Category Archives: Virginia Politics

I’m Back

I’m back.

If you didn’t notice, I slipped out the back door of Bearing Drift about seven weeks ago to work with my state senator, Emmett Hanger, on his victorious June 11 primary campaign.

During my absence Melissa Kenney, who is Bearing Drift’s managing editor, took over the day-to-day operations, and I cannot thank her enough for the time and dedication she put into making sure the trains were on time. Thank you, Missy.

After winning the primary 57-43 percent, Senator Emmett Hanger is the Republican nominee for the 24th Senate District going into November’s general election.

It wasn’t my first rodeo with him but, like last time when we worked together, it was an honor to once again be part of the team. Congratulations to our Virginia gentleman for running an above-board campaign and working circles around the rest of us.

As to Bearing Drift … it’s good to be back.

See also Emmett Hanger Had the Third Larger Turnout in Primary 2019.

Originally published June 17, 2019, at BearingDrift.com.

Emmett Hanger Had Third Largest Voter Turnout for Primary 2019

Sen. Emmett Hanger (R-24th District) campaigns at polls during the June 11 primary.

On Monday’s radio show, as he analyzed the previous week’s primary races, host and former House of Delegates member Chris Saxman gave his hot take on the 24th Senate District race between incumbent Republican Senator Emmett Hanger and his challenger, Libertarian Tina Freitas.

Here’s the transcript (listen to the podcast here) of that section of the show (starting around 43:00).

Chris Saxman: “We had Senator Emmett Hanger on a couple of times as well as his opponent Tina Freitas, and down the stretch, Sen. Hanger definitely won … won by 15 points. Most people thought it was a toss-up, inside two points, potential upset by Freitas. And Hanger puts it away by 15 points.”

Al the Engineer: “What happened there?”

Chris Saxman: “I’m glad you asked.

“This is why polling and analytics matter. Six weeks out, Hanger’s pollster says, ‘Look, you’re doing pretty well, but here’s some weaknesses and if she gets funded, these weaknesses could catch up with you.’

“They came back three weeks later, did another poll before Memorial Day, and went to him and said, ‘If you don’t change the direction of your campaign, you will lose. Here are the numbers.’

“And he didn’t want to go on a full attack — this is not his personality; he’s not a negative campaign guy — but they said, ‘You have to do some sharp contrasts, and here are the messages you want to do that with. If you don’t do this, you’ll lose.’

“He obviously did it. He ran up the numbers back in Augusta County, Staunton, Waynesboro, and Rockingham. She won on the eastern side of the district, over to Culpeper. On the western side, which is where Emmett Hanger’s from, he ran up huge margins and was able to put that one away. So that was a big win for Sen. Emmett Hanger.

“He also starts, in my estimation, too late running for reelection and his organization. He said, ‘Look, I campaign by working just as hard for my constituents.’ That’s great if this is the 1980s or 1990s and they want to see you. But with the digital aspect of a campaign and people grinding it out unseen, they don’t have to put out these massive campaigns to take you out.

“The Hanger campaign said, in … 2015, 12,000 voters voted in that primary in a three-way. On the day of the election [this year], the campaign manager or consultant or operative said they were thinking it would be about 16,000 votes. That was their estimate. Tina Freitas got 8,200. Now with 16,000, and she gets 8,200, who wins? She does.

“Well, guess what happened? 19,000 showed up! Three-thousand-plus more showed up than they were expecting. That’s a lot. That’s a substantial number turnout.

“So whatever Emmett Hanger’s team did, organizationally and in the campaign, whatever they were doing — digital, messaging, bulk mail, whatever — it worked. They turned out more people than anyone was expecting.”

It all came down to voter turnout in a June primary where voter apathy is a very real thing. #TeamHanger never let up. Sen. Hanger pulled in the third most votes in the Commonwealth.

Congratulations once again to Senator Hanger for his convincing win.

You may also be interested in If It’s Monday, Chris Saxman Is On the Radio.

Talking With Emmett … about Gun Rights

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Talking with Emmett … about gun rights….

“As a rural legislator, I have long been a leading advocate for the protection of 2nd Amendment rights. From consistently opposing legislation intended to chip away at gun owner rights, to patroning key legislation to afford statewide protection of this constitutional right, I am regarded as a leader in the Senate on this issue.

“I successfully patroned the important, overarching preemption legislation that prohibits localities from going farther than state law allows with gun restrictions. I also successfully patroned the concealed carry allowance in restaurants that serve alcohol for those legally permitted to carry concealed with the caveat that they don’t drink while carrying in the restaurant. And I have patroned legislation to protect the personal information of gun owners from public disclosure. I have an A rating by the NRA and am proud to be endorsed by them consistently over the years. I am also proud to be co-chair of the Sportsman Caucus in the General Assembly.

“As for ‘Constitutional carry’ (which is really allowing anyone to carry concealed without a permit and the appropriate training and screening), I do not believe our current application process to carry a concealed weapon is flawed. I am not hearing reports of long lines, unnecessary denials of the application, or any complaint that would justify changing a process that is working to ensure responsible owners are able to carry concealed weapons legally. I do believe because of my in-depth work in the mental health arena that this simple process helps to weed out someone who may have a mental health concern or a behavorial or criminal issue that would make it inappropriate to carry (like a domestic abuser or known drug dealer who hasn’t been charged and found guilty). The Virginia Sheriffs’ Association has gone on record supporting my position as a safety issue for citizens and their deputies. If they pull someone over with a legal permit, they know that person has gone thru the process to carry concealed, if there is no permit they will know there has been no cursory check of their credentials. I do not think we need to change a system that is working for legal concealed carry.

“Again, I fully support the Second Amendment but just as with the First Amendment basic common sense comes into play. Just as the First Amendment doesn’t permit you to yell ‘fire’ in a movie theater, the Second Amendment doesn’t prevent us from having some simple steps to ensure the rights of gun owners while providing a layer of protection from those who may be mentally impaired or otherwise not be eligible to legally carry a concealed weapon. And this doesn’t impact open carry at all which remains legal, so again for me common sense wins out.

“I will continue to support the protection of our Second Amendment Rights. In a world today where so many are working to curtail or end our gun rights, I believe my stance of common sense legislation to ensure the protection of those Second Amendment rights is a good place to be.”

Read more at www.EmmettHanger.com.

See also Talking with Emmett … about Social issues.

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Talking With Emmett … about Social Issues

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Talking with Senator Emmett Hanger … about Social issues:

“Social issues, and in particular, matters of faith, are areas where I cannot compromise. I am and always have been a strong Pro-Life Christian. I believe the dignity of life should be protected and honored from conception until natural death. Much has been in the news this session regarding abortion and simply put, I remain an ardent Pro-Lifer and my record, dating all the way back to my early work for our very first “parental consent” laws, demonstrates my commitment to my beliefs and values for human life. Some people have tried to say that my support of expanding access to Medicaid for our lower income Virginians compromises my position and that cannot be further from the truth. Providing quality health care for Virginians ensures all life is valued, rather than valuing only the lives of those who can pay for healthcare.

“I cannot in good conscience support any proposition that allows someone to make a decision about whether someone else should live or die, no matter how early in the womb or late in life, which is based on some supposed issue of choice or personal convenience.

“In addition, I want to clarify misinformation out there about state dollars allocated for preventing unwanted pregnancies. If we can prevent unwanted pregnancies from occurring in the first place, then we can obviously decrease the abortion rate. To argue otherwise is frankly out of touch with where we are today as a society. Specifically, any TANF monies directed by the state to Planned Parenthood are the same that we provided to Free Clinics, hospitals, and health centers for Long-Acting Contraceptive Devices (LARCs) to be used to prevent pregnancies. This funding was specifically geared to assist low-income Virginians who otherwise may not have access to, or money for, contraception. And to be clear, Medicaid expansion doesn’t increase the abortion rate because that is federal money restricted by the Hyde Amendment so for anyone to say my work to expand health care services to our working poor is a pro-abortion effort then they are completely off base and have a lack of knowledge of how the state and federal programs work.

“I work to protect all life and am Pro-Life. This issue is part of my core beliefs and principals. I will always support and vote to protect the unborn in the same vein that I dedicate much time to ensuring the health and care of the disabled and elderly. Every life is precious and a gift from God. It is our responsibility as leaders in the General Assembly and in our communities to protect and cherish human life.

“As a Christian, I believe my life, though pitted by errors and shortcomings, should be patterned after the example of Christ. I try to guide my decisions based on biblical instruction including the Ten Commandments and I believe strongly our form of representative democracy cannot survive, at least in a manner that is efficient and affordable, unless the majority of our citizens are ‘Godly’ people and are willing and capable of assuming their role as responsible citizens in a free society.

“I have patroned and supported restrictions on abortions long before it became a dominant ‘Republican’ theme. I continue to maintain that while the state and faith-based communities should provide support and a safety-net for those in dire circumstances, it remains the ultimate responsibility of the individual to provide for themselves and the welfare of their family.”

Read more at EmmettHanger.com.

See also Talking with Emmett … about Gun Rights.

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Chesterfield’s Joan Girone Shattered the Glass Ceiling for 1970s Young Women

It was 1976 and the board of supervisors in Chesterfield County, Virginia, was a male refuge. Joan Girone changed that.

Shattering the glass ceiling by becoming the first woman elected to the board, she became a role model and trailblazer at the age of 48 for many women who grew up in Chesterfield and were just beginning to find their way. They were watching, listening, and observing even though they may not have realize it at the time. All these years later, I see Mrs. Girone’s fingerprints on many of my Republican beliefs.

She was progressive for the GOP, especially at that time, and they were fortunate she carried their banner in her groundbreaking journey to open doors for women. At the time, Chesterfield was just beginning to grow and expand with newcomers relocating as businesses moved into the area. The result was the beginning of change in county leadership.

From reporter Bridget Balch with the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

“It set a new vision for Chesterfield County,” said former state Sen. John Watkins, a friend and political ally of Mrs. Girone’s. “Before, it was easy to say that many county governments were good old boys running local government, and she proved that that wasn’t necessarily the way it was going to work from then on.”

She went on to serve three terms before retiring from the board in 1987. During that time she was vice chairman from 1976 through 1980.

Why she didn’t move further up the political ladder is a bit of a surprise. When she ran as an Independent for Virginia state senate in the 1980s, challenging the incumbent Republican senator and bucking the local Republican hierarchy, she was shunned by some within the party and her political career never regained momentum. From the RTD:

Though a strident Republican, when Mrs. Girone ran for state senate in 1987, she challenged a Republican incumbent, state Sen. Robert Russell, as an independent. She said that the local party’s nomination process was rigged against her, and her candidacy exposed a rift in the local party. She also split with the Republican leadership, saying they were too right-wing for her more mainstream approach to politics.

Able to see the political winds of change seemingly before the GOP itself, Mrs. Girone was asked in 2012 about the shifts when county voters did not turn out as strongly in the once reliably red Chesterfield:

“I don’t think the Republican Party is going to survive much longer if they keep on this far-right track, which is endorsed by the tea party,” said Joan Girone, who in 1975 as a Republican became the first woman elected to the Chesterfield Board of Supervisors. “It’s a rigid adherence to certain things and an unwillingness to compromise at all.”

Girone, now an independent, described the Republican Party of today as “exclusive” and a group that is not recognizing the growth of minority groups in Chesterfield.

She considered it an example of “politics at its finest” when New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, and Obama, a Democrat, recently worked together in the wake of massive storm damage caused by Hurricane Sandy.

“That’s what the Republicans seem to have forgotten — you are sent there to work solutions for the common good of all the people,” Girone said. “You can keep your own philosophy … but you have to compromise and give and take to reach a goal of what is best for all of the people.” [emphasis added]

As a public servant, she got it, listening and working with her constituents, holding “First Monday” events to listen to their concerns, and active in the community before, during, and long after her time on the board. She was instrumental in the change that resulted in the school board being elected by voters instead of appointed by supervisors.

In 2015 she was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award from Chesterfield County.

Earlier this week Joan Girone passed away at the age of 91, six months after the loss of her husband Joe. She left a legacy in the county but, perhaps more importantly, she left a legacy for unknown numbers of women who learned leadership, community involvement, constituent dedication, and a never-give-up attitude from this pioneer in the Richmond area women’s movement.

Mrs. Girone’s life will be celebrated this afternoon, Thursday, April 18, 2019, at 2:00 at Bon Air Methodist Church.

For more about Joan Girone:

-Richmond Times-Dispatch: Joan Girone, first woman elected to Chesterfield Board of Supervisors, dies at 91
-Richmond Times-Dispatch: Election shows distinct shifts in Chesterfield voting habits

Happy New Year 2019 from LynnRMitchell.com

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As 2018 comes to a close, it is a time to reflect on family and friends and those who have special meaning in our lives. While I’m still writing and posting photos at LynnRMitchell.com, my responsibilities as editor-in-chief at BearingDrift.com have kept me very busy.

Here’s to a great 2019 and many more years observing, writing, and taking pictures of politics and more.

From LynnRMitchell.com to you … Happy New Year!

Welcoming 2019 at Bearing Drift

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[Since most of my time these days is spent at Bearing Drift, I’m sharing the New Year’s Day post for 2019.]

Hello, 2019! Goodbye, 2018.

It’s that time of year when it’s out with the old and in with the new. Here at Bearing Drift, it’s a time to look back at the past year, thank those who have built our foundation, offer extra thanks to our writers and background support, express gratitude for our readers, and start out with a clean slate in 2019.

Bearing Drift turns 15 this year — definitely a milestone for our group of writers and contributors who share their opinions, observations, and knowledge about the political world around us. With our concentration primarily on Virginia, we sometimes branch out to national and world politics when they affect us here in the Commonwealth.

Bearing Drift’s New Year’s resolution for 2019 is to continue to provide quality articles to our readers. We will strive to present new content on a regular basis, and we hope our readers will continue to support us and add their voices to the discussion.

As the new year begins, we want to take a moment to recognize those who make Bearing Drift the remarkable organization that it is and their contributions:

Melissa Kenney is our Advertising Director and Managing Editor. She sells ads, shares her expertise, and also digs into the site to troubleshoot technical issues that may arise.

Jason Kenney is our Webmaster. For an organization like ours, that is just about the most important person in the operation. He troubleshoots issues we may have and is practically on call at all hours of the day and night.

Susan Sili is our resident “hostess with the mostest” who covers the General Assembly during session, shares entertaining tips, and writes historical pieces about Virginia.

Brian Schoeneman is our editor-in-chief emeritus and occasional contributor who is always there to provide support and feedback.

Rick Sincere, who is well known in the writing world and contributes to a number of publications, is our radio personality since taking on “The Score” nine months ago. He not only pens articles for Bearing Drift but also provides photos when attending candidate events.

Stephen Spiker rejoined Bearing Drift in 2018. Experienced in polls, policy, and campaigns, he is a solid writer and numbers cruncher.

Norm Leahy, who has served as editor-in-chief in the past, writes for Real Clear Investigations and provides a weekly column at the Washington Post that he shares with us.

Cole Trower provides coverage of the Hampton Roads area as well as opinion and information about candidates and campaigns. He has served in grassroots leadership and worked numerous campaigns.

D.J. McGuire, a former long-time contributor, returned in 2018 after a two-year absence. A former candidate for public office, his experience is in foreign affairs and financial issues as well as Virginia politics.

Craig Storrs Jr. brings a wide array of experiences to his writing including working with elected officials, running campaigns, and grassroots leadership.

Matt Hall is our goodwill ambassador, writing articles as well as conducting interviews of candidates and elected officials.

Andrew Hull is on hiatus preparing to enter law school but is able to add the occasional article. Well-rounded in working campaigns, his quick wit and knowledge of the political scene endeared him to readers.

M.D. Russ brings years of experience with a military and business background, weighing in on a variety of issues.

Matt Walton offers perspective from the Richmond area, utilizing his experience working campaigns and running for public office.

Jay McConville brings his experience in grassroots leadership and running for public office to his writing.

-Rollin Reisinger has written strategically in the past but has been working campaigns in recent months.

-Steven Brodie Tucker is our newest contributor. His thoughtful and fact-filled writing has already captured an audience with BD readers.

Jim Bacon, editor-in-chief and founder of Bacon’s Rebellion, is one of our content partners, sharing his writing on economics, energy, and other issues of importance to Virginians.

Rob Schilling has his own radio show and is a former Charlottesville councilman. Another content partner, he writes about topical issues.

Mike Thompson is president of the Thomas Jefferson Institute of Public Policy, sharing articles about issues that concern the citizens of the Commonwealth.

-And me, Lynn R. Mitchell — editor-in-chief, photo chaser, and multi-tasker.

Here’s expecting even greater things for Bearing Drift in the coming year so stay with us to see where we  go in 2019.

From all of us to all of you … Happy New Year!

Cross-posted at BearingDrift.com

ICYMI: Bearing Drift’s Weekend Roundup

It’s the weekend and time to catch up with all the great Bearing Drift posts you may have missed. Pour yourself a cup of coffee and enjoy the weekend roundup.

Former Del. Joe May Wins Nomination for 33rd Senate District by Lynn R. Mitchell

No Recount for 24th District, Ronnie Campbell’s Win Holds by Lynn R. Mitchell

Campbell Wins By One Vote in 24th HOD District, Challenger Calls for Recount by Lynn R. Mitchell

The Score: California Wildfires, Thanksgiving Origins, Illiberal Democracy, Facial Recognition by Rick Sincere

Firehouse Primary for 24th HOD Seat — Update: Ronnie Campbell Wins by Cole Trower

17 Additional Localities Eligible for Public Assistance for Hurricane Florence Damages by Lynn R. Mitchell

U.S. House Schedule for Friday, Nov, 16, 2018 by Bearing Drift

So How Are Things for the Democrats These Days? by D.J. McGuire

Snowy Loudoun County by M.D. Russ

Previewing The Score: Wintry Weather in Virginia by Rick Sincere

Icy Shenandoah Valley by Lynn R. Mitchell

U.S. House Committee Activity, News by Bearing Drift

Saying Goodbye to Augusta County’s Bob Dickerman by Lynn R. Mitchell

Eric Cantor Suggests Republicans Need a Suburban Agenda by Lynn R. Mitchell

U.S. House Schedule for Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018 by Bearing Drift

How to Fix RPV in One Easy Step by Stephen Spiker

U.S. House Schedule for Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018 by Bearing Drift

24th HOD: Ben Cline Won. Now What? by Lynn R. Mitchell

The daily U.S. House agenda and committee activity schedules are included when Congress is in session. For all the latest posts all the time check out Bearing Drift’s Latest News.

Eric Cantor Suggests Republicans Need a Suburban Agenda

Eric Cantor, former Virginia Congressman and Republican U.S. House Majority Leader who served in the U.S. House from 2001-14, penned an op-ed in Tuesday’s New York Times suggesting the GOP needed a suburban agenda. In it, he made reasonable suggestions for the future of the Republican Party.

Will anyone listen?

Cantor began:

An election provides a certain definitiveness for political candidates, win or lose. I know from experience, having lived through both the ups and the downs. For political parties, elections also provide a chance to reflect, learn and move forward with the business of attracting more voters next time. Or at least they should.

For Republicans, losing the House majority in last week’s midterm elections is a clear demonstration that the party must do more to appeal to suburban voters, especially college-educated women. Once a Republican mainstay, this group has been slowly moving away from us for the past few cycles.

The data is indisputable, and Republicans must address it. We need a Republican suburban agenda.

He laid out the need for Republicans to attract and regain lost voters. It was a reminder of the Republican National Committee’s “autopsy” after the 2012 presidential election when Mitt Romney lost to incumbent Barack Obama. In it was a blueprint of what the GOP needed to do to attract and/or keep voters. Sadly, the party didn’t listen.

If not willing to compromise on issues and work with their colleagues across the political aisle, Republicans face the possibility of continued losses as voters become discouraged and continue to move away from the party.

There’s a better way, Cantor wrote:

There is a better way. Two of the most popular Republican governors, each re-elected in a landslide on Tuesday, happen to be from two of the bluest states in the country — Massachusetts and Maryland. They have figured out how to maintain support among base Republicans while still appealing to independents and even Democrats.

In my home state of Virginia, the suburbs throughout the state have been trending blue for some time. Last year in the race for governor, Democrats faced a choice: Double down on the gains they had made in the suburbs of Washington, Richmond and Norfolk or try to hold those voters while simultaneously appealing to rural areas.

In short, he says, Democrats broadened their appeal.

The 2020 election season has now begun. After last week’s niceties of calls and congratulations, what comes next will foreshadow whether these lessons were internalized or ignored. Will Republicans have something to offer suburban, college-educated women? Will Democrats have anything to say to white, non-college-educated men in the rural areas?

There is an added bonus for all the beleaguered voters who aren’t quite ready to dive back into a divisive political process: A campaign where you’re trying to bring more people into your party tends to be more civil and less toxic than what we just experienced.

Read the Congressman’s entire op-ed here.

Photo by Lynn R. Mitchell

ICYMI: Bearing Drift’s Weekend Roundup

It’s the weekend and time to catch up with all the great Bearing Drift posts you may have missed. Pour yourself a cup of coffee and enjoy the weekend roundup.

Tonight: Daylight Savings Time Ends as Clocks Fall Back an Hour by Lynn R. Mitchell

The Score: Afghan Elections, Midterm Predictions, Second Amendment, Revisiting 1968 by Rick Sincere

The X Factor in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District by Norman Leahy

The Culture Wars Come to Fluvanna County High School by Rob Schilling

Previewing The Score: 2018 Election Prognosis by Rick Sincere

A Tightly Focused Plan for Boosting Virginia’s Business-Climate Rankings by James A. Bacon

Happy Halloween 2018 by Lynn R. Mitchell

Why Birthright Citizenship Is So Important by Brian Schoeneman

Why I’m Voting for Barbara Comstock by Brian Schoeneman

Wason Poll: Brat, Spanberger Statistically Tied in 7th Congressional District by Lynn R. Mitchell

A Trump Country Toss-Up in Virginia’s 5th Congressional District by Norman Leahy

31 Days of October, Day 31 by Lynn R. Mitchell
Day 30
Day 29

The daily U.S. House agenda and committee activity schedules are included when Congress is in session. For all the latest posts all the time check out Bearing Drift’s Latest News.

An Open Letter of Thanks to RPV’s Mike Thomas


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Dear Mike,

You did it again — stepped in as interim chair to fill the vacuum left when John Whitbeck resigned in July — and the Republican Party of Virginia once again owes you a big thanks. You kept the party going until a replacement was voted on at today’s State Central Committee meeting.

Congratulations to new Chairman Jack Wilson who will finish out Whitbeck’s term.

We’ve been here before, haven’t we? As First Vice Chairman of the party, serving as interim chair is a role you have served a number of times in the past to preserve continuity in leadership. You have been asked before to take on the role yourself but you always said no. You seem to thrive working in the background, not in the spotlight of politics — always the reliable wind beneath the wings of whomever was chairman at the time.

The party owes you a huge debt of gratitude also for being the pillar that you are with a steady hand and even temperament and reliability to carry us through the rough patches. Your institutional knowledge is legendary — you are a walking encyclopedia of Virginia Republican politics — and we are amazed at your darn near perfect recall of facts.

During the battles that have occurred between factions, you have worked with all sides, listening and mediating and seemingly always available. Throughout the years not only have you worked with the grassroots but also with countless Republican elected officials who have turned to you for the same measured advice so appreciated by others.

For all that that and so much more, we thank you.

I looked through my photo archives from the past two decades because you know how I like to take pictures at Republican events. You’ve never told me no when I asked for a pic, patiently enduring my shutterbug over the years. Often what people don’t see in the photos I’ve snapped of elected officials is you off to the side, not seeking the limelight but every bit as important as those pictured.

So I compiled a few of those pictures from the multiple GOP events where we have run into each other. I have lots more but will save them for another time.

Just one more thing. Your friendship with many, patience with all, and wisdom from years of experience are truly appreciated by a party that probably doesn’t deserve you. I can just imagine that, as you handed over the gavel today to the new chair, you possibly gave a sigh of relief at resuming your role as First Vice Chair. All I know if we’re all grateful for your leadership. Thanks, Mike.

Best,

~Lynn

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At Burgers With Bill Bolling, June 2017. Richmond.

Mike Thomas August 2018
At son Alec’s wedding in August 2018.


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The Republican Advance at The Homestead, 2011.

mike-thomas-5-w-trixie-john-hagerTrixie Averill, former. Lt. Gov. John Hager, and Mike at the RPV State Convention in 2016.

mike-thomas-6Mike and son Alec at State Central Committee meeting in Staunton, 2015.

mike-thomas-7At Burgers With Bill Bolling, 2014.

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mike-thomas-9Republican Advance in Williamsburg 2009.

mike-thomas-10Election Night 2009 — Republicans swept Top 3 gubernatorial spots.

mike-thomas-11-familyMike with son Alec and daughter Ashley at one of Eric Cantor’s Republican Roundups.

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Photobombed by RTD’s Jeff Schapiro while talking with former Gov. Bob McDonnell, 2016.

mike-thomas-13Republican Roundup. Maybe 2012?

mike-thomas-14-juanita-ballenger-2011With Juanita Ballenger at Republican Roundup in 2011.

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mike-thomas-16With Paul Galanti and Judi Lynch.

mike-thomas-17With Susan Allen.

mike-thomas-18-ben-marchiWith Ben Marchi.

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mike-thomas-20-martin-brownWith Martin Brown.

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mike-thomas-23With Donald and Nancy Williams.

mike-thomas-24-rpv-conv-2011RPV State Convention 2009.

mike-thomas-24-with-mom-cal-2007With my parents at the Republican Roundup in 2007.

mike-thomas-25-at-geo-allen-house-2011Barbecue at Susan and George Allen’s house in 2012.


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With Polly Campbell, State Central Committee Secretary for 40 years, at the Republican Roundup.


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With longtime GOP activist Trixie Averill. Election night 2009 in RVA.

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell

Cross-posted at Bearing Drift

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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from LynnRMitchell.com

Christmas 12 lanternThe reason for the season….

“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and goodwill towards men.” Luke 2:8-20

The true meaning of Christmas … a time for the Christian world to pause and celebrate the birth of the son of God.

As 2017 comes to a close, it is a time to remember family and friends and those who have special meaning in our lives. While I’m still writing and posting photos at LynnRMitchell.com, my new responsibilities as editor-in-chief at Bearing Drift have kept me very busy. The entire past year was busy.

Here’s to a great 2018 and many more years observing, writing, and taking pictures of politics and more. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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Happy Birthday, Mike Thomas … and Thank You

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Mike Thomas, First Vice Chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia’s State Central Committee, has a birthday today. What would Virginia Republicans do without this pillar of the party whose steady hand and even temperament have carried us through many rough patches? His institutional knowledge is legend — he is a walking encyclopedia of Virginia Republican politics. During the battles between factions that occur, he has worked with all sides, listening and mediating and seemingly always available. For that, we owe him a big thank you. I hope he is enjoying his birthday without too much politics interfering with his day.

I went through my photo archives and looked for pics of Mike from the past 15 years at Republican events around the Commonwealth. Here are a few of them. Thanks, Mike — your friendship and wisdom are truly appreciated. Happy Birthday!

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Supervisor Pyles, Walking the Walk

“Tracy has helped improve the lives of many in his District over the years.” –Augusta County resident

Augusta County Supervisor Tracy Pyles stood comfortably at the front of the Deerfield fire station’s meeting room at his Tuesday night town hall in the far western reaches of Pastures District. It’s an area he knows well. Growing up in the scenic beauty of the Deerfield Valley, he was a child of the generation allowed to roam freely, climb trees, explore creeks, scramble the mountain slopes, and spend hours away from parents’ watchful eyes.

Within that district is the tiny unincorporated area known as Deerfield, elevation 1739 feet, located approximately 45 minutes west of Staunton, in a picturesque valley on the western side of Elliott’s Knob, the highest point in Augusta County. It peaks out at an elevation of 4463 feet atop the North Mountain range.

To know the area is to know the man.

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Saxman Remembers Colleague Lacey Putney, Virginia Gentleman of the House

The loss on Saturday of former Virginia Delegate Lacey Putney brought back memories of this column that I wrote about him when he retired in 2013, a tribute from my former Delegate Chris Saxman who shared his respect for the man:

Delegate Lacey Putney has served in the Virginia House of Delegates longer than former Delegate  Chris Saxman has been alive. Yet the respect for the elder statesman is there in Chris’ column as all take in the unexpected yet not surprising news of Putney’s retirement from the House.

In “Lacey Putney — Virginia Gentleman,” the young gentleman shared some good memories about his time serving for almost a decade with the older gentleman from Bedford. Chris wrote:

Lacey is a model of the unbranded, gentlemanly conservatism that makes Virginia so exceptional. The essence of that conservatism, true conservatism, is grounded in two key elements – pragmatism and self-restraint. What works, works. What doesn’t, shouldn’t.

Lacey Putney was and is a model of Virginia gentlemanly conservatism because Lacey was and is, first and foremost, a gentleman.

As with anyone who has served for 52 years, time catches up and the reluctant decision is made to retire and spend those golden years with family and friends. Putney’s morals from an earlier generation were evident after his wife passed away and he remarried about seven years later, as recounted by Chris:

“I feel like a teenager!” Lacey exclaimed with a gleam in his eye and a smile as broad as the James River. Then he softly explained, “Of course, when Carmela came to visit me in Bedfuhd, she had to stay across the street. We didn’t want people getting the wrong idea.”

Chris added, “Of course not.”

Read Chris’ entire respectful tribute to a man who spent most of his life in the public service of Virginia’s citizens.

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