Who is the mystery primary challenger in Virginia’s House District 17?
I received an email and text from a good friend that said Republican Delegate Chris Head was getting a primary challenger. My first thought was how could someone primary my delegate, and who was that person?
Delegate Christopher Head was originally elected to the House of Delegates in 2011, beating his Democratic opponent Frieda Cathcart 65 percent to 34 percent, and then Delegate Head beat Cathcart a second time in 2013, 67 percent to 32 percent. He currently sits on the House Finance Committee; House Health, Welfare, and Institutions Committee; and House Militia, Police, and Public Safety Committee. Delegate Head is the chairman of the bi-partisan Virginia House of Delegates Business Development Commission.
According to the Sunlight Foundation, “85% of bills he copatroned were introduced by Republicans. Of all of the copatrons of his bills, 93% of them are Republicans. Of all of the copatrons of all of the bills that he also copatroned, 73% of them are Republicans.”
All in all, Delegate Head has a solid record and, to top it off, you could not meet a nicer guy. He owns the local Home Instead Senior Care and is involved in his community and church, and has been a great friend to not only me but Roanoke as a whole.
So who in the world would primary Chris Head?
There was a clue when I looked at a Roanoke City Republican Committee email from Roanoke City Chairman John Brill with the call for the next meeting. The meeting is scheduled for this coming Monday, March 9, and the guest speaker is Delegate Head’s primary challenger, a man named Harry Griego. Who is Harry Griego, I wondered.
So I went to the Virginia State Board of Elections website but Griego had not filed. I then went to Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP) but there was no record of him filing so he could raise money. Checking Google, I saw there was no campaign page. On LinkedIn it provides his job and that he lives in Vinton but nothing about running for the Virginia House of Delegates. So I looked on Facebook and found his personal Facebook page but no mention of him running for delegate.
I have three thoughts:
1. Who got him to run?
I would be willing to bet that either the Roanoke Tea Party, City Committee Chairman John Brill, or a combination of the two got this guy to run. I have been in Roanoke politics for two years and have never heard of Mr. Griego.
If they are behind this candidate, it would make sense because Mr. Brill and the Roanoke Tea Party were unable to find a candidate of their choosing for the 21st State Senate District seat that they so desperately wanted. Mr. Brill was looking for a candidate who would advocate his extreme libertarian policies. Maybe in the Roanoke Tea Party folks’ minds, this is the tradeoff they “deserve.” The establishment got their candidate for the state senate so they may reason they “deserve” a tea party person in the State House.
2. Why run?
Why run against a sitting delegate with a decent war chest and a great record? I wonder if it is the tradeoff for not challenging Nancy Dye for the 21st State Senate seat.
3. How ridiculous is this quixotic endeavor?
Wasting money on a primary when we need money, volunteers, and resources during a year like this is a bad idea. We have one job as the Republican Party of Virginia, and that is to hold onto the House and Senate majorities. We need our resources going to Nancy Dye to defeat John Edwards, not wasting that money on a gadfly primary candidate running against a perfectly good delegate. The tea party plays on a 5,000-foot level and doesn’t look at the 100,000-foot level. They do not seem to see that to maintain the state senate majority in Virginia we need to retire John Edwards. The blinders of the ideologically pure are truly blinding, never seeing the end game.
We need to work together to stop Terry McAuliffe’s liberal legislative agenda and save the Commonwealth from his job-killing agenda straight from President Obama and Hillary Clinton. Yet the tea party is more concerned with purity, thus making sure we never solve problems. They seem to think if they just yell louder than the other guy then one day everyone in America will agree with them. We need to stop yelling and start solving problems. Rational Republicans stand for solving problems and vetting electable candidates to win. We need to be playing at the 100,000-foot level, and looking at the big picture. Gadfly candidates cost money that could actually be used toward winning the big picture elections.
I’ll definitely be at that meeting on Monday to support my friend Chris Head. And I want all of his supporters to be there, too.
Matt Colt Hall is the proud son of two blue collar workers from Carroll County, Virginia. He has been in the Republican Party since the age of 16, and along the way has interned and worked with many great Republican candidates. Matt is a graduate of Ferrum College, where he graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Political Science degree. He currently lives in Roanoke with his amazing wife Lauren and is a member of both the Roanoke Valley Young Republicans and the Roanoke County Republican Committee.
I am not sure why you think attempting to foster party infighting in the Senate District 21 race would help Nancy. Dr. Nancy Dye is a unity candidate. Our party will need unity in order to win in Senate District 21. Your efforts to undermine her race are extemely disappointing.
You are in the Roanoke County Republican Committee and so are probably not aware of how the Roanoke City Republican Committee works. Any Republican candidate in a district that includes any part of Roanoke City that comes to me as Chairman and asks to speak at a committee meeting will be given the opportunity to do so. We are all Republicans after all.
The primary season is still young and I’m sure more information will be available on Mr. Griego as we move along.
I for one am tired of loosing our statewide races and am doing what I can to try to mend our party and get back to winning, because we need to be advancing our party’s conservative agenda. I would like to be able to work with all Republicans to make that happen.
You have my contact information. If you ever feel like giving unity a chance then by all means give me a call.
John Brill – Chairman
Roanoke City Republican Committee
To me the MYSTERY is how a writer expends so much verbiage on the record of a candidate and friend without disclosing one piece of useful information that would indicate the candidate’s principles. I have zero interest in the number or percentage of bills introduced with varying degrees of bipartisan support. What I want to know is the purpose and content of the bills. How many of his bills were aimed at reducing the size and cost of government in Richmond, and how many were aimed at reducing state intrusion into private lives and business? What bills did he introduce or co-sponsor that were aimed at defending the commonwealth from abusive Federal intrusion into state and private matters?
The candidate in question may be an excellent candidate, but there is very little in this piece to give any indication of that. It is a moot point as far as I am concerned, since I am not in that district, however, I want to make the point that many voters are too informed and too aroused to allow their party politics to proceed in the manner of a fraternal organization.
As far as I’m concerned, Chris Head asked for a primary challenge when he voted for the McDonnell tax increase. I seem to recall Delegate Head speaking in a forum and defending his vote by saying the tax increase wouldn’t be felt in Central and Southwest Virginia, just east of Lynchburg. (REALITY: His vote resulted in the largest tax increase in the Commonwealth’s history, costing Virginians $1.13 billion annually.)
A tax increase is a tax increase. Arguing semantics to defend your lack of principled thought does nothing for the average voter. This party’s creed says “fiscal responsibility and budgetary restraints must be exercised” and I would argue that our party has not effectively lived up to that portion of the creed in the past decade.
The truth is, when your largest donor is Speaker Howell you are at risk for a primary. A further truth: When you vote like Speaker Howell you risk losing said primary.
“Fiscal responsibility” does not mean “absolutely, under no circumstances, even if the roads and bridges are crumbling, do we enact a tax.” Even Ronald Reagan recognized the necessity of taxes to maintain the infrastructure of the highway system in this country. Interesting the the transportation bill is brought up as a reason to primary Del. Head. Here’s a post I wrote in February 2013 when the historic bipartisan bill was passed:
A new transportation package was 27 years in the making for Virginia. The last two days of the 2013 General Assembly session saw an historic, sweeping transportation bill pass both the House and the Senate as it now heads to Governor Bob McDonnell’s desk.
The Staunton News Leader applauded the bipartisan legislation that was passed by 44 Republicans and 43 Democrats:
In recent years the General Assembly has fallen short of the ideal of working together, through disagreement, for the greater good. Today, despite the misguided efforts of some, is not that day.
With many working for the better good of the Commonwealth, the editorial noted:
As of Saturday afternoon, we have a new plan transportation funding plan for the first time in 27 years. It is nowhere near perfect, but that we have one at all is nearly miraculous. Conservatives are dismayed…. The plan highlights the critical need for compromise and action on what matters most.
Not all conservatives are dismayed. Many recognize the need to stop kicking the can down the road on infrastructure, roads, and transportation while others are understandably concerned about the money part. These are financially shaky times but one could also argue that crumbling roads are not going to get better yet our traffic volume continues to grow.
The News Leader noted there were some bumps on the way to passage:
This victory for McDonnell comes no thanks to Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who continues to make a name for himself not as statesman worthy of the Commonwealth of Virginia, but as an ideological flamethrower who seeks attention and his own way at all costs.
His 11th-hour efforts to thwart the Medicaid expansion compromise — which would in “legislative la-la land” have killed the transportation bill — expose Cuccinelli as a wannabe governor who would surely lead the Commonwealth away from the overdue productive compromise we witnessed in Richmond last week.
We are disappointed, but not surprised, to note that Cuccinelli issued the opinion at the request of Del. Ben Cline, R-Rockbridge. The far right has a long, destructive habit of ignoring obvious progress. If they cannot win on the merit of their ideas and ideals, they seek to stop their opponents’ progress through voter suppression, electoral-college trickery and other shenanigans.
As the News Leader concluded, “Gratefully, today the Commonwealth moves forward.”
Nevertheless, Republicans haven’t executed a tax cut in Virginia since prior to my birth. Glad to see the McDonnell talking points are still fresh.