the fact that he is no stranger to seeking higher office (having run for U.S. Senate previously in 2008 & 2012) I would rate it as highly likely and I would expect an official announcement one way or the other very soon.

Reclaiming Shenandoah National Park

During the government shutdown in late 2013, the federal government closed down many public venues, much to the dismay of the citizens.  One particularly egregious incident involved the shuttering of a parking lot at Mount Vernon, the former home of George Washington, a privately owned and privately funded property.  These incidents have led many to question why the federal government owns so much land, to be used as political pawns according to their whims.

img_0925-e1326989450411In response, in the 2014 Virginia General Assembly session Delegate Bob Marshall of Prince William County has introduced a bill (HB 16) to consider transferring ownership of the Shenandoah National Park to the state of Virginia.  As Marshall explains in an email sent out this morning, “My bill would create a commission to evaluate the possibility of bringing Shenandoah National Park back under Virginia’s control.  The commission ‒ which would be bicameral, bipartisan, and temporary ‒ would take a hard look at the feasibility of reacquiring Shenandoah National Park from the federal government, estimate the costs of the transaction, and work with Virginia’s Secretary of Natural Resources to develop an annual operating budget for the park.”

Personally, I am very much in favor of this proposal.  With the exception of parcels needed on behalf of national security, the federal government has no good claim to own or administer Virginia land.  Incidents like the one mentioned above prove that they are not responsible stewards of these properties.

Delegate Marshall adds, “Closures have destroyed the trust relationship on which the Commonwealth of Virginia relied when it first gave the federal government control of land that became Shenandoah National Park” and “Unlike the federal government, Virginia cannot ‘shut down,’ and we are required by law to submit balanced budgets.  All of Virginia’s agencies are ‘on duty’ 24/7.  Individually and collectively, the States are more than capable of running our parks in ways that best suit the needs of the nation, regions, communities, and citizens.  Virginians know that  preservation of the environment and natural resources are essential to economic development.”

Let’s hope that Delegate Bob Marshall is successful in returning Virginia lands to their proper owners, the people of Virginia.

Who is Susan Stimpson?

Yesterday, fellow blogger Willie Deutsch posted a 2012 campaign piece in which Susan Stimpson joins Bill Howell in urging voters to support George Allen for the United States Senate in the June 12th Republican primary.  This information, along with a host of other adventures once again begs the question, who is Susan Stimpson?

Susan Stimpson at the Middletown Forum
Susan Stimpson at the Middletown Forum

I first had the opportunity to hear Susan Stimpson at last year’s Ron Paul Legacy Dinner in Staunton, Virginia.  At the time, I thought the list of speakers for the event was rather curious.  After all, I only know of two recent candidates who sought or are seeking either statewide or federal office that have openly supported Ron Paul: these are Karen Kwiatkowski (who sought the 6th district GOP nomination) and Delegate Bob Marshall (who ran for Senate in 2008 and 2012).  Although it is quite easy to support the cause of liberty when it is politically advantageous, it is quite another issue entirely to stand on principle regardless of the potentially negative consequences.  Although Stimpson was unknown to many liberty activists, there is no question that she gained considerable traction through her appearance at this dinner.

There seemed to be an increasing avalanche of support for Stimpson among the liberty community.  However, I have urged and continue to urge my fellow activists to learn about all of the candidates before blindly hopping on any bandwagon.

So who is Susan Stimpson?  I’m still not sure, but one moment that sticks out in my mind took place during the forum at Liberty in Lynchburg.  When asked if she supported random drug testing for welfare recipients, she stated that she did.  As someone who considers himself a constitutional conservative, I found this answer to be particularly troubling for two reasons conveniently voiced by Pete Snyder and Senator Steve Martin.  First, as Mr. Snyder pointed out, these drug screenings would be a considerable invasion of privacy.  Although I do not have any fondness for a permanent welfare program, I’m horrified about the prospect of granting the state more power to control its citizens.  The second concern, mentioned by Senator Martin is one of cost.  How would the state be able to afford to drug test recipients?  Wouldn’t such a move require additional state employees and equipment?  From where would these funds come?  Would the move require additional taxes or cuts in more important programs?

Yesterday’s information from Willie Deutsch brings the question of Susan Stimpson into the forefront again.  Is she the liberty candidate?  Is she the rebellious conservative outsider?  Or is she, as Shaun Kenney over at Bearing Drift suggests, an establishment conservative?  Now don’t get me wrong, if a candidate could successfully wear the mantles of both being an establishment Republican while simultaneously viewed as a liberty-minded libertarian/conservative, he or she would likely enjoy tremendous success.  But is such a designation possible or is it merely a shell game that, if discovered, would result in utter disaster, alienating both wings of the Republican Party?

Scott Lingamfelter recently damaged his chances to win over liberty activists with his negative comments about Ron Paul supporters.  But, to the best of my knowledge, he has never claimed to be the “conservative/liberty candidate”.  By comparison, if Stimpson turns out to be merely an establishment candidate who adopted the clothing of liberty for political advantage, the fallout from such a realization would almost certainly be fatal to her campaign.

As a personal note, I must say that it is an extremely liberating feeling to have not selected a candidate yet, to be able to examine all of the candidates as objectively as I can without worrying if this process offends them or causes my employer or co-workers to view me unfavorably.

So, we return to our first question.  Who is Susan Stimpson?  Is she the liberty champion that many of my fellow Ron Paul supporters are selling her to be?  Or is she something else?  Either way, it is unwise to either rush to praise her or condemn her.

Regardless of your political principles, I once again encourage all of the activists seeking to be delegates to the Richmond convention in May to get informed, stay informed, and to share any and all information that they find.  Don’t simply adopt my opinion or the opinion of someone else.  Sure, it takes time, but do the research for yourself.

Lastly, don’t mistakenly think that the main purpose of this article is to disparage Susan Stimpson, but rather to promote awareness.  After all, who knows?  Once all of the dust settles, and I have sufficient data, I may find myself firmly in her camp, assuming her principles closely match my own and her campaign does a decent job articulating her message.  Remember, it is okay to trust, but you must also verify.

Primary Musings

Karen Kwiatkowski at the Keister Precinct in Harrisonburg

Well, nearly a week has come and gone since Virginia’s Tuesday primary.  I suppose that the end result did not yield any great surprises.  Across the Commonwealth each incumbent House of Representatives candidate emerged victorious.  In the Senate contest the virtual incumbent, former Senator George Allen, also won.

According to the Virginia State Board of Elections, with all precincts but one reporting, George Allen captured the GOP nomination with 65.45% of the vote.  Tea Party favorite Jamie Radtke finished second with 23.05%.  Delegate Bob Marshall and Bishop E. W. Jackson finished a distant third and fourth with 6.76% and 4.72% respectively.

George Allen polled relatively well throughout Virginia.  He only lost two cities and counties; Jamie Radtke won a plurality in Charles City County and Bob Marshall did likewise in Manassas Park.  Other notable results showed very close contests between Radtke and Allen in Amelia, Hanover, King William, Lancaster, Mathews, Northampton, and Powhatan Counties.  Although Radtke captured a clear second overall, E. W. Jackson took runner up in Albemarle and Botetourt Counties while Marshall boasted second in and around his House of Delegates district, Prince William and Manassas.

Although Jamie Radtke attempted to secure the title of the conservative alternative to George Allen, the fact that both Jackson and Marshall were competing had to hurt both her fundraising and numbers at the polls.  However, given his monetary and virtual 100% name recognition, it still would have been a monumental hurdle for Radtke to defeat Allen one-on-one.  Now that the dust has settled, one important question to ask though is, given their low vote totals, why were Jackson and Marshall in the race?

Except during the final months of the campaign, it did not appear that Jackson was actually trying to win the nomination.  He had a pretty small campaign staff and I’ve heard that he made a number of speeches where he didn’t actually reference his candidacy for Senate.  One popular theory is that he was trying to build name ID in order to establish himself for a future political run.

As for Delegate Marshall, it is clear that he entered the race far too late.  If you will recall, he didn’t make an official announcement of his candidacy until late January or early February of 2012.  By comparison, by that point, the Radtke campaign had already been in full swing for more than a year.   Although I cannot comment on the rest of the state, the fact that Marshall spent very little time or effort campaigning in the Shenandoah Valley made his poor showing here a virtual inevitability.

Moving on to the 6th district House of Representatives race, incumbent Bob Goodlatte turned back a conservative/libertarian challenge from retired Lt. Colonel Karen Kwiatkowski.  With 100% of the vote counted, Goodlatte captured 66.49% of the vote as compared to Kwiatkowski’s 33.5%.

With her campaign headquarters based in Harrisonburg, Kwiatkowski won my hometown with 50.57% of the vote.  She also did quite well in Rockingham County, losing by 240 votes and in Page County where Goodlatte won with 13 votes.  However, Goodlatte finished very strong in most of the higher population centers, winning Roanoke County with 76.95%, Lynchburg City with 75.65%, and Roanoke City with 70.93%.

The burning question here is what will happen in 2014?  First, what will Bob Goodlatte do?  After all, Tuesday marked his first Republican primary challenger in twenty years.  Will he move in a more conservative direction, repudiating his earlier efforts to expand the size and scope of government through SOPA/CISPA, federal prohibitions curtailing online gambling, and liberty-weakening measures like the Patriot Act?  And, if he does not, will Kwiatkowski, as she hinted earlier, challenge him again?  Or will a new challenger emerge?

Here are my predictions for November.  Given past trends, the race for the House was more or less decided last week.  The 6th district is far too conservative and Bob Goodlatte has a massive campaign war chest, so he should roll over his colorful Democratic challenger, Andy Schmookler.  However, polls have shown the Senate race to be a tight affair.  Although the outcome of the presidential contest will certainly influence all down ticket races, at this point, I believe Tim Kaine will be our next Senator.  George Allen still has a number of fences to mend on the right and conservatives do not share the great fear for Kaine as they do for Obama. As for the Obama vs. Romney fight, I think the race is too close to call.  Virginia is a toss-up between the two.  However, I cannot envision a path to victory for Romney that does not involve him capturing the Commonwealth.  Obama, on the other hand, doesn’t require a Virginia victory to gain four more years.  For that reason and several others, I would give a slight edge to Obama…at least at this point.

Let me end by thanking all of the candidates who ran, the activists who volunteered, and the citizens who voted on Tuesday.  As we saw, unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, the most conservative candidates don’t always win.  However, if we remain true to our principles and remain organized and active, we will prevail in the long run.  We must continue to fight because it is good for our party, good for Virginia, good for our nation, good for our children, and good for their children.  The sake of the present and the future demands no less of us.

The primaries are over.  Onward to victory!

Primary Day Update

A view from the Cross Keys precinct

In about two and a half hours, polls across the Commonwealth of Virginia will be closed.  At that time, we shall discover the 2012 Republican nominee for Senate as well as the various Republican and Democratic nominees for the eleven House of Representatives districts.

During the late morning and afternoon hours, I visited eleven precincts in the city of Harrisonburg and southern Rockingham County.  My purpose in doing so was to gauge campaign supply levels for the Kwiatkowski and Radtke campaigns and measure the level of turnout.  While doing so, I discovered a couple of surprising facts.

First, I noticed that the race for House of Representatives in the 6th district seems to have drawn considerable more interest and enthusiasm than the Senate race.  All eleven precincts had a pretty high number of Kwiatkowski and Goodlatte signs.  In addition, about half of the precincts had volunteers who were handing out materials specifically on behalf of one of these two candidates.

By comparison, there were far fewer Senate signs.  Jamie Radtke and George Allen had about the same number of yard signs at the polls, Bob Marshall had but a handful, and I have not seen yet seen my first E.W. Jackson sign today.  When considering campaign workers, Bob Marshall had a dedicated volunteer handing out materials at one of the precincts in the city, but, surprisingly, I have not found any volunteers specifically working for George Allen, Jamie Radtke, or E. W. Jackson in my travels.

Second, turnout seems to be higher than I expected.  I assumed that we would see about a 5-6% turnout rate on average at the end of the day, which was the result for the March 6th Republican presidential primary.  In addition, it was fairly hot and humid with periods of heavy rain on and off during the day, which would decrease participation.  However, many precincts have already exceeded their March total.  For example, the tiny precinct of Cross Keys, although only reporting 51 votes as of 3:24 PM, had a turnout rate of 8.9% thus far.  An hour and a half prior, Montezuma, another precinct in Rockingham County, reported 7.2%.

So what does this information reflect?  Why are the Senate candidates underrepresented at the polls?  And do these Harrisonburg and Rockingham numbers reflect a general trend that voters taking a greater interest in the outcome of these races?  Does the increased turnout favor the incumbents with their higher level of voter ID?  Or have voters come out today to roundly reject what some perceive as establishment Republicans?  Without exit polling it is difficult to answer any of these questions right now.  However, keep an eye on the totals; either way, it should be interesting.

The Conservative Dilemma

On Friday, the Republican Party of Virginia announced that four of the five candidates seeking the Republican nomination for Virginia’s Senate seat had successfully submitted a sufficient number of signatures to appear on the June 12th primary ballot.  These candidates are: George Allen, E.W. Jackson, Bob Marshall, and Jamie Radtke.  Only David McCormick failed to submit any signatures and thus was denied a spot in this contest.

Although many voters likely welcome the opportunity to select between four candidates, this particular situation heavily favors one candidate, George Allen.  Unlike the others, George Allen has held a multitude of political offices including serving as both the Governor of Virginia and a Senator from 2001-2007.  Therefore, due to his decades of political experience and campaigning, he has a much higher name identification rate and a massive campaign war chest when compared to any of the other candidates.

It should be noted that some of George Allen’s positions as well as his votes while serving as a senator do worry some conservative activists.  Although one can find a more extensive article on this subject here, George Allen voted to raise the debt ceiling many times, he voted to strip away our civil liberties via the Patriot Act, and he supported No Child Left Behind.  In addition, his refusal to take a public stance on either NDAA or SOPA may lead some people to believe that he will continue to support big government policies if he is elected senator again.

However, even though there are three alternatives to George Allen, it is highly unlikely that any of these challengers can mount a successful bit to deny the current frontrunner in this present situation.  Collectively, Radtke, Marshall, and Jackson may very well end up with more votes that Mr. Allen in the primary, but as a winning candidate only needs a plurality of the votes and not a majority, it will be difficult for any of the three to do so.  Jamie Radtke has a considerable following among the tea parties, Bob Marshall still has remnants of his loyal followers who nearly propelled him to victory in the 2008 Senate contest, and E.W. Jackson has done quite well among the social conservatives.  Other conservatives will support George Allen due to the belief that he has the best chance of the four to win the seat.  Thus, we find the conservative dilemma.

Recognizing this situation, the ideal solution would be for two of the candidates to withdraw so that voters can decide if they would prefer George Allen or someone who bills him or herself to be a more conservative alternative.  However, at this point, such a move seems unlikely.  Jamie Radtke has been campaigning for well over a year, likely has the best defined campaign, and has spent more time, energy, and money than either Jackson or Marshall.  Jackson continues to electrify audiences with his passionate speeches as has recently expanded his campaign staff.  Marshall, even though he is the newest entrant into the race, still probably commands a higher ID than either of the other two combined.  Thus, believing each is the strongest candidate to face Allen, none of them will withdraw and, chances are, the anti-Allen vote will be split in such a way as to be more or less irrelevant in the June 12th contest.

Will conservatives band together, rejecting two of the others, and rally behind one of the non-Allen candidates?  Conversely, do conservatives believe that George Allen shares enough of their principles to hold this office once again?  And, once the primary is over, can any of the four candidates capture the hearts and minds of conservatives to cobble together a successful coalition of his or her rivals’ supporters and independent voters in order to beat the Democratic nominee former Governor Tim Kaine in November?  What a dilemma!