Libertarians Need Not Apply

By Peter Galuszka

The Virginia Republican Party had a big shock Saturday.

Far-right candidate Bob Good snatched the party’s nomination in the fifth congressional district from incumbent Denver Riggleman, who was backed by President Donald Trump and Jerry Falwell Jr., the head of Liberty University.

The remarkable twist could presage an arch-conservative backlash against Trump’s populism in the run up to elections this November.

University of Virginia political analyst Larry Sabato tweeted early Sunday morning that “the Virginia GOP has gone so far to the right that a congressman backed by (Trump and Falwell) isn’t conservative enough to renominate.”

The 5th District includes the cities of Lynchburg and Charlottesville and covers broad swaths of highly socially conservative rural areas. Riggleman’s problem was that he had Libertarian tendencies and had officiated at a gay wedding.

Good hit Riggleman hard on the wedding and pushed a platform that included considerable xenophobia. For example, in his campaign, he stated that he wants to make English the official national language and “stop accommodating immigrants and their native tongues, because it’s our unity that’s our strength,” according to the Roanoke Times.

The Times came back with an editorial that “he’s not calling for historic American values to be upheld, he’s calling for them to be replaced.”

The drive-in convention that decided the candidate also is extremely odd. Riggleman wanted a primary but the local GOP opted for a convention instead.

Because of the COVID 19 pandemic, the GOP decided that the Tree of Life Ministries Church would be a polling place for the convention in which people would drive by in their cars. It just happens that the church is where Good worships.

“This is the most perverse way to choose a candidate,” Riggleman said Saturday before the results came in. Good claimed he got 58 percent of the vote.

Good is a former Lynchburg city council member and an employee at right-leaving Liberty University. His anti-foreign language and immigrant stances fly in the face of his district’s and Virginia’s need to become more sophisticated so it can deal with an increasingly global economy.

Lynchburg, for example, is the center for two major nuclear companies. One is Babcock & Wilcox that makes nuclear fuel gear and Framatome, a major French-owned nuclear service firm. The latter is so influential locally that Lynchburg has its own chapter of the Alliance Francaise, an international organization that promotes French language and culture.

The Virginia GOP has been in disarray for years. Republicans haven’t won statewide races in a decade. The three top state posts are held by Democrats which made big inroads in the 2018 congressional elections and the 2019 General Assembly races.

Good will face the winner of the June 23 Democratic primary. The candidates are Roger Dean Huffstetler, a Charlottesville entrepreneur who lost the Democratic nomination for the same seat two years ago; John Lesinski, a former Rappahannock County supervisor; Claire Russo, a Marine veteran; and Cameron Webb, director of health policy and equity at the University of Virginia, the Times reports.

Meanwhile, there’s a good chance that Riggleman while come forward with legal challenges to the convention.

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41 responses to “Libertarians Need Not Apply

  1. Good article, Peter…. Makes one wonder exactly what most moderate GOP are going to do in Virginia…

    • Many will stay home. If the Democrats are not flaming leftists, many will vote D (Biden’s a hard vote for other reasons). A friend in high school in Roanoke was both gay and conservative, and over the years I’ve known several others. He said he was a Republican because he viewed it (in 1971-2) as more tolerant, libertarian. I had the same conversation in the late 70s with an arch conservative W&L prof who was gay (some might guess the name.) Politics and campaigns are about drawing larger circles and reaching out beyond your base. If the seat now goes to a Democrat, the lesson will still be lost on these folks.

      Legal challenges against the process will falter and prove counterproductive. Riggleman should run for governor now and offer some alternative to those of us who’d like to breathe some life into the dying beast.

    • What most moderate GOP are going to do ….

      Support Chap Peterson.

  2. Pingback: Libertarians Need Not Apply - Bacon's Rebellion - Libertarian Guide

  3. I’m afraid Virginia is a lost cause. The only options we’re being provided are far left or far right. Either will lead us down the path to our own doom. It seems that our politics has become so extreme that I’m looking for greener pastures elsewhere for my family.

    • Aren’t you the Northern Virginia “taxes are theft, let’s get rid of welfare” guy, despite that the United States has had both taxes and welfare from its inception? I think I’ve found the extremist!

  4. Good observations. Steve, the attractiveness of the Rs to libertarian-minded folks seems to have yielded to the religious right’s ideological purity testing –is there any hope for a Party of Knee-jerk Puritans? [Perhaps we should be calling the former GOP the ‘PKP’?]

    • Unfortunately, the Left is just as intolerant and fascistic (see post about RTD) and to quote the great philosopher Charlie Sheen: “Winning!” The center did not hold. Nobody even tries to go there.

  5. I dunno… those who say that Dems are extreme in Virginia – they’re apparently not in the middle:

    “More than three-quarters of Virginians (76%) approve of the way Gov. Ralph Northam is handling the coronavirus crisis, with 40% strongly approving, according to a new statewide poll conducted by the Center for Public Policy at the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University.

    Northam enjoys a high level of approval regardless of party affiliation, with about 7-in-10 Republicans and independents strongly or somewhat approving (68% and 70% respectively). ”

    • LarrytheG sure does like his Ralph Northam poll! I think it’s been referenced about a million times over the last three months to show how many Republicans support Northam, although today’s iteration says “Republicans and Independent”. Wonder how many Republicans are actually in that “7 in 10”. After reading yesterday’s article about how things are run at VCU, I’m not sure I’m ready to buy into any of their “statewide” polls.

      • There are other polls also that pretty much say the same thing. I post them in response to continuing false claims that Northam is a leftist and a dictator, et al…

        I left the link – it relates more info – you should go read the rest of it.

        Northam is anything but the best thing since sliced bread, no question, but if he is a “leftist” or a “dictator” – most of Virginia is clueless so the ones who say that must be either wizards or a fairly small minority of naysayers – apparently who like to frequent BR.

      • No kidding. More cherry picking of data from the left. Virtually every US governor got sky high ratings for Coronavirus approach, no matter what they did. Like George W Bush after 9/11.

        • did the same folks who complain about the Governors also complain about Bush in 9/11?

          See the thing is the polls say one thing and the critics say something else… Are the critics bigger in numbers than the polls show or are they just more vociferous?

  6. Driving out libertarians is not the way to enlarge the GOP or win elections. Rather, it is a sure path to electoral defeat.

    I remain convinced that a majority of Virginians believe in live-and-let-live, and are uncomfortable with the religious fundamentalists on the right and the totalitarians on the left. Surely there is ample room to carve out a political party from the center.

  7. After last night, I’m sure Pete Snyder is re-evaluating things for Governor in 2021.

    Peter or Steve, do you know if the VA GOP has made a decision on its nominating mechanism for Governor in 2021 (convention or primary)?

    If it’s a convention, you may as well give the Governor’s Mansion to D’s for another 4 years as Amanda Chase will win the GOP nod. If it’s a convention, I’m not even sure Snyder will run. Honestly, I think anybody would be a fool to run against Chase for the GOP nod if a convention is the nominating method. A VA GOP statewide convention at this point would be so far to the right that even Falwell will look like a moderate.

    The VA GOP had a good 50 years (1969-2019), but it’s looking like we’re going back to the old days of the Democratic nomination being “tantamount to election” in Virginia statewide contests.

    The thing is: no one’s even trying to bring the GOP back. A friend in NoVa has a daughter who is whipsmart and is a thirty something partner in a large DC firm. A very impressive person all around. About 5 years ago, she wanted to get involved in politics as a Republican. She tried going to a few Fairfax County GOP meetings/events and just gave up. She figured out quite quickly that the party was way too obsessed with ideology for her.

    As far left as some may perceive me, I don’t favor one party rule. It is never healthy. But…when one party is so outside of anything approaching the mainstream of a state, I’m not sure what the answer is except to see if the Libertarians can become a viable second party in Virginia.

    • The problem with many Libertarians is that they are really GOP… and to be honest, if they were actually REAL Libertarians who actually did advocate for true libertarian principles – they would also be considered “far out” so they campaign as Libertarian LITE… and they do get hung up on what “freedom” means …. depending on whose freedom.

      I have always favored moderate Conservatives – who leaned right fiscally and left socially – and were willing to evolve with voters on issues.

    • First this year they’ll pick a new chair — then starts the debate over the ’21 nomination method. The 1997 ticket was nominated by primary, and Gilmore-Hager-Earley all won. In 2001 Earley prevailed over Hager and won the top nomination in a convention. Lingering hard feelings didn’t help Mark in November.

  8. I ask the same thing about GOP in Virginia which is: ” Do you seek to represent most Virginians especially in NoVa or are you basically promising to carry out your own agenda which aligns with rural religious right folks?

    Do you REALLY want to actually REPRESENT Virginians or tell them
    what you think should be done if you’re elected?

  9. It is important that the RPV (GOP in general) move so radically right that their self-marginalization is so complete that the rise of a centrist party is assured.

    • The Republicans are racing to the right, and the Democrats are falling over themselves to see who can find the extreme on the left. It’s time for some party to emerge to represent the 90% in the middle.

      • Biden is a rush to the left? Actually, the extreme left was rejected.

        • He is certainly further left than he was when he championed the 94 Crime Bill. Or maybe just more “woke”. Is there a difference?

          • Nancy_Naive

            Woke? So in other words, enlightened.

          • well it’s the latest … added to the vocabulary – like “virtue signalling” and “social justice warriors”.

            poor Dems have no branding… all they can say is “hard right”… and dog whistles…

          • Woke= succumbing to the most ideology of the left without the application of adult reason. There is a lot of room for enlightenment, as we certainly have not arrived at the Utopia we have been promised. However, we also have to apply the reason which tells us that human beings a fundamentally flawed and are not perfectible. This should not be read that I don’t believe we shouldn’t try, but a more moderate approach than far left (or far right) is going to yield us the best results. It seems that when the political pendulum swings to far in one direction, it is followed by an over correction to the other side of the political spectrum. Leftist set the stage of the far right, and then the tables turn. Moderation is the key to making our situation better without greasing the wheels of improvement with the blood of patriots/comrades.

          • So what messages should RPV present to NoVa voters to win them over?

            Isn’t that the REAL problem?

          • The failure of any organization is most closely associated with the leadership (or lack thereof). I think if the Republicans expect anything to change, there probably needs to be some change in the leadership structure. A mark of insanity is to do something over and again and expect different results each time. They’re pushing otherwise reasonable moderates into the waiting arms of the left wing.

      • And most of those being mentioned for the Democratic nomination for Governor in 2021 are in the moderate-liberal wing of the party. (Just like most Virginians, I am looking a year ahead to the next election!)

  10. On the up side for Virginia’s GOP, as best as I can tell, they have not yet nominated or elected a QAnon adherent, as Georgia’s 8th Congressional District has. So, there may still be hope.

  11. So, a Libertarian loses his job as a journalist and eschewing his unemployment benefits decides to solicit work as day laborer in the wealthier neighborhoods until he can find a more suitable job…

    “Sir, I’m a bit down on my luck, and l’ll gladly do any chores you have.”
    “Well, go out to the shed, you’ll find some white paint, and paint the porch. I’ll give you $200.”
    (2 hours later)(DING DONG)
    “Wow! Done? That was fast. Here’s your money.”
    “Thank you, Sir… and by the way, that’s a Maserati.”

  12. Sadly, my experience with local rural politics is that many of self-proclaimed “conservatives” are only conservative when it comes to money being spent on activities that might redirect taxpayer funds away from subsidizing their own interests. They are more than happy to call themselves conservationists, and take all the tax breaks and government subsidies that come along with that label.

    Then again, you could basically say the same thing about any crony-conservative.

  13. I was intrigued by the VCU survey on Northam’s approval ratings until I noticed the date, April 14, 2020. Attitudes may have soured on Mr. Northam since then.

  14. here’s a more recent one:

    A new Roanoke College Poll finds Virginians’ job approval for Gov. Ralph Northam has soared 19 points to 59% since February, as more than half of respondents think Virginia is headed in the right direction.

    This one is for his performance overall. The prior one was for his performance with covid19.

    The polls are about a month apart, this one on 5/19 and may
    show some erosion.

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