October 10, 2009
Republicans from all around the Augusta County area gathered in a huge "Republican Reunion and Family Picnic" at the Augusta County Farmer's Market Pavilion in Verona this afternoon. The barbecue meal and catering services were provided courtesy of Congressman Bob Goodlatte, who served as master of ceremonies, introducing the various speakers. After looking closely at the photos I took, I estimate that at least 300 people were in attendance. The speakers, in approximate order:
* candidates for reelection
Congressman Goodlatte talked about how important it is for citizens to take action to prevent the Obama agenda from going through. He also praised the candidates and introduced local party leaders. His friendly and gracious wife MaryEllen worked hard serving food to all of the hungry guests. Dickie Bell noted that he may be looking for a job in January if the Staunton School Board affirms to decision of the Superintendent to deny Bell's request for a leave of absence during the spring semester, when the Virginia legislature is in session. Bill Bolling gave a spirited address, and Bob McDonnell later thanked him for deferring his aspirations for the governor's chair. By putting the party's interests first, Bolling avoided another split within the GOP, which is badly enough divided as it is. McDonnell ended his speech with a strong affirmation of limited government, drawing hearty cheers.
(I forgot to tell Lt. Gov. Bolling how impressed my students were with his mastery of parliamentary procedure as presiding officer of the Virginia State Senate when our class toured the State Capitol last February. I'll have to write him a letter.)
At today's event, I saw a number of people for the first time in several months, or even years, and I also met some new folks who have recently become active in the party. It was quite gratifying to see such a large, friendly, and enthusiastic group of Republicans. (Speaking of which, this event certainly bears out today's Washington Post article: "Virginia Republicans are heading into the homestretch of a campaign season with a level of enthusiasm unparalleled in recent years...") It seems that all the strife of the past three years has ended, as the former leaders who wrought such havoc and spread so much distrust and hard feelings have finally left the public arena. Republicans may not see eye to eye on everything -- I am living proof of that -- but we are gradually learning to work with each other again. The alternative of total domination by Democrats under President Obama is just not acceptable.
The chairman of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors, Corey Stewart, was the featured speaker at the "Valley GOP" * breakfast which was held (for the first time) in the Country Cookin' restaurant in Staunton this morning. Stewart has been heavily criticized by the Washington Post and various liberal groups for taking a lead role in confronting the problem of illegal immigration in PWC. One of the pivotal moments was a controversial vote by the PWC Board in October 2007, requiring county officials to verify legal residence status for people seeking public services. Stewart's tough stand was vindicated one month later when he won reelection by a 55%-45% margin. He told local Republicans that he was once burned in effigy, a special distinction for a public official. But the actual results made it all worth it: Stewart told us that because of the exodus of illegal immigrants from PWC, one hospital saved $5.8 million last year, and violent crime in the county fell by 36.8%. When prudent and courageous leaders step forward and put their reputation on the line, good things happen.
* As opposed to the Mountain Valley Republicans, who have been meeting in that restaurant for over a year. Mere coincidence?