December 1, 2015

No Shows for the Manassas Romney-Ryan Rally

Yesterday, I was able to snag a spot in the back of the Harris Pavilion for the Romney-Ryan Rally in Manassas. It was a very energetic crowd, although the average age on the floor was quite old and was predominantly white. The Romney folks seemed to fill the stage with a lot of high school and college students sitting behind the elected officials in order to show some youth for the cameras.

I noticed several elected officials with ties to Prince William County missing when Delegate Jackson Miller acknowledged the VIPs.

Ken Cuccinelli/Dick Black/Bob Marshall – Northern Virginia’s Axis of Crazy was noticeably missing on stage. The event was held in Prince William County and all of these guys have PWC ties. Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli moved to Nokesville from Centreville after his AG election and both Senator Dick Black and Delegate Bob Marshall have PWC in their districts. Considering that Governor Bob McDonnell, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, and U.S. Senate candidate George Allen were present to hype up the crowd, could it be that this event was too mainstream conservative for the hard-right Axis of Crazy? I bet you that the Axis of Crazy would be present if this was a Rick Santorum affair. Given the internal divisions within the RPV between the Bolling and Cuccinelli factions, this is probably the case and does not show a united front for the RPV for this year or the next.

David Ramadan – Delegate David Ramadan, derided by his critics for being a narcissistic ego tripper for his penchant for self-promotion, Chuck Shumer-like one-way magnetism toward cameras, excessive e-mails and sign blitzes in a region that finds signs repulsive, traveling with a posse of General Assembly interns wearing his shirts, adorning his office with photos of himself (BIG photos. I have been to the office. It is the first thing that hit me.), and actually having a physical office as a Delegate in the first place when most of his House colleagues are living in the 21st century and teleworking for their General Assembly duties in the district was not acknowledged during VIP acknowledgement and not seen. The most treacherous path in Loudoun, PWC, and even Fairfax (where Ramadan has been spotted campaigning at local festivals even though his district does not include Fairfax, only Loudoun and PWC) is the path between David Ramadan and a camera. Ramadan not being there yesterday was quite odd.

Corey Stewart – This is probably the most glaring no show at the rally. PWC Chairman Corey Stewart and 2013 Lt. Gov. candidate was absent. You would think that Stewart would take this unique opportunity as an elected official to sit in the VIP section on stage and have a speaking slot in front of a national audience to raise his profile ahead of next year’s campaign. However, he is probably trying to lay low after the controversy surrounding his efforts to thwart government reform in PWC. Look it up. It has been all over the news lately and driving up his negatives.

Good event overall, but given the Saturday announcement in August, I’m not sure if anyone outside the politically obsessed junkies are paying attention. Maybe that was why the announcement was made when it did.

Update on 10th District RPV State Central Committee Race

The candidates for 10th District RPV State Central Committee are updated as follows.

– Kay Gunter (Clarke County GOP Chair)*
– Gary Lofton (Back Creek Supervisor, Frederick County Board of Supervisors)*
– Eve Marie Barner-Gleason (Senator Ken Cuccinelli’s longtime aide, former Blue Ridge District GOP Chair – Loudoun County, graduate of Patrick Henry College – Purcellville, VA)
– Gerrie Smith (Dranesville District GOP Chair, Fairfax County)
– Mark Berg (Frederick County GOP Vice-Chair for Correspondence and Issues)
– Tom Whitmore (Prince William County GOP Vice-Chair and Tea Party leader)


My friend Cara Townsend withdrew from the race because she just found out recently that she is pregnant!

Please join me in congratulating her on this wonderful news.

With the field as it is currently set, Kay and Eve are locks to win in my opinion. However, the race for 3rd place is wide open. Mark Berg is running on a ticket with Kay and Eve and is hoping that Kay and Eve will give him a coattail effect. Considering the remaining challengers, I would say that Mark has the inside track to win 3rd place, but his awkward and weird public persona will hold him back. He lost a GOP primary for Back Creek Supervisor on the Frederick County Board in 2011 to the current incumbent Gary Lofton who is running for reelection for the State Central Committee. If Mark Berg was not running on a ticket with Kay Gunter and Eve Barner, I would give the advantage to Gary Lofton.

Gerrie Smith from McLean, VA is marketing herself as the only Fairfax candidate in the race. She will need heavy turnout from Fairfax County in order to win as she is not well known out west, even in Loudoun County.

Tom Whitmore should have Prince William County locked and his Tea Party credentials give him a wider penetration than Gerrie. Perhaps a united ticket with Gerrie Smith and Tom Whitmore would be mutually beneficial in order to maximize the population advantage of Fairfax and Prince William in order to turnout more delegates in their favor.

As I have always observed, there is an east-west divide in the 10th Congressional District that runs down Route 15. The convention will be held at Tuscarora High School on Route 15 in Leesburg on May 19th, perfectly symbolizing this east-west divide and balancing the disparate regional interests, cultures, and attitudes. I anticipate that there might very well be 3 RPV State Central Committee members elected in the 10th CD from the west.

Despite having less western geography after redistricting with the removal of Warren County and Fauquier County, a political contender in the 10th Congressional District still needs an ability to connect and relate to a western region that will continue to be just as influential as the more populous east.


The top three finishers win.

1. Kay Gunter (Clarke County)* – Safe
2. Eve Marie Barner-Gleason (Western Loudoun County) – Likely Win
3. Gary Lofton (Frederick County)* – Toss Up
4. Mark Berg (Frederick County) – Toss Up
5. Tom Whitmore (Prince William County) – Toss Up
6. Gerrie Smith (Fairfax County) – Dark Horse


Howie Lind will not seek reelection for 10th CD RPV Chair, Drafts John Whitbeck

Reliable sources have informed me that 10th Congressional District RPV Chairman Howie Lind will not seek reelection to his post. Lind cites increasing family and job obligations as the reasons why he will step down after the 10th District Convention tentatively scheduled for May 19, 2012.

Howie Lind has drafted John Whitbeck, a family lawyer based in Leesburg and former candidate for the House of Delegates for the 10th House District in 2011, to run for Chairman of the 10th District Republican Committee. Whitbeck has agreed to do so and will begin to actively campaign for this position.

No other candidates have announced their intention to enter the race.

Fun Fact: John Whitbeck played college football for Occidental College. Other famous Occidental football players include NFL coach Jim Mora Sr. (BA Physical Education – ’57) and Buffalo Bills quarterback and Congressman Jack Kemp (BA Physical Education – ’57).

Recycled political stories

During Miller Baker’s State Senate campaign kickoff, featured guest Prince William County Chairman Corey Stewart told a funny story. Apparently, he and Miller were campaigning during the previous season out in the rural areas of western Prince William County. They were trying to find a platform to stand on and there was a pile of manure. An older gentleman asked if they were Republicans. Stewart said, “yes.” The gentleman turned and said, “ma, I ain’t seen a Republican speak before.” Stewart replied, “well, this is the first time I ever spoke on a Democratic platform.”

Tonight at the Arlington GOP Awards Dinner, Prince William County Chairman Corey Stewart was the featured guest. He congratulated the Arlington candidates for State Senate and said that their strength and ability to siphon off Democratic coffers that would have gone to closer races was the reason why Republicans were able to win the Senate. He proceeded to tell a funny story about himself and Senator-Elect Dick Black.

Apparently, he and Dick Black were campaigning together this season out in the rural areas of western Prince William County. They were trying to find a platform to stand on and there was a pile of manure. An older gentleman asked if they were Republicans. Stewart said, “yes.” The gentleman turned and said, “ma, I ain’t seen a Republican speak before.” Stewart replied, “well, this is the first time I ever spoke on a Democratic platform.”

Are there really that many people who have never seen Republicans speak in Prince William County? Are there that many piles of manure suitable to support politicians out there? Did Miller Baker and Dick Black both have the same exact experiences with Corey Stewart on different years? Should all politicos campaigning with Stewart for Lt. Governor in ’13 wear old boots and old clothing which they would not mind subjecting to the texture and odor of manure stains?

I made a remark to all the major political activists in Arlington who were sitting with me tonight that this was a recycled story. Everyone verified this fact with me verbally and by the look on their faces when the story telling began.

Corey Stewart has several positives to highlight and display on his campaign for Lt. Governor. However, he needs to work on his originality and creativity.

Another “Winners/Losers” Post


1. John Cook

The real winner is actually Braddock District (and all of Fairfax County), which did the right thing in returning the independent leadership of John Cook to the Board, to continue in the tradition of excellent constituent services and to keep at least 3 seats on the Board who are committed to protecting Fairfax County taxpayers. Beating John Cook was the one of the top priorities of Fairfax Democrats, and they launched their biggest weapons (Chap!, Bulova) to try and drag a rubber stamp across the finish line. Thankfully, the voters of Braddock chose otherwise.

2. Democrats: Fairfax County & Inward

As jubilant as the John Cook victory party was, there was a somber attitude in Northern Virginia last night thanks to the strong performance of the Democrats. I almost labeled this entry “incumbents”, as no challenger in Fairfax County or further inside the Beltway won. But that would take away from the big victory the Democrats scored on the School Board, sweeping all three at-large and holding all their open seats as well. Throw in the losses by Marston and Merrick in Arlington, and the four State Senate races in Fairfax, and there was little reason to celebrate up here beyond John Cook.

3. Republicans: PWC and Loudoun

PWC had a decent night, overwhelmingly returning Corey Stewart, electing Peter Candland, holding its House and Senate seats, picking up HD 2, and giving the senior Chuck Colgan the race of his life from a candidate who got in late over the summer. But this entry is justified mostly by the oustanding performance of Loudoun Republicans, sweeping every race including total control on the Board of Supervisors, as well as pickups in HD 10 and HD 87. Even with the last-minute missteps, they had a huge night.

4. George Barker

One final NoVa note: George Barker’s victory was perhaps the most cathartic of any Virginia politician. The premature mockery started weeks ago: that George Barker drew the lines and couldn’t even draw himself a winning district; that “Barker not Baker” and “George Lincoln Barker” were ridiculous; that of ALL the Senate races in Northern Virginia, most had Barker as the most likely loss. I didn’t enjoy the outcome of this race, but its tough not to tip your cap to Barker with so many people so prepared to spit on his grave.

5. House Republicans (plus Howell and Hugo)

Fifth on the list is about right in terms of the impact this victory will have, but I truthfully believe this is one of the biggest wins of the night. I’ve been following the House races since the lines were redrawn, and after things started to settle, it became clear that the House drew themselves a good map, poised to expand on their majority over the next decade. I didn’t realize they would get it all done in one night. The House picked up an astounding SEVEN seats, expanding their majority to 68-32. Even in the event of another disastrous cycle like 2007, there is no chance Democrats will take control of the House this decade.

6. Bob McDonnell

I don’t have a “mixed” category, which is ultimately where the Governor probably belongs, but I’ll tell you why I count this as a win. It’s true McDonnell put in $5 million and only came away with two seats when a dozen were on the table. It’s true that, even with a 70% approval rating, he couldn’t throw his weight around more and nudge some of these close races over the top, even in favorable regions. But here’s the benefit of a 20/20 Senate: Bolling has the tiebreaker, but Senate committees will be split, which means there were will be at least some check on Republican power. I think that check will help ensure that some of the more outlandish legislation, sure to be introduced by some of the more outlandish Republican members, get sent to the dustbin. That can only protect McDonnell as he increases his national exposure.


1. Ward Armstrong
2. House Democrats

These are tied together, but it wouldn’t be right not not give Ward Armstrong his own specific mention. We all know the House Caucus did a miserable job recruiting candidates. They also did a miserable job supporting the candidates they did have. Competitive races have been the norm for Dave Albo; he barely broke a sweat. Comstock/Danner was supposed to be a marquee match-up; it was over at least three weeks ago. Ron Villanueva won by 21 votes two years ago; his opponent this time around was underfunded. Joseph Yost is a 25-year-old recent college graduate with a scant resume; thanks to a huge (and unmatched) investment, he’ll be heading to the House of Delegates to replace Jim Shuler. Dave Ramadan was vulnerable in the open 87th; he won by 50 votes. Bill Barlow and Robin Abbott could only look around hopelessly for help, wondering when the cavalry was coming.

Well the calvary, along with virtually all of the Caucus’s money, was redirected to the 9th District, which Bob McDonnell won with 70% of the vote, and the home of long-term incumbent Charlie Poindexter. With Armstrong in charge of the House Caucus, and with his statewide ambitions on the line, he put everything on the line in one of the most uphill challenges anyone could face. Credit where it’s due, he came close. But ultimately, he lost, and as a result of his hoarding Democrats lost seven seats along with him, setting them back at least a decade and likely more.

3. Bill Janis

Here’s an underreported race: Bill Janis, the powerful member of the House, suddenly announced his retirement to run for Henrico County’s Commonwealth Attorney, after the Republican nominee was involved in a sex scandal. It should have been open-and-shut: Janis had the support of the entire Republican establishment, from Bill Howell to Eric Cantor and Ken Cuccinelli. His years of service should have allowed him to waltz in. Instead, they split the vote and the Democrat won. If it wasn’t for Joe Paterno, it would be the saddest ending to a long career we’ve seen this week.

4. Barack Obama

Obama won Virginia in 2008. Then Bob McDonnell won it with 58% in 2009, Republicans won 3 Congressional seats in 2010, and in 2011 the State Senate vote was 61% GOP to 39% DEM. Granted, the results are skewed due to many uncontested Senate races, but the fact that there’s a 20/20 split in the Senate is a testament to the line drawers, and not at all any indication that Virginia voters are prepared to vote Democrat any time soon.

5. Straight ticket voting

One thing about low turnout elections in off-off cycles is that the people that do turn out tend to be very engaged. Which means that they make their own determinations on who to vote for, and don’t just simply vote down the line. As a result, Dennis Husch and Louise Epstein weren’t carried to victory in Dranesville, despite the good performance of Comstock and Merrick there. Sheila Ratnam didn’t win in Sully, even as Mike Frey, Jim LeMunyon, and Tim Hugo did. John Cook won in Braddock, but most people that shared a ballot with him (Flanary, Schoeneman, Hurley) lost. People crossing over party lines to support a candidate is good for democracy, but its also a useful lesson to keep in mind when we try to decipher the “downballot” or “upballot” effect in these types of local elections.

“Congressman John Stirrup”…The Dream is on Hiatus

I have worked with numerous candidates and elected officials on both the Democratic and Republican side at the federal, state, and local levels in my lifetime. Please trust me when I say I know gravitas when I see it. I worked for a Democratic Congressman on Capitol Hill who possessed such gravitas and whose name had been floated many times as a potential candidate for the U.S. Senate, Governor, and even Vice-President.

Some people have a naturally commanding presence to them. People feel their presence in the room even when they do not see them and when they see them, such gravitas demands attention. This type of gravitas becomes more prevalent at higher offices and is certainly advantageous to have and exude for a candidate for President, Governor, or Congress.

John Stirrup has that gravitas. He is young, energetic, personable, serious, and confident. Like many, I was excited about his candidacy because he would have definitely taken his record of responsible growth and crime reduction along with his work ethic to the Senate of Virginia and shaken up an otherwise stale chamber.

Let me preface what I want to express clearly with this. Congressman Frank Wolf is a very energetic and passionate leader for anyone’s age. With a good number of Members of Congress who exceed Wolf in age and seniority, Wolf can still do the people’s business in Congress for another 20 years. I believe that.

That said, I was not alone in thinking that John Stirrup could be a successor to Congressman Frank Wolf down the road. I have had discussions with people who live in the 13th Senate District along with outside observers and folks tell me that they can see John Stirrup in Congress without me bringing up the topic.

For this reason, I am very sad to see Stirrup’s campaign end like this. He made a fatal mistake in hiring a campaign manager known for scorched-earth, slash-and-burn politics. As a result, Stirrup was the first to go negative in the race and it proved to be disastrous as the strategy backfired.

Stirrup lost a critical amount of support because of his campaign tactics. The bulk of the district is in Loudoun County. This is Dick Black’s home turf so he has an inherent advantage in Loudoun. However, there were enough Loudoun County voters who like Dick Black, but felt it was time to go with youth and energy. Their numbers were enough to tip the balance of this election in Stirrup’s favor. His mailers attacking Dick Black destroyed all that support in Loudoun County.

The influence of Bob Fitzsimmonds in the race is hard to assess. Some say that Fitzsimmonds hurt Dick Black because the two of them are stylistically the same. Others say that Fitzsimmonds, hailing from Prince William County, siphoned off votes from John Stirrup in Prince William County. I think it all cancels out in the end and Stirrup could have pulled off a victory with a better campaign strategy.

There was absolutely no need for Stirrup to go negative. All he had to do was to knock on doors everyday, smile, and inform the voters of his record of results. He has reduced crime and understands the importance of smart, managed, and responsible growth. Issues affecting Stirrup’s home in western Prince William County are not that different from issues affecting western Loudoun County.

Stirrup understands the values of his district and has a record of delivering results on the priorities of the people. He also knows how to work with diverse groups to get things done. Dick Black might be well known in Loudoun County, but there were enough Black fans who thought it was time for someone new and exciting. That segment was necessary for Stirrup to hold on to and cultivate for him to improve his numbers in Loudoun.

His disastrous mailers attacking Black, largely the responsibility of his campaign manager, vaporized all that support. This segment of the electorate either reunited with Dick Black or they chose to stay on the sidelines rather than to peddle a lie in support of their candidate.

Once Stirrup’s campaign manager took him down the road of false and misleading hit pieces, it threw Stirrup off his game and it was impossible to return to the prior state of the campaign. Negativity is not John Stirrup’s style. With another 114 votes in Loudoun County, John Stirrup would have been victorious. Another 114 votes in Loudoun County along with a general election victory would elevate the chatter of John Stirrup’s potential to be Congressman Wolf’s successor long down the road.

John Stirrup is a good man. I want people to remember that. We all make mistakes. He made an erroneous judgment in hiring his campaign manager and saw the consequences for it.

In no way should John Stirrup’s campaign manager be a reflection or representation of who John Stirrup is. His campaign manager failed him. Stirrup is a class act and a man of character. He deserved much better than what his campaign manager gave him.

The 13th Senate District is a race where my professional opinion based on an objective assessment of the facts differed from my personal opinion on who I would have wanted to win. I wanted John Stirrup to win. The facts said otherwise and I called it like I saw it.

Dick Black ran a positive campaign and stayed above the fray. He deserves recognition for his success and demeanor throughout this campaign. The result of a clean, positive campaign is crystal clear – victory.

Congratulations to all the winners of today’s primary elections. I hope that wounds suffered can heal quickly and that all can join together for the common cause of bringing progress and prosperity to all Virginians. I hope John Stirrup can remain involved in the game because he is a great asset for his colleagues and a great advocate for the issues of his interest. Furthermore, resurrected political careers are seen throughout American history. It might not be Stirrup’s time, but it is not over.

It is necessary to run a positive, clean campaign because more important things are at stake than just simply winning or losing an election. Find out why in one of my future articles.

Pre-Primary Finance Reports: Senate Round-up

*-Cross-posted at Bearing Drift. Click here for the House of Delegates Round-up. -*

Personally speaking, I’ve worked on several House of Delegate campaigns and worked as a staffer for a Delegate. I love House races because they’re so locally-oriented, but still have big-race potential, particularly in the expensive NoVa districts. However, as exciting as those races are this year, the outcome is not in doubt (Republicans will pick up a few seats, expanding their already comfortable margin) and relative to the number of seats, there aren’t as many exciting races, especially considering how few seats are actually being contested.

The real main event this November is the State Senate. We all know the details. The Democrats hold a narrow 22-18 majority, thanks to their gains in 2007 and a 2010 special election. The Republicans just need two seats to flip, since LG Bill Bolling holds the tiebreaker. In the past two sessions, so many conservative priorities have passed with huge margins and the Governor’s support, only to die in the Senate. That is what is on the line here.

As with the House, the numbers reflect the pre-primary period from July 1 to August 10, and are displayed as:

Candidate: Raised this period | Cash on Hand | # of Individual Donors

(The raised amount is taken from total receipts, which includes contributions, in-kinds, and loans. Where evident, I try to point out various anomalies like huge self-loans or party involvement.)

Because this report is for two weeks before the primary, many cash-on-hand numbers are low, as they should be. We begin in Northern Virginia, and move on from there.

Fairfax Districts:

Uncontested: None

SD 32
Janet Howell (i): $58K | $202K | 121
Patrick Forrest: $37K | $31K | 79

McDonnell Vote: 45%

Forrest continues to fundraise well, but in this district against a money juggernaut like Howell, I don’t think it’ll amount to much.

SD 34
Chap! Petersen (i): $31K | $260K | 86
Gerarda Culipher: $5K | $17K | 50

McDonnell Vote: 53%

The 34th is a winnable district against someone other than the affable, bow-tie wearing Chap!. Maybe when this seat opens up after Chap! runs statewide, we’ll see what happens here.

SD 36
Toddy Puller (i): $75K | $138K | 182
Jeff Frederick: $54K | $79K | 165
Tito Munoz: $33K | $30K | 94

McDonnell Vote: 49%

This should probably go under the PWC heading, but I live in this district, and I live in Fairfax County, so here it shall remain. Tito the Builder actually increased on his meager Q2 effort, but it still isn’t enough to come close to Frederick (who outraised even Puller last time around). Frederick is sitting on a nice pile of cash, even after spending $65K over the past six weeks, which will come in handy in the general. And recent polling that shows Frederick routing Munoz in the primary means that its a prudent decision on Frederick’s part to leave some in reserves. This is a Dem-leaning seat against an entrenched incumbent, but Frederick is well-known in Eastern PWC and if we’re able to peel this one off, taking over the State Senate is a near certainty. Full Disclosure: I’m supporting Jeff Frederick in this race.

Much, much more beneath the fold. Click here to continue reading.

[Read more…]

Pre-Primary Finance Reports: House of Delegates Round-Up

*-Cross-posted at Bearing Drift.-*

With the delay in nominations from mid-June to mid-August, also comes the delay in the two-weeks-prior reporting period before an election, so right on the heels of the Q2 reports comes the next fundraising round-up. These numbers reflect fundraising for close to six weeks of campaigning, from July 1 to August 10. Because its an abbreviated report, rather than the full quarter, looking at the numbers is a bit trickier. Some candidates did well in the short-time frame, but if you didn’t happen to have a big fundraising event in that six-week period, you may come in with a lower number. Still, all numbers have meaning, and since we’re covering races across the state, not everyone is going to be familiar with every race (most of all, me), so these numbers give us one view into how the election cycle is progressing.

There are also some additions since last month, as late entrants and surprise retirements bring new candidates. As always, the numbers reported reflect:

Candidate: Raised this period | Cash on Hand | # of Individual Donors

(The raised amount is taken from total reciepts, which includes contributions, in-kinds, and loans. Where evident, I try to point out various anomolies like huge self-loans or party involvement.)

Because this report is for two weeks before the primary, many cash-on-hand numbers are low, as they should be. We begin in Northern Virginia, and move on from there.

Fairfax Districts:

Uncontested: HD 35 (Keam), HD 38 (Kory), HD 39 (Watts), HD 40 (Hugo), HD 41 (Filler-Corn), HD 43 (Sickles), HD 86 (Rust)

HD 34:
Barbara Comstock (i): $77K | $256K | 154
Pamela Danner: $61K | $76K | 223

McDonnell Vote: 57%

Both candidates continue to raise gobs of money in what is sure to be the most expensive House race of the cycle. While Danner’s $10K-a-week haul is impressive for a challenger, she still lags far, far behind Comstock in the cash-on-hand department. The Democratic Caucus was always going to have to invest in this race, but Comstock’s huge totals means that they might have to put more money here than originally planned, and that could affect how much lower-tier races receive.

Much, much more below the fold. Click here to continue reading.

[Read more…]

The Inaugural Corey Stewart Classic

You are cordially invited to attend the Inaugural Corey Stewart Classic on August 28th!

Be sure to join us as the event will feature Classic rock, Classic American barbeque and Classic American fun!

Click here to purchase Individual and Family tickets for $35 and $75, respectively.

This event will be held at the home of Bill Garber, 13270 Minnieville Road, Woodbridge, VA 22192, behind Holly Acres Marina! Parking will be available at the Garber Shopping Center and a shuttle will take you to the Garber household.

We hope you consider making an investment towards the future of Prince William County by serving as a:

Host for $1,000

Sponsor for $500

Patron for $250

Anyone who makes an investment in any of these amounts will be recognized at the event.

You can RSVP online, pay at the event or send a check to:

Corey Stewart for Chairman
4491 Cheshire Station Plaza
P.O. Box 103
Woodbridge, VA 22193

Click here to download an event flier!

Opinion: 36th Senate District Primary

Spanish is a beautiful language. It is the language of Miguel de Cervantes, Saint Theresa de Avila, Bartolome de las Casas, and John of the Cross. The Spanish language is part of a culture that has contributed much to the development of Western Civilization and to the world.

While we should not mandate what languages people should study, we should encourage people to study other languages so that we can have a better understanding of the unique characteristics of other cultures and, ultimately, the characteristics of other cultures that are universal which we share.

For these reasons, I am disappointed every time I see politicians use languages other than English as a political football. It cheapens the timelessness, grandeur, and beauty of the language and reduces it into a temporal wedge issue.

Tito Munoz, candidate for State Senate in the 36th Senate District, has challenged his primary opponent, Jeff Frederick, to a debate in Spanish. Frederick, who is of Hispanic descent, is not fluent in Spanish like Munoz is. There are two things wrong with this move.

First, it is clearly not a fair debate. Candidates try to have details of a debate fall in their favor like choosing a venue and a format where they feel comfortable and believe they can best communicate their vision to the voters. However, we are not talking about whether this proposed debate is done on podiums or in a roundtable. We are talking about a debate in which one of the participants can barely speak the required language. Even if Frederick did have a working grasp of the Spanish language, he would still be at a disadvantage because he would lack the vocabulary necessary to describe the nuances of public policy. This would do a disservice to the voters who need to know where Frederick clearly stands on the issues.

The reality is that English is the language of business and the language of the public record. Our Constitution is written in English, but it does not declare English as the official language. Localities have the power through the Tenth Amendment to make language accommodations as they see fit according to their needs. Individuals have the freedom to produce works in whatever language they choose and Tito has certainly exercised his freedom well in creating a Spanish-language radio show focusing on politics and public policy.

However, Munoz is attempting to make Frederick’s lack of grasp of the Spanish language as a campaign issue and it is unfair. Frederick is of Hispanic descent, but he is free to choose whether or not he wants to study the Spanish language and should not be criticized for not being fluent and literate in the language. Deliberations and debates in the Senate of Virginia are conducted in English. Despite his Latino heritage, Frederick is not required to be fluent in Spanish to perform his duties as a Member of the Senate of Virginia. Challenging Frederick on this count marginalizes Munoz as a serious candidate for public office.

Secondly, this move amounts to nothing more than a poorly designed public relations stunt designed to jump start the Munoz campaign. Munoz, despite his nationwide name recognition, posted anemic fundraising numbers for the immensely important second quarter. Compare Munoz’s numbers to Frederick’s numbers.

I doubt the anemic fundraising numbers are due to lazy campaigning as Munoz’s personal background is one exemplified by hard work. One does not earn endorsements from prominent leaders in politics, business, and education through lazy campaigning. It might be due to a lack of a seasoned campaign staff and a rookie candidate going through a learning curve on the political process. Tito has a national profile, but maybe he thought one must run for a local office first before advancing to higher offices. Maybe Tito forgot that Mark Warner’s first elected office was Governor of Virginia and that a large number of the freshman class of 2010 in Congress have never held elected office before. It is irrelevant at this point to surmise the reasons why Munoz underperformed in fundraising or chose to run for a local office when he possibly has a national following that he can energize to run for a higher office.

I have no preference in the 36th Senate District race. I make these observations as an impartial observer. I consider Tito a friend and it is my opinion that he made a mistake when he declared to run for a seat in the Senate of Virginia instead of declaring to run for a seat in the United States House of Representatives where he would have fared better, though victory is never guaranteed.

Tito has name recognition nationwide, has appeared on national television, and his campaign literature is thin on Virginia issues and heavy on national issues. Tapping into a national donor base would be much easier if Tito was running for Congress instead of State Senate. An out-of-state donor will donate to a formidable U.S. Congressional and Senatorial candidate anywhere because that donor knows that regardless of where the candidate lives, that candidate will vote on issues that will directly affect the entire nation. Tito is running for the State Senate and his votes would only affect Virginia, so an out-of-state donor has no incentive to invest in his race.

A winning team finds a role for every talented individual to play. If a football team has two outstanding quarterbacks fighting for the single starting spot, a winning team will move one of the quarterbacks to another position if that quarterback has translatable skills in order to put the best players out on the field all at once.

Money is not everything in politics and it remains to be seen who the winner of the primary will be. I have spoken to people who think very highly of Tito Munoz and Jeff Frederick and wish they were not running against each other. I am endorsing no one in this race or encouraging any future races, but perhaps based on the unique individual strengths of each candidate, Jeff Frederick should run for State Senate and Tito Munoz should probably run for Congress, though it is too late in the game politically for Munoz to declare a candidacy for Congress in 2012.

Only one person can start at quarterback. We have to find a way to get the other talented quarterback out on the field.

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