With the announcement of the retirement of Del. Tom Gear and the Governor’s setting of the date for the special election for March 8, one would expect that the contest for the Republican nomination would be around mid-February.
Not so. The party-run firehouse primary is set for next Tuesday, January 18. What, exactly, is the rush?
As best as I have been able to piece together, the rush is about eliminating the competition. First out of the gate was Chris Stuart, who was just elected to Hampton City Council – his first elected office – in May. Also in the contest are attorney Chad Green, Poquoson mayor Gordon Helsel, who ran against Gear in 2009, and Teresa Schmidt, who has the endorsement of Gear. It is Stuart, though, who appears to have the edge – and the resulting target on his back.
A YouTube video surfaced last week in which the anonymous poster claims that Stuart is not a Republican. Although his website boasts pictures of Stuart with Republicans, his record of contributions to candidates is sparse; in fact, the only contribution listed was made to a Democrat. (And no, the contributions weren’t made in his wife’s name.) Among the contributors to his council campaign were a number of recognizable Democrats, including the Democratic candidate for LG, Jody Wagner. I have been told that Stuart hosted an event at his home for candidate Wagner.
Perhaps to counter all of this, Stuart has tacked hard right. He has a picture on his website of him with Ollie North. He has signed the “No Taxes” pledge.
Don’t get me wrong: I happen to like Stuart, even though I can’t say I know him well. If he is a moderate Republican, that benefits me in the long run, even though I don’t live in the 91st.
What bothers me is that somebody has decided that he will be the next representative of the district and the other candidates – I haven’t even been able to locate a website for any of them – will not be given a reasonable opportunity to compete.
That’s not democracy, in my book. The citizens of the 91st – and the rest of Virginia – deserve better.