The Conservative Kobayashi Maru

Photo by Steve Helber of the Associated Press

In two weeks, on June 13th, the Republican Party of Virginia will be holding a statewide open primary to determine their nominee for governor.  On the ballot will be three choices: former RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie, Chairman of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors Corey Stewart, and State Senator Frank Wagner.

Typically, at least one authentic conservative runs for the Republican nomination in statewide contests.  For example, in 2014, Shak Hill sought the GOP nod.  However, all of the choices for governor are poor this year.  Don’t believe me?  Let’s take a moment to go through each option.

Besides being the former RNC chairman, Ed Gillespie has also been the chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia, a lobbyist for companies such as Enron,  a counselor to the Bush White House, and the 2014 Republican nominee for U.S. Senate.  Seen by some as the consummate Republican insider, he is in many ways a milquetoast candidate, reciting typical Republican talking points while not providing many details of how he wishes to accomplish anything and avoiding saying anything controversial or of much substance.  According to reports, he has avoided attending a variety of candidate forums and events.  It seems he is coasting through the nomination process by trying to say as little as possible.  Even worse, when he served as RNC Chairman, he repudiated limited government conservativism.  According to National Review, “Gillespie basically said that the Republicans’ long-time war against big government has now ended.  Government won.”  and “the party’s new chairman, energetic and full of vigor, said in no uncertain terms that the days of Reaganesque Republican railings against the expansion of federal government are over.”  And, despite my repeated requests, the Gillespie campaign refuses to state where Mr. Gillespie stands on political freedom and third party rights, leading me to believe that he opposes them.

Next, we have Corey Stewart, certainly the most controversial of the three candidates.  Last year, he served as the Virginia chairman for the Donald Trump campaign until he was fired for insubordination.  No stranger to controversy, he has relentlessly attacked Ed Gillespie for not being sufficiently pro-Trump and for Mr. Gillespie’s refusal to take a stand on a number of issues.  As I’ve told some people, I think Mr. Stewart is the most dishonest person I have met in Virginia politics.  This opinion took form in 2011 when Mr. Stewart toured the state denouncing former Senator George Allen for being a poor conservative and a poor senator.  However, once Corey Stewart decided he was no longer interested in running for Senate, he endorsed his former rival.  That stunt earned him a flip flop from PolitiFact.   In addition, there was the 2013 campaign for lieutenant governor when Corey Stewart hired Senator Obenshain’s former campaign manager who was supposedly fired due to theft from a rival campaign who then tried to extort $85,000 from Pete Snyder in what has been colorfully called “The Richmond Screwjob“.  These incidents show that Mr. Stewart will do or say just about anything to gain political power and thus one cannot be sure if he is elected what his true intentions are.

Last, there is Frank Wagner, who has been in elected office since 1992, first serving several terms in the House of Delegates before joining the Virginia Senate in 2001.  Curiously, unlike his Republican opponents, Mr. Wagner is currently advocating raising taxes on Virginians.  In addition, he supported the largest tax increase in Virginia, when he voted for the 2013 transportation tax hike.  In 2015, he authored a bill to keep the earnings of Dominion Power, the state-supported energy monopoly, secret.  Amusingly, in early 2014 a Republican activist added me to a Facebook group called “Primary Frank Wagner” after Mr. Wagner supposedly employed a tactic known as slating to disenfranchise those who oppose him.   Frank Wagner supports higher taxes, government monopolies and more secrecy, and silencing opposition.  Are these conservative values?

Image from http://memory-alpha.wikia.com/wiki/Kobayashi_Maru

In Star Trek II, The Wrath of Khan, Starfleet officers are presented with the Kobayashi Maru, an intentionally unwinnable scenario which serves to test the character of those who participate in it.  Unfortunately, this year, conservatives who participate in the Republican primary for governor face a similar dilemma. Which do you think will uphold the creed of the Republican Party of Virginia?  Dodgy, establishment Ed Gillespie? Talking-out-of-both-sides-of-his-mouth, populist Corey Stewart?  Or liberal, big government-loving Frank Wagner?  It’s a tough pick, isn’t it?  None of the three choices, Gillespie, Stewart, or Wagner, are desirable, and each has exhibited principles or character flaws which ought to disqualify all of them from the Republican nomination.  As one elected official who is supporting Ed Gillespie told me, it is unfortunate that there isn’t a better candidate to head the Republican ticket this year.  Are you looking for a consistently conservative candidate who is trustworthy and will work to reduce the size and scope of the state government?  If so, you better hope a third party or independent candidate makes the ballot because none of the three Republican candidates come anywhere close to that standard.

How will you react to this conservative Kobayashi Maru?  If I end up voting in the Republican primary, I’ll be leaving the ballot for governor blank as I think none of them are acceptable nor do I plan to vote for whoever wins the Republican nomination in the November general election.

Obenshain v. Dunbar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Obenshain Out? Gillespie In?

Senator Obenshain
Senator Obenshain

In a move that surprised many political activists, yesterday Senator Obenshain (R-Rockingham), widely considered to be the Republican front-runner for the Republican nomination for governor of Virginia in 2017, announced that he would not be seeking that office.  With Obenshain’s decision, it now seems likely that Ed Gillespie will not only seek the nod, but also be the new presumptive front-runner.  Gillespie, as one may recall, narrowly lost the race for U.S. Senate in 2014.

Although some people in the Republican Party are enthusiastic about Gillespie being their standard-bearer in 2017, others have expressed dismay.  Rewinding the clock to the last election, I spoke to many liberty activists in Virginia who were opposed to Gillespie, viewing him as yet another establishment, big government Republican.  As the 2014 election drew close, a vast majority of liberty-minded Republicans told me that they would be casting their ballots for Libertarian Robert Sarvis as opposed to the official Republican nominee.  A few others stated that they would write-in Shak Hill or simply not vote.  At one point, I could only find one member of the liberty movement statewide who openly supported Gillespie.  Even though that number has grown slightly, a vast majority of the liberty activists in Virginia seemed to be opposed to a Gillespie candidacy in 2014 and have remained that way today.

Does that mean that Gillespie cannot win in 2017?  Certainly not.  After all, even without the support of many traditional Republican voters he came remarkably close to knocking off Senator Mark Warner.  Now, I don’t think it is unreasonable to say that Warner has far better name id and favorability than likely 2017 Democratic gubernatorial nominee Ralph Northam.  Therefore, one would assume Gillespie’s chances couldn’t get any worse.  However, if the Republican Party of Virginia nominates Gillespie again, it will likely widen the rift and civil war currently plaguing the party.

For one example, last night one of my liberty-minded friends posted a piece on Facebook in support of Ed Gillespie’s candidacy.  Although several people were quick to respond, denouncing Gillespie publicly, I was told that even more expressed their disapproval of him privately.  As another activist wrote, “Anyone who wants to challenge Gillespie for the 2017 gubernatorial nomination in VA – please get in touch with me about helping your campaign.”

Even though I would argue that Obenshain is in a weaker position than he found himself in 2013, yesterday’s announcement was still unexpected.  Given the relationship between Obenshain and Gillespie, I wouldn’t be surprised if the state senator throws his support behind the former RPV Chairman.  However, unless Gillespie discovered and articulates the principles of liberty, I assume that one or more conservative challengers will rise up to oppose him.  And, meaning no disrespect to Ed Gillespie, as he seems like a decent person outside of politics, if Gillespie is the nominee again then I hope that the Libertarians nominate a strong candidate so that the liberty vote within the Republican Party, the Libertarian Party, and elsewhere has someplace to make itself heard.

Sarvis Steals Another One!

Ed Gillespie the day before the election
Ed Gillespie the day before the election in Staunton, VA

I’m sure that many of you were shocked by the closeness of the U.S. Senate race here in Virginia.  After all, who would have predicted that Democrat Mark Warner, who beat Republican Ed Gillespie by at least nine percentage points in every poll but one, would emerge victorious by only about half a percentage point?

Also in the race was Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis.  Sarvis, as many will remember, ran last year for governor capturing 6.5% of the vote in a race where only about 2.5% separated the Republican and the Democrat.  As such, a number of Republican activists blamed Sarvis for that outcome, claiming that he siphoned enough votes from Ken Cuccinelli to allow Terry McAuliffe to claim victory.

Given that Libertarian Robert Sarvis won almost 2.5% of the vote in this election, some Republicans are claiming, once again, that Sarvis stole another election from them.

Robert Sarvis at a recent stop at JMU
Robert Sarvis at a recent stop at JMU

The theory behind this argument is that without Sarvis in the race, most of his supporters would instead choose the Republican candidate.  In 2013, exit polls showed that a greater percentage of Sarvis voters would have selected the Democrat over the Republican if he were not in the race.  After all, he captured more liberals than conservatives, more young than old, and more college graduates than graduates.  These are groups that typically trend toward the Democratic Party.

Although I haven’t seen the exits polls for 2014, I believe the opposite happened this time.  A larger percentage of typical Republican voters cast their ballots for Sarvis than the Democrats.  Almost all self-identified liberty-minded Republicans that I know either cast their ballots for Sarvis or simply left it blank.

“Ah ha!” The Republican establishment shouts.  “So you admit that Sarvis stole the 2014 election!”

My answer is no.

Stealing something implies that you have taken something that doesn’t belong to you.  I would argue that no candidate or party has an automatic right to any person’s vote regardless of their previous voting history or ideology.  Votes are always earned and must be re-earned each and every election; they never should be taken for granted.  We aren’t political slaves!

Let’s rewind the clock to the 2002 U.S. Senate election in Virginia.  That was John Warner’s last election.  You remember John Warner, don’t you?  He was the long-serving Republican Senator from Virginia who recently endorsed Democrat Mark Warner for Senate.  As a result, some people now consider him a traitor.  But this recent revelation conveniently overlooks the fact that he rarely fought for the supposedly Republican principles of restraining the power of the federal government.  In addition, he supported gun control and abortion, two positions in stark contrast to a majority of Virginia Republicans.    And then there is Warner’s proclivity to oppose the “Republican team” as he did when he denounced Ollie North in 1994 and Mike Farris in 1993.

Even though John Warner and I shared the same political party back then, I could not bring myself to vote for him and thus left that portion of the ballot blank.  Did sticking to my principles make me a “bad Republican”?

As stated, this year many conservatives and libertarians who consider themselves Republicans did not feel that Ed Gillespie shared their principles and thus either cast their vote for Sarvis, wrote in Shak Hill, or didn’t vote at all.  Who can blame them?  After all, the last time I spoke to Ed Gillespie, I asked him which unconstitutional federal agencies would he work to eliminate, his response was that he would “check with his advisers and get back in touch with me”.  For someone who believes the federal government has grown too large, that answer was unacceptable and showed, much like Warner over a decade earlier, that he and I disagreed on the most important and fundamental principles of our constitutional republic.  Like 2002, if I didn’t have an acceptable option, I simply would not have voted for any of the candidates for Senate.

So, yes.  If Robert Sarvis had not been in the race, Gillespie might have ended up winning.  But regardless of my opinion of Sarvis, I’m glad that voters had a third choice so they didn’t have to simply vote for the lesser of two evils.  The Libertarian, Green, and Constitution Parties, as well as independents have as much of a right to run candidates as the Republicans and Democrats.  And, if voters believe that their candidates are better than one or both of the major party candidates, then perhaps they ought to solve this problem by running better candidates.  Or, given that Sarvis used to be a Republican, perhaps they ought to work harder to grow the party and stick with their supposed principles as opposed to driving folks away or simply kicking people out of the party as they did in my case.

Just don’t complain that the election was “stolen”.

A Letter About W.I.S.H.

Several days ago, I wrote about increasing dissatisfaction among some conservatives with Virginia Republican U.S. Senate candidate Ed Gillespie.  As mentioned, several folks that I know say that they are planning to write-in Shak Hill as their choice on November 4th.

Well, today I received an email from some of the folks from the W.I.S.H. effort (which stands for write-in Shak Hill).  Although it says as much in the letter itself, as additional disclaimer, the author of this letter wants to remind everyone that this effort is neither part of the Apple Valley Tea Party campaign nor is it from Shak Hill either.

Anyway, here’s what they have to say…

 

Greetings to all,
Some info for the W.I.S.H. effort (Write in Shak Hill for senate)

Mike and Josh (my husband and stepson) started this campaign shortly after Labor Day. We are using social media, facebook (“Write in Shak Hill” page), twitter, and I am including a video in my newsletters (Apple Valley Tea party…along with the all candidates stuff). Some feedback is beginning to come back to us. We figured they would ignore us first, then they would begin to attack us. we’ll see how that pans out.

This write-in effort first of all, is NOT spearheaded by Shak Hill. Also the Apple Valley Tea Party is NOT behind this effort. It is an independent effort of folks who are not enthused at all about the candidates we have for the Virginia Senate Race.

How amazing it is to me, that folks can be so caught up into one phrase “We’ve GOT to get rid of Harry Reid”, that they can’t see the forest for the trees. The messaging for the Republican party this election cycle is right out of the Democratic playbook. Never mind, that all across the nation, good solid Americans, with the kind of values I thought we all believed in, have been trampled by the Republican Party for the ousting of Harry Reid. Never mind, that if, indeed, you did get those folks into the Senate…they would be very difficult to beat as an incumbent. Never mind that they may go to DC…but who knows whether they have the principles to actually vote to keep the Freedom that is ours.

Is the Republican Party really trying to win this race? Doesn’t seem like it. Up until the latter part of September there has been very little mention of the Senate race at all. Many people, who are average folks like us, have no idea there is an election going on out there. No signs..no ads, and If they do hear of the election, they know Mark Warner is running, but they have no idea who is running against him. If the Republicans really wanted to win the Senate, don’t you think they would have been coming out of the gate swinging for the election win, as soon as the convention was over with?  Many people who do know that Ed Gillespie is the candidate, aren’t even wanting to get out and vote. If those of us who are paying attention, and know the serious state this country is in, won’t get out and vote, do you really think anyone else is going to bother to pay attention? Let’s see, on that Tuesday, if there is something else going on in their life, or taking time out to vote, what do you think people are going to do?

People are tired of voting for the lesser of two evils. Many people don’t think their vote counts, and that is because the political parties keep running candidates that reflect the $$ donors, instead of the values people hold dear. I don’t want to vote for somebody because of how electable they are (certainly according to different sources than what I use). People are clamoring to be able to vote FOR somebody. As for my sources, I go by what I hear from the customers in my place of work. the grocery store, Mike does the same thing, with the guys he works with. Together that’s several segments of the population that get covered…under the radar of the involved members of both political parties.

We have seen what voting Party over principle has done to this Country. We are living it now, and the only way to save this nation, is to start putting citizen legislators back into office (the way the founders intended).   Mike and I both believe in the principles that we have seen exhibited by Shak Hill. Principles that I know many folks share. He is an honest man, a decorated combat veteran, and a sucessful businessman. Principles I know he will keep when he gets to DC. Gillespie may have those values, but I remember his name mixed up with Enron. That was the first thing that came to my mind, when I heard his name back in January. And that is what most folks who are not affiliated with either party will remember.  I am sorry to say that regardless of any poll that comes out, and there are several being cited( have to look at the demographics on those), Warner will hand Gillespie’s behind to him in Nov. Those same poll #’s were given out in 2012 too, when Kaine easily beat Allen, and Allen had a whole lot more name recognition. The most informed folks, that have given us a comment, haven’t asked why we will take the victory from Gillespie, only why we want to make the margin of defeat greater. What does that say about the chances of a victory?

On a different thought, what if the Republican party isn’t really trying to win the election? They can raise a ton of money with their mantra. But they managed to pick Ed Gillespie, who has ties to the Bush administration, and rumors of wrongdoing with Enron. Ed did make a comment supporting using the IRS to enforce individual mandates for health care (Obamacare), so he will not hammer that as much as he should (that’s a winning argument). So Ed has absolutely the slimmest chance of winning, that the Republican party could find, while actually fielding a candidate to try to make it look like they wanted to win this race.

Campaign Finance
Candidate                            Raised            Cash on Hand
Ed Gillespie (Republican)    $4,164,818    $3,111,992
Mark Warner* (Democrat)    $9,927,477    $8,914,812
Robert Sarvis (Libertarian)    $47,167    $7,073
Groups spent an additional $2,205,473 in independent expenditures to influence the outcome of this election. Details current as of 06/30/2014

If you look at the pattern, the Republican party is gonna come out of this election cycle spending maybe half to two thirds of what they keep begging folks for. So, they still make money(lots of money), we still get screwed. And they don’t have to deal with a pesky person in DC, who actually believes in the Constitution. The bottom line is that most folks have been debating whether they even want to get out and vote.

Here is a thought , the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results. And so…the idea of Mitt Romney or Jeb Bush comes to mind for the future. Let’s start to make some clear distinctions on the candidates we run, because if these “Party Faithful” get the nomination in 2016(assuming we make it that far)….well, need more be said?  Get used to saying President Clinton again.

I am sending this link, which is for the website that Mike and Josh put together  Friendsoftheconstitutiongroup.com. . Quite frankly, people have told us all along, since we became involved, that we have to keep fighting. Our fight is going to be for folks WE CAN believe in and trust to fight for our freedoms. Not the lessor of two evils. I keep hearing we have to do this now…principled candidates can be elected later. When is later? If not now…then when, and if not us… then who?

I hope you check out the more detailed explanation. If you like this info…contact us , we need help!! Have ideas…share. Share with the folks you know. share the videos etc. Everything we put up there is for people to use to share and get the word out that we CAN choose our own candidate.Like the templates for business card to hand out to remind folks of the name and the reminder to write Shak Hill in,and the date of the Senate Election  Those can be found on the “Write In Shak Hill” Facebook page, as well.

Thanks to all, God bless America!

arcbead52@yahoo.com and dodykins1@yahoo.com
Mike, Josh and Dody Stottlemyer

Why the wish?
http://tinyurl.com/lu82bzx

Here are some video’s we have been putting on social media

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cau6iGt1FOQ

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7zWG10FSh_4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BBRoZT6zdnk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TWIkDEetQ28

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=99HDxXo155s&feature=youtu.be

A Republican Revolt?

Ed Gillespie speaks to a reporter

Lately, Virginia Republicans have been touting a Quinnipac poll which shows that only nine percentage points separate Mark Warner from his Republican challenger, Ed Gillespie.  Although certainly positive news for the Gillespie campaign, which has previously been down by over twenty points, it is the only poll thus far that shows the race separated with single digits.  To be fair, the race is getting closer, but not necessarily close yet; the Roanoke College poll several days before Quinnipac had Gillespie down by twenty and the PPP and CBS/New York Times polls since Quinnipac show Gillespie back by thirteen and twelve points respectively.  Robert Sarvis, the Libertarian candidate, pulls somewhere between six and one percent.

As mentioned about a month ago, at that point in the race it seemed that the Ed Gillespie campaign had failed to capture the hearts and minds of the liberty wing of the GOP.  Although attitudes can and do change, a fair number have expressed plans to either cast their ballots Robert Sarvis or stay home.

Now, it seems that Gillespie is facing even more challenges.  Last night, one of my political Facebook friends indicated that she plans to write-in Shak Hill as her choice for U.S. Senate.  Mr. Hill, as you may recall, sought the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate but was defeated by Gillespie at the convention.  Apparently my friend is not alone as a website and a Facebook group have popped up encouraging voters to do likewise.

Photo from Reuters/Justin Reed

Although the number of fans of this Facebook group is quite small for a statewide effort, it could present an additional problem for a candidate some in the party view as a consummate political insider, close associate of Karl Rove, and not particularly friendly to the idea of limited government conservatism.

This information is fairly consistent with the CBS/New York Times poll, which shows that while 94% of Democrats plan on voting for Mark Warner, only 78% of Republicans will do likewise for Gillespie.  The gap grows larger when considering ideology as 95% of self-identified liberals say they will cast their votes for Warner, 1% for Gillespie, and 0% for Sarvis while 75% of conservatives will go for Gillespie, a rather large 10% for Warner, and 2% for Sarvis.

So, are the polls and my personal observations correct?  Is a significant portion of the Republican base revolting against the party’s nominee for Senate either through supporting Robert Sarvis, Shak Hill, or by doing nothing?  And, if this is the case, what, if anything, does the Republican Party of Virginia and the Ed Gillespie campaign plan to do to counter this rift?

An Open Letter to Virginia Republican Delegates

Good afternoon delegates to the Virginia Republican state convention.

In just a few short days you will be heading to Roanoke to select a candidate to be the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate to face Mark Warner in the fall.  I must confess that I’m disappointed that I won’t be joining you this year as I did in 2013 and 2008.  As you may have heard, unfortunately the Republican Party of Virginia now requires a signed loyalty oath to participate.  Now, this isn’t a loyalty to our shared principles and the Republican Creed of Virginia, but rather a blind loyalty to the party and her candidates, regardless of their positions.  It is a troubling sign of the times and one reason why the party continues to falter, but I’m not going to delve any further into that matter here.

Anyway, at the convention, you will choose between four men, Tony DeTora, Ed Gillespie, Shak Hill, and Chuck Moss.  Each, of course, has their benefits and drawbacks.

First, I must confess that I know little of Mr. Moss and Mr. DeTora.  Although I have been heavily active in Virginia politics and have attended a lot of Republican events, I have not met either of these two men.  A big part of campaigning, as they say, is simply showing up and, as either have made zero visits to my corner of the state, or have not publicized such trips, I would recommend against both.  Again, they may have great principles or they may not, but when you don’t make a concerted effort to reach folks, you shouldn’t be running in a statewide contest.

With that thought in mind, that leaves but two choices, Ed Gilllespie and Shak Hill.  I have appreciated the fact that I have had several opportunities to speak with both men.  Let me outline what I see are the main upsides of each.  Mr. Gillespie is well-connected and is an excellent fundraiser and has proven that fact once again with this campaign.  Mr. Hill has been advocating a set of principles that is in general more conservative and more detailed than Mr. Gillespie.  I can tell you without a doubt that if I were a delegate this weekend, I would be casting my vote for Shak Hill.

As I’ve written previously, I tried on several occasions to discover where Ed Gillespie stands on the issues.  Although his website contains a multitude of well-crafted videos in a variety of languages, there is very little substantive information of what he will actually do if elected.  For example, I know far more about his family history than I do about his stance on foreign policy.  To me, this deficit is a major problem.

Recently, I asked both Ed Gillepsie and Shak Hill what federal agencies and programs would he work to eliminate if elected.  It is the same question that I asked of the 2012 Republican Senate candidates several years ago.  The question harkens back to the 1996 Bob Dole for president campaign where he pledged to eliminate three federal departments.  You’d be hard-pressed to call Bob Dole a constitutional conservative, but at least he understood that the federal government has grown well beyond its authorized roles.  By comparison, Mr. Gillespie’s response was that he didn’t have the answer and would need to speak with his advisors about the issue.  In reply, several Gillespie supporters in the audience shouted their own suggestions, such as the Department of Education.  Although I would prefer a little more detail, Shak Hill’s response was far and away much better, declaring that he would get rid of “those not authorized by the constitution.  Which is most”.

Now, one major strike that Gillespie supporters use against Hill is that due to lack of funding he cannot win the general election.  And do you know what?  I think they are likely right.  Although thankfully money by itself does not win elections, it is exceedingly difficult to win these days without a lot of it.  I do not believe that he will be able to raise the kind of funds that Gillespie can.  If Hill is the nominee, it seems probable that many of the establishment Republicans won’t back him financially.

However, I would also argue that due to his either undefined or mushy principles, the divided nature of the Republican Party in Virginia, and the fact that the Democratic nominee is Mark Warner, the most popular elected official in the state, Ed Gillespie cannot win the general election either.  Even though the most stalwart Gillespie supporters I have spoken with claim he is more electable, they all have rated his victory as highly doubtful.  Need I remind you that in both 2008 and 2012, Republicans nominated the supposedly “most electable” candidate and both times that candidate was in no danger of winning once the votes were counted?  And, even if Gillespie did win, except for a few social issues, how would he  be much different from Mark Warner?  I still don’t know the answer to that question.  Now, if anyone thinks that I’m wrong and would care to wager on the outcome of the Senate race in Virginia, please let me know.

So, if the Republican nomination isn’t likely to lead to victory in November, what is it about?  The answer is the future of the Republican Party in Virginia.  If that is true, the question each delegate must ask him or herself is, what direction do I want to see the party take?  As I see it, there are two options:  Do I want it to see the party regress into a plutocracy, where the well-funded and well-connected rule?  Or do I want a party grounded on principles, such as obeying the Constitution, shrinking the size of the government, and fiscal and personal responsibility?  After all, I thought that idea was supposed to be a central belief of the Republican Party when I first got involved in 1995.  Yes, Gillespie can spend a lot of money to improve the party infrastructure but, without solid principles, it matters little.  Only with Hill do I see a chance to make the state GOP something more than a party filled with an increasing number of big government Republicans.

Therefore, I would encourage delegates to cast their votes for Shak Hill on Saturday.

Senate Polling

Currently, the News Virginian, a newspaper based out of Waynesboro, is holding an online poll to gauge support for the various 2014 U.S. Senate candidates.  The poll includes all four of the Republican options, Democratic Senator Mark Warner, and Libertarian Robert Sarvis.

So what does the poll show?  Currently, Robert Sarvis easily tops the voting with 61.3% of the vote. Mark Warner comes in second at 21.8%.  Ed Gillespie leads the Republican field with 13.2% and Shak Hill, the most well-known alternative to Gillespie, is farther behind at 2.5%.  Both Chuck Moss and Tony DeTora do not crack the 1% mark.

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Robert Sarvis at the 2014 Virginia Libertarian state convention.

Although the poll doesn’t display how many people have voted thus far, nor can it be declared scientific and thus accurate by any stretch of the imagination, it still holds some interest.

Looking back to the Republican presidential primaries in 2008 and 2012, Ron Paul often won these internet contests with convincing margins, though I don’t recall him with the kind of lead Sarvis has in this poll.  Nevertheless, he fared much better in the online world than the ballot box as liberty-minded voters are typically younger, more technologically connected, and this much more likely to participate in these kinds of polls.

Although it is exceedingly early in the race, if any candidate does reach or exceed the 60% mark on Election Day, it will most likely be incumbent Senator Warner.  After all, the last time he ran in 2008, he crushed former Republican Governor Jim Gilmore 65% to 33.7%.

It is true that we won’t know who the Republican nominee will be until after the Virginia Republican Convention in June.  However, most pundits and pollsters currently rate this race as fairly safely Democratic.  If that trend holds, could Robert Sarvis see a surge in popularity as a protest vote against the major party candidates?  I suppose the answer to that question depends on who the Republicans nominate, the unity or disarray of the GOP, the popularity of Mark Warner, and the strength of the Sarvis campaign over the next several months.   Perhaps a taste of things to come, I have spoken with a multitude of activists across the state and it seems likely that there will be a revolt in the liberty wing of the Republican Party if Ed Gillespie is the party nominee; if that transpires, Sarvis could see a substantial increase in support.

Want to add your voice to the mix?  Click on the link for the News Virginian’s website and cast your vote in this straw poll.

Dems Attack Gillespie

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Image from Gillespiecare.com

A number of conservative activists in Virginia have warned the Republican Party that if they nominate Ed Gillespie for U.S. Senate, Senator Mark Warner will easily win reelection.  They claim that Gillespie supports the idea of a government funded healthcare program and thus will be unable to capitalize on one supposed glaring weakness of Senator Warner, his vote in favor of Obamacare.

Well, today there is a fresh attack ad against Ed Gillespie over this very issue.  However, it does not come from Shak Hill, any of his other Republican convention opponents, or Libertarian Robert Sarvis.  Instead, the salvo originates from the Democratic Party of Virginia; the Democratic Party declares Mr. Gillespie to be a hypocrite and claims that he will sell out if the price is right.  The website is available here.

The emergence and timing of this website raises a few political questions.  Does the Democratic Party simply assume that Gillespie will be the nominee, given that he is likely the frontrunner, and is getting a head start on attacking him early?  Or does the Democratic Party hope that Gillespie will lose the nomination and the Republicans select another candidate who will not have access to the fundraising tools that Gillespie enjoys?

Either way, I suspect that as we draw closer to the Virginia Republican Convention the number and variety of attacks from groups within and outside the GOP will only increase.