Category Archives: SW Virginia Politics

9th District Convention produces 1 Trump, 2 Cruz delegates for Cleveland

By Matt Colt Hall and Lynn R. Mitchell
Our observations and photos of Saturday’s 9th District Convention. Cross-posted at Bearing Drift

9th Convention 13

This past Saturday the 9th Congressional District Republican Committee, represented by Morgan Griffith, elected their State Central Committee members, Delegates and Alternates for the Republican National Convention, and the Presidential Elector. This election provided another loss to the Donald J. Trump delegate recruitment as two Delegates who pledged to support Senator Ted Cruz were elected to the Republican National Committee Delegate position.

The breakdown of Saturday’s elections:

Presidential Elector: John Rainero, 39, a civil engineer involved in sales, design, and construction with Permatile Concrete Products Company in Bristol. A Virginia Tech alumni, he attended the Sorensen Institute of Leadership at UVa in 2009.

State Central Committee:

1. Susan Edwards*
2. Michelle Jenkins*
3. Corey Scott
*Incumbent

Republican National Convention Delegate

1. Kyle Kilgore: Cruz. Kyle, 22, represents the next generation of Kilgores in politics and, on Saturday, he received by far the most votes. From Scott County, he is a student at East Tennessee State University.

2. Jordan Labiosa: Cruz. Jordan, 22, is one of the many millennials who are moving into party leadership. A member of New Castle town council, he is chairman of the Craig County Republican Committee and works with 6th Congressional District Representative Bob Goodlatte.

3. Tucker Davis: Trump. Tucker, who is from Grundy in Buchanan County, has worked various Republican campaigns and is currently on staff with the Trump campaign.

Republican National Convention Alternate Delegate

1. Robert Taconet: Cruz.
2. Flux Neo: Trump.
3. Tamara Neo: Trump.

From Matt….
This Convention was personal for me as an activist. It’s difficult to stay objective as a writer for this convention. My best friend from college Corey Scott and one of my political mentors Michelle Jenkins were on the ballot for State Central. I’ve known most of these candidates for years. The friendships made in the 9th District transcend the ideological differences that our party currently faces.

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Ralph Smith announces retirement from state senate, anoints Suetterlein – Updated

Ralph Smith

David Suetterlein, Ralph Smith

By Lynn R. Mitchell

On Monday Ralph Smith sent out an email stating: “Senator Smith announces he will not seek a third term … 19th District Senator endorses Legislative Director and Roanoke County GOP Chairman Dave Suetterlein to succeed him in Senate.”

An announcement of retirement in one breath and the endorsement of his aide in the next? With some feeling blindsided, the news spread throughout the district that a behind-closed-doors deal had apparently been made between the senator and his legislative aide who had held no prior public office. He had previously worked for Ken Cuccinelli before joining the senator’s staff.

Suetterlein, chairman of the Roanoke County Republican Committee, had mentioned nothing to his committee members about running. Smith had not communicated to constituents a wish to retire. No candidates had filed because they thought Smith was running for re-election. While it is understandable to groom people for positions, it is usually more transparent and above-board.

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The mystery man challenging Del. Chris Head

Matt Colt HallBy Matt Colt Hall
Guest Post

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.

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Charles Slemp to run for Wise commonwealth’s attorney

Chuck SlempBy Lynn R. Mitchell

I received an email from Chuck Slemp with the newspaper attachment announcing his run for Wise County commonwealth’s attorney. I smiled because it was not unexpected. I didn’t know what he would run for but knew he would probably be a candidate for public office (see Slemp announces bid for commonwealth’s attorney). The article noted the reason the position has recently become available:

Wise County’s current commonwealth’s attorney, Ron Elkins, will vacate the county post on Nov. 30 as a result of his election late last week by the Virginia General Assembly to a judgeship on the 30th Circuit Juvenile & Domestic Court.
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Be careful of those you trust

Jerry LesterBy Jerry Lester

Why family or friends back-stab: trying to understand why some people “back-stab” or double-cross

A backstabber is someone who pretends to be your friend, or to be on your side, and then turns around and does or says things that lead to you being harmed, exposed, or treated badly as a result of things they suggest or reveal.

Backstabbing is a form of manipulation and reveals a person who is disloyal, insecure, and very unsure of their own place.

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Memories: Mountain Lake still entertaining guests

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Mountain Lake Lodge when the lake was full.

By Lynn R. Mitchell

Mountain Lake Lodge sits on 2,600 acres surrounded by the Jefferson National Forest in Giles County high in the mountains, a huge, rustic stone building with an historic background (see History of Mountain Lake Lodge) that overlooks what was once a large, well, mountain lake. It has practically dried up the past few years — the mystery surrounding that is a story in itself because it has drained and refilled over the centuries (see History of rise and fall of Mountain Lake) — but the resort remains as a hideaway for those who want to spend time in the cooler mountain temps with lots of outdoor recreational activities available, except swimming and boating.

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Core Health & Fitness brings 250 new jobs to Grayson County

StairMasterBy Lynn R. Mitchell

Grayson County is located among the scenic mountains and quiet isolation of southwestern Virginia so the news of 250 new jobs is welcomed especially since Nautilus closed several years ago after 34 years as a county employer. Core Health & Fitness LLC, a leader in developing and marketing advanced strength and cardio equipment for the fitness industry, will invest $2 million to expand the former Med-Fit operation in Grayson County. They will locate in the former Nautilus facility in Independence.

Headquartered in Vancouver, Washington, the company markets and distributes the legendary StairMaster StepMill,® StairMaster StairCimber®, Schwinn® indoor cycling bikes, Star Trac® strength and cardio products and Spinner® bikes worldwide.

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Breaking news: Phil Puckett resigns from state senate — UPDATED with Gov. McAuliffe statement

By Lynn R. Mitchell

Reporter Jim Nolan with the Richmond Times-Dispatch is reporting that Democratic State Senator Phil Puckett, 66, has resigned throwing Democrats into the minority and noted:

Puckett’s stunning resignation throws Democratic budget strategy into chaos by opening the way for Republicans to seize control of the chamber and reorganize its committees with GOP majorities.

Family reasons have been cited as the reason for the sudden resignation but there’s more in Nolan’s article. Stay tuned as this story develops….

UPDATED Sunday at 10 pm: Governor Terry McAuliffe (D) issued a statement Sunday evening about Senator Puckett’s resignation:

“I am deeply disappointed by this news and the uncertainty it creates at a time when 400,000 Virginians are waiting for access to quality health care, especially in Southwest Virginia. This situation is unacceptable, but the bipartisan majority in the Senate and I will continue to work hard to put Virginians first and find compromise on a budget that closes the coverage gap.”

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