Before I get into the meat of this article, let me preface this piece saying that I neither voted for nor supported Ed Gillespie when he ran for the U.S. Senate in 2014. Early in his last campaign, I had the opportunity to speak with Mr. Gillespie and asked him, if elected, what specific agencies or departments in the federal government would he work to eliminate if he were elected to the Senate. He couldn’t give me an answer when I asked him in person, so I emailed his campaign seeking a response. Despite my repeated inquiries, I never received any reply. Given this experience, along with what else I discovered about him, I did not believe that Mr. Gillespie shared my philosophy on the proper role of government.
This year, Ed Gillespie is running to be the governor of Virginia. Rather than simply dismissing his campaign out of hand based upon his previous attempt, I thought in fairness I ought to try again to learn about him and his ideas for Virginia. In February, I attended a well-run event in Staunton and, although I didn’t get to ask my question in person, afterward I spoke with several of his staffers about my desire for greater political freedom and more open and fair elections in Virginia. Based upon their suggestions I emailed my questions to them. A week passed with no response…and then another. I reached out to them again and was greeted with silence. In this way a month passed. Only after I wrote about their failure to communicate did the Gillespie campaign finally reply to me.
For about an hour or so I spoke with one of his staffers on the phone. He apologized for the delay and declared it to be unconscionable. However, during this conversation, I didn’t get any sort of tangible answers to any of my questions. Instead, he encouraged me to send them specific pieces of legislation that I feel would advance political freedom in our Commonwealth. Although frustrated, I did as the staffer asked and sent them text and links for several possible laws asking if Mr. Gillespie would support or oppose these pieces of legislation. They included: making ballot access requirements equal for all candidates regardless of party affiliation, lowering signature requirements, making it easier for other political parties to be recognized, and doing away with legislation that some candidates be listed first on the ballot simply due to their party ties. The idea is to adopt free market principles in Virginia’s political system. And, as was the case previously, the campaign did not respond. Now, almost two more months have passed without any sort of communication. As they say…fool me once…I assure you that I shall not try a third time. I cannot help but feel as if they have wasted my time.
I do have to wonder, is this how the Ed Gillespie campaign operates? Do they have no intention of answering open and honest questions about their campaign? Do they enjoy giving voters the runaround, confident that they have already secured the Republican nomination and the general election victory and thus have no need to be truthful or upfront about what their candidate stands for?
As a former campaign staffer myself for several election cycles, the way a campaign acts can either elevate or degrade a candidate. So far, the Gillespie campaign has behaved shamefully. If they would like a bit of free advice, I would recommend hiring a new political director, one that actually believes in honoring his word.
Back in 2013, I had the opportunity to speak, one-on-one, with several statewide candidates such as Jeannemarie Davis, Pete Snyder, and Ken Cuccinelli. In fact, I would argue that all ten Republican campaigns that year were more open and responsive than the Gillespie campaign has been in 2017. Unfortunately, despite repeated attempts, I cannot get a straight answer from the Gillespie campaign which leads me to believe that they are being led by deceivers and cowards, running a campaign that doesn’t deserve to win.
So far, Mr. Gillespie and his campaign have been quite vague on their platform and what he hopes to accomplish if he is elected. However, I can tell you, not even considering policy positions and based on nothing more than my experiences these last several months, that if the Republican primary were held today, I would not cast a vote for Ed Gillespie. Nor would I cast a vote for him in the general election this year or in any future year.
It is my sincere hope that in the months that remain the Gillespie campaign will do a much better job of responsive and timely answers when it comes to reasonable inquiries. Otherwise, I expect that many conservatives and libertarians that I know who often vote for the Republican candidate will reject him as they did in 2014. And, in that case, I assure you I won’t shed a tear when Mr. Gillespie loses this election.