On Wednesday night, the sheer number of vehicles parked outside the meet-and-greet location was the first clue for Delegate Glenn Davis, who is vying for the Republican nomination for Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, that a huge crowd was inside.
Smiling as he walked in the front door to a packed venue, Davis found himself wading through a standing-room only crowd of nearly a hundred Valley residents (see video). Reaching out to shake hands, he listened to comments and hugged supporters who eagerly leaned in for a few words. “Thank you,” he said repeatedly, clearly grateful and maybe a little surprised at the overwhelming turnout on a cold winter night in February in this quiet corner of western Virginia.
They had turned out to meet the 42-year-old candidate who had dashed out of Richmond as soon as the day’s General Assembly session ended and boarded “Mello Yellow,” his traveling RV, arriving a few minutes later than anticipated because of a busy session that lasted longer than expected. His smile broadened as an excitement radiated from the crowd that filled the entire downstairs of Anne and Scott Seaton’s home. The living room was full. The sitting room was full. The kitchen, dining, and family rooms were crammed with a sea of faces.
Davis, a self-made businessman who thrives on the techie side of commerce, and who served in his youth as then-Delegate Bob McDonnell’s legislative aide, made his way to the window-lined alcove behind the dining table filled with appetizers. From the framed niche with children’s pictures taped to the panes, he spoke to the hushed room about his background growing up in an Italian family where he learned his strict work ethic, and his reasons for running (see video). It was not, he said, for the title, the glory, or the power. It was for what he felt he could contribute and give back to Virginia.
His remarks were vintage Glenn Davis — part businessman, part technology junkie, part entrepreneur … animated and friendly yet direct, with his thoughts pouring out in a rush of words as he described growing the economy and creating jobs, issues that encourage him to continually think outside the box. He is a problem solver, and you get the sense he actually enjoys the challenge of searching for answers to demanding issues.
Davis is humble — he actively but quietly gives back to the community — yet self-assured in his knowledge of business, and pro-active. While not a braggart about his accomplishments, he will tell you he will be one of the hardest-working person that you will meet because that is the way he was raised. Watching his family, he was taught that you can achieve anything if willing to work hard enough, and he lives that belief.
I wrote in August 2016, “As a telecommunications management entrepreneur and business owner, he talks business with the knowledge and enthusiasm of a chef talking food. He is very much a solutions-oriented legislator who wants to see employers not only survive but thrive right here in Virginia.” Six months later, that is still true.
In December he winged his way to Estonia to meet one of the creators of Skype, and to learn about other advances in technology coming out of that innovative country.
Davis’ vision for the future includes better preparing American students for an ever-growing competitiveness of a high-tech world. To help with that, during this session in Richmond he sponsored HB 2378 which would allow students to substitute Computer Coding, as in computer programming, for a foreign language credit. The bill didn’t make it out of committee this year but perhaps next year it will stand a better chance as the understanding of technology catches up with demand.
His desire is to return Virginia, currently ranked in thirteenth place, back to first place in the national business ranking. (For more about Glenn Davis’ vision for Virginia, see his op-ed, We Need Bold Leadership For Virginia in 2017.)
It was a diverse crowd that listened — teachers, doctors, businessmen … parents, millennials, and retired folks — faces that reflected a cross-section of the area. An Augusta County high school student was there as well as College Republicans from nearby universities and colleges — University of Virginia, Bridgewater, JMU, Blue Ridge Community College — all 30 minutes or more away. Those students had attended class during the day, and then drove to Waynesboro to show support for Glenn Davis. Western Vice Chairman Wendell drove up from Lynchburg. Some folks drove down from Rockingham. The Staunton-Waynesboro-Augusta County (SWAC) area was well represented.
Driving home later that night through swirling snow flurries, I thought back about the evening. When I had first arrived at the Seatons’ house a little past 7:00, the roadway in front of the house was already lined with cars. I was early — it wasn’t even time for the event to begin — so it was a pleasant surprise to see that many vehicles, and they were still arriving. Several young Republicans were helping with parking so I was directed into the driveway where they were angle-parking us to avoid blocking anyone. Not to worry … I was there until the end and, when I left after 10pm, my vehicle was all alone in the driveway.
The house was packed with people as I walked in the front door and proceeded with the political drill: name tag, sign petitions, Davis sticker, and hellos to the CRs manning the table. I moved on toward the direction of loud voices and, walking through the door into the dining room, saw a big crowd gathered around the overflowing bar and dining table.
Quickly scanning the room, I saw familiar faces so headed toward them. There was RPV’s Western Vice Chairman Wendell Walker from Lynchburg. Tom Kelley. Georgia Long. A few minutes later News-Virginian political reporter Bob Stuart walked in, then Jason and Angela Bibeau. Waynesboro City Councilman Bruce Allen, and former Waynesboro City Councilman Mike Harris. Matt Homer drove down from Page County.
Besides Bob Stuart, other media covering Wednesday night were Tara Todd with NBC-29, and the Washington Post’s Laura Vozzolla, who had a photographer with her.
There were teachers, doctors, businessmen. Moms, dads, millennials, and retired folks — faces that reflected a cross-section of the central Shenandoah Valley. A Buffalo Gap High School student was there from western Augusta County, as well as College Republicans — UVa, Bridgewater, JMU, Blue Ridge Community College — all 30 minutes or more away. After attending class all day, they drove to Waynesboro to show support for Glenn Davis.
We are more than 100 days out from the Republican Primary on June 13. As momentum builds, the Delegate from Virginia Beach continues the fast pace with boots on the ground this weekend — he was in Rockingham County on Friday, and is participating with Millennial Ascent’s MAC-PAC statewide candidates debate in Charlottesville on Saturday. In January Davis was endorsed by Virginia House of Delegates Majority Leader Kirk Cox.
Always sticking to a positive message, I have never heard Glenn Davis mention his opponents who are currently embroiled in a messy he said-she said legal controversy involving an anonymous email.
For more about Glenn Davis: After first meeting Delegate Davis at the Republican Party of Virginia’s state convention in April 2016 followed by subsequent discussions and a meeting in Staunton, I found myself extremely impressed by his energy and vision, something I wrote about at the time (see As Lt. Governor, Glenn Davis Would Make Jobs His Priority). You may also be interested in his interview with Bearing Drift senior correspondent Matt Hall, and a podcast interview with publisher Jim Hoeft.
Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell and Jacob Neff
Video by Joe Winn
February 15, 2017