Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Governor Gilmore Speaks To 5th District

This past Saturday Jim Gilmore, (and many others, of course), spoke to the 5th District Convention. I have, (so far), Governor Gilmore, Congressman Goode, and Senator Ken Cuccinelli posted here. Click on the title in this little widget to listen to each.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Tucker Watkins For 5th District Chairman

What do I have in common with George Allen, Jerry Kilgore, Pat Barksdale, Nick Fowler, Nathan Pick, Jason Gray, Dr. John Donaldson, Bill Wheaton, Annie Celoto, Ed Early, Bob Cranston, Jack Watts, The Contemporary Conservative, Shelby Ralston, Keith Drake, Kathy Ferguson, John Putney, Steve Kendall, Gary Lowe, and many more conservative Republicans in Virginia's Heartland?

We all enthusiastically endorse Tucker Watkins for 5th District Chairman.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

John Brownlee To Announce For AG??

U.S. Attorney John Brownlee has scheduled a press conference this afternoon at which he is expected to announce his resignation from that post. Will he also announce that he will challenge Ken Cuccinelli to be the Republican nominee for Attorney General in 2009? Watch this space to find out.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Tucker Watkins for 5th District Chair

I am pleased to join George Allen, Jerry Kilgore, and thirty past and present Unit Chairmen in endorsing my friend and mentor, Tucker Watkins, for the position of Chairman of the Republican Party in the 5th Congressional District of Virginia. Tucker has sent out a rather lengthy letter, I ask that you take the time to read his accomplishments and his continuing efforts on behalf of the Republican Party.

Dear Fellow Republican,

Being the Chairman of the Fifth District Committee is a great honor and a great responsibility. It takes a commitment of time and resources. It takes experience and the willingness to travel many times over long distances to get the job done. I have done it in the past and want, with your help, to do it again.

We will have challenges his year and next like we have never faced before. With Virgil’s extremely liberal opponent raising more money than anyone in the past, we will face attacks of negativity in volumes that we have not ever seen before. Add to that the tens of millions that Mark Warner will reach into his own pocket for and the possibility that Virginia may be a contested state in the national election and this is a year that could be, without proven committed leadership, a disaster.

2009 could be even more challenging. It will be the year that the Democrats believe they can retake the House of Delegates. I have no question that they are looking right now for someone to oppose and defeat many of our members of the House of Delegates, We cannot let that happen.

In the past ten years while I have been chairman, the Fifth District has been recognized as one that finds and elects solid conservatives to Congress and the General Assembly. I am proud to have been a part of making the Fifth District be recognized as one of the most conservative in Virginia. I have worked to find candidates and am working now to find ones to get more seats in our hands in the fifth district. I have been humbled over the past several months when I have been traveling in the district with the outpouring of support from over thirty current and past unit chairmen and republican leaders who have offered me their vocal support. I hope you will join us because together we can do a great deal more than we have even dreamed of before

Together we have found and elected excellent legislators and through them advanced our Republican agenda. Unlike other parts of Virginia, we have not lost a single seat we have gained in twenty five attempts by the Democrats to defeat our legislators. We have won races in Senate and House districts, never giving one back.

The job of the fifth district chairman is one to get things done. I have worked since I returned from Viet Nam in 1971 in every election and always supported the Republican candidate. For my work I have been recognized as the most outstanding volunteer in Virginia by the Republican Party of Virginia. That award was really one we all earned together.

Frank Atkinson, the best author of books about political history in the past five decades in Virginia, inscribed in the last book he wrote about our history from 1981-2006 , “To Tucker Watkins One of the heroes of this book. Thanks for your dedicated leadership in behalf of Senator Allen, Our Republican Party and our proven principled principles of honest, limited government .” In the book I was humbled at be given credit along with one other person to be the principal people who made it easier for Congressman Goode to become a Republican. There are many others who helped make that happen and I and everyone in this district will always be in your debt.

Through networking with people all over Virginia, I have been able to assist financially in every election we have had a Republican running.
We have gotten hundreds of thousands of dollars of assistance from outside he district. I have hosted a number of events at my home to raise money so that we could assist in local races in addition to the larger ones, something that few congressional districts do.

I have never missed a meeting of the state central committee nor the executive committee, not a convention either state or national, not an advance, nor a gala since being elected chairman. I have averaged over thirty five thousand miles on my car every year going to GOP events. With today’s gas prices that isn’t going to be cheap for the next two years.

I have been fortunate to be asked over the past ten years to take a number of leadership roles within our party. I was selected as the Chairman of the Resolutions committee in 2004 and we wrote the most conservative platform that the Virginia GOP had seen in years. I will serve on that committee again this year and I will only support a strong conservative platform. If you have ideas for items to be included, please contact me.

I don’t like being negative toward an opponent but when there have been clear misstatements of facts in his letter to you, I think you need to know.

Tim says if elected he will have more experience than others elected to be the district chairman. He points to his fifteen years of activity and very short time as a Vice chairman of his local unit.

I started helping republican units in 1971. By 1998, when elected chair, I had thirty seven years years, almost twice what he offers. I now have forty seven years. I had been elected to lead three statewide civic organizations before running for chairman and was recognized by one as one of their most outstanding leaders when they named one of their awards after me.

The only person elected district chair with less experience than Tim would be Donivan Edwards, someone Tim supported. Every other chair I have known since 1971 had vastly more experience.

He says he wants to take the party back to winning again. AGAIN ? The Fifth District has been the most winning district in Virginia in the past ten years. In 2007, I personally assisted in every campaign where we had a challenger and was named as one of the biggest winners in Virginia. Tim was at meetings where assistance was asked for and he never assisted a single contested legislative campaign in any way even those that were close to his home.

He talks about not injecting himself into local unit affairs. He and his brother have a long history of doing exactly that, traveling from county to county to try to oust local chairmen. I have never done that. I work with who the county wants as their leader, not who trying to insert someone who pleases me. Ask those in almost every county that borders on his own if this is true. Right now he is even trying to find some technical way to disqualify people who have been elected by their units to come to our 5th District convention. Doing that will make it impossible to build a district wide team and I call on Tim and Rick to stop and apologize publicly today for these actions.

I am pleased to have over thirty present and past Chairmen and recognized Republican leaders supporting me. You will see emails from all of them in the next few days I am even more pleased that Senator Allen and Jerry Kilgore have also endorsed me and you will see those in the next few days also. That is the foundation for a very strong team for the future

We are not perfect in the district right now. But I have plans to take us to the highest levels in this country. These plans come from talking to the units about what they want, not what I want to impose on them.

1. Recruit opponents to oppose Ward Armstrong and Roscoe Reynolds. I have already started doing this and have met with potential financial backers in Martinsille and Henry County.

2. Get better voter information in legislative districts where we are most likely to be challenged in 2009. I am already working with members of the legislature and committed College Republicans to team up and make this happen.

3. Know all newspapers and bloggers who cover our area so we can get our message out. I have already met with a number of the media in a number of counties. I have attended every blogger conference and all the conservative bloggers know me well.

4. Get software in place for every county to manage their membership and allow them to work smarter. I have already been working on this project with highly qualified software writers fin our district for several months now.

5. Network with even more people statewide to bring more assets in to fifth district. I was in DC yesterday to meet with leaders and will be at the shad planking today. This is already being done

6. Assist every unit with a welcome package for new members. Many new members just do not understand what is going on when they join us. Not only do we need to sign up new people but we must keep them. I designed such a package for new members of a statewide civic organization that is still used today twenty years later. I already have the format down

7. Bring regular quality training into the district. I have been a certified trainer myself and have attended classes given by the Leadership Institute and many others. I get requests to train every year from organization I have been involved in. I am still going to classes and will attend one this Friday. Not a future idea but already being done.

8. Assist local units in planning events to make them more successful. I was the national promotions manager for the 1988 convention of the United states Junior Chamber of commerce. I have been planning and executing events large and small for over thirty five years and have hosted many district picnics at my home. I have already made plans for future events

9. Do more cross unit team building in the district. We have taken district trips to see DC and other places in the past and will again. They have brought together people who didn’t know one another at all for the good of the District. We have great assets that we need to share. I already have talked to people in Dc to make a greta trip possible.

10. Work with our allied groups. I have already attended meetings and spoken to every College Republican Unit in our district and work with the leadership of the Virginia Federation of Republican Women. I have already spoken to many of their units and have already attended a number of their state wide meetings.

When the question comes up about who is truly ready to hit the ground running, there is only one person who is already running and who, with your help, make us an even better district than we are. I am not asking for time to get to know people, I know them. I am not asking for time to get programs started, I have already started. This is not a time to stop and train anyone, especially when our opponents are better funded and organized than ever. We just don’t have the time to spare.

I ask for your support and hope you will join the over thirty present and previous chairmen and recognized leaders who are supporting me.

With the spirit of building rather than tearing down, we can dream and achieve those dreams. I had dreams ten years ago about how we could have successes that others thought impossible. Together, we have made almost all of them come true. Together, united, we can reach out, find great candidates, fund them, elect them, and move a solid conservative agenda forward.

If you want to quickly become a member of this mission. Please let me know with a return email. It can’t be done by one but one can lead a team. I ask for your vote to let me return to lead the best district in Virginia.

CLICK HERE for a light-hearted look at the evening Tucker and I first met.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Congratulations Delegate and Mrs. Rob Bell

It seems congratulations are due the Bell family, as I hear the Delegate and his wife, Jessica, will soon be welcoming their second child. I'm sure I join many in Virginia in sharing their joy. Unfortunately for some, this news may be a cause for mixed feelings. Some will be very happy for the Bells, while at the same time saddened to learn that Del. Bell will not be challenging Ken Cuccinelli for Attorney General.

Meanwhile, Paul Harris is still not pregnant...

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Big Yellow Bus Ain't Coming

Let's get local for a few minutes. Here in Henry County a story is developing that I find interesting, I hope you do as well.

Around the last day of March or the first day of April a Henry County school bus driver was faced with a dilemma. At the end of Maple Drive, a residential street a little over 1/3 of a mile long here in Collinsville, his usual turn-around spot was occupied by a vehicle. What's a guy to do? Did he pull his big yellow bus into the parking lot of the apartment complex to execute his turn-around? Nope. Not our hero the bus driver. Instead, he "secured the bus" by setting the air brakes, placing the transmission in neutral, and with the engine running and the children waiting patiently on board, he proceeded to beat on the door of the apartment dweller who had so impetuously taken his turn-around spot. Yep, woke him up. Berated him loudly, using very colorful language according to a 10 year-old eyewitness, and still he lost the argument.

Our hero then pulled his big yellow bus into the parking lot of the apartment complex to execute his turn-around...

Now, in most communities the ellipses at the end of the previous sentence would be replaced with the phrase "which has now become his new turn-around procedure". And that would be the end of the story. At least as far as those students are concerned it would be the end of the story. In most other communities the bus driver would be in pretty deep doo-doo. You don't leave a bus with the engine running and a load of impish youngsters on it, to go pick a fight with someone you've just woke up.

But, like I said, that's not quite how the story ends. Not here in Henry County. Nothing is ever quite that simple or logical here in Henry County.

The following morning, a bright, sunshiny Spring morning, all seven children on Maple Drive were out waiting for their big yellow ride. It never came. Well, it did come. Sorta. It came to the intersection of Maple and Meadow Drive and stopped. No one got on at that stop. There was no one there to get on. No one had told the parents of those seven little children that the bus would no longer go to the apartment building at the end of Maple Drive.

Henry County's Honeywell Instant Alert system works great. When it's activated it will ring every phone you got until you get the message. It's used for the normal emergency notifications for which it was designed. It's also used to let parents know that the candles they ordered for the most recent fund-raiser have arrived, could you please come pick them up? But no one can be bothered to call seven mothers and let them know that the bus will not magically appear at its usual time and at its usual place tomorrow morning. Or any other morning.

Again, in most communities a few phone calls to the school superintendent and the kerfuffle would have ended. The bus would suddenly reappear one morning and all would be over. Over for all except the bus driver who would now be searching for another part-time job. But not here.

Calls were made, of course. Many calls. Calls to school board members. Calls to the Transportation Supervisor, Velera Gammons. Even calls to the School Superintendent, Sharon Dodson. Polite, courteous calls. But it seems the more calls that were made, the more Ms. Gammons and Ms. Dodson dug in their heels. They are NOT going to send a bus up Maple Drive. No, they WILL NOT discipline the bus driver, Jim Martin. And those seven little kids, some in kindergarten and first grade, WILL walk to where the bus is or, as Ms. Dodson so rudely put it to some of the mothers, they WILL provide their own transportation.

I don't know how this story will end. Will Dodson and Gammons follow their own Henry County Schools Policies and Regulations, which states clearly that roads over .2 miles in length will be served with bus transportation?
The school buses of Henry County Public Schools do not operate for elementary students on state maintained roads that are .2 mile or less. These buses do not operate for middle and high school students on state maintained roads that are .3 miles or less. In developing bus routes, the distance between designated bus stops will be no less than .1 mile. [LINK]
Or will they merely change this policy to suit their whims? Will Jim Martin, the bus driver, be disciplined?

While we wait for this story to come to its end I have a few questions of my own.

Ms Gammons and Ms. Dodson say that Henry County School buses may not use private property as a turn-around spot, ruling out the apartment building's parking lot. But the original turn around spot is part of the apartment building property, the owner of which has given his blessing for its use. I live on a different street in Collinsville, another cul-de-sac like Maple Drive, guess where the bus that serves my street turns around. Right. In an apartment building's parking lot.

There are many cases in Henry County where a school bus actually picks up its riders who are waiting at a strip-mall, secure and dry under the portico. I believe, though it may need to be explained to me, that strip-malls are actually private property.

Both ladies claim that an accident occurring on private property cannot be reported to the State Police in order to obtain a police report for insurance purposes. Wrong. A call to the Salem Headquarters confirmed that the Virginia State Police will certainly come to such a scene at the request of the School System, they even have a special form designed just for that purpose, Captain Denny proudly stated.

I have many more stories about Ms. Dodson the School Superintendent. If this one does not end soon I'll be happy to share a few others. Stories like the one about secret meetings while on retreat. Oh, and there is a great story about her tossing a special education student out of school on a bogus charge of being a non-resident. I'll bet you can't wait to read that one.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

John Hager Or Jeff Fredrick For RPV Chair?

It's that time once again. Time for Republicans to reflect upon the direction and future of the Republican Party of Virginia. On May 30 & 31 Delegates to the State Convention will have to decide on their choice for a Chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia, John Hager or Jeff Fredrick. Both men have nothing but good intentions for the future of our Party. Both men have a solid resume to run on. Let's take a quick look at those resumes.

John Hager's history within the Republican Party is extensive and impressive. According to his page on Wikipedia;
In 1975, he volunteered for Lieutenant Governor John N. Dalton, and in 1984 he was a delegate to the Republican National Convention. In 1994, he co-chaired the Senatorial campaign for Oliver North.

Hager has served as the director of Virginia's homeland security under Governors Jim Gilmore and Mark Warner. Hager was elected Lieutenant Governor of Virginia in 1997, defeating Democrat Lewis F. Payne, Jr.. Hager is believed to be the first disabled individual to serve in an elected statewide office in Virginia.

In 2001, Hager ran for Governor of Virginia, but lost in the Republican primary to Virginia's then Attorney General, Mark Earley.

Hager is the former Assistant Secretary of the Department of Education's Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services. He was appointed to this position by President George W. Bush on May 24, 2004, confirmed by the Senate on November 21, 2004 and resigned effective August 1, 2007.

In July 2007, Hager was elected to serve as chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia.
Quite a list of accomplishments, to be sure. Thank you John Hager for your lifetime of dedicated service to our State, our Nation, and our Party.

His challenger, Delegate Jeff Fredrick, has a less lengthy resume, but a much stronger association with grassroots politics. As a Delegate, Jeff has had to campaign every two years for his own political future. He's done so successfully in a heavily Democratic district, while maintaining a solidly conservative record in the General Assembly. Fredrick's statement from his website;
I represent the 52nd district in the House of Delegates, which is located in eastern Prince William County (the southern end of Northern Virginia). My district has not been won by a statewide Republican since the 1990’s, and notwithstanding the fact that I am viewed as one of the most conservative members of the House, I just won re-election to my third term with 59% of the vote.

I know how to win tough elections. I have consistently been a top fundraiser in the legislature, having raised more than $1.3 million as a House candidate in just 4 years. I’m an effective and aggressive communicator, experienced at getting our common-sense conservative message out to the public, and I’ve spent a career moving the grassroots to action.

Lastly, I’ve successfully been able to appeal to independent and conservative Democratic voters by articulating our values in a way that earns me their votes, in significant numbers – and, importantly – without violating my conservative principles. With a district like mine, I simply can’t afford to alienate my conservative base, nor can I win without non-Republican votes.

While Virginia (statewide) may not closely resemble my district, I think it is safe to say that communities and neighborhoods around the Commonwealth are increasingly voting more and more like the people I’m honored to represent. Virginians as a whole seem past the point where they will simply vote for someone because they are a Republican.
Two men, each highly qualified, but with quite different backgrounds. Since this is an opinion piece, I suppose it's time for me to give you my opinion.

The purpose of the Republican Party of Virginia is to support, in as many ways possible, our candidates. Local candidates, statewide candidates, and national candidates. As a perennially successful candidate himself, Jeff Fredrick has proven that he can connect with not only voters, but donors, grassroots supporters, and volunteers as well. With more experience as a candidate, not to mention more recent experience as a candidate, Fredrick knows what campaigns need from the higher organization. My own recent experience as a campaign manager has shown me that RPV, as it currently exists, does not know what it needs to provide our candidates and their campaigns.

The RPV has other problems besides a disconnect with its candidates. Let's face it, it just does not look good when the Executive Director hires family members as contractors for the Party. At what many say is a grossly inflated rate of pay.

The staff at RPV have often appeared incompetent, or at least not very well organized. The candidate and committee classes which were held last Fall are a prime example of this type of incompetence and or disorganization. Poorly promoted, poorly organized, and consequently poorly presented and poorly attended, these classes were simply a waste of time and money. Both of which are resources a campaign cannot afford to waste. These are only two of many issues that I and many others looked forward to being corrected when John Hager was elected Chairman last summer. It's an issue that I and many others have sadly concluded will not be corrected without a change in leadership.

My conclusion? In a perfect world Jeff Frederick would be our new Chairman. Then, in that perfect world, Jeff's first two acts would be to fire Executive Director Charlie Judd (and his son, the contractor), and immediately hire John Hager as Executive Director, a position his background is much more suitable for.

Elle, at In-Politically Correct, follows up on this subject with a quote from a letter of endorsement from the 11 District Chairs along with a response from Del. Fredrick. Her post is followed by a comment from J. Tyler Ballance, among his thoughts was this statement;
I encourage a fair and open competition for the RPV Chairmanship. This sort of open and honest discussion of ideas is what our Republican Party is supposed to be about.
Amen, J. Tyler, but I doubt we have anything to worry about on that front from these two solid Republicans.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

New To Blogging? Still In College? Got A Facebook Page?

If any of the above applies to you, and you also have aspirations to work politically in the future, please pay attention.

If you've been following the Crooked Road Commentary, a nice little liberal blog created recently by an idealistic George Mason University student, you have by now noticed it has closed its doors.

This student has learned the pitfalls of posting humorous photos depicting drinking, and funny poses on a Facebook page. He's also learned the problems that may arise from irresponsible commenting and posts placed on various community forums such as a despicable local forum here in Martinsville which exercises very little control over its contributors.

Apparently the young Mr. Sizemore has now realized that what is funny to post when one is drunk, doesn't look so good after the photos have been downloaded to someone else's hard drive. I'm terribly sorry that you had to learn this lesson the hard way, Mike, but there is nothing the more responsible Virginia Bloggers can do to fix your problem.

Adios, indeed.