GOP hopefuls bid for western Virginians' support
Seven Republican candidates for lieutenant governor told a forum they opposed higher taxes, abortion and gun control.
Sunday, March 3, 2013
NATURAL BRIDGE STATION — The seven Republican hopefuls seeking the state’s second-highest office don’t disagree on much — except, that is, on who is best qualified to serve as lieutenant governor.
All seven told a candidate forum Saturday that they opposed the new transportation funding compromise because it raises taxes and that they opposed abortion and gun control. All agreed they would eliminate state funds for Planned Parenthood and public broadcasting and supported having armed guards or police officers in schools.
More than 100 people showed up for the forum at Stonebridge Center in Natural Bridge Station.
The party will select its candidates for the three statewide offices — governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general — at a convention in Richmond on May 17 and 18.
The lieutenant governor’s office has in the past been a stepping stone to the governor’s mansion. It is one of only three statewide elected offices in Virginia government. The lieutenant governor’s main job is to preside over the state Senate and to step in if the governor dies or can’t carry out the duties of that office.
Jeannemarie Davis said her experience in the legislature and as a member of Gov. Bob McDonnell’s cabinet as director of the Virginia Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, the state’s Washington office, qualified her to serve as lieutenant governor. She was elected to the House of Delegates in 1997, representing a Northern Virginia district, and to the state Senate in 2003, before taking over at the state’s Washington office in 2010.
“We need a movement to bring liberty back to the Commonwealth of Virginia … we have to stop complying and start defying the federal government,” said E.W. Jackson, the founder of Exodus Faith Ministries in Chesapeake and of STAND, a group dedicated to preserving Judeo-Christian values as the foundation of American politics. Jackson said he saw the lieutenant governor’s key job as being a strong voice for conservatism. “This not just about an office,” he said.
“There is a brush fire of liberalism that has broken out across this country, and the question is, is Virginia going to be the firebreak,” said Del. Scott Lingamfelter. He cited his role leading the House of Delegates committee that killed every gun control bill this year as an example of his leadership. In response to a question about school safety, he said the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut reflected a crisis of fatherhood in the United States.
“I’m the one with the record you can look at and absolutely count on,” said state Sen. Stephen Martin, noting that he opposed a transportation funding compromise that raises taxes, as well as a proposal to expand Medicaid. Martin has represented Chesterfield County and Colonial Heights in the House and Senate since 1987. He said that as lieutenant governor, his top job would be to rebuild conservative Republican majorities in the legislature.
“If you like the way things are, than you should stick with the same old elected politicians,” said Pete Snyder, who founded a social media marketing agency in 1999 and a private investment firm in 2012. As lieutenant governor, he said he would dust off the state Constitution and “ask how over the decades and centuries mission creep happened.” He said he wanted to cut government by 10 percent and would push for charter schools.
Corey Stewart, chairman of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors, said he has been elected in a county wide vote in a community that has twice voted for President Barack Obama and has implemented $143 million of spending cuts and eliminated 320 government jobs. He said he led the county’s crackdown on illegal immigrants that led to the deportation of 6,000 people. “We need to stick to our principles,” he said.
Susan Stimpson, chairwoman of the Stafford County Board of Supervisors, said Virginia Republicans had strayed from conservative principles when Gov. Bob McDonnell and Republicans in the House and state Senate voted for a transportation bill that raises taxes. She said she had cut property taxes and eliminated a business tax in the county, and has a record of recruiting conservatives to seek public office.
Earlier, the two candidates for the Republican nomination for attorney general, Del. Rob Bell of Charlottesville and state Sen. Mark Obenshain ofHarrisonburg, both promised to oppose what they described as President Obama’s violations of the Constitution’s limits to his power.
Bell cited his efforts to push legislation requiring life sentences for people convicted of raping children, while Obenshain said his experience managing large law firms would be critical in the years ahead.
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