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.

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