On July 21st, the Virginia Bar Association will be holding the first debate for the race for the 2018 U.S. Senate election in Virginia. However, like the debates they have held in previous years, they will be excluding one of the candidates who will be on the November ballot, Libertarian Matt Waters. Although the organization claims to be nonpartisan and “the VBA debates are not intended to in any way promote or advance one candidate over another”, it is obvious that through their exclusionary practices they intend to advance the candidacies of two of the options at the expense of their third.
Virginia has one of the most difficult hurdles for statewide candidates to achieve ballot access. An independent or third party candidate (or a Republican or Democrat competing in a primary but not a convention) needs to submit the signatures of 10,000 registered voters to the Election Board with at least 400 from each of Virginia’s 11 congressional districts. After a majority of Republican presidential candidates failed to make the cut in 2012, the Virginia General Assembly lowered the threshold for that office (and that office only) to 5,000 signatures.
If you are tired of being forced to select between the lesser of two evils, you don’t think that the Virginia Bar Association ought to be picking winners and losers in elections, and/or you feel that every candidate who succeeds in making the ballot ought to be given the same equality of opportunity of having his or her voice heard, I encourage you to visit the Facebook page of the Virginia Bar Association and let them know you don’t support their sham of a debate. I’ve spoken to them already and perhaps if enough of us make our opinions known, then politics in Virginia can become more free and fair.
Leading up to the primary on June 12th, I asked activists who they thought would win the Republican U.S. Senate primary in Virginia. As is the case in many elections, most people stated that their preferred candidate would win. Stewart people assumed Corey Stewart would be victorious while Freitas people thought likewise about Nick Freitas. Although I supported and ended up casting my vote for Delegate Freitas, I stated that I thought Stewart would win.
Why? Well, as stated above, it wasn’t because I wanted Mr. Stewart to be the Republican nominee. At this point, Corey Stewart has almost reached the status of a perennial candidate. He briefly ran for U.S. Senate in 2011-12, finished third for the Lt. Gov nomination in 2013, and came close to winning the Republican nomination for Virginia Governor in 2017. However, if you look back the last time that Corey Stewart ran for statewide office, in 2017, he narrowly lost the Republican nomination to Ed Gillespie. Gillespie won 43.74% and Stewart got 42.5%. If he had gotten blown out last year, it is unlikely that anyone would have taken him seriously in 2018. As an example, consider E.W. Jackson, who was the Republican candidate for Lt. Governor in 2013. He ended up losing the general election by over 10 points thus making it far less likely that the Republican Party would ever give him another statewide nomination. Stewart, conversely, was close in his last attempt.
Next is the matter of name ID. Although none of the three candidates were terribly well-known across the state, presumably Stewart was bolstered by his previous runs. Chances are that activists who had supported Stewart in 2017 would likely do so again. Therefore, he already had an established base to build from. Although he traveled the state during the election cycle, Freitas was a less well-known name without a cadre of longtime supporters scattered across the various corners of Virginia.
Another aspect concerned endorsements and the ideology each candidate represented. While Corey Stewart represents Trump populism, Freitas is part of the liberty/small government movement, and Jackson has the religious right. Although President Trump isn’t particularly popular with Virginians as a whole, he does seem to command a loyal and active following among a sizable segment of Virginia Republican voters. Oddly, unlike just about every other year, there wasn’t a candidate from the establishment wing of the Republican Party. Several months ago, I was told that Representative Barbara Comstock would be entering the race but that never happened. As such, many in the Republican establishment endorsed Nick Freitas. At face value, you might think that the establishment combined with the liberty-wing would be enough for a winning coalition in the primary. After all, the establishment more or less propelled Ed Gillespie to the Republican nomination in 2017 single-handedly. Liberty-minded folks may have cast a vote for Gillespie, but I doubt many were excited about it.
However, upon further reflection, it is likely that many in the establishment weren’t all that enthusiastic about Freitas, but it was rather a lesser of three evils type of scenario for them. In 2013, Jackson demonstrated that it would be nearly impossible for him to win statewide and some of his comments derided as bigoted or closed-minded could hurt the GOP in other races. As for Stewart, his ties to the alt-right with to the Unite the Right rallies in Charlottesville, his previous false or misleading statements about Ed Gillespie in 2017, the fact that he represented the same Trump faction that lost Virginia in 2017, and that he was likely seen as an uncontrollable force resulted in some of them viewing his nomination as an unmitigated disaster for the Republican Party of Virginia. Given some of Freitas’ outstanding bills in the General Assembly which would curb the power of the party bosses, my assumption was that the establishment ended up supporting Freitas out of perceived necessity, not desire, and thus I assumed that their level of support would be far lower than it would be for someone like Gillespie.
The night before the primary, I stopped by my local polling place in Harrisonburg to see which campaigns had placed signs at the precinct. Although signs don’t win elections, they are one way to gauge levels of campaign activism. When I arrived, I found Brent Finnegan, the 2017 Democratic candidate for the 26th House district placing signs for Jennifer Lewis. There were also signs for Peter Volosin, but none for any of the Republican Senatorial candidates. However, when I went to cast my vote for Nick Freitas around noon the next day, several of his signs had appeared in the interim.
Once polls closed at 7, I sat in front of my computer, watching the results on both the VPAP and NY Times websites. To my surprise, Freitas took an early lead…but could it last? Were my predictions wrong? At one point, E.W. Jackson jumped out in front with a commanding lead due to results from Virginia Beach. However, upon closer inspection, I discovered that one precinct had erroneously given Jackson several tens of thousands of extra votes, likely the result of a few misplaced additional zeros in his totals. When it was corrected, Jackson did not come close to leading for the rest of the night. As results continued to come in, the difference between Freitas and Stewart began to tighten. At around 85% of the vote reporting, Freitas was still leading. But I thought it prudent to check where the bulk of the outstanding votes were left to report. Most were either in Prince William County (where Stewart is the chairman of the board of supervisors) or Fairfax County directly to the north. Although Freitas was still leading, I realized at that point that Stewart had almost certainly won the election once all the votes were in.
During the evening, I wondered if either the Stewart or Freitas camps would deride E.W. Jackson as a spoiler, declaring that his candidacy cost them victory. If he weren’t in the race, I assumed that a majority of his votes would have gone to Stewart, but without seeing the exit polls, it is difficult to say with any measure of certainty. Jackson won about 12% of the vote. If asked, I would have recommended that Jackson not run as I believe it would only hurt his future prospects of holding elected office (if any). Nevertheless, I believe he had every right to run (just like anyone else) no matter how slim his chances happened to be and that it is unfair to call him a spoiler.
In November, Virginia will likely have three candidates on the ballot, Republican Corey Stewart, Democrat Tim Kaine, and Libertarian Matt Waters. At this point, I would assume that Kaine will best Stewart by at least 10 points. However, regardless of my predictions, I recommend to you, dear reader, to research all three of your choices and vote for the one who best embodies your values. I know I will.
In 2018, Virginia will hold elections for U.S. Senate. On the Democratic side, barring any major surprises, current Senator Tim Kaine will be the nominee. For the Republicans, so far we have Corey Stewart, Nick Freitas, E.W. Jackson, and Ivan Raiklin vying for the nomination. And, as of 15 hours ago according to Facebook, we also have a Libertarian seeking the position too.
A fellow by the name of Matt Waters has now begun to collect the 10,000 signatures necessary to appear on the Virginia ballot. Although I first heard news of his possible candidacy shortly before the new year, it seems that he has decided to go forward with the plan. At this point, I cannot say I know anything about him, other than I’m told he is pro-life (which is exciting!).
Even when there is only one candidate running for the party’s nomination, getting the Libertarian stamp of approval isn’t a guarantee, as delegates to their state convention can vote for none of the above if the person seeking the position doesn’t share enough of their principles. I believe that this is a position that both the Republicans and Democrats ought to adopt given the positions of some of their nominees over the years).
Who is Matt Waters? I’m told by some of the Libertarian leaders in Virginia that he will be a strong, credible, and value-focused candidate, but I’m looking forward to finding out for myself.
On Friday afternoon, the National Republican Senatorial Committee sent out an email entitled “Longer Than They’ve Been Alive.” Here’s what it said:
Hey there –
Some things you can just count on. Fireworks on the 4th of July. Turkey at Thanksgiving Dinner. And if there’s an election being held, Tim Kaine is probably running for some political office.
Tim Kaine is giving two commencement addresses this weekend: Saturday at Virginia Commonwealth University, and Sunday at Northern Virginia Community College. And to celebrate, the NRSC is debuting a new Snapchat filter, reminding 2017 graduates that Kaine’s political career has been going on longer than most of them have been alive! Over the past 23 years, Tim Kaine has run for every political office imaginable. City Council, Mayor, Lieutenant Governor, Governor, Senate, and Vice President. As these new college grads head out into the world, there’s always one thing they can count on – Tim Kaine will always be out there looking to collect a taxpayer funded salary!
So happy snapping! And be sure to send your pics to the NRSC on Snapchat (theNRSC) and Twitter (@NRSC)!
As the email mentions, it also includes the graphic that you see to your left, comparing the amount of time Tim Kaine has either held or run for office and the average age of a college graduate.
The message of the email is obvious. Tim Kaine has been in politics a long time. He is a career politician and, by phrasing it as “longer than they’ve been alive”, the NRSC is saying that being a career politician must be a bad thing.
Given that the NRSC is saying that Tim Kaine is a career politician and that that is a bad thing, I thought I should ask them if they have created a similar graphic about my representative, Bob Goodlatte, who has been in the House of Representatives even longer than Tim Kaine has held or run for any office.
Hello. Do you have one of these for my congressman, Representative Bob Goodlatte, who has been in office since 1993 or 24 years?
No, in case you are wondering, I don’t actually expect the NRSC to reply to me. However, if we rewind the clock, in early April the NRSC sent out another email attacking Tim Kaine. This one centered on the confirmation hearing of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. It read:
Hey there –
Failed Vice Presidential candidate Tim Kaine joined Chuck Schumer’s ill-fated filibuster of Judge Neil Gorsuch today, attempting to block an up or down vote for the Supreme Court nominee.
Kaine is guilty of the most egregious flip-flop on filibustering Supreme Court nominees (no small feat considering the blatant hypocrisy coming from Senate Democrats this week). During the 2016 campaign, Kaine said that Democrats would change the rules if Republicans attempted to filibuster Hillary Clinton’s Supreme Court nominees, but now says if the minority party won’t agree, the President must change the nominee. We’re sure his change of heart has nothing to do with the fact that he lost the election.
“Tim Kaine is among the most transparent hypocrites in his conference,” said NRSC Spokesman Bob Salera. “By ignoring voters and attempting to deny a qualified Supreme Court nominee an up or down vote, Kaine is proving his only concern is staying on the good side of liberal activists ahead of the 2020 presidential primary.”
Given that the Senate Democrats attempted to block Mr. Gorsuch in a similar fashion to how the Senate Republicans blocked then President Obama’s appointment of Mr. Garland, I felt like I had to send them an email.
Good afternoon, Mr. Salera.
I agree that Mr. Gorsuch should get an up-or-down vote by the Senate. I’m wondering though, did you similarly call out Senate Republicans when they refused to have an up-or-down vote on Mr. Garland last year?
Perhaps surprisingly, Mr. Salera actually replied to me.
Is your question whether the National Republican Senatorial Committee called out Republican Senators?
To which I answered:
I suppose you could say that, yes. If not, would you consider such behavior to be hypocritical? If not, why not?
It shouldn’t be too shocking that Mr. Salera didn’t respond to that message. In fact, I didn’t get any more messages from the NRSC for several weeks which led me to assume that I had been removed from their email list. However, later that month, the emails resumed.
Is holding one or more political offices for decades a bad thing? If so, the NRSC should call out all politicians who have been there too long, regardless of party. Are Senator Kaine and the Senate Democrats hypocritical for condemning the Republican blocking of Garland and then working to block Gorsuch? And are the Senate Republicans and the NRSC hypocritical for preventing an up-or-down vote on Garland and then complaining when the Democrats tried to do likewise?
Personally, I find that this behavior of the NRSC and others of promoting partisanship regardless of principles to be grossly hypocritical. However, in today’s hyperpartisan political environment, I’m sure that the NRSC reaches a lot of folks who don’t even realize that they are engaging in this kind of political doublespeak. And, although I don’t subscribe to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, I wouldn’t be surprised if they engaged in partisan hypocrisy too.
On Wednesday, October 5th, Andy Schmookler and Joshua Huffman appeared on WSVA, 550 AM for their 40th radio hour. The main focus of their discussion was the previous night’s vice-presidential debate between Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia (D) and Governor Mike Pence of Indiana (R). Toward the end of the program, with one month to go until the election, they also offered their predictions of how things will turn out.
On July 14th, Andy Schmookler and I (Joshua Huffman) appeared on our monthly radio hour on 550 AM, WSVA. Topics included: the upcoming Republican and Democratic conventions, Senator Sanders’ endorsement of Hillary Clinton, a discussion of the possible selection of Virginia U.S. Senator Tim Kaine as the Democratic nominee, and more.
I’ll admit that I don’t have much in common politically with Senator Kaine. On so many issues, he and I are diametrically opposed. Nevertheless, I feel it proper to take a moment today to thank Senator Kaine and his staff for their help.
A little over a week ago, my church (RISE) asked me to join them in their mission trip to Guatemala in the early part of next month. Although honored by the suggestion, I faced several important hurdles, one of which was that my passport expired about four years ago. Normally, it would be a simple process of getting my passport renewed; it takes about six weeks. However, in this case I didn’t have six weeks to wait.
I contacted both of my Senators, Warner and Kaine, in the hope that someone would be able to help me. In response, Senator Kaine’s office set up an appointment for me today at the Washington D.C. passport office as well as sending the necessary paperwork ahead.
Although the trip took several hours and had a few unexpected surprises, such as the parking lots at both the Vienna and Falls Church Metro stops being completely full and thus required me to actually drive into D.C., the overall process was relatively quick and painless; I’d estimate that the time inside took only about ten minutes. Unfortunately, they could not give me my passport today due to a glitch in their machines and required me to have it Fed Exed to me in the coming days. I wish that I didn’t have to pay even more, but what can you do? Nevertheless, I am told that I should have my shiny new passport by early to mid next week.
Therefore, as stated at the beginning, I want to take a break from politics to thank Senator Kaine and his employees for their assistance. Please know that it was greatly appreciated.
Over all, according to the RLC, the Virginia delegation performed well in matters of economic liberty, but not as well in personal liberty. Representative Morgan Griffith (VA-9), claimed the top overall score in the state with 84%, while Robert Hurt (VA-5) and Scott Rigell (VA-2) both were rated 100% on issues of economic liberty.
Ratings for VA legislators are as follows:
Name Economic Personal Liberty Index
Cantor 95 25 61
Connolly 20 35 28
Forbes 80 40 60
Goodlatte 95 50 73
Griffith 90 79 84
Hurt 100 53 76
Moran 0 55 28
Rigell 100 53 76
Scott 10 68 39
Wittman 95 40 68
Wolf 85 47 66
Name Economic Personal Liberty Index
Kaine 15 5 10
Warner 15 24 19
You may agree or disagree with the RLC and their scoring system, but it seems to me that Virginia is in need of more liberty-minded legislators in Washington D.C. 2014 will provide that opportunity as the state will be electing a senator and all eleven members to the House of Representatives. Will Virginia voters support more liberty or less in the primaries and in November? We shall see.
In the days leading up to the November 6th elections, predicting the outcome of the presidential seemed a bit murkier than one would expect. A few polls, like Gallup, had Mitt Romney ahead, while others, like Rasmussen, showed a very close race, and some, like Huffington, heralded another strong victory for President Obama. It seemed to me that a lot of news outlets reported on the outcome that they hoped would occur rather than what would actually happen; Republican pundits predicted a solid Romney victory and their Democratic counterparts made similar claims. Fellow Republicans were critical, but in 2008 I wrote about Barack Obama’s victory on the day prior to Election Day, as I believed the results were already a foregone conclusion. However, I wasn’t quite as certain this time around.
In the end, however, Mitt Romney stood no chance of becoming our next President. In the electoral count, he faired only slightly better than John McCain did in 2008. He won the tradition Republican states of North Carolina and Indiana unlike McCain, but failed to capture key battlegrounds like Virginia, Ohio, Colorado, and Florida. Curiously, both Romney and Obama failed to garner as many votes as the candidates did in 2008. It seems obvious that Obama’s numbers would decline as his presidency has not been particularly popular and the great excitement (or novelty) generated from electing our first black president in 2008 is gone. But what about Romney? Although some activists have been urging people to resist resorting to the “blame game”, ultimately I believe that voters had a hard time supporting a rich New England liberal who had difficulty relating to the plight of the average American. In addition, the actions taken by the RNC and the Romney campaign, which can only be described as unnecessary and spiteful, to exclude Ron Paul and his supporters at the Tampa convention tore open the growing rift in the Republican Party between the establishment and the liberty movement. As stated earlier, a majority of Paul supporters I know either voted for Gary Johnson, wrote in Ron Paul, or simply stayed home on Election Day. Speaking of the other party candidates, Libertarian Gary Johnson finished in third with almost 1%, Green Jill Stein was fourth with .35%, and Virgil Goode was fifth with .1%.
Moving on to Virginia’s U.S. Senate contest, as we approached Election Day it became increasingly obvious that George Allen would lose to Tim Kaine. The conventional wisdom was that an Allen victory hinged heavily upon Romney’s coattails. If Romney won Virginia by a large margin, then it was likely that Allen would also be victorious. However, if the election was close or if Romney lost the state, Allen would be defeated. Although the crossover wouldn’t have influenced the outcome, it is still important to note that Romney had the support of 37,766 more Virginians than did George Allen.
The House races in Virginia were not particularly exciting. Each incumbent won re-election with a comfortable margin with the exception of Scott Rigell in the 2nd who won by 24,000 votes. In the 6th, Republican Bob Goodlatte easily dispatched Democrat Andy Schmookler. However, Schmookler did best Goodlatte in the more urban areas of the district, capturing the cities of Harrisonburg, Lexington, and Roanoke, and boasting a fairly close contest in Staunton.
Given that Harrisonburg voted Democratic for president, senator, and representative, it should come as no surprise that the Democrats faired well in the city council election. With eight candidates on the ballot, three Republican, three Democratic, and three independent, Democrats Kai Degner and Richard Baugh were re-elected along with newcomer independent Abe Shearer. Only Degner and Shearer cracked the 6,000-vote mark. All but one of the other candidates was in the 4,000-vote range; Roger Baker finished in last place with less than 2,500 votes. Political newcomer Christine Johnson finished at the top of the Republican office seekers, missing out on third place by only 202 votes.
So what does the future hold politically for Harrisonburg, the 6th congressional district, Virginia, and the nation as a whole? Well, it depends on a number of factors including the strength of the candidates and the overall political climate. Will the GOP learn anything from the 2012 elections? It is obvious that they didn’t figure anything out from 2008. Without strong conservative candidates that can clearly articulate the merits of a constitutionally limited government, the Republican Party will continue to suffer nationally, statewide, and locally. Let me end this article with a bit of advice: Past big government Republicans who lost in a previous election don’t somehow miraculously transform themselves into either conservatives or winners. So don’t retread on me. Don’t retread on me!
This evening, the Top of Virginia Regional Chamber of Commerce held their annual Hob Nob event in Middletown, Virginia. Unlike last year, which was marred by rain, overall attendance was up by around 30 to 40%.
The main attraction was both former Governors Tim Kaine and George Allen. Each gave a brief speech, as did two members of the General Assembly who spoke on behalf of the campaigns of President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. Although not offered a speaking role, Representative Frank Wolf, his Democratic and Independent opponents, Kristin Cabral and Kevin Chisholm, some of the statewide 2013 candidates, and a host of office seekers from either the city of Winchester or Frederick and Clarke Counties were also brought up on stage.
Each attendee to the Hob Nob had the option to participate in the 14-question straw poll with 211 choosing to do so. For president, Mitt Romney emerged victorious with 127 votes or 60.2% as compared to Barack Obama’s 76 votes or 36%. Unlike Virginia’s November ballot, none of the other candidates were listed. Nevertheless, write-in candidates garnered 8 votes, but it is unknown whether one candidate won all eight or if it was spread among several or many.
In the U.S. Senate race, George Allen claimed 131 votes or 62.1% of the votes cast while Tim Kaine captured 80. There were no write-ins in this race.
Moving on to the 10th district House of Representatives, Incumbent Frank Wolf easily won this straw poll with 72.7% of the votes as compared to Cabral’s 24.9% and Chisholm’s 2.4%. As for the remaining contests, as the races were specific to certain cities and towns and likely unfamiliar to just about every reader, those results are not included in this report.
So does tonight’s straw poll herald a victory for Republicans in Virginia in November? Or are a majority of the polls, which predict an Obama and Kaine, more accurate? In less than two months we’ll have our answer.