It’s a 2017 Primary for Virginia Republicans

It was a close 41-40 vote but a primary was selected as the nominating method for the 2017 gubernatorial contest during the Republican Party of Virginia’s state central committee meeting Saturday in Richmond.

Republicans will vote at their usual polling place in 2017 to select a candidate for governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general to go on to the general election.

RPV Chairman John Whitbeck, who missed the meeting because of a family emergency but he issued the following comment after the vote:

“This will be the first primary to nominate our state-level candidates since 2005. Our 2016 presidential primary was the highest turnout in the history of Virginia for either party.  Enthusiasm for Republican candidates is at an all-time high and we expect this to continue in 2017. The slate of candidates running state-wide in our Party next year as a whole has never been better.

“The primary will allow our candidates to expand our party’s outreach as they campaign, as well as build our ground-game and test out our general election strategy.  I expect our Party will be united and ready to win in 2017.”

The close vote showed how contentious the issue between a primary and convention continues to be within the party. This method, however, will be far more convenient to involve as many Virginia Republicans as possible in the 2017 elections.

Cross posted at Bearing Drift


CNN hires Fox News personalities

CNN 1Fox News anchor Kirsten Powers is leaving the network and heading to CNN as a political analysis. Powers, who will continue as a contributor for USA Today, will join the network immediately.

She follows former Fox News anchor Alisyn Camerota who joined CNN in July. Camerota had spent 16 years at Fox.

Besides Camerota, Powers will find another familiar face at her new network. Bob Beckel, who spent years as one of the co-hosts on Fox News’ afternoon program, “The Five,” joined CNN in October 2015.

It looks like Jeff Zucker, President of CNN Worldwide and formerly with NBC, is pulling in some more-balanced talent. Zucker had recognized that CNN was “a little too liberal” in the past and appears to be rectifying that problem, telling the Wall Street Journal:

“I think it was a legitimate criticism of CNN that it was a little too liberal,” Mr. Zucker said. “We have added many more middle-of-the-road conservative voices to an already strong stable of liberal voices. And I think that we are a much more-balanced network and, as a result, a much more inviting network to a segment of the audience that might not have otherwise been willing to come here.”

WSJ added:

After years of weak ratings, the network is nipping at the heels of Fox News, the longtime ratings leader in cable news, whose prime-time audience has grown 42% to 450,000 viewers, and is roughly doubling the audience of MSNBC, the weakest of the three major cable news channels. which is up 73% at 225,000.

The changes at CNN have been noticed so it will be interesting to see if Zucker is able to lure others from the Fox News stable of personalities.

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I-81 Chase: Augusta County Sheriff Responds to News Leader

By Lynn R. Mitchell

People in the Staunton area will remember that earlier this week there was a police chase on I-81 that began in Shenandoah County and ended in Augusta County. The interstate at Exit 225 — where Rowe’s, Texas Steakhouse, Cracker Barrel, Lowe’s, and Wal-Mart are located — was ground zero for the finale with traffic at a standstill. Local friends were stuck on the interstate as law enforcement successfully worked to end the chase.

follow-up article in the Staunton News Leader on Thursday by reporter Brad Zinn raised some eyebrows and caused Sheriff Donald Smith to put out a response to correct the record. Well-known Harrisonburg radio personality Karl Magenhofer even wrote on Facebook, “Appreciate this response to what amounted to a hit piece by the News Leader. I’m surprised because the NL folks are usually very good.”

Here is the response from Augusta County Sheriff Donald Smith:

To The Citizens of Augusta County,

I apologize for this letter’s length but please read. After the recent article that the News Leader printed, I wanted to address those of you that I serve directly.

I was contacted by the News Leader yesterday after being out most of the night and working the day before. When I received their questions regarding the policies of my office, I informed them that I was on my way home to get some rest and that I would respond today. I am extremely disappointed that our local newspaper, that I or one of my admin staff members speaks to almost on a daily basis, would take the stance to immediately address policy concerns and report that my deputies were in the wrong. Why not a story on how the suspect was arrested the day before and released? I am not interested in getting into a debate or argument with the media, but I do want to put the facts out there so there are no questions.

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Powhatan GOP’s Overturned Mass Meeting Going to State Central

Jean Gannon 10At the April 5, 2016, Powhatan County Republican Committee mass meeting, Jean Gannon won the chairman position with 131 votes. Pat McSweeney lost with 99 votes. In the world of McSweeney and Friends, that meant appeal, and his allies on the 7th Congressional District Committee handed the lost chairman’s seat back to him.

For the past few years there has been a steady stream of longtime Virginia Republican volunteers purged from committees on one pretense or another because they were not in favor with those in charge. On July 16, the purging of Republicans continued as members of the 7th Congressional District voted after a four-hour meeting to overturn the April 5 Powhatan County Republican Committee mass meeting.

It was yet another case of someone disgruntled because they lost an election but, lacking solid grounds for reversing the results, challenged it on the basis of something they did themselves. In this case, the appeal has been a moving target ever since McSweeney began the process, including a missed deadline to file the appeal. The entire process has been a complete corruption of the system. This is the Republican Party, not Al Gore constantly trying to figure out how voters intended to vote. Mr. McSweeney should have been honorable about his loss, as Ms. Gannon was in 2014, and he should have planned to run again in two years. These games are beneath the dignity of the GOP.

Unfortunately, the 7th Congressional District did what committees should not do. McSweeney’s allies made their decision based on who they wanted — an ally as unit chair — not on the facts.

The July 16, 2016, appeal meeting
By a vote of 11-4 (with 3 abstaining), the 7th District: 1) overturned the April 5 mass meeting; 2) handed the chair position back to Pat McSweeney who had appealed his 131-99 loss to Jean Gannon; 3) reinstalled committee officers under McSweeney — vice chair, secretary, treasurer; 4) instructed Powhatan GOP to conduct another mass meeting.

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Don’t kill the messenger

Dana Perino 1Dana Perino is about as uncontroversial a political pundit as it gets so the Twitter storm that resulted Thursday turned into an extended explanation from Perino.

It all began with Perino and co-host Eric Bolling on Fox News’ “The Five” disagreed over current presidential polling numbers. Her big misstep was making this statement: “I will never lie to you.”

After much controversy, Perino took to Facebook to expand on her comment:

It’s time to be frank.

Let’s talk about the state of the GOP Presidential race: it is not good.

The presidential polling — it is what it is. Trump’s campaign and many of his supporters are trying to put the best spin possible on the numbers. I get that, but they are suggesting that the polls are rigged. They are not.

They also say the size of Trump’s rallies, the enthusiasm at his campaign events, and his robust social media following are more predictive of Election Day turnout than independent presidential polling. That is not true.

On Thursday Dr. Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics noted that Walter Mondale’s supporters believed right up until the election of 1984 that their candidate would win because of the huge crowds he was pulling out, and then were shocked when Mondale lost 49 of 50 states to Ronald Reagan.

Perino pointed out the 2012 polls:

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‘We only tip citizens’

ed immigJohn Elledge 1 (2)

“We only tip citizens.”

That nasty comment was written on a food receipt at Jess’ Lunch, a popular downtown eatery in Harrisonburg, and left for Sadie Elledge, granddaughter of local attorney John Elledge. Sadie is an American of Mexican and Honduran descent. (See WHSV TV-3 video and article.)

We are a nation of immigrants and descendants of immigrants but some seem to have forgotten that their ancestors were once in those ranks of newly arrived immigrants.

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

Cross-posted at Bearing Drift


Saturday’s National Parks Centennial celebration at Humpback Rocks Farm

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The one-room log cabin anchors the mountain farm, an outdoor museum of cabin and outbuildings like those found all along the Blue Ridge and Appalachian mountains in the 1890s.

Humpback Rock
Humpback Rock is visible from the Blue Ridge Parkway. Located 0.25 mile from Humpback Rocks Farm, it is a very popular hike with expansive scenic views from the top that overlook the Shenandoah Valley.

Humpback Rock Visitor Center
Humpback Rock Visitor Center, adjacent to Humpback Rocks Farm, has a small gift shop to purchase trail maps and informational books and restrooms.

If your family is looking for something to do this weekend, take a drive to the Blue Ride Mountains and help the Park Service celebrate the Centennial of America’s National Parks. This free event will take place Saturday, August 20, 2016, from 11am until 4pm, at Humpback Rocks Farm, located just six miles south of I-64 and Afton Mountain.

We have visited this historical farm in all seasons — the barn, various outbuildings, fences, rock walls, garden, and everything else that made up a way to survive in the isolation of these mountains. It’s a beautiful location in all seasons inclding spring, fall, winter, and summer — and even foggy days.

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Back in the homeschool classroom: Where it all began … blazing new trails

school booksBy Lynn R. Mitchell

“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson

As I read Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quote this morning, my mind drifted back to the sixteen years we educated our children at home. Talk about going where there is no path and leaving a trail!

A tip of my hat to those homeschool pioneers who were there years before I joined up in 1990. I read books about their battles with school and state officials in various locations across the country, and was grateful for the tenaciousness and willingness of those faithful parents to basically lay it all on the line, plowing that path for those of us who followed. In Virginia, Delegate Rob Bell’s parents were pioneers in that movement, and local homeschool friends whose kids are now grown had been involved in the South Carolina movement.

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Thanks to Eric Cantor, Childhood Cancer Research Receives Funds Spent in Past on Political Conventions

Eric Cantor 4A good example of actually getting something done in Congress was highlighted in Sunday’s Richmond Times-Dispatch editorial about Virginia’s Eric Cantor, former congressman from the 7th District who in 2014 was the majority leader and in line to become speaker of the House.

A ten-year-old girl from Leesburg, Virginia, named Gabriella Miller emotionally touched some of the most powerful politicians in America in 2013, including Cantor.  Diagnosed with an inoperable form of brain cancer, she had a desire to find more money for children’s cancer research and, though she lost her eleven-month battle with cancer, her quest was taken up by then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor who formed a bipartisan coalition to get the bill passed.

Cantor’s ability to pull together a bipartisan effort was a testament to his leadership considering at the time there was a line drawn on the floor of the Capitol and the government had been forced into a shutdown in the fall of 2013 causing strained working conditions and constant stalemates.

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Summer recipes: Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes and Garlic


It’s late summer and, I don’t know about you, but our tomatoes are rolling in from the garden. They were about two weeks later than usual this year due to our wet, cool spring in the Shenandoah Valley.  The fun of having fresh vegetables and herbs is the abundance of recipes that are useful during these warm summer months.

With so many tomatoes — we have a variety of cherry and regular-sized tomatoes — it’s sometimes a challenge to find enough ways to use them before they rot and end up in the trash. We share with everyone we know but still have plenty because Mr. Mitchell loves to work in the garden so there’s always enough for everyone.

DSCN4179In this recipe I’m able to use our cherry tomatoes and freshly harvested basil leaves from my deck herbs. For dinner tonight I tweaked this a bit by sautéing the tomatoes and garlic in olive oil on the stove top since I try not to use the oven on 96-degree days which, I suppose, could change the name to Pasta with Sautéed Tomatoes and Garlic. I added the kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper and, wow, the flavors popped. Yum.

The pasta can be adjusted for gluten free diets. Nothing says summer like the garden-to-table freshness of a home vegetable garden. From … enjoy!

Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes and Garlic


1 tablespoon kosher salt
8 ounces uncooked spaghetti
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 pints multicolored cherry tomatoes
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, shaved
1/4 cup small basil leaves


1. Preheat oven to 450°.

2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil; add 1 tablespoon salt. Add pasta; cook 10 minutes or until al dente. Drain pasta in a colander over a bowl, reserving 6 tablespoons cooking liquid. Return pasta to pan. Combine reserved cooking liquid and 2 tablespoons oil in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Boil 4 minutes or until mixture measures 1/3 cup. Add oil mixture to pan with pasta; toss to coat.

3. While pasta cooks, combine remaining 2 tablespoons oil, tomatoes, and garlic on a jelly-roll pan, tossing to combine. Bake at 450° for 11 minutes or until tomatoes are lightly browned and begin to burst. Add tomato mixture, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper to pasta; toss to coat. Top with cheese and basil.

Yield: Serves 4 (serving size: about 1 cup)
Total time: 35 Minutes

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell

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Perseids Meteor Showers: ‘I’ve seen it rainin’ fire in the sky’

In the words of John Denver … far out! It was “rainin’ fire in the sky” over the Shenandoah Valley tonight as I watched the Perseids meteor showers. We had gone outside around 10pm to look at the night sky but a bright sixty percent moon highlighted the heavens and dimmed the stars.

I waited until after the moon set at 1:00am, then went out on the deck for about 20 minutes and saw half a dozen brightly burning falling stars with long tails of fire — it was amazing! Mr. Mitchell crashed hours ago so I didn’t stay out long because it was a bit creepy thinking about the black bear under the deck a couple of weeks ago. It wasn’t quite the show I had hoped for but the meteors I saw were beautiful, not to mention the brightness of the stars in the dark night sky as I looked at the various constellations.

At 3:00am I decided to try again just in case I was missing the prolific showers that were written about. In about 15 minutes I saw another half dozen — beautiful displays but still not in the amounts mentioned in astrology articles. In the middle of the night it was still a comfortable 74 degrees with a slight breeze as the loud sounds of tree frogs and crickets filled the night air.

It is said John Denver and his friends were camped out in the Rocky Mountains when they saw the Perseids meteor showers and he wrote it into the song, Rocky Mountain High. In his autobiography Back Home Again, he wrote:

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The ‘mayor’ of Brock’s celebrates a birthday

Upper Shirley 3My cousin John Osborne’s birthday was yesterday. John was the older brother I never had while growing up. He was the oldest of his siblings, and I was the oldest of mine.

John is a natural comedian.  He always has a joke, a story, or something else to keep everyone laughing. As one more on the quiet side, I always marveled at his ability to hold a room spellbound waiting for the punchline of his latest tale, and then everyone would howl with laughter. Of course, I was right in there with them because he is funny.

Chesterfield County is home for John and his family, and his home away from home is Brock’s BBQ in Chester. As a small business owner, he has the freedom to eat lunch there almost every single day, and you could even say he’s the mayor of the popular barbecue restaurant. He is personal friends with the owners and, in his honor, the Brock’s folks installed a special plaque on the wall a few years ago beside the counter stool where John sits at lunchtime.

Did I mention he’s quite a character? Just about everyone in Chester knows him.

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Friday Thoughts

Staunton 1

It’s a sunny, warm August morning in the Shenandoah Valley with hot summer temps on tap through the weekend. Local public school children returned to classes this week in a new school schedule for Augusta County, Staunton, and Waynesboro that begins earlier and ends by Memorial Day.

Some Friday morning thoughts….

Watching the skies: Did you see the Perseid meteor showers last night, the most prolific in 20 years? No, we didn’t either, but we all have another chance tonight for the most prolific showers in this annual event. We didn’t have artificial light issues here in the Shenandoah Valley and the skies were clear but the moon was bright enough to dim the stars. With competition from the Olympics, the meteors lost out in our attention span. Maybe we’ll check back tonight….

Watch out for the bears: If you’re heading to the Blue Ridge Mountains, keep an eye out for the black bears. Last weekend’s activity centered around the Humpback Rock picnic area along the Blue Ridge Parkway (MP 5-9) after a bear broke into a vehicle parked at Dripping Rock overlook which is a connector to the Appalachian Trail. Other reports of active bear activity caused authorities to close the Humpback Rock picnic area with trail warnings. See more here. Enjoy the mountains but stay safe out there.

Staunton area activities: If you’re heading to the central Shenandoah Valley, be sure to check out my 40 Things To Do In and Around Staunton for tips on historic areas, restaurants, hotels, and more.

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As Lt. Governor, Glenn Davis Would Make Jobs His Priority

The youthful 42-year-old bounded up the steps to Rowe’s Restaurant with a big smile on his face as he extended an outstretched hand. Delegate Glenn Davis was in the house and we were about to sit down to talk about 2017 and his campaign for lieutenant governor.

He had caught my attention during the Republican State Convention held in Harrisonburg in April after announcing in March that he would seek the Republican nomination for LG. I did a little research and liked what I found.

Glenn Davis 2When we met this week in Staunton, to say we had a good discussion was an understatement because it was an easy conversation, a back-and-forth about all the issues that are on the plate of Virginia citizens, and a chance to find out more about this candidate.

So who is Glenn Davis, besides being a ball of energy?

Currently representing the 84th House District in the Virginia Beach area as a member of the Virginia House of Delegates, he had discovered his passion for politics in college, putting his debate skills to use while an active member of the College Republicans.

His instinct for business began with his first venture as a telecom provider in his one-bedroom apartment, and was recognized in 2007 by Inc. Magazine as one of the fastest growing IT companies in America. A humble man, Davis didn’t talk about that early achievement but I discovered it while researching him.

That and other business successes over the years offered the opportunity to pursue public office which provided a legislative path to implementing some of his ideas and solutions through governing. His genuine enthusiasm shows as he talks about what he has been able to achieve during his short time in the legislature.

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Black bear breaks into vehicle on BRP near Humpback Rock

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Mother black bear with cubs at Loft Mountain. Photo by Lynn R. Mitchell

After a weekend of aggressive bear activities including a black bear breaking into a vehicle, the Appalachian Trail has been closed in the Humpback Rock picnic area (MP 5-ish). This comes on the heels of Thursday’s bear encounter at MP 5 of the Skyline Drive just south of Front Royal when a hiker’s dog was chased and killed by a bear.

A notice went out Sunday afternoon about the bear encounters and trail closures. By way of Appalachian Trail friend Rockfish to Reeds:

Received via email (AT TRAIL & CAMPING CLOSURES – between Paul Wolfe Shelter and Dripping Rock – 9.5 miles):

Good afternoon everyone,

We wanted to advise you that the Blue Ridge Parkway has experienced a number of bear incidents this weekend in the Humpback Rocks Picnic Area on the north end of the Blue Ridge Parkway. The picnic area itself has been closed for the past week due to bears approaching visitors looking for food.

This afternoon a bear broke into a car at the Dripping Rock Parking area north of Humpback Rocks. In addition, two hikers along the Appalachian Trail near Humpback Rocks saw two bears which refused to leave the trail.

Out of an abundance of caution we would like to implement a trail closure and closure to all camping along the Appalachian Trail between the Paul Wolfe Shelter and Dripping Rock (approximately 9.5 miles). We realize this will be an inconvenience for many hikers using the Appalachian Trail through this area, however, based upon the current bear activity we feel we must err on the side of safety.

The National Park Service is in the process of reviewing the alternatives for managing the 2-3 bears we believe responsible for most of the on-going activity.

Any thing you can do to help get the word out about the above closures would be greatly appreciated. We will be posting signs at the effected trail-heads along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Best regards,

Tom Davis
Natural Resource Specialist
National Park Service
Blue Ridge Parkway
1670 Blue Ridge Parkway
Floyd, VA 24091

Black bear activity has caused trail closures the past several years in Shenandoah National Park and along the Blue Ridge Parkway. This is not to alarm but a heads-up to be safe and alert.

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