It’s politics as usual in local Republican circles as Democrats are watching and smiling at the possibly of another tea party take-down, Cantor style. But this time the target is Stafford Delegate Bill Howell. The latest melodrama is over Howell’s Official Constituent Survey I and area voters received in the mail a week ago. It has his primary opponent Tea Party partisan Susan Stimpson fuming.
It was the usual pointed establishment Republican questionnaire attempting to bolster the image of the incumbent Howell and the ultra-conservative positions he is attempting to force on Stafford and Fredericksburg area voters.
Financed by the Republican Party of Virginia with their new chairman John Whitbeck, the survey incredibly had no specific questions dealing with veterans or racial and immigrant issues. Not even a single photo of Howell pressing the flesh with any minority constituency.
Perhaps that’s because when it comes to outreach, Howell has been persona non grata to the Dream Act concerns of a growing Latin voting community, not to mention topics for veterans who are black or Asian. Whitbeck has had his own issues with minorities prior to being elected chairman. He continues to be widely criticized for his lack of contrition by telling a racial joke during a campaign stop for then gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli.
Whitbeck has gone on record suggesting the survey does not constitute an endorsement. Well, when I see “Paid for by the Republican Party of Virginia” on a piece of literature about an incumbent and a Howell Delegate sticker, I see the words “Endorsed by the Republican Party” whether they are there or not.
Stimpson accepts the action was done without Whitbeck’s knowledge. On her Facebook post she states the Republican Party “staff” has broken its own rules by financing Howell’s mailer with funds from the grass roots donated to the party. Nevertheless, the damage to her as a primary candidate has been unfairly done.
Whitbeck has indicated he will discuss mail standards this month but parity in the process calls for a mailer of equal political proportion discussing questions of concern by Stimpson with appropriate photos of Stimpson with family and supporters paid for by the RPV. But don’t hold your breath. Howell as House Speaker no doubt considers Whitbeck and the RPV staff there to serve him and get him re-elected.
Regardless of what occurs, independent voters should be paying attention to what candidates are saying about job creation, education, immigration, medical care, and veterans support. And the fact remains neither Howell nor Stimpson have been politically pure as the proverbial driven snow.
Stimpson, a former chairwoman of the Stafford Board of Supervisors, is a very controversial tea party figure, privately criticized and sometimes cajoled by her contemporaries. A recent example was Aquia Supervisor Paul Milde, clearly not a Stimpson supporter, posting framed photoshopped pictures of himself and Supervisor Cord Sterling in Stimpson’s new campaign office which opened over the weekend via the web.
Then there are issues that could raise an eyebrow or two during the election regarding Stimpson’s time on the Stafford Board and financial dealings. Specifically, what is a matter of the public record is that as chairwoman, Stimpson by her yes vote led in the purchase of property at the Quantico Corporate Center from the partnership of real estate investor James Ashby Moncure who awaits trial for fraud. Is it a valid question to ask what did Stimpson know as to Moncure’s status prior to the negotiations? Or did the Board’s actions aid in Moncure’s financial sustainment? He is accused of stealing 35 million dollars from local investors and the trial begins Monday.
Whether there is any fire to this smoke perhaps should be examined but, nevertheless, voters clearly have issues with both candidates and the only one who will win over this political dust up is Governor Terry McAuliffe. The McAuliffe administration would love nothing better than to see both candidates bloodied as they attempt to groom a Democrat as the next Delegate of the 28th District. Yep, politics as usual.
Daniel Cortez, a distinguished Vietnam veteran and award winning writer/broadcaster, is active in veterans and political affairs with an independent voter perspective. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org