This week, I plan to submit my absentee ballot for the November elections in Virginia. As I am away from home due to graduate school, along with the fact that I’ll be working the polls in West Virginia for a class assignment, unfortunately, I’ll be unable to vote in person.
2018 marks my twentieth time voting in the general election (unless you include the 2009 election. In that year I was working in Newport News and apparently my ballot got lost in the mail). Except for two years, in all of those elections, I have voted for at least one Republican candidate. This year will mark the third time I will not be voting for a single Republican.
Why is that? Well, let’s go down through the races. At the top of the ticket, we have Corey Stewart. I first met Mr. Stewart in 2011 when he was planning a run for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate against George Allen. Since that time, he has run for a multitude of statewide offices: Lt. Governor in 2013, Governor in 2017, and now U.S. Senate again in 2018. In that time I have found Mr. Stewart to be dishonest and self-serving, willing to say or do just about anything in order to achieve political power. Despite his rhetoric, he is not a conservative, but rather a populist who is more than happy to expand the power of government and mold it to serve his interests. With the exception of Representative Bob Goodlatte, who fortunately is retiring after 26 long years in office, I rarely block any campaign staffers on Facebook…with the notable exception of Corey Stewart. After asking not to be tagged, two of his particularly rude and hostile staffers kept pestering me thus resulting in this action.
That matter leads me to another point. Corey Stewart states that he wants to go to Washington to help enact President Donald Trump’s agenda. Regrettably, the Republican Party has more or less become Donald Trump’s party and activists and politicians alike think it is important to do whatever he desires. But what about principles? What about checks and balances? Since when did we think it a good idea to elect men and woman to Congress who pledge to be rubber stamps for the executive branch even when he violates the values of limited government and faithfulness to the Constitution? This kind of behavior would make sense if we lived in an authoritarian dictatorship, but we supposedly live in a democratic republic, right? Or at least we used to. As I wrote on Delegate Wilt’s (R-26) Facebook page, “I’d like to see real, honest conservatives in Congress, those who will support the Constitution, a limited federal government, cutting spending and the national debt, supporting the President when he shares our values, but standing up to him and opposing him when he does not. Unfortunately, at the moment, that line of thinking is extremely rare.”
Moving down the ballot, we come to the race for the 6th district, to replace Representative Bob Goodlatte. As regular readers of this website know, I have written favorably about Delegate Ben Cline, the Republican nominee, for many years. One big issue for me was the selection of one of his staffers. Having several previous negative interactions with this fellow, I thought it best to alert Delegate Cline about some related potentially unethical activity. After all, as they say, personnel is policy and as I liked Delegate Cline I didn’t want to see him get mixed up with anyone who might have “the ends justify the means” mentality. Given my concerns, Delegate Cline told me that I would have no interaction with this person during the campaign. However, several days after the Republican convention, this staffer in question wrote me several Facebook messages to taunt me for warning Cline. I felt that this response was unconscionable.
Given some of the controversies surrounding the 6th district Republican convention, questions lingered in my mind if the Cline campaign had some hand in these shady, legally questionable dealings, such as the website SwampyScottSayre.com. Try as I could, I could neither confirm or refute the campaign’s involvement.
In addition, we have the issue of Corey Stewart and Donald Trump. While some Republican candidates have done their best to avoid Stewart, Cline has not. That news is particularly disappointing. As the News Leader reports:
“One who has embraced Stewart, appearing with him at campaign events, is Del. Ben Cline, who’s running the 6th Congressional District.
Several Republicans candidates have opted against campaigning with Stewart, telling the Post that they prefer to ‘run our own campaign.'”
If ISideWith.com is correct, my issue agreement with Delegate Cline mirrors that of Representative Goodlatte and we disagree on some fundamental points regarding foreign policy and national security. Although I know he had a Republican audience, when Delegate Cline announced support of building Trump’s wall at the 6th district Republican convention, I felt my spirits sink.
I read emails from the Cline campaign hoping that they speak of principles of limited government and a faithfulness to the Constitution. I abhor the use of fear to stir up the worst in the minds of voters. For example, one from August 14th states, “I’m running for Congress to listen to and represent the people of the 6th District, not people like Nancy Pelosi and her liberal friends. They’re stepping up to help liberal candidates across the country, including my opponent, which is why I need my friends here in Virginia and the 6th district to match these efforts…Let’s keep the 6th District red in November!” Another dated September 27th reads, “Sending me to Washington will mean one less seat towards a Democrat majority – together we can stop Nancy Pelosi from becoming Speaker of the House again.” Personally, I don’t really care which party controls the Speakership if that party’s only purpose is to surrender its authority to the executive branch or obstruct if their party doesn’t control the presidency. Either way, both of them will continue to expand the national debt. In addition, we must reject the rhetoric of the red team vs the blue team. These days both sides are more interested in winning and maintaining power for themselves than the conservative, libertarian, and liberal activists than get them there in the first place!
Lastly, we have Frank McMillan who is running for Harrisonburg City Council. Although technically running as an independent, I’ve heard him speak at Republican gatherings and he declared that he was a Republican. In addition, according to VPAP, his largest donor is the Harrisonburg/Rockingham Republican Women’s Club. If he is a Republican, he ought to run as a Republican and not misuse the independent label as the party did in the previous 2014 election cycle. Rather than try to fix the Republican brand in Harrisonburg, which has become so heavily tainted than it is nearly impossible to win in the city with the label, they instead run their candidates as independents. I don’t think it is an honest tactic and preys upon the ignorance of some voters.
Now just because I’m not voting Republican, that doesn’t mean that I am voting Democratic either. If I were forced to chose between the two, I would prefer Tim Kaine to Corey Stewart. At least Senator Kaine has never personally lied to me. Although I disagree with a lot of what Kaine does, at least he doesn’t bow to Donald Trump, but I am not voting for him as I don’t cast my vote in that way. Unfortunately, I don’t know enough about Jennifer Lewis to speak about her candidacy either positively or negatively and I always recommend not voting for a person out of ignorance.
No matter how we vote, I predict that Democrat Tim Kaine will defeat Republican Corey Stewart by a healthy margin and Republican Ben Cline will likewise triumph over Jennifer Lewis. I hope both Senator Kaine and soon to be Representative Cline will represent the state and the 6th district with honor.
Whether you vote absentee as I am doing, or vote on November 6th, I encourage you to learn about the candidates and vote for the ones who best represent your principles.