Lt. Governor Run Down; Updateon March 4th, 2013 at 7:00 pm
Updated: More information that shows the anti-establishment campaign of Susan Stimpson is not as anti-establishment as she would like you to believe. Links in the Stimpson section. On Saturday March 2nd, I spent several hours listening to all of the Republican Lt. Governor candidates at the Stonebridge Center in Natural Bridge. Now, it is no secret that I am a big fan of E.W. Jackson. I make no apologies for that, as he is a remarkable man who has the courage to stand for what is right, despite the tide of conventional political wisdom.
But, this was the first time I was able to see all of the candidates together and thought it was a good time to give some thoughts on each of their remarks and some background information on the candidates.
There were two things that struck me during the event. After watching E.W. Jackson run circles around George Allen and Jamie Radkte in the GOP U.S. Senate primary debates last year, it was refreshing to realize that this year’s Lt Governor candidates are definitely a much stronger cast of characters.
However, on specific policy issues, there weren’t a lot of stated policy differences. For the most part, everyone agreed on the major issues and how to deal with them. What it really boils down to is two things:
- Are there any real differences between the candidates?
- Do the candidates seem like they will actually do what they say they will do if they get elected?
Here is a quick summary of my thoughts on the candidates in the order in which they sat at the Natural Bridge event.
Background: Susan is currently serving her first term as the Chair of the Stafford County Board of Supervisors.
High points of the Debate: She worked hard to hit her campaign themes of reducing spending. She mentioned something she called “constitutional carry” in regards to the 2nd Amendment, which I presume means that the CCW rules are already a violation of constitutional rights. I would like to hear more about that…hopefully she has fleshed that out better than her position on nullification. She mentioned natural rights and reducing the role of government. Her approach to zero out the budget line for Planned Parenthood and PBS was something I thought was a good idea.
Low points of the Debate: Of all seven candidates, she appeared nervous and the moment seemed a little bit too big for her. She seemed to be trying really hard to get to her talking points instead of answering the stated questions. Susan has a lot of support from people I respect, but I have to admit, after seeing her in the debate…I just don’t get it. I know there is a desire to have a female on the ticket to appeal to women voters, but is picking someone just because they are a woman really the right thing to do?
Record: Her record is short but interesting. In a short stint on the Board of Supervisors of Stafford County, she claims to have done a nice job of reducing taxes and leading her county to take a very conservative fiscal approach. If so, she should be applauded for her work. Her point is that she will take this fiscal acumen to the state level and a number of folks have bought this argument. However, it is apparent that much of her political success is due to her close alignment to Speaker of the House Bill Howell. Howell is the king of establishment Republicans and architect of the recent tax increase in Richmond. The relationship with Howell is well documented and while she obliquely mentioned at the debate that “her friends” in Richmond had let us down…one is left with some big questions about whether she is really the anti-establishment candidate she is trying to portray herself as.
In the words of Jeff Frederick, GOP party figure…
“I got to know Susan Stimpson (who is running for LG) during my time as RPV Chairman and in the period prior when I was seeking that job. I considered her a friend. Yet, she was a strong ally of Bill Howell (she owes her current elective office to his blessing in her seeking it). When she announced her candidacy for LG and in the subsequent time since, her rhetoric has reflected the exact opposite of the person I knew. Of course, she sounds great now (convenient as she pursues statewide office), but my experience is that she is a top-down establishment Republican who is more interested in position and power rather than her recent claims to be about people and principle. It is only because her public record is so brief that she has been so effective at leading others to believe she’s something she is not.”
I don’t know of many anti-establishment candidates who have shot photo shoots with Bill Howell and who endorsed George Allen during the Senate primary.
But perhaps the bigger issue is her nerves. How will she hold up when the Democrats are attacking her? She over reacted to the mild questions being thrown at her about her relationship with speaker Howell. I don’t think that bodes well at all. Many conservatives are buying her campaign. I am skeptical. (Edit: I am even more skeptical now after this recent article….)
Jean Marie Davis:
Background: Davis is a former House of Delegates member (1998-2004) and she also served one term in the State Senate (2004-2008) before losing a high profile race in 2007. Until recently she has been on Governor McDonnell’s staff.
High Point of the Debate: Davis is a fine speaker and proclaimed herself the experienced option that can win Northern Virginia. She has an impressive air and confidence in her manner. She carries herself like a CEO of a large company. Her best moments were the description of the transportation bill as unconstitutional and the overall case she made for the political need to have a candidate who would appeal to Northern Virginia voters.
Low Points of the Debate: When asked how she would defend the 10th Amendment, Davis said she would attend meetings in Washington to persuade the Federal government to stay within their constitutional powers. While I don’t have a problem with the concept, if that is her only plan to defend the 10th Amendment; well then that is no plan at all. While she was great in describing the constitutional issues with the transportation bill, she never described an issue with the tax increases. It was very slick, but she managed to craft an anti-tax message without actually saying it.
Her worst moment was her insistence that she would appeal to different demographic groups than would the other candidates. She then ticked off a list of racial groups she had the support of. It sounded very divisive and condescending. I don’t deny racial demographics play a role in political strategy, but let’s leave the pandering to the Dems.
Record: She lost her bid for re-election to the Senate in 2007. Her Democrat opponent received the backing of the NRA and VCDL because her record on the 2nd Amendment was so bad. She voted for HB3202 in 2007; the notoriously bad bill that included tax increases, mandatory UDAs and ridiculously high traffic ticket costs. This horrendous law is the litmus test I apply to many politicos. They should have known better, but ultimately did not. Then they spent years repealing the onerous parts of the bill.
She failed this litmus test like so many of the establishment politicians. Combined with her total lack of support for the 2nd Amendment and lukewarm support for the 10th Amendment, it makes it very difficult to take her attempts to sound “conservative” seriously.
But perhaps the biggest reason to mistrust Davis is the fact that New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg openly endorsed her campaign in 2007. With friends like that, what else do you need to know?
Read more here.
Background: Martin was a member of the House of Delegates (1988-1994). Since 1994, Martin has been a member of the State Senate.
High points of the Debate: Martin is articulate, calm and delivers his talking points in a polished way. His calling card is his experience and his voting record. He hits those notes with every answer like the seasoned politician that Martin is. For example, he slickly reminded those at the debate of his good ratings from advocacy groups like the Family Foundation. He gave a particularly good answer regarding gun free zones; showing how ridiculous they are by asking if anyone in the audience would hang a gun free zone sign on the front door of their home. That was a great answer.
He also predicted doom for the GOP based on the transportation sell out. Outside of that, there weren’t a lot of memorable moments. Martin gave solid answers that would appeal to the very conservative crowd.
Low points of the Debate: Martin didn’t really have any. But he didn’t demonstrate the inspiring leadership you would want in the ideal Lt. Governor candidate.
Record: Generally speaking, Martin has a solid conservative record. He is part of the self-proclaimed “faithful five” conservative senators in the Virginia State Senate and is a reliable vote for standard Conservative causes. That being said, he did vote for HB3202 in 2007, which does show a lack of discernment as this law was one of the worst pieces of legislation ever passed in Virginia; tax increases, mandatory UDAs and ridiculous charges for traffic violations. Most of these provisions had to be corrected in subsequent sessions.
Martin’s ideas on protecting our 10th Amendment rights are simply to sue the Federal government when they can. His website says nothing of the issue, and defending the 10th Amendment is not a focus of his campaign.
Aside from the one major blemish on his record, HB3203, Martin rarely votes incorrectly, although early in his career he voted for the ban on detachable magazines for shotguns and “one gun a month”. How does that fit with his current pro-second amendment rhetoric? Furthermore, will he provide bold, inspiring leadership? There really isn’t any reason to believe he will. If you are looking for a more conservative version of the establishment, Martin is your man.
Background: A successful businessman who specializes in marketing, Snyder headed up the Virginia Victory campaign in 2012. He has positioned himself as the outsider who will shake up the establishment.
Highlights of the Debate: Snyder is very slick and confident. His opening statement hit good notes around natural rights and Jeffersonian ideals.
Low Lights of the Debate: Snyder sometimes comes across as too slick. He went all in on stopping people with mental illness from purchasing guns. On the surface, this seems like a good idea. But knowing how the progressives work, this may be something that is used to prevent gun ownership to a wide swath of people who the Democrats can define as crazy.
Record: He has none. He did run the Virginia Victory Campaign for Virginia in 2012. He did it for free. I guess you get what you pay for based on the badly run Romney campaign in Virginia. Of course he did donate $25,000 to Bill Bolling’s campaign and was widely rumored to be Bolling’s choice for Lt. Governor before Cuccinelli stepped up and squashed that plan. While Snyder talks a pretty good game, his ties to Bolling, and his failed efforts to get Romney elected make me very leery of Snyder’s anti-establishment “street cred.” Read more here.
Background: A career officer in the Army, Lingamfelter, has served in the House of Delegates since 2002.
Highlights of the Debate: Lingamfelter had a stand out performance in the forum. He was sharp, witty and had memorable catch lines. He was particularly effective in the lightning rounds with short pithy answers that drew laughs and applause from the crowd.
Lowlights of the Debate: He said that “over his dead body” would he fund Planned Parenthood or the Public Broadcasting System. This was a great applause line but it got me thinking. Planned Parenthood and PBS have gotten funding from the state since 2002 when he joined the House of Delegates. And he is still drawing breath. Has he not voted “yea” on a single budget since he arrived in the house of delegates?
I know what he meant, but he should be a bit more careful of laying his life on the line for his voting record…
Record: Lingamfelter generally votes for conservative principles. He did a good job of killing all of the gun bills that came to his committee this session and he effectively pointed that out in the forum. However, like many of the LG candidates he voted for the onerous HB 3202, discussed in detail earlier. He authored the Boneta Bill in this sesson, which had the stated intent of protecting the rights of farmers from onerous local regulations. However, the bill was written with a number of loopholes and problems. If the bill had not been killed, it would have likely not have been effective at what it was intended to do; protecting farmers. For example, the bill would not have protected farmers in counties without zoning regulations. There were other issues with the bill as well. Good intentions have to match with competent bill writing and the ability to get bills passed.
Much like Martin, if you were looking for a career politician who would generally vote correctly on basic issues like taxes, gun rights and such, well Lingamfelter would be a good choice. I am looking for more. While Lingamfelter could be an inspiring figure (based on what I saw Saturday), there is nothing to indicate he would favor any kind of aggressive action to protect us from the Feds.
Background: A former Marine and former lawyer with a degree from Harvard law school. Jackson moved to the pulpit and now has churches in Virginia and Massachusetts under his stewardship, thus earning him the title of Bishop. Jackson ran for the U.S. Senate in 2012. As I mentioned, I worked for Jackson’s Senate campaign last year so I have spent considerable time with this candidate. I have not dealt with a political figure in my time with the Roanoke Tea Party with a better set of skills, knowledge and who actually believes in the principles that were discussed at this debate. I am not normally one to actively support a candidate, but Jackson is that rare exception.
Highlights of the Debate: Jackson delivered his Defy Not Comply message in the usual inspiring way. I have heard Jackson numerous times and he rarely disappoints. While Jackson agreed with the others regarding issues raised (taxes, gun control, etc) he articulated a more aggressive strategy to deal with the Federal government. Quoting Madison, he urged the use of nullification and for the state to Defy Not Comply with the Federal government overreach that was unconstitutional. This was well received and smartly framed. I also found it interesting that even though he is the only minority candidate, he didn’t talk about racial politics.
Lowlights of the Debate: None. As Corey Stewart jokingly complained, he had the misfortune of following Jackson’s stirring opening statement.
Record: Jackson doesn’t have a political record. Jackson states that he has recognized that no one in politics was saying what he was saying and decided he could add value as a candidate. Jackson is very good at delivering the conservative message. After his Senate campaign, he created a state wide network of supporters. Jackson’s tactic during the Senate campaign was to attack Tim Kaine on things like his transportation and fiscal record. If only George Allen had chosen this tactic in Virginia. Jackson is making nullification an issue with the Defy not Comply campaign and this is something we have never really seen in recent Virginia politics.
Click here for how Jackson would likely attack the Democrats in this upcoming race.
Background: Member (since 2003) and current Chair (since 2006) of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors.
Highlights of the Debate: Stewart was aggressive and did a good overall job of mixing his feisty anti-establishment message and his successes on the board of supervisors. He openly talked about nullification and that is always good to here in a public setting. His closing remarks were particularly good, tying together his stated accomplishments on reducing taxes and dealing with illegal immigration and his ability to win elections in Northern Virginia while being a true conservative. He seems willing to challenge the establishment and to try and look at issues differently.
Lowlights of the Debate: Stewart, sitting next to the only black candidate in the race, basically proclaimed himself to be the black candidate. I found that rather amusing. Overall, Stewart did a solid job at the forum but he came across a few times (to me) as scatter shot in his approach.
Record: Much like Susan Stimpson, Stewart made a name for himself by effectively championing conservative principles at the local level. He is most famous for his immigration actions that were the most aggressive in the country and were highly effective at reducing crime. However, he has a record of not selling those controversial positions very effectively. Stewart also endorsed Allen in the GOP U.S. Senate primary, which was an odd position for an anti-establishment guy to take. He has a well-publicized war happening with other Republicans on the board in his locality, ones that share his conservative principles. His alleged profanity laced tirade against someone who is likely to endorse Lingamfelter is not very flattering.
When I spoke to him after the debate, he really had not done the proper research on nullification. While I pointed him in the right direction, that conversation gave me pause about how deep his convictions for some things really run. While I generally like Stewart’s approach and stated philosophy, some of these things do give me pause.
I hope you find this helpful. I walked into the Stonebridge Center a Jackson supporter, and I saw nothing that would change that conviction. In “normal” times, where our liberties weren’t under constant assault, some of the other candidates would probably be fine.
I am convinced that we are out of time to save the Republic without candidates who can really change the game. And Jackson is that kind of game changing figure that can inspire the GOP base and communicate the message of limited government to a wider audience.