By Lynn R. Mitchell
Java With Jeb. Billed as coffee and conversation with Jeb Bush at Bristol’s Birthplace of Country Music Museum, it’s the kind of team effort from a top-tier presidential contender that is welcomed by Virginia Republicans.
The former Florida governor will headline a Thursday fundraiser for the Virginia Senate Republican Caucus. As Shaun Kenney noted at Bearing Drift, “[GOP 21st senate district candidate] Nancy Dye has to be pleased. More to the point, this is the sort of team rally that candidates ought to be doing, especially in states where early support matters.” Dr. Dye is in a three-way race with Democratic incumbent John Edwards and independent Don Caldwell.
Governor Bush is paying attention to Virginia and has ties that make those connections even more important in this battleground state that has gone blue the past two presidential elections. President Barack Obama won by 6.3 percent of the vote in 2008 only to see that margin shrink to 3.88 percent in 2012. A Republican could win in 2016.
Bush has friends in high places in the Commonwealth — former Lieutenant Governor John Hager whose son Henry is married to George W’s daughter Jenna, Ed Gillespie who was right-hand man to President George W. Bush and former chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia, Kay James who was a member of the George Allen and George W. Bush administrations, and Eric Cantor whose influence and connections run throughout not only Virginia but to the highest levels in D.C. and beyond.
The decision to stop in the 9th Congressional District is politically savvy. One of Bush’s supporters is former Virginia Attorney General Jerry Kilgore (see Former AG Jerry Kilgore joins Jeb Bush’s Virginia team) whose southwestern Virginia roots go deep and include his twin brother Terry who has been in the Virginia legislature for 20 years. Jerry Kilgore is respected in the Commonwealth from the mountains of the 9th District to Capital Square in Richmond.
Thursday’s Java with Jeb will include senate candidate Nancy Dye as well as Senators Bill Carrico and Ben Chafin, Ralph Smith, and Ryan McDougle, and I’m sure there will be many familiar faces of grassroots volunteers including 9th Congressional District Chair Adam Tobert.
LynnRMitchell.com is going on the road to cover the event. It is scheduled to begin at 11:45 a.m. so be sure to check in Thursday for the latest updates.