Thoughts on Tuesday’s Primary

Photo from Corey Stewart for Congress’ Facebook page

Leading up to the primary on June 12th, I asked activists who they thought would win the Republican U.S. Senate primary in Virginia.  As is the case in many elections, most people stated that their preferred candidate would win.  Stewart people assumed Corey Stewart would be victorious while Freitas people thought likewise about Nick Freitas.  Although I supported and ended up casting my vote for Delegate Freitas, I stated that I thought Stewart would win.

Image from the Virginia State Board of Elections

Why? Well, as stated above, it wasn’t because I wanted Mr. Stewart to be the Republican nominee.  At this point, Corey Stewart has almost reached the status of a perennial candidate.  He briefly ran for U.S. Senate in 2011-12, finished third for the Lt. Gov nomination in 2013, and came close to winning the Republican nomination for Virginia Governor in 2017.   However, if you look back the last time that Corey Stewart ran for statewide office, in 2017, he narrowly lost the Republican nomination to Ed Gillespie.  Gillespie won 43.74% and Stewart got 42.5%.  If he had gotten blown out last year, it is unlikely that anyone would have taken him seriously in 2018.  As an example, consider E.W. Jackson, who was the Republican candidate for Lt. Governor in 2013.  He ended up losing the general election by over 10 points thus making it far less likely that the Republican Party would ever give him another statewide nomination.  Stewart, conversely, was close in his last attempt.

Then there is the issue of fundraising.  As of May 23rd, the Freitas campaign had raised $502,784.  By comparison, the Stewart campaign had raised $841,112.  Money isn’t everything, but it certainly helps.

Next is the matter of name ID.  Although none of the three candidates were terribly well-known across the state, presumably Stewart was bolstered by his previous runs.  Chances are that activists who had supported Stewart in 2017 would likely do so again.  Therefore, he already had an established base to build from.  Although he traveled the state during the election cycle, Freitas was a less well-known name without a cadre of longtime supporters scattered across the various corners of Virginia.

Another aspect concerned endorsements and the ideology each candidate represented.  While Corey Stewart represents Trump populism, Freitas is part of the liberty/small government movement, and Jackson has the religious right.  Although President Trump isn’t particularly popular with Virginians as a whole, he does seem to command a loyal and active following among a sizable segment of Virginia Republican voters.  Oddly, unlike just about every other year, there wasn’t a candidate from the establishment wing of the Republican Party.  Several months ago, I was told that Representative Barbara Comstock would be entering the race but that never happened.  As such, many in the Republican establishment endorsed Nick Freitas.  At face value, you might think that the establishment combined with the liberty-wing would be enough for a winning coalition in the primary.  After all, the establishment more or less propelled Ed Gillespie to the Republican nomination in 2017 single-handedly.  Liberty-minded folks may have cast a vote for Gillespie, but I doubt many were excited about it.

However, upon further reflection, it is likely that many in the establishment weren’t all that enthusiastic about Freitas, but it was rather a lesser of three evils type of scenario for them.  In 2013, Jackson demonstrated that it would be nearly impossible for him to win statewide and some of his comments derided as bigoted or closed-minded could hurt the GOP in other races.  As for Stewart, his ties to the alt-right with to the Unite the Right rallies in Charlottesville, his previous false or misleading statements about Ed Gillespie in 2017, the fact that he represented the same Trump faction that lost Virginia in 2017, and that he was likely seen as an uncontrollable force resulted in some of them viewing his nomination as an unmitigated disaster for the Republican Party of Virginia.  Given some of Freitas’ outstanding bills in the General Assembly which would curb the power of the party bosses, my assumption was that the establishment ended up supporting Freitas out of perceived necessity, not desire, and thus I assumed that their level of support would be far lower than it would be for someone like Gillespie.

The night before the primary, I stopped by my local polling place in Harrisonburg to see which campaigns had placed signs at the precinct.  Although signs don’t win elections, they are one way to gauge levels of campaign activism.  When I arrived, I found Brent Finnegan, the 2017 Democratic candidate for the 26th House district placing signs for Jennifer Lewis.  There were also signs for Peter Volosin, but none for any of the Republican Senatorial candidates.  However, when I went to cast my vote for Nick Freitas around noon the next day, several of his signs had appeared in the interim.

Image from the Virginia State Board of Elections

Once polls closed at 7, I sat in front of my computer, watching the results on both the VPAP and NY Times websites.  To my surprise, Freitas took an early lead…but could it last?  Were my predictions wrong?  At one point, E.W. Jackson jumped out in front with a commanding lead due to results from Virginia Beach.  However, upon closer inspection, I discovered that one precinct had erroneously given Jackson several tens of thousands of extra votes, likely the result of a few misplaced additional zeros in his totals.  When it was corrected, Jackson did not come close to leading for the rest of the night.  As results continued to come in, the difference between Freitas and Stewart began to tighten.  At around 85% of the vote reporting, Freitas was still leading.  But I thought it prudent to check where the bulk of the outstanding votes were left to report.  Most were either in Prince William County (where Stewart is the chairman of the board of supervisors) or Fairfax County directly to the north.  Although Freitas was still leading, I realized at that point that Stewart had almost certainly won the election once all the votes were in.

During the evening, I wondered if either the Stewart or Freitas camps would deride E.W. Jackson as a spoiler, declaring that his candidacy cost them victory.  If he weren’t in the race, I assumed that a majority of his votes would have gone to Stewart, but without seeing the exit polls, it is difficult to say with any measure of certainty.  Jackson won about 12% of the vote.  If asked, I would have recommended that Jackson not run as I believe it would only hurt his future prospects of holding elected office (if any).  Nevertheless, I believe he had every right to run (just like anyone else) no matter how slim his chances happened to be and that it is unfair to call him a spoiler.

In November, Virginia will likely have three candidates on the ballot, Republican Corey Stewart, Democrat Tim Kaine, and Libertarian Matt Waters.  At this point, I would assume that Kaine will best Stewart by at least 10 points.  However, regardless of my predictions, I recommend to you, dear reader, to research all three of your choices and vote for the one who best embodies your values.  I know I will.

Getting to Know Matt Waters

On January 3rd, I wrote an article about Matt Waters, a fellow seeking the Libertarian nomination for the U.S. Senate in the 2018 elections.  Today, the Old Dominion Libertarian posted an interview with Mr. Waters.  As I thought it was a good introduction to Matt Waters, (I still don’t know much about him yet either) I have gotten permission to repost it on my site.

If you’d like to check out the piece on the original site or explore other topics of interest, please visit https://olddominionlibertarian.wordpress.com.

INTERVIEW WITH VIRGINIA LIBERTARIAN MATT WATERS

Matt Waters And His Family.

Matt Waters And His Family.

Matt Waters plans to seek the Libertarian Party of Virginia’s nomination for U.S. Senate in 2018 to run against Tim Kaine and an as yet unknown Republican.  He is currently collecting signatures to get on the ballot.

Mr. Waters lives in Alexandria, Virginia and has been a member of the Libertarian Party since 2008. He was raised in Hampton, Virginia and graduated from George Mason University. He is married and has five children.

We recently conducted an interview with Mr. Waters and we have included that interview below.


1. Have you run for office before? Why did you decide to run for U.S. Senate and not a lower office?

Waters: No. Never run before. I have been involved in many campaigns, mostly conservative Tea Party Republican, as a fundraiser. I looked at the 8th district here, the Fairfax Co. Alexandria area, and it’s heavily democrat. I would not have had the opportunity to get the message out. I wanted to go big.

2. How long have you been a member of the LP and the LPVA?

Waters: National LP going back to April 2008 (according to my membership card). LPVA, I’m a recent member.

3. Nick Freitas is considered the libertarian-leaning candidate in the Republican primary. He has received the endorsement of Rand Paul, Mike Lee, and a few others. If he wins the primary and runs in the general election, why should a libertarian/Libertarian vote for you over Nick Freitas?

Waters: If Freitas wins, let’s revisit this question. He is an underdog and that is partly why I’m running, to give voters a choice in November. This November here in Virginia is shaping up to be a mirror of what 2020 will look like: a Trump Republican, a milk-toast Democrat, and a Libertarian.

4. Has Trump done anything to advance the libertarian agenda?

Waters: Yes, he has made Republicans look awful, and that may incline disillusioned Republicans to look at Libertarians—but we must be Libertarian—not faux. But we should not bet on Republicans joining us, as if they haven’t gotten the memo yet, I don’t think they ever will. It’s kinda like smoking—if you don’t know it will kill you—well, keep smoking. That’s what Republicans are doing—still smoking.

5. Would you support a constitutional amendment pertaining to term limits or a balanced budget? Why or why not?

Waters: Yes on both. George Will had a great column on this the other day, where he pointed out the two professors at Harvard who have a sound plan towards getting our books to balance. I’d support anything Will is saying—as he may be the most respected Libertarian in the country. On Term Limits, yes, got to take the professionalism out of this. But the only risk here is you have a deep state of professional bureaucrats who never leave Washington. I’d think we need to term limit public service in certain departments at certain levels. We sort of do that with political appointees, but take a deeper dive here. Needs to be looked at.

6. Do you agree with Gary Johnson, the 2012 and 2016 Libertarian Party nominee for President, that our immigration system needs to be streamlined to make it easier for people to come here legally?

Waters: I lean that way. I also lean towards cutting up the welfare state that may be having a disproportional impact on illegal immigration. I would also want to encourage our Latin American friends to focus on rule of law, private property rights, regulation reform, all of the things that make it hard for individuals to succeed. The Acton Institute did a study on how long it takes for an ordinary Hatian to open a business – a person not connected to government—about 260 days. Yet, someone connected to government, who knows someone, took them like a week. These governments are bankrupt, corrupt, and hurt individuals. They need to get their own houses in order.

7. If elected, who would you caucus with? How would you be able to work with other elected official in Washington, D.C. if you are the sole Libertarian candidate?

Waters: The others would caucus with me! I’d remain independent and attempt to be as non-political as possible—meaning, if R’s do something that makes sense, I’d vote for it; same with D’s. At some point the Libertarian Party will send a representative to Congress, and just like others in smaller parties who went to Congress before us, with the hope that one day the independents in this country will decide to do something different. They did it with Trump.

8. You have already spoken with members of the LPVA State Central Committee (SCC) about your candidacy and they seemed receptive. How do you feel about receiving the nomination to run as the LPVA candidate for U.S. Sentate in 2018?

Waters: I am excited about it, as we need to offer an alternative to the status quo.

9. Do you have petitions up online that volunteers can download to help get you on the ballot? How many signatures do you need?

Waters: I do have a petition on my Facebook page, and on signatures, we need to capture 400 signatures in each of Virginia’s Congressional districts, so 4,400 valid signatures in the 11 districts, and 10,000 overall.

10. What will be the issue(s) that your campaign will focus on?

Waters: If you ask Americans what the number one concern is in this country, they will tell you that their government is. They love the country, they are afraid of the government. If Libertarians cannot capitalize on this, then we may as well pack up and go home. The IRS was weaponized against the Tea Party; the Department of Education is making us dumb and dumber. The FDA is a failure that is responsible for millions dead. The Defense Department is anything but. I think of the snow days here in DC – they tell federal workers – “all non-essential employees” no need to come in to work. If you are non-essential on a snow day, you are non-essential every day. Cut Commerce, Education, HUD, Energy—all a total waste. I ask friends to “Name one thing the federal government gets right?” Blank stares. And all that for $4.5 trillion a year. C’mon, it’s time to wake up and cut spending. My budget would cut spending $1 trillion a year, and would eliminate all federal personal income taxes for all Americans through the Liberty Amendment—eliminating the 16th Amendment and replacing the income tax with NOTHING.

12. How can volunteers contact you if they want to get involved with your campaign?

Waters: Go to MattWaters.com, it points to my facebook page, and the webpage is going live soon.

13. A lot of times we hear that voting for a Libertarian candidate is a “wasted vote” or that it will help the Democrat or Republican win (depending on who you talk to). What would you tell voters who are concerned about your candidacy affecting the election in a way that they perceive as negative?

Waters: I think Democrats and Republican voters are wasting their votes; after all, what has Tim Kaine done in the US Senate? Name one thing. These voters are on their way to becoming non-voters because they know nothing changes.

14. It has been reported that you are pro-life. Can you elaborate on this a little bit? Would you seek to have a “Personhood Amendment” added to the Constitution? 

Waters: Yes, 100% pro-life, more so than any of the Republicans running. I have worked for and with multiple pro-life organizations over the last 25 years. I became pro-life in the mid-80’s reading Jesse Jackson and Al Gore’s statements—both were pro-life at one time—and both sold out their principles seeking higher office. I won’t do that. I’m encouraged that the Democrats—the party of Death according to Ramash Ponnuru’s book, are actually entertaining supporting pro-life candidates. So on personhood, on a Life Amendment, etc, yes, I would support nearly anything that protects life. That is at its very heart what it means to be an American—after all, its life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Life is first on the list. The life position also falls under the Libertarian banner of “do no harm”.

A Libertarian for Senate

In 2018, Virginia will hold elections for U.S. Senate.  On the Democratic side, barring any major surprises, current Senator Tim Kaine will be the nominee.  For the Republicans, so far we have Corey Stewart, Nick Freitas, E.W. Jackson, and Ivan Raiklin vying for the nomination.  And, as of 15 hours ago according to Facebook, we also have a Libertarian seeking the position too.

Image from the campaign Facebook page

A fellow by the name of Matt Waters has now begun to collect the 10,000 signatures necessary to appear on the Virginia ballot.  Although I first heard news of his possible candidacy shortly before the new year, it seems that he has decided to go forward with the plan.  At this point, I cannot say I know anything about him, other than I’m told he is pro-life (which is exciting!).

Even when there is only one candidate running for the party’s nomination, getting the Libertarian stamp of approval isn’t a guarantee, as delegates to their state convention can vote for none of the above if the person seeking the position doesn’t share enough of their principles.  I believe that this is a position that both the Republicans and Democrats ought to adopt given the positions of some of their nominees over the years).

Who is Matt Waters?  I’m told by some of the Libertarian leaders in Virginia that he will be a strong, credible, and value-focused candidate, but I’m looking forward to finding out for myself.