Obama Comes to Charlottesville

Earlier today, President Barack Obama visited downtown Charlottesville, Virginia as he continues his campaign for re-election.  In 2008, Charlottesville proved to be one of Obama’s most favorable cities in Virginia, as he garnered 78.35% of the vote.

Prior to Obama’s speech, the Jefferson Area Tea Party and Americans for Prosperity held an “Oust Obama” rally at Lee Park, which began at noon, three or four blocks from the Pavilion where Obama’s event was slated to be later in the day.  Featured speakers at this meeting included: former Republican Party of Virginia Chairperson Kate Obenshain, Delegate Rob Bell of Albemarle County, and E.W. Jackson, a former Republican candidate for U.S. Senate.  The crowd at this event was estimated to be approximately 160 people, most came from either Charlottesville or the surrounding Albemarle County, but there was also a sizable contingent from Augusta County, Staunton, and Waynesboro as well.

Attendance to Barack Obama’s speech was far more tightly regulated that the relatively informal tea party event.  Each person had to have a ticket, which meant filling out a form that requested a name, address, phone number, and email address.  Once the gates opened at 1:00 PM, the line quickly grew to stretch from one end of the downtown mall to the other, a distance of about a half a mile.  As warned, the attendees had to path through “airport style security” which included emptying pockets and passing through a metal detector.  Fortunately, neither full body scans nor removing shoes was required.  However, as no outside beverages were allowed, many people simply threw their trash on the ground as opposed to finding a proper trashcan.

Although it was difficult to gauge a specific number, attendance had to have been in the thousands.  People were packed as tightly as sardines within.  A vast majority of the area was standing room only; ticket holders gathered both inside the structure and on the grassy slopes around.

After a bit of live music and some brief introductions from some of the local Obama field staff, the politicians spoke.  First up was Tom Perriello, the former member of the House of Representatives for the Charlottesville area until he lost his re-election bid in 2010.  Next was former Virginia Governor Tim Kaine who is looking to claim a seat in the U.S. Senate in November.  He made a handful of jabs against George Allen, his Republican opponent.

Around 3:30 PM or so, Barack Obama took the stage for about a half an hour.  He spent quite a bit of time reminding folks of the November election, as well as his accomplishments and plans for the future.  He spoke on an abundance of topics that would please the mostly liberal audience such as: Obamacare, his support for abortion, and his desire to increase fuel efficiency of automobiles.  One surprise, however, had to be his call to begin the complete withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan beginning in about a month’s time.

Although it was not difficult to leave the downtown area via car, the Charlottesville police did close off traffic in or out of Route 29, one of the busiest arteries of the city, for over an hour until the presidential motorcade had passed by.  One does have to wonder how many thousands of citizens had their schedules disrupted by this unexpected delay.

Even though WSLS 10 reports that enthusiasm for Barack Obama has waned from its high water mark four years ago, today’s event in the liberal bastion of Charlottesville showed that there are still a vast number of people in Virginia who are willing to wait for hours on a fairly hot summer day and in a packed crowd to hear him speak.

Statistics show that Virginia will be one of the most important battlegrounds in the November 6th race for the President.  Whether Barack Obama carries the Old Dominion, as he did four years ago, remains to be seen.  However, as we draw nearer to the election, Virginians should expect more visits from Obama and Mitt Romney as well as counterbalancing gatherings of their detractors.

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.

In Defense of Rand Paul

Picture from thehollywoodgossip.com

Last week, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky announced on the Sean Hannity show that he was endorsing former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney for president in the 2012 Republican nomination.  The typical response from a number of my Facebook friends was quite hostile.  As the argument went, how could Rand Paul endorse a liberal like Mitt Romney when the champion of liberty and Senator Paul’s father Ron Paul is still in the race?

I would wager that quite a few people who are upset with Rand are fairly new to the political game and therefore don’t understand how the endorsement game works.

For example, closer to home, State Senator Mark Obenshain (VA-26) recently sent out an email encouraging citizens to vote for Representative Bob Goodlatte and George Allen in the Virginia Republican primary on Tuesday.  Now, as you may recall, I have endorsed both Karen Kwiatkowski and Jamie Radtke; obviously I do not agree with Obenshain on this matter.  But, when it comes to his votes in the General Assembly, I maintain that Senator Obenshain is one of the best members of that body.  Should this one simple issue of endorsement outweigh a multitude of good votes and legislation?  Conversely, if a poor candidate or politician endorses a liberty-minded candidate, should that announcement erase a long slate of bad positions?

As I wrote many years ago, Virginians for Life sent out an email about then State Senator Ken Cuccinelli back in 2008.  They compared him unfavorably to the biblical Judas due to his endorsement of Representative Frank Wolf.  I would not have endorsed Wolf as he and I disagree over the underlying philosophy of proper governance.  However, if we all reacted by condemning Cuccinelli over this rather trivial matter, what would be the end result?  Would we still have a spirited attorney general that is willing to fight against Obamacare and other overreaches of the federal government?

Be it for better or worse, endorsements are one way elected officials pay back favors and reward loyalty.  After all, here in the 6th district, both Bob Goodlatte and George Allen have helped a number of our current politicians gain their office and thus many of those folks feel that they need to repay that debt now.  Moving back to the national level, the theory goes that it is the duty of every good Republican politician (who wishes to remain relevant to the party) to offer some measure of support for the party’s presidential candidate.

But let’s return to the first question.  How can Rand Paul endorse Mitt Romney while Ron Paul is still in the race?  The response is quite simple, but not an answer that most Ron Paul supporters will either accept or want to hear.  I hate to say it, but short of a major miracle or divine intervention, Mitt Romney is and will be the Republican nominee for President.

Although it is true, as repeatedly pointed out these last few days, Rand Paul is not Ron Paul, the simple fact remains that Senator Paul is one of the few liberty-minded legislators in the United States Senate.  In one fairly recent example, while most Senators were either apathetic, or downright hostile in the case of Senators McCain (R-AZ) and Graham (R-SC), about defending our civil liberties during the debate regarding the indefinite detention of American citizens without trial, Senator Paul remained firm in his efforts to try to derail this effort.

Regardless of this minor endorsement issue in the grand scheme of things, as long as Rand Paul continues to embrace the key principles of liberty and the Constitution, I am proud to support and defend the Senator from Kentucky.  And yes, if you are wondering, these thoughts do come from a former Ron Paul staffer who actively volunteered for his former boss in this election cycle.  I just hope that the rest of my like-minded brethren will realize that Rand Paul is a great senator and, endorsement or not, we need to support and elect more men and women like him.

Allen in the Burg

Yesterday, former Virginia Governor and current Republican U.S. Senate candidate George Allen spoke on the grounds of the courthouse in downtown Harrisonburg.  It was one of several speaking engagements he had planned in the Shenandoah Valley that day.

All in all, approximately thirty-five people attended the event.  A little over half of this number were elected officials, press, and political staffers including: Lt. Governor Bill Bolling, Delegate Tony Wilt (R-26), Delegate Ben Cline (R-24), Rockingham County Commonwealth Attorney Marsha Garst, Board of Supervisors member Pablo Cuevas, Commissioner of the Revenue Lowell Barb, Treasurer L. Todd Garber, Clerk of Court Chaz Evans-Haywood, Sheriff Bryan Hutcheson, and City Council member Ted Byrd.

Besides Mr. Allen, the handful of speakers implored the crowd to select George Allen as the Republican nominee for Senate.  However, they also reminded the audience to support Representative Bob Goodlatte for the Republican nomination as he seeks his eleventh term.

After the ceremony at the court house, George Allen and Bill Bolling, along with a couple of staff members, went over to Jess’ Quick Lunch to enjoy a couple of hot dogs.  Since my earliest days in politics in the mid 90s, both the courthouse and Jess’ have served as traditional political landmarks in Harrisonburg.

As Mr. Allen was leaving the restaurant, I finally saw the opportunity to ask him the question that I had been posing to his campaign staff for the last several months.  One of his staffers tried to hurry him away, but I was able to ask my question anyway regarding his position on the indefinite detention provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act.  Although he seemed to be pretty annoyed by my inquiry, George Allen stated that he opposed detaining American citizens without legal recourse and supported Senator Paul’s efforts to curb this abuse.  Although he indicated that he has made his position clear on this matter, if that was the case, why wasn’t I able to find it on his website and why did his staff not answer my repeated inquires?  Nevertheless, if he wins both the GOP nomination in June and the general election in November, I do hope he stands by this position.

One last issue I’d like to discuss is the relatively poor turnout at yesterday’s event.  After all, there were far more George Allen signs there than people.  Although it is easy to make the claim that George Allen’s candidacy hasn’t really fired up the base of conservative voters, I believe that the problem runs far deeper still.  After all, Mitt Romney has not yet captured the hearts and minds of the Republican base.  Nor have George Allen or Bob Goodlatte electrified voters will bold new proposals to finally solve our debt crisis and get the federal government under control.  Rather than offering exciting candidates that inspire on their own merits, instead the establishment drives us through terror, terror of what may happen with four more years of an Obama presidency.  I believe that it is exceedingly difficult to win an election based upon mere fear alone.  That is one strong reason why I am not supporting either Allen or Goodlatte for the GOP nomination.  After all, what demographic will they bring to the polls in droves that the other lukewarm candidates will not?  Will we see the social conservatives?  What about the fiscal conservatives?  Or maybe the liberty-minded?

I don’t want to see either Barack Obama or Tim Kaine in office in 2013, but if we nominate a bunch of weak-kneed Republican politicians, then don’t be surprised if 2012 morphs into the year of the donkey.

Allen’s Fatal Flaw

Photo from the George Allen 2012 Campaign

Recently, the Republican Party of Virginia held their third and final Senate debate between the four candidates.  Although, to the best of my knowledge, none of the previous debates were televised statewide, I was appreciative that I was still able to watch them through the blog Bearing Drift.  However, despite my searching, I haven’t been able to find the entire video of the third debate.

Shortly after this last debate, one of my friends shared a rather curious quote from George Allen, one of the four hopefuls vying for the GOP nomination.  Regarding war and U.S. foreign policy, Allen stated, “The concern I have is not whether we have a (congressional) authorization of force, it’s whether or not our military is going to have the equipment, the armament, the up-to-date technology that is paramount as they’re trying to protect our freedoms.”

Given that any conservative should find such a statement troubling, I searched the web in the hopes of finding video of Allen making this comment.  Although I was unsuccessful, I did find a Washington Post article, which confirmed the above quote as accurate.  In addition, I received a video from the Radtke campaign from the debate on this very issue last night.

In response to this matter, I wrote on Facebook was that “anyone who makes such a statement should be declared unfit for federal office”.  Now the average Republican voter might think that my statement is outlandish…at least at first glance, but allow me the opportunity to explain my rationale.  What is George Allen really saying here?

Let’s first focus on the positive aspect.  The second part of his statement is that he wants our military to have the best equipment possible.  I don’t find anything wrong with this line of thinking.  It is actually laudable.  After all, if we ask our brave men and women to risk their lives on behalf of their countrymen, it is only proper that we supply them with the best tools to protect them from harm.

However, the first segment is what is truly damning.  He doesn’t care whether or not Congress authorizes the use of force?  What’s going on here?  Has he ever read the Constitution?  Does he know that only Congress has the power to declare war?  And if he doesn’t care if Congress gives their approval, who does Allen believe should have control of the military?  Should we have an imperial presidency where the executive branch rules unchecked?  Or should these decisions be left up the generals like some sort of South American military junta?  Mr. Allen, how can the military protect our freedoms abroad while they are sent on missions that run contrary to rules that underpin the foundations of both our government and society?

Although George Allen was widely denounced by the media in 2006 for his so-called macaca moment, isn’t his statement here far more troubling?  It is not merely some case of either racism or perceived racism, but rather shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the Constitution, the separation of powers, and the proper role of a United States Senator.  It would be one thing if he were merely an ill-informed private citizen with no ties to the government, but it is quite another when he has actually served six years in the Senate and is seeking to do so again in the June 12th GOP primary.

Last I checked, conservatives believe in things like federalism and a government bound by the restraints of the Constitution.  Through his quote in the recent debate, George Allen has shown once again that his philosophy of government does not align with the conservative mindset of actually limiting government.  I don’t know about you, but I’m terrified of the prospect of electing more leaders from either party who will trample upon the rule of law and disregard the Constitution.  I sincerely pray that Mr. Allen recants the statement he made in the above video.

Photo from the Jamie Radtke Campaign

Don’t forget that in just a few short weeks, Virginia voters will go to the polls to select the GOP nominee for Senate.  I just hope that all Virginians will remember Allen’s words here.  After all, we can ill afford to continue an irresponsible foreign policy ruled by a single person or cabal which is all done without congressional approval and oversight.  Given that issue, do you really want to return a man like George Allen to such an important position of power?  Or should we elect someone like Jamie Radtke who understands the proper role of a United States Senator?  Seems like an obvious choice, doesn’t it?

Update:  It seems like the folks at Citizen Tom have a link to the video of the entire third debate.  Check it out here!

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!

Bloggers’ Day 2012

On Tuesday, Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling invited bloggers from across the state to join him for his annual Bloggers’ Day.  Beginning at 10:15, the all day event gave us an in-depth opportunity to explore the recent activities of the state government as well discuss the upcoming 2012 and 2013 elections.  Carpooling with fellow blogger Rick Sincere, I enjoyed a lot of insightful commentary on the path to and from Richmond.

Lt. Gov. Bolling flanked by Randy Marcus and Tucker Martin

First on the docket, as had been in years past, was a roundtable meeting with Lt. Gov. Bolling as he outlined the state of the Virginia economy in terms of the increase in jobs, capital investment, and the like.  Although Virginia continues to pull out of this recession, it was disappointing to see that the Shenandoah Valley is progressing slower than the rest of the state.  Nevertheless, I do believe that our leaders are making important strides to encourage businesses to come to the commonwealth.

Afterward, I walked over to the capitol to see the Senate and House in session.  However, due to a massive influx of students, supporters of Americans for Prosperity, and other political groups, a policeman blocked the entrance until the crowds has dissipated.  I grabbed a sandwich and ate alongside fellow bloggers Charles Young of Newport News and Brian Bridgeforth of Waynesboro.

Virginia's House of Delegates

Once the way was clear, we headed to the House of Delegates chamber.  The issue under discussion was the so-called “Tebow bill” which would allow homeschooled students to participate in public school sporting events.  Delegate Rob Bell of Albemarle County, the patron of the bill, and Delegate Brenda of James City County encouraged the members to allow the bill to come up for a final vote while Virginia Beach Republican Bob Tata moved to have the delegates “forget” the bill.  Nevertheless, by a voice vote, the members chose to engross the measure.

Unfortunately, by the time I got to the Senate doors, that body had already gone into recess.

Starting at 2:30, a panel of various folks in the know spoke more about Virginia politics.  First up was Bob Holsworth, followed by Boyd Marcus.  Both spoke on the state of the 2012 and 2013 elections.  Each seemed to think that Mitt Romney would be the Republican nominee for president although they admit that he faces considerable hurdles to win the election in November.

Senator Obenshain and Randy Marcus

Next up was Senator Mark Obenshain.  His primary focus centered on his various legislative proposals including the imminent domain amendment.  Personally, I would have liked to hear him speak a little on his race for Attorney General in 2013, but I suppose that there is still a considerable amount of time before that issue comes to the forefront.

After waiting several minutes for Delegate Rob Bell to arrive and speak with the group, I ducked out to find a fellow Ron Paul supporter who worked in one of the legislative offices on the same floor.  Not surprisingly, we both were very disappointed that the Ron Paul campaign seems to be more or less ignoring the state.  It seems odd given that he has a very real opportunity to win Virginia as only he and Romney are on the ballot and coupled with the fact that many Gingrich and Santorum supporters here are encouraging their likeminded brethren to support Paul.  Given Paul’s fairly lackluster performance in the primaries and caucuses so far, one does have to start to wonder if his national campaign is going to pull out a first place finish anywhere.

When I returned to the conference room, I discovered that Del. Bell had already come and gone.  The next speakers were Mike Thomas and Dan Allen, campaign advisors for George Allen.  All day, I had been looking forward to asking them about the Allen campaign; specifically how George Allen would answer his critics on the right and prove that he will be the conservative senator that Virginia needs.  Unfortunately, this presentation did very little to answer my concerns.

First of all, as one blogger and I agreed, it was a particularly dull presentation.  Just about all of the points that the two speakers made, I already knew.  Second, and far worse in my mind, was the news that they plan to more or less ignore the Republican primary.  George Allen, they said, did not have either the money or time to waste with his lesser Republican challengers.

They spent a good portion of time highlighting Allen’s accomplishments as Governor.  Only when questioned by another of my fellow bloggers did they made the briefest of mentions of his potentially troubling votes while he was in the Senate.  Defeating Barack Obama and Tim Kaine is key, and, although they did not say this point specifically, despite any objections, reasonable or otherwise, Republicans and conservatives should just get in line and support George Allen.  This kind of thinking doesn’t sit well with me nor do I think it will do so with the majority of the Tea Party crowd.  Who likes having either themselves or their principles taken for granted?  And no, just in case you are wondering, I was not called upon to ask my question.

The Governor's Mansion

At the end of the day, we attended a reception at the Governor’s Mansion.  I first spoke with fellow blogger Jason Kenney who is advising the Allen campaign.  Unlike the two previous speakers, I was able to engage in a dialogue and thus addressed some of my specific issues.

Although I was unable to capture much of the Governor’s time, I did enjoy a good conservation with Lt. Governor Bolling regarding Virginia’s presidential primary.  While he is an ardent supporter of Romney, as I am with Paul, we both agreed that neither of our respective campaigns should overlook the Commonwealth.

Governor McDonnell and the First Lady

In closing, I want to shout out a big thanks to the Governor and especially the Lt. Governor and his staff for hosting this event.  I wish more leaders would take a cue from Bill Bolling and reach out to the blogosphere.  Whether a big site or small, every day citizens from Virginia and across the whole nation read our material and pass it on to others.  Therefore, if you either hold a position in government or planning to run for public office, don’t you think it is important to know what is being written and who is saying it?

If you wish to join the conversation, wait no longer.  Start your blog today!

I’m already looking forward to Bloggers’ Day 2013.

Allen Calls The Kettle Black

This morning, I received an email from George Allen’s campaign.  Included within is an ad that attacks the presumptive Democratic nominee, former Governor Tim Kaine.  Towards the end of the video, I found this argument particularly amusing:

From the George Allen Campaign

Given his more or less steadfast support of President Obama, one can certainly make the claim that, if elected, Tim Kaine will be more of an agent of Obama than he will be for the citizens of Virginia.  But what about George Allen’s previous record in the Senate?  Anyone remember him supporting No Child Left Behind, Medicare Part D, the conflict in Iraq, and raising the debt ceiling time and time again?  During his six years in the Senate didn’t he endorse a lot of troubling bills and programs that flew in the face of limited government conservatism that then President George W. Bush supported?  Therefore, using this same logic, couldn’t you easily scratch Kaine and Obama out of the picture and replace them with Allen and Bush?

This year, the citizens of Virginia have a choice for both the Republican and Democratic nominees for Senate.  If you like the big government policies of Obama, then you should choose Tim Kaine.  Then again, if you preferred the big government policies of Bush, then you should support George Allen.

Frankly, I want a Senator who will always stand up for my values and not simply be another mouthpiece for a president.  We can do better than either Kaine or Allen.  We have that choice.  The only question is will you have the courage to make it?

Denouncing the NDAA?

Last week, I contacted the campaigns of all of the Republican candidates for Virginia’s U.S. Senate seat as well as Democratic frontrunner Tim Kaine.  My purpose in doing so was to discover each of their positions regarding the recently passed National Defense Authorization Act.  As you might imagine, I am quite dismayed about the prospect of giving the president the authority to indefinitely detain any person, be they an American citizen or not, without a trial.  I had hoped that each of the candidates would take a strong stance against this potential injustice.

Well, seven days have passed since my inquiry.  What to do you expect each of their responses was?  First, I didn’t get a reply from Tim Donner.  Given that he ended his campaign shortly after receiving my question, this outcome comes as no surprise.  Nor did I get any sort of answer from either E.W. Jackson or David McCormick.   The reasoning for this lapse likely stems from the fact that neither seem to have very organized or responsive campaigns and likely do not have a person devoted to answering such questions.

Then again, neither George Allen nor Tim Kaine offered any sort of opinion either.  My guess here, given their records, is that like John McCain and Mark Warner both support increasing the power of the federal government at the expense of minor things like the Constitution.  Of course, I could be wrong.  I hope that I’m wrong.

At this point, to the best of my knowledge, only one of the Senate candidates has come out in opposition to NDAA.  That candidate is Jamie Radtke.  As she wrote in a recent article, “Today, men and women of zeal are pushing through legislation that will seriously undermine our Constitution and set back the cause of liberty that men and women have fought and died for since 1775.”  She goes on to add, “The NDAA writes into law the unconstitutional authority claimed by the president to indefinitely detain American citizens suspected of supporting terrorism and denies them the right to due process or trial. Worse, it allows the U.S. government to detain Americans as long as we are at war with terrorists, and this is a war with no end in sight.”  You can read all of her thoughts on her website.

As Virginians look to elect or re-elect a president, a senator, and eleven members of the House of Representatives in 2012, I believe that it is imperative that we choose candidates who respect our Constitution and the rule of law.  Giving the president new and unconstitutional authority to imprison us is not the kind of leadership that I’m hoping to find.  Therefore, I call on each of the candidates to join Jamie Radtke in denouncing NDAA.

Here’s my take home message for my fellow Virginians: If a candidate does not issue a firm commitment to protecting the people from overreaches of the government, then he or she should not be considered as a reasonable choice for any elected office.