Republicans from around Virginia met this weekend in Hot Springs at The Homestead Resort for our annual Advance (because we never retreat). The Advance is a time for activists and politicos to get together to strategize and coordinate efforts, and to get the lay of the land for the coming elections for both public and party offices. On that last point, here are some of the highlights:
The Donald Trump campaign held an organizational event in Charlottesville on Saturday. Apparently, Chairman of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors Corey Stewart was a surprise guest (before he left to host a suite at the Advance). Much talk of him becoming a Trump statewide co-chairman. In addition, Stewart is allowing his name to be used as a potential entrant into the 2017 race for Governor.
That race got a little more crowded when First District Congressman Rob Wittman let the cat out of the bag that he is preparing a 2017 run, much like Ed Gillespie did a couple of months ago. (More on that in a later post). Also indicating interest in running for Governor were Ken Cuccinelli and Sen. Tom Garrett (R-Buckingham), both of whom, like Wittman and Gillespie, hosted hospitality suites to demonstrate their intentions and schmooze with potential supporters. Wittman’s district committee chairman, Eric Herr, also made clear that he is running for re-election, and released an impressive list of endorsements:
Also running for re-election is Sixth District GOP Chairman Wendell Walker. Wendell has drawn a challenger this year from Sixth District representative on the State Central Committee, Scott Sayre, who even has a nifty website already launched. The district committee had a raucous meeting at the Advance this weekend, where Shaun Kenney was on hand to document.
Like in 2013, the race for Lieutenant Governor appears to be getting crowded as well. Del. Scott Taylor (R-Virginia Beach) and Sen Bryce Reeves (R-Spotsylvania) both sponsored events. Overshadowing these (and, honestly, everyone else) was Pete Snyder‘s huge “Rebel Alliance” gathering late on Friday night.
Dave Brat‘s race to be renominated for the Seventh District Congressional seat is already getting nasty. Apparently, the Seventh District Committee had a meeting planned for December 16 at which they were to choose the method of choosing the nominee (i.e., convention vs. primary). But, when the Congressman indicated he couldn’t make a meeting on that date because of Congressional obligations, the meeting was changed to the 21st. Not wanting to give the slightest deference or courtesy to their Congressman, a group of members of the Seventh District Committee then called a meeting on their own, for the 16th, knowing that Brat would be unable to attend. That’s uncool…being divisive and rude for no other purpose. An attempted compromise to cancel both December meetings and instead meet in January was unsuccessful.
A number of presidential campaigns were represented, with hospitality suites held for Ted Cruz and Carly Fiorina. Support for Trump was evident and widespread, though Cruz and Marco Rubio appeared to be the leading contenders among this crowd, with Jeb Bush and Ben Carson supporters rounding out the candidates with visible support on hand. Radio host John Fredericks, also a guest contributor to TBE, is standing by his prediction from May that Trump will win the nomination, and subsequently will defeat Hillary Clinton.
At Saturday’s marquee luncheon, guest speaker and radio talk show host Laura Ingraham apparently ruffled a few feathers with some rather pointed messages about the GOP “establishment.” Members of said establishment sat on their hands for the event, while a handful of others reportedly walked out in protest. Ingraham was cheered by the remainder. Later, Ingraham was spotted at her own lunch sitting a few feet away from the table at which Eric Cantor’s chief of staff Kristi Way was dining with a large group
Finally, leading figures within the group known as the Virginia Conservative Network, including former Seventh District Chairman Linwood Cobb and former Third District Chairman Mike Wade (who is rumored to be consulting for a potential Dave Brat challenger, the homonymous Sheriff Mike Wade of Henrico County), held a competing official event to greet and recruit members to prepare for their upcoming effort to unseat pro-convention conservatives on the State Central Committee this spring.
Overall, this was a well attended and successful event, reportedly with record attendance and raising a bundle of cash for the Party. Check out LynnRMitchell.com for more on the Advance, including some great photos of the event and the beautiful environs.
UPDATE: How could I have forgotten this! Current Republican National Committeewoman from Virginia, Kathy Hayden, has decided not to seek re-election to that position at the state convention in April. Instead, she is throwing her support behind Liberty University law professor Cynthia Dunbar. Dunbar is currently a statewide co-chair of the Ted Cruz campaign, and formerly was a member of the Texas State Board of Education, a competitive elected position with huge implications for education around the country. Dunbar is a bright and charming woman, and will no doubt serve us well on the RNC.