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.

Hob-nobbing Here Among The Elite

On Friday, September 9th, the Top of Virginia Regional Chamber of Commerce hosted their twelfth annual Hob Nob event.  Perhaps the most important political event in the area, it featured a number of politicians and hopefuls from Winchester, Clarke County, and Frederick County, as well as two (or three) statewide office seekers.

I last attended this gathering four years ago.  Back then; my purpose was a little different.  I had heard that representatives of the Ron Paul campaign would be present and I had been eagerly trying to secure employment with them.  As I recall, when I arrived in 2007, the grassy field next to the parking lot was jammed with tents of political campaigns and causes.

This time, the outside ground was barren politically.  Due to the recent rain, all of the activity had moved into the building.

Although this statement might sound strange, I want to express thanks to the local Democrats.  Because of them, I was able to get my ticket for a reduced price.  All they asked in return was for me to visit the Democratic table and pick up some literature.  So what’s the take home lesson here?  Although the easiest course of action is to simply ignore those with differing political opinions, dialogue is often beneficial.

As for the political displays themselves, although both the Republicans and Democrats hosted a table, there wasn’t much else in the way of swag.  None of the presidential campaigns were there.  Besides a few Allen and Kaine bumper stickers, the Senate candidates had nothing either.  Sure, they had info for the General Assembly candidates, commonwealth attorneys, sheriffs, and the like, but, for an out-of-towner like myself who knew little of local politics, I desired hunks of statewide and national meat.

Speaking of meat, the meal was beef or pork BBQ with sides of potato salad, fruit, and potato chips.  It was acceptable.

The real highlight of the whole affair had to be their two featured speakers, former Governor and Senate candidate Tim Kaine and former Virginia first lady and wife of a Senate candidate Susan Allen.  As I didn’t see any other bloggers there I knew, it is possible that these videos maybe fairly exclusive to The Virginia Conservative.  Sorry that they are a bit shaky.  I’ll get a real video camera one of these days…I hope.

Perhaps even more important than these speeches was the opportunity to speak with both Mr. Kaine and Mrs. Allen.  I took the opportunity to strongly encourage them to attend the Senate Tea Party debate in Verona in October and I hope that you will come likewise.

I suppose that I should mention that there was also a straw poll at the Hob Nob, but as the poll made no mention of either the Senate or the President, I didn’t stick around to hear the results.

Overall, I was a bit disappointed with the event.  It is not as exciting to hob-nob here among the elite if many of them are unfamiliar faces.  Also, given that there is not much at stake in this corner of the Shenandoah Valley, I’ve already turned my eye to 2012.  But, with the exception of Allen and Kaine, the local 2011 races dominated the night.

I suppose that situation does make sense.  As far as I could tell, there may have only been three people who attended from the Harrisonburg area: Nick (a JMU student and friend who traveled with me), Senator Obenshain (R-26), and myself.

Why was the good Senator there you might ask?  Well…if you don’t know the answer to that question, then chances are you haven’t been following Virginia politics much at all.