August 11, 2007
It was only three weeks ago that John Hager was elected as the new Chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia, so it was quite an honor that one of his first official visits was right here in Staunton. (Are we really that important?) The occasion was the monthly breakfast meeting of Staunton-Waynesboro-Augusta County Republicans (SWAC-GOP), held at Mrs. Rowe's Family Restaurant. About fifty people attended, including a newspaper reporter who was taking notes. One of the main purposes of this gathering was to reunite the party in the wake of the bruising primary contest between State Senator Emmett Hanger and Scott Sayre. Hager urged party members to focus their attention on defining the differences on policy issues between the Republicans and Democrats. (I assume that means we should spend less time on differences among each other.) He also paid tribute to the "grassroots" campaign workers who, he said, are more important than money when it comes to winning elections.
Later on, several local elected officials spoke briefly about the upcoming fall campaign, in which some seats on the Augusta County Board of Supervisors will be contested. Scott Sayre talked for a few minutes, poking fun by saying that while Emmett Hanger's supporters were eating ice cream on election night, his supporters were "eating crow" in Waynesboro. It was a gracious effort to inject some levity into a tense situation. He also announced that his Web site, which was shut down soon after the June 12 election, will be relaunched in September. I was pleased by his acknowledgement that it may be necessary to define what is meant by "fiscal conservative." (Indeed.) Clearly, Mr. Sayre has a political future ahead of him. Other guests from out of the area included RPV Communication Director Shaun Kenney and GOP Sixth District Chairman Fred Anderson.