Reflections From the Rockingham GOP Mass Meeting

Donna Moser
Donna Moser

Last night, the Rockingham County Republican Party held their mass meeting to elect a chairman for their committee as well as to elect delegates to the party’s 2016 6th district and state conventions.  It was a packed gathering with well over a hundred attendees.  Besides the county residents, attendees also included:  Representative Bob Goodlatte (VA-6), Harry Griego (his Republican challenger), Scott Sayre (6th district chair candidate), Ralph Smith (6th district chair candidate), Wendall Walker (current 6th district chair), a variety of individuals seeking to be delegates and alternate delegates to the national convention, the chair of the Staunton Republican Party, the chair of the Waynesboro Republican Party, the chair of the Greene County Republican Party, and likely more individuals I did not recognize.

SOAs mentioned, the main focus of the evening was the race for chair.  Donna Moser, the incumbent, was seeking re-election while Dan Cullers, the secretary, was also running.  I’ve known both of the candidates for many years as I met Donna through the local tea party and Dan through the 2012 Karen Kwiatkowski campaign.  Both had their list of supporters though Donna had the endorsement of both Senator Mark Obenshain and Suzanne Obenshain.  Curiously though, neither of the Obenshains attended the Rockingham mass meeting.  Given that they live in the Rockingham County and that Suzanne Obenshain is running for National Republican Committeewoman, it seemed quite peculiar that they were not there.  Although I assume that it was possible that the senator was tied up with business in the Virginia Senate, around that time Suzanne tweeted a photo of her speaking to a Republican gathering in Arlington.

Bob Goodlatte
Bob Goodlatte

Gazing around the room, a lot of the people wore stickers in support of Dan Cullers.  However, many of them had on lapel white stickers for Suzanne Obenshain and blue ones for Bob Goodlatte too.  As people entered the building Cole, one of the Goodlatte staffers and former staffer for the Obenshains, glad-handed people and declared that Dan Cullers was “their guy”.

In retrospect, there were far too many guest speakers for the event as they ended up extending the meeting time significantly.

When Donna Moser got up to give her speech for chair, either she or someone in the audience mentioned that the original plan was that Suzanne Obenshain would introduce her and give a few words of support on her behalf.  That news was terribly depressing.  If the Obenshains actually supported Donna, wouldn’t at least one of them have been there when they were most needed instead of in Arlington or Richmond?  Furthermore, wouldn’t the majority of the multitude of people wearing Obenshain stickers support Donna Moser, their supposed candidate, too?

When people finally started voting they were not allowed to vote in secret, which seemed just plain wrong.  However, after an angry complaint, declaring it “soviet style voting”, subsequent voters were allowed at least some small measure of privacy in casting their ballot.  During this time, I appreciated the opportunity to speak with Harry Griego.  From our first conversation, he seemed like a pretty solid guy.

While we waited for the votes to be counted, I got a drink of water.  On the way back to my seat, I walked past the room where they were counting the ballots.  I didn’t enter the room nor did I attempt to interrupt the proceedings in any way.  I just stood and watched for a few moments.  However, Cole, Goodlatte’s staffer saw me and insisted I leave.  Afterward, I spoke to one of the Republican leaders who said that Cole had no right to do what he did, but I have found that bullying and intimidation is a prized trait among Goodlatte staffers.

Newly elected chair, Dan Cullers flanked by members of the county party
Newly elected chair, Dan Cullers flanked by a few members of the county party

Although the vote totals were not revealed publicly, Dan Cullers was declared the winner.

I spoke to both Donna and Dan and wished them both well.  Once the attendees dispersed, Dan worked to put away tables and chairs.  I have to tell you that there is something refreshing about seeing the leader of a group staying behind to clean up and not simply leaving this undesirable work to subordinates.  Dan did this sort of thing before he was elected chair and so far his new power had not changed him.  I gladly volunteered to help and the two of us straightened up.

After the event was over, I spoke to another political activist about what I saw and thought about the evening.  This activist told me that if the Obenshains had actually been supporting Donna, she would have won.  I was still depressed, not by the outcome, but by the process.

Although there certainly were good folks in the crowd, that night I saw too many people who only cared about advancing themselves and their allies and don’t care at all about trivial things like principles and honor.  I left with the sense that others have been trying to use both Donna and Dan as pieces on some grand political chess board; I was reminded of the work, The Moral Basis of a Backward Society.

Republicans & Capulets

Image from 20th Century Fox's Romeo + Juliet
Image from 20th Century Fox’s Romeo + Juliet

Last Friday, Republicans from Harrisonburg and Rockingham County gathered for their monthly First Friday meeting at the Woodgrill Buffet.  The featured speaker was Senator Mark Obenshain (R-Rockingham) who is facing a Democratic challenger (April Moore from Shenandoah County) in November.  Given the make up of the district he represents, that election is not expected to be terribly close.

Instead of spending much time talking about his race, he mentioned how Republicans across the state need to work to ensure that the GOP continues to hold the Virginia Senate.  Presently, the Republicans enjoy a 21-19 majority in that body and all 40 seats are up for election this November.  Most of the seats are either uncontested or heavily favored for one party or the other.  However, Senator Obenshain identified three seats that could tip the balance of power: The 21st in the Roanoke area, the 10th in parts of Richmond and the surrounding counties, and the 29th in Prince William County, Manassas, and Manassas Park.  If the GOP wins just one of these contests, then, assuming no surprises, the party will retain control of the Virginia Senate.

Senator Obenshain then went on to explain that it would be terrible if Democrats won the Senate for then they would control the various senate committees.  As one example, he mentioned the agriculture committee, currently headed by Senator Emmett Hanger of Augusta County.  Should the Democrats win, he declared that Senator Chap Petersen of Fairfax City would be the new head.  He didn’t really explain why that would be such a bad thing other than these points: Petersen isn’t from the Shenandoah Valley, he is a Democrat, and he is from Fairfax.  Oh the horror of allowing a northern Virginia Democrat (one who opposed the 2013 Republican Transportation Tax hike) to lead the agriculture committee!  However, besides the overarching rallying cry to beat the Democrats, there wasn’t much in the way of policy differentiation discussed.

The next morning, as I reflected on the previous day, I was reminded of a Shakespearean play and, assuming you have any familiarity with the subject, read the title of this article, or, more likely, saw the film with Leonardo DiCaprio, you’ve figured out that that play was Romeo & Juliet.  In case you don’t remember the plot from high school English, in this story there are two feuding families, the Montagues and the Capulets. We are told from the prologue that they are “both alike in dignity” and that they have some “ancient grudge” against each other that is never really explored or explained in the work.  As such, the reader has no real idea if either family is motivated by some important ideal other than gaining power over the other.  Was there any reason for the hatred?  It is quite likely that none of the characters in the play truly comprehend the point of the struggle either.  Nevertheless, the Montagues, Capulets, and their assorted friends and allies sacrifice quite a lot as they do battle against each other.

Unfortunately, Verona becomes a much worse place for the average citizen as a result of this constant feuding between the two families.  As Prince Escalus, the leader of the town, states in Act I, Scene I, “Three civil brawls, bred of an airy word, by thee, old Capulet, and Montague, have thrice disturbed the quiet of our streets; and made Verona’s ancient citizens cast-by their grave beseeming ornaments, to wield old partisans, in hands as old, cankered with peace, to part your cankered hate”.

In Act III, Scene I, Tybalt Capulet challenges Romeo Montague to a duel due to a perceived insult against his family.  However, by this point Romeo is smitten by Juliet Capulet, sees no reason to quarrel further, and so refuses to fight her kinsman.  Romeo’s friend Mercutio, although not aligned with either house by blood, considers it dishonorable for Romeo to refuse the challenge.  Romeo attempts to stop the scuffle that follows, but is unsuccessful as Tybalt slays Mercutio.  Although he sought peace, this act rouses Romeo to fight and kill Tybalt.  As Mercutio dies, he curses not only the Capulets who directly cause his demise, but the Montagues as well.

After Romeo is ordered into exile as a result of his deed, Capulet attempts to marry his daughter to one of the leading political figures of the town, despite her protests to the contrary.  Neither, Juliet’s mother nor her father care about her wishes.  Only at the end of the play, when Capulet’s daughter and Montague’s son have fallen, do the two families finally agree to end their seemingly pointless feud.

Could this story from the 1590s mirror our political situation today?  Have many of the Republican and Democrats, much like the Montagues and Capulets, forgotten why they first fought each other, only continuing the battle in order to accumulate power for themselves and their party?  Are the two factions primarily motivated by conservative and liberal values or are these issues merely used as window dressing to convince the grassroots into following them in whatever crusade the leaders deem necessary?  Do the powers that be consider our wishes and desires irrelevant, much like Romeo and Juliet were treated in their world?  If, like Mercutio, you made a supreme sacrifice in the service of a house, would your deed be honored?  Or would you be viewed as a relatively worthless pawn offered on the altar of power?  Perhaps, in his final moments, Mercutio finally realized the folly of the discord between the Montagues and Capulets and how meaningless his death was which was why he declared “a plague on both your houses”.  Could the same thought be applied to our two major political parties, too?11055250_1016461601745975_6011593409906575073_n

To help answer this question, on Saturday a former chairman of the Harrisonburg Republican Party shared this image of a t-shirt on Facebook.  What do you think his opinion is on the subject?

Fear of Radical Islam

Image from George Takei's Facebook page
Creator of image unknown

Toward the end of First Friday, the monthly Republican luncheon for Harrisonburg and Rockingham County, my former pastor rose from his chair and asked the audience how many of them feared radical Islam.  Although I couldn’t see the entire group, I believe that everyone in attendance raised their hands…with the exception of me and the fellow sitting beside me.

Now, that’s not to say that I am not at all concerned about terrorists who commit terrible acts on behalf of their religion, but I do not wake up every morning worried about what these radicals will do in our country nor am I concerned that some or all of my Muslim neighbors (supposedly about 7% of the Harrisonburg population) will rise up and begin killing or enslaving the rest of us.  According the news that I’ve heard in the last several years, it seems more likely that local Muslim property will be vandalized by non-Muslims due to religious disagreements than the other way around.

As we all know, as a result of the actions of some radical Muslims on 9/11, many Americans have been living in fear of this religion and those who practice it.  Although there were some vague mentions of Islam before 9/11, I don’t recall it being particularly pronounced and when it was, it could be disregarded as religious bigotry.

Unfortunately, due to the fear generated against radical Islam, our citizens and our lawmakers have surrendered many of our civil liberties and greatly expanded the power of the federal government through legislation like the Patriot Act and new government agencies like the TSA and Department of Homeland Security.  Patrick Henry’s famous cry of “give me liberty or give me death!” has been replaced with “do everything you can to keep me safe!  I don’t mind if you take away our liberty!”

Don’t misunderstand what I am saying.  Our government has both the right and responsibility to keep its people safe from all threats, including those posed by radical Islam.  Any person, group, agency, or government who seeks to deprive any American citizen of his or her life, liberty, and/or property without the due process of law must be held to account.

Image from the Libertarian Party of Colorado
Image from the Libertarian Party of Colorado

Have we become so hyper-sensitized to an over-imagined threat of radical Islam on American soil that we have forgotten that it has supposedly been the longstanding policy of conservatives to push back against growing government power?  Yes, it is hypothetically possible that terrorists hiding in caves in the Middle East can deprive us of our lives, and I certainly don’t want that to happen to anyone, but it is also quite true that the legislators in Washington D.C. and our state capitols, not to mention black robed men and women in our court system, have been slowing eroding our liberties, taking more and more of our tax dollars, deciding what does and does not constitute as free speech, degrading our religion, imprisoning people for years without trial, and even depriving some people of their lives through the use of drones.  Politicians are marching us toward a police state.  Which of these two actions, in the grand scheme of our nation, poses the greater and more pressing danger to our well-being?

As President George W. Bush stated on September 20th, 2001, “They [the terrorists] hate our freedoms: our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other.”  Well friends, if we have taken away our freedoms and replaced them with fear, then who can make the argument that the terrorists have not won?  If the terrorists are as irrational and hate-filled as our leaders claim, why in the world would we ever want a citizenry or a government which emulates them?

Yes, we must not allow radical Islam to succeed.  Stand firm against evil!  But, I urge you too to resist the call to surrender to fear!

Last Night at the Fair

Tomorrow, the Rockingham County Fair begins.  301218_10100206570308319_3215768_nAlthough most people attend for the games, rides, crafts, or livestock, for me the highlight was the politics.  No great surprise there, right?

Ever since I began volunteering at the joint Harrisonburg/Rockingham County Republican Party booth at the age of fifteen, I always looked forward to the local fair with great anticipation.  No doubt the fair was my favorite political event.  The chance to spread your message to scores of those who walked past your table, the opportunity to speak with various politicians, the camaraderie, it was all great fun.

The image pictured here is from exactly four years ago, August 16th, 2011.  That night, the Shenandoah Valley Young Republicans staffed the table.  I cannot say that I remember too much from that evening, other than a visit from our local state senator, Mark Obenshain, who proudly wore a new set of boots that had been given to him by then Texas Governor Rick Perry after Senator Obenshain endorsed Perry’s bid to be the Republican nominee for president in 2012.  The next day, I wrote about the experience.

As for the folks pictured, going from left to right, Chad (Delegate Tony Wilt’s legislative assistant) and Savanna (Delegate Dickie Bell’s legislative assistant) are still active in politics and living in the area.  They got married a few months after this photo was taken and recently celebrated the birth of their first child.  I’d glad to say that they are still honorable folks.  Jared (Senator Obenshain’s now former legislative assistant) moved up to D.C. to work for a lobbying firm after the 2014 elections.  Patrick stuck around for a while, working on Senator Obenshain’s 2013 bid for attorney general until he supposedly stole a rival campaign’s cell phone, switched to the Stewart campaign for lieutenant governor, and allegedly tried to blackmail the Snyder campaign at that year’s state Republican convention.  I have not heard about him since that time.  And then, in a rather peculiar pose, you find yours truly, the only person not employed in politics when the photo was taken.

At that time, I had no idea that the 2011 fair would be my last volunteering on behalf of the GOP.  However, the next year when the YR party leadership under John (not pictured) began to attack me repeatedly, worked to discredit and diminish the 2012 Ron Paul campaign, and later tried to undermine my then employment with a group called We rVirginia, coupled with the fact that the party was running a candidate that year that embraced stances that sounded almost identical to the big government solutions advocated by his Democratic opponent, the joy that came from my yearly tradition of volunteering at the GOP table was gone.  In 2013, I offered my services at the local Libertarian Party booth, but neither they nor I have been back to the fair since that time.

I hope that the magic isn’t completely lost, and that I’ll have the chance to work a political booth at the Rockingham County Fair at some point in the future.  However, when that day comes, I assure you it will only be for a cause that appreciates its volunteers, one that has some semblance of honor, and one that I believe in.

No Issues In Rockingham

Last night, the Rockingham County Republican Party held their mass meeting at Spotswood High School in Penn Laird to elect delegates to the 24th district convention.  Russ Moulton of Fredericksburg was the temporary chair for this meeting.  The turnout was relatively small, with a few observers from Staunton, Waynesboro, Harrisonburg, and other portions of the county.  Dan Moxley was the only candidate for the 24th district GOP nomination who attended.

Although no pre-files were allowed, twelve voters sought to be delegates and the same twelve were elected without any controversy.  Each delegate will split the county’s ninety-nine votes, thus giving each eight and a quarter votes…assuming all of the delegates show up at the convention.

All in all, the meeting took about ten minutes, amazingly quick and without controversy; it was very surprising given the rancor which had developed in previous meetings.

Perhaps the only unfortunate aspect of the mass meeting was the cost.  Should the courts decide the convention will not proceed, the money spent by the county party to rent the high school last night would have gone to waste.

Nevertheless, rumor is that the courts could announce the fate of the Incumbent Protection Act as early as today!

Dr. Roberts & The Local GOP

Today, the Harrisonburg and Rockingham County Republican Parties held their monthly gathering at the Woodgrill Buffet in Harrisonburg.  The featured speaker at this event was Dr. Robert Roberts, a professor of political science at James Madison University.  The topic of the day revolved around the upcoming 2013 statewide elections.

Dr. Roberts painted a not particularly rosy picture for Republicans, pointing out the recent shake-up in the Cuccinelli campaign coupled with declining poll numbers for the attorney general, especially among women voters, does not bode well for the candidate.  According to his historical data, public opinion typically shifts little between September and November and should this trend continue, the Cuccinelli camp is in serious trouble; Cuccinelli has not led a poll since mid-July.  Someone in the crowd argued that Cuccinelli was heavily behind late in his 2009 run for attorney general and managed to overcome that deficit.  However, the polls from that time suggest that speaker was in error, Cuccinelli seems to have led throughout that contest.  Dr. Roberts also pointed out that the Cuccinelli campaign’s attempts to smear McAuliffe and make him appear unelectable have failed.  Curiously, when he asked the Republican crowd what Cuccinelli’s first campaign issue was, no one in the group knew of his plan to cut the state income tax.

As for the lieutenant governor, Dr. Roberts predicted that the average Virginia voter will find E.W. Jackson too extreme, based primarily upon his opposition to gay rights, especially gay marriage, and the issue of abortion.

Moving to attorney general, Dr. Roberts offered some measure of hope to the Republicans, reminded them that Virginia has not elected a Democrat to that post since Mary Sue Terry in the late 80’s.  However, even that race he thought was far from over for either candidate.  Although certainly not as talked about, the latest PPP poll has that election within the margin of error.

Given his predictions of a general Republican defeat, Dr. Roberts seemed like a rather curious choice for speaker at this event.  Not surprisingly, his comments seemed to upset a goodly chunk of the audience.  However, I found it interesting that his opinions closely mirror my own from last week, which suggested a result similar to 2001 where the only Republican victory was in the attorney general’s race.

Will Dr. Roberts words come true?

Record Turnout for Jackson & Stewart

E.W. Jackson
E.W. Jackson

Today, the Harrisonburg and Rockingham County Republican Parties played host to both E.W. Jackson and Corey Stewart at their monthly First Friday gathering.  These two men are vying, along with five other individuals, for the Republican nomination to be the next lieutenant governor of Virginia.

As the title of this article states, this meeting saw a tremendously high turnout.  Normally, the event takes up one of the back rooms at the Woodgrill Buffet in Harrisonburg, but today’s attendence was doubled, a number of activists not reached in at least a year’s time.  Besides Harrisonburg City and Rockingham County residents, there were also citizens from most of the neighboring and nearby cities and counties of Virginia including: Shenandoah, Page, Augusta, Staunton, Charlottesville, and Rockbridge.

Both Stewart and Jackson gave impassioned speeches.  Jackson, arguably the strongest speaker of the seven GOP candidates, invoked the role of religion in the founding of the nation and highlighting his ability to reach out to minority communities, receiving a standing ovation from the crowd, while Stewart offered excellent statements as well, reminding the group of his successes as the chairman of the board of supervisors in Prince William County and also adding that it is not a proper role of government to be in the business of job creation.

IMG_1659
Corey Stewart

Upon the conclusion of First Friday, Corey Stewart offered what is likely to be a bit of chilling news to the Republican crowd stating his belief that Bill Bolling, the current Lieutenant Governor of Virginia who earlier dropped his run for the Republican nomination for governor, will announce his bid as either a third-party or an independent candidate for governor soon.  Such a move on the part of Bolling would likely greatly hinder Ken Cuccinelli, the current Republican Party nominee.

Jackson and Stewart seemed to gain a number of followers at this meeting today.  However, as mentioned previously, given the fact that seven men and women are seeking the GOP nod, it is difficult to say which of the candidates currently enjoy the highest level of support.

Remember, the May GOP convention will be here before we know it.

Good BBQ, Good Music, Good Folks

On Saturday, the Harrisonburg GOP, the Rockingham County GOP, and the local Republican Women held a fundraiser at the Stone Family Barn in Harrisonburg.  The event featured delicious local BBQ and a wide range of tempting desserts prepared by the Republican Women.  In addition, Dave Kyger and his band provided some excellent bluegrass music.

Harrisonburg’s own State Senator Mark Obenshain was the first of many well-known speakers, which included Susan Allen, the wife of former Governor and U.S. Senate candidate George Allen, and U.S. Representative Bob Goodlatte (VA-6).  The audience brimmed with elected representatives and Republican hopefuls, a virtual who’s who role call in local politics.  The complete list (and I hope I haven’t left anyone out) also included: Karen Kwiatkowski of Shenandoah County (a candidate for Virginia’s 6th district House of Representatives seat), State Senator Emmett Hanger of Augusta County, Delegate Tony Wilt of Rockingham County, Delegate Steve Landes of Augusta County, Delegate Rob Bell of Albemarle County, Bryan Hutcheson (a candidate for Harrisonburg/Rockingham County Sheriff), Commonwealth Attorney Marsha Garst, Clerk of Court Chaz Evans-Haywood, Rockingham County Treasurer Todd Garber, Rockingham County Supervisor Pablo Cuevas, Rockingham County Supervisor Fred Eberly, Rockingham County Commissioner of the Revenue Lowell Barb, and Harrisonburg School Board member Greg Coffman.

This event proved to be another excellent opportunity to collect signatures to get both Representative Ron Paul and former Governor Gary Johnson of New Mexico on Virginia’s ballot for the 2012 Republican primary.  Whether you support Paul or someone else, I encourage you to sign these petitions so that each Virginian can have a great range of options when we go to vote next year.

As the event came to a close, the party held an auction to raise additional funds.  There were a wide variety of items on the block including many of the same desserts we previously enjoyed with our meal.  Of course, I would be remiss if I failed to offer thanks to Chuck Ahrend whose hard work made this experience possible.

Overall, the event seemed to go quite well.  If you are a local Republican who unfortunately missed Saturday’s event, I encourage you to mark your calendars in advance for next year’s gathering.  You shouldn’t let this occasion pass you by.

Everything’s Fair

Growing up, I always enjoyed the Rockingham County Fair.  What kid wouldn’t enjoy the rides, the attractions, the food, the animals…and the politics?  Ok, so maybe not every teenager cares about our government, but as you already know, I was a bit different.  Anyway, each year the Harrisonburg and Rockingham County Republican Parties operate a booth at the fair to bring a little bit of the political world to the average citizens of the community.  Every year I volunteered here once I became involved.  More than anything else, I enjoyed standing behind that table handing out information to folks who stopped by, mingling with fellow conservatives.  It was not a high-pressure sales job, but rather a chance to share a bit of our ideals, to shed light on this neglected facet of our society.

Although I didn’t have much time to offer, I still gave about an hour this past week to continue my ritual.  Below are a few photographs of the event.  They are pretty self-explanatory.  The last few are of the cow-kissing contest in which several public figures competed to raise money for the American Cancer Society.  Hosting the event was Virginia Agriculture Commissioner Matt Lohr.  In all, there were five people competing, including newly minted Delegate Tony Wilt (R-26) and Daily News Record Writer and author of the Bowser Bucket List, Heather Bowser.  Thanks to these people who donated their time to such a worthy cause.

Maybe you can join us next year.

The 26th Decision

Can you believe that the day has arrived so quickly?  Tomorrow, we will be selecting the nominee for the Republican Party here in the 26th district.  When I got home from work tonight, my inbox was stuffed with emails from the three candidates (The count stands at ten from 12:30 to 10:40 PM).  Believe it or not, I’m still undecided.  I haven’t had sufficient time to study the candidates and I still think the process was rushed.  Nevertheless, I’ll continue to read about them this evening and tomorrow morning so hopefully when 4:00 PM comes, I’ll be able to make an informed decision.

I plan to support whichever candidate I believe is the most conservative in the three key areas:  socially, fiscally, and constitutionally.  Of course I want a delegate who shares our valley values, but, in addition, I want a leader who will boldly patron conservative legislation.  So then, who is the best candidate?  To help with our decision, I’d like to share with you the responses the three candidates gave to the Shenandoah Valley Tea Party.

SPECIAL EDITION–CANDIDATES FOR 26th House of Delegates District Answer Tea Party Questions

1. John Elledge

2. Tony Wilt

3. Ted Byrd

Please scroll down to read all answers.    Information Only.  The SVTPP Does Not Make Endorsements.

John Elledge Answers SVTPP Nine Questions


1. Please provide a short essay that introduces you and your background?
I am John Elledge and I am running to represent the 26th House District in the Virginia General Assembly.  Delegate Matt Lohr, re-elected this past November, will be vacating his position, leaving the seat open less than halfway through the term.  I am determined to fill his position because the citizens of the 26th District need a Delegate who can hit the ground running.  I know that I am the right man for the job.

I know the institution of the Virginia General Assembly because I worked ten years as a Legislative Assistant to former Delegate Glenn Weatherholtz.  I am the only candidate who knows the procedures and processes of the legislature.  I have drafted bills, monitored them, and developed a strategy to pass important legislation over those ten years.  I am aware of the ins and outs of the committee structure, and the tricks and setbacks that legislators face.  I know the players in Richmond and in the District, and I know the mysteries of the budgeting process.

My political values were developed under the guidance of Delegate Weatherholtz, who had a distaste for politics as usual.  He served 24 years as Rockingham County Sheriff.  During those years and during his service in the General Assembly, he made it a point of genuine pride to never spend his entire budget.  He was also a tough man who knew his own mind and did not give in easily to the pressures of the insiders in the political class.  It is my goal to emulate Glenn Weatherholtz in all these ways.

2. Please describe the three most important achievements that you would like to accomplish for the citizens of the 26th District?
I will consider it an achievement every time I successfully work for the failure of government-expanding legislation proposed by a Democrat or a Republican.

I will consider it an achievement if I can make a dent in the status of the 26th District as a net exporter of resources.  I want to bring our fair share back home to be spent in our communities, not in the district of those who cater to expansive local governments in their districts.  I will work to fund core services of Education, Public Safety and Transportation, to relieve upward pressure on our local tax system.

I will proudly limit the amount of legislation I introduce each session.  Not every idea needs to become law.  What legislation I do introduce will have a priority of reducing the size of government.

3.  If elected, will you hold frequent town hall meetings and tele-town hall meetings for the 26th District citizens?
Yes, I will employ the latest technology to stay in touch with my constituents, to be as responsive and accessible as possible.

4. What are your three top concerns for the Commonwealth of Virginia?
That we eliminate services that are not the core role of government.

That we resist the intrusion of the federal government into the province of the government of the Commonwealth, and that we demand that the federal government lives up to its obligations to all the citizens, like protecting our borders, and spend on core infrastructure like Interstate highways, rather than expansive social programs.

That we fund core services in a focused and efficient manner: Education, Public Safety, and Transportation.

5. Is the size of Virginia government and the Virginia 2010-2012 Budget: adequate, too large, or too small?
It is too large.  Much of what makes it too large is the result of the imposition of unfunded mandates, like Medicaid and spending.  The current budget takes the Commonwealth back to the 2006 spending level, which were prosperous economic times.  We must prevent the budget from swelling back to its size before the recession.  We also need to see that a significant portion of revenue growth from the recovery goes to a Rainy Day Fund, and to repaying the frequently-raided Transportation fund.

6. Will you sign a “no-new taxes” pledge?
Yes.

7. What are your three top concerns at the Federal level?
Runaway spending
The imposition of mandates on states, especially unfunded mandates.
The Federal government’s failure/refusal to seal our borders.

8. Do you vigorously support Virginia 10th Amendment legislation such as, H.B. 10 (Virginia Health Care Freedom Act) and H.B. 69 (Virginia Firearms Freedom Act)?
I absolutely support both these legislative efforts, and further support sound legal challenges to the Federal government’s imposition of its healthcare rules and firearms regulations on Virginians, recognizing that success in these challenges will probably require the Supreme Court’s reversal of bad precedent in terms of its Commerce Clause jurisprudence (Wickard vs, Filbrum) and the extension of its good decision in U.S. vs. Lopez, which found the Gun-Free School Zones Act unconstitutional as an application of the Commerce Clause.

9. If you believe that Virginia must cut spending in state government, what spending category would you cut first?
This goes hand-in-hand with my views on question # 8.  The primary and fastest growing segment of the budget causing the explosion in spending has to do with unfunded mandates, especially Medicaid spending.  A forceful resistance to these impositions with the efforts of strong organizers and activists like the Tea Party groups working to change the makeup of Congress could do wonders to reduce this forced area of state spending.

Apart from that, I am generally supportive of Governor McDonnell’s approach to the planned cuts he offered before the General Assembly.

Tony Wilt Answers SVTPP Nine Questions

1. Please provide a short essay that introduces you and your platform?

My name is Tony Wilt and I’m vying for the Republican nomination to run for the 26th District House of Delegates seat.  I’ve never run for public office.  However, I’m excited about the prospect of representing the people of the 26th District.  Vickie and I have been married for 25 years and have a grown daughter and son.

I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman.  I am pro-life.  I believe the 2nd Amendment gives each qualifying citizen the right to keep and bear arms.  I was born, raised, and lived in the 26th District all my life, except for two brief times in California and North Carolina, while my dad served in the U.S. M.C.  I urge you to seek out those who know me.  My actions will speak out louder and truer than my words.  I trust that you will find that my actions and words are one in the same.

I’ve worked at Superior Concrete, Inc. for 30 years and am the President/General Manager.  I stand firm against any new taxes, regulations, mandates, and entitlements, and will fight to lessen or repeal current ones.  I believe in limited government intrusion in every aspect of our lives.  But along with that, I demand personal responsibility.

2. Please describe the three most important achievements that you would like to accomplish for the citizens of the 26th District?

Greater freedom of government intrusion in our lives.

Re-evaluate the state budget for what is supported, and for how much.

Secure alternative sources of revenue, instead of raising taxes on hard-working Virginians.

3. If elected, will you hold frequent town hall meetings and tele-town hall meetings for the 26th District citizens?

Yes.

4. What are your three top concerns for the Commonwealth of Virginia?

Out of control Federal government.

Efficiency of state and local governments.

Stagnant economy.

5. Is the size of Virginia government and the Virginia 2010-2012 Budget: adequate, too large, or too small?

Too large.

6. Will you sign a “no-new taxes” pledge?

Yes.    (This candidate submitted a signed and witnessed Taxpayer Protection Pledge with Americans for Tax Reform, that pledges he will oppose and vote against any and all efforts to increase taxes.)

7. What are your three top concerns at the Federal level?

Disregard for the Constitution.

Ignoring national security and sovereignty.

Mandates passed on states and locales.

8. Do you vigorously support Virginia 10th Amendment Legislation such as H.B. 10 (Virginia Health Care Freedom Act) and H.B. 69 (Virginia Firearms Freedom Act)?

Yes.

9. If you believe that Virginia must cut spending in state government, what spending category would you cut first?

This is a tough one, I believe two-fold.  Every agency must strive for efficiency, but I don’t know if that will do the trick.  We must prioritize just what the government should be involved in, and cut the rest.  That definitely means operations within each agency, but maybe the agency itself.
Ted Byrd Answers SVTPP Nine Questions
1. Please provide a short essay that introduces you and your platform?
I am running for the Republican nomination for the 26th District of the House of Delegates, because I believe my experiences in Agriculture, Economic Development, Business, Transportation, and Local Government enable me to have a balanced perspective and will represent our community’s interest in Richmond.  I am committed to listen carefully to constituents and make decisions that will best address our local and state concerns.

2. Please describe the three most important achievements that you would like to accomplish for the citizens of the 26th District?
I would be a Champion of our local Family Farmers.
I would work hard to ensure we have a business climate that encourages the creation of jobs.
I would continue to strive for fair funding for our local schools to enable children to compete for future jobs.

3. If elected, will you hold frequent town hall meetings and tele-town hall meetings for the 26th District citizens?
Yes.

4. What are your three top concerns for the Commonwealth of Virginia?
We need to return to prioritizing state funding for our core services which are: public safety, education, and maintaining our road infrastructure.

5. Is the size of Virginia government and the Virginia 2010-2012 Budget: adequate, too large, or too small?
It is still too large.

6. Will you sign a “no-new taxes” pledge?
Yes.

7. What are your three top concerns at the Federal level?
National Debt.
National Security.
The massive size of the Federal government and its reach into each of our lives.

8. Do you vigorously support Virginia 10th Amendment Legislation such as H.B. 10 (Virginia Health Care Freedom Act) and H.B. 69 (Virginia Firearms Freedom Act)?
I do support the state of Virginia Federal lawsuit to uphold Virginia’s Health Care Freedom Act and await the ruling from the federal court.  I was unable to get information on H.B. 69.*

* Newsletter Editor’s note:  While H.B. 10 passed in the recent legislative session, H.B. 69 was sent to an unfavorable committee where the legislation died for this session.

9. If you believe that Virginia must cut spending in state government, what spending category would you cut first?
Non-core services.  Through the years there has been pork or special interest funding inserted into the state budget and that would be the first place I would look to make cuts.

For some more information, I’d recommend that you read a recent article provided by hburgnews.com.

Remember that polls will only be open from 4 to 8 PM tomorrow.  If you are in the city, you vote at Keister Elementary, 100 Maryland Avenue.  If you are in the county, you vote at Lacey Spring Elementary School, 8621 North Valley Pike.

Be an informed voter!

Update: Assuming you lived in the 26th District (which of course many of you do not), based upon the above information which of the candidates would you support and why?  Please feel free to comment.