A crowd of more than two hundred gathered in Clarke County Saturday evening as the local Republican Party Committee held a convention kick-off event and welcomed former Virginia Governor George Allen, who is seeking election to the U.S. Senate. The outdoor gathering was held at Veramar Vineyards and included a full line-up of local Republicans including the former governor as wells as Virginia State Senator for the 26th District, Mark Obenshain, and Delegate for the 10th District, Randy Minchew.
Andrew Nicholson, Chairman of the Clarke GOP opened the event and stressed the importance of this election to Republicans saying, “I believe that there hasn’t been an election as crucial to the future of our country since the first Republican president was elected over 150 years ago. This year is even more important than the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980. Jimmy Carter was incompetent, but Barack Obama is dangerous.”
Party officials updated the crowd on the Republicans progress in gearing up for the upcoming election and emphasized the critical role Virginia is expected to play in this campaign. 10th District Republican Chairman John Whitbeck took the mic and told the crowd, “The Commonwealth is ground-zero in this election and the Romney campaign knows it.”
Randy Minchew, who was elected Virginia Delegate for the 10th District last November, said Clarke has a very unique job in this 2012 election. “No one really worries about Clarke County voting blue, but by building up the votes, particularly among independents here in Clarke County, we can countervail those blue votes in other areas.”
Virginia State Senator for the 26th District, Mark D. Obenshain spoke at length about the rights of citizens that Republicans say are under attack. “We have Mennonite dairy farmers down in the central Shenandoah Valley who are getting enforcement letters from the Environmental Protection Agency telling them that their dairy cows are “point source discharge units” that require a permit in order to be able to operate. These people do not understand business, and farming is a business. They are making it impossible for small farmers to be able to continue to operate their businesses and if we want to keep the quality of life that we have in rural Virginia, we have got to do something about this type of arrogant attitude by the EPA.”
He closed with a pitch for an initiative that will be on the ballot in November, the Virginia Property Rights Amendment. The measure would prohibit eminent domain from being used for private enterprise, job creation, tax revenue generation or economic development, thereby restricting it to only being invoked to take private land for public use. Obenshain said, “We need you to tell your friends and neighbors that we need them to vote yes for this initiative. Our freedom is at stake this November.”
Former Governor George Allen was the final speaker and was welcomed with cheers and applause. He continued the appeal to the crowd to focus on freedom in this election and expanded on points made by previous speakers about federal government over-reach into citizens lives.
Allen also spoke on taxes and in particular his goal of repealing the so called “death tax” which has a profound impact on small farms in the Shenandoah Valley saying, “In my view death shouldn’t be taxable event. The sale of an asset should be a taxable event.”
He criticized the impending sequestration that will force huge budget cuts to national defense. “I believe it is never right to use the men and women of our armed forces as a political bargaining tool to raise taxes on job creating small business owners.”
Energy policy was also a key topic for the former governor. “We ought to be thanking God that we are in an America blessed with the most energy resources of any country in the world. We’re number one. The folks in Washington who are setting policy seem to look at our energy resources as a curse.”
Allen said if he was elected he would introduce legislation on day one of his term to allow Virginia to tap into it’s rich natural resources and begin drilling to produce oil and natural gas off of the coast. He added that he planned to use royalties from that initiative to pay for growth in transportation infrastructure.
He closed with an appeal for supporters to take the message to the voters on issues. “This is not Republican verses Democrat fight, we need to talk about our ideas. Our proven solutions and achievable reforms that will improve peoples lives at their kitchen tables, that will make our communities safer and that will make sure when our young people graduate from college they are not forced to move back home but can instead start careers.”
Allen will square off against the Democratic candidate Tim Kaine in the November election. Kaine is also a former governor of the state of Virginia. They will be competing for the seat that is currently held by Senator Jim Webb (D) who is not seeking reelection.