Category Archives: Virginia Politics

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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Remembering Former Virginia Delegate Lacey Putney, Body to Lie in State in State Capitol Rotunda

Wednesday, April 3, 2013. Delegate Lacey Putney said goodbye to the Virginia House of Delegates as he prepared to retire after 52 years. (Photo by Delegate Christopher Peace)

Lacey Putney was the Virginia Gentleman everyone respected. When he retired in 2013, the accolades and remembrances of his years in the Virginia House poured in from all corners of the Commonwealth.

On Saturday Virginia lost the legislative icon who passed away at the age of 89. Friend and colleague, Virginia House Speaker William Howell, wrote a moving tribute:

With a heavy heart I am sad to share that Virginia has lost an icon. The Honorable Lacey E. Putney passed away Saturday at the age of 89. The Virginia House of Delegates mourns the loss of an esteemed leader who was here long before any of us arrived, and whose legacy will live on long after all of us are gone.

“Throughout his 52 years in the House, Lacey came to embody what this institution stands for: productive public service, individual integrity, sound stewardship and so much more.  He was dedicated to the legislature as a vital and necessary institution within state government, possessed an independent voice and always acquitted himself as a wise and effective legislator.  He showed compassion for all with a caring and soft heart, was a man of action and responded to all his constituents with unconditional resolve exemplifying all that a true “citizen legislator” can and should be.

“During his historic tenure, he tirelessly served the constituents of the 19th House District, which encompassed many communities within central Virginia including the counties of Alleghany, Bedford, Botetourt, Franklin, and Rockbridge; and the cities of Bedford, Buena Vista, Covington, and Lexington.  It was often said that ‘he was the gentleman from Bedford but was a gentleman of Virginia,’ serving his district and the House of Delegates with distinction.  His capable leadership was consistently felt across our Commonwealth by so many for so long and with so much gratitude.

“Lacey served with 13 Governors, served as acting Speaker of the House of Delegates in 2003, and chaired the House Appropriations Committee and before that House Privileges and Election Committee.  Lacey left the House having held the honor of the longest serving member in the history and was one of the longest serving members in all of our nation’s 99 legislative bodies.

“The House has lost a mighty oak tree, but we will benefit from the roots that Lacey established deeply within our co-equal branch of government.  The Commonwealth will bear the fruit of his productive years of legislative service for many years to come.  We are all grateful for the tremendous accomplishments he has left throughout the Old Dominion, from championing the creation of the Virginia Retirement System for state and local employees and initiating the Tuition Assistance Grant program for the benefit of students to safeguarding Virginia’s finances and establishing the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee.

“Lacey was a dear friend to me and many others.  I will always remember his good-natured humor and unique ability to recall a story for any moment.  During this sad time, Cessie and I pray for his very special wife Carmella, who Lacey deeply cherished, and Lacey’s children, Susan and Lacey Edward, Jr.

“Delegate Putney will lie in state in the Rotunda of the State Capitol, where flags will fly at half-mast in his memory.  He will be the first House member to lie in state since Speaker A.L. Philpott in 1991.  This respectful honor is a fitting tribute to the life and legacy of truly historic Virginian.”

It is the end of an era in Virginia history.

 

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Ed Gillespie’s New TV Ad Hits D.C. Media Market

Republican Ed Gillespie has come out with a new TV ad for his gubernatorial campaign, the first of the general election to air in the Washington, D.C. media market. Previous ads have been running in markets across Virginia.

This ad shows the son of an immigrant who worked his way through college as a Senate parking lot attendant and later became Counselor to President George W. Bush.  Now he is running for governor “to ensure the next generation can do better than the generation that came before them by putting forward policies that will allow all Virginians to fulfill themselves and pursue their dreams whatever that dream may be,” according to his campaign manager.

The ad appears  just as the latest numbers show Gillespie trailing Democrat Ralph Northam in the most recent Roanoke College Poll. The race, however, has not passed the traditional Labor Day start of campaign season.

TV ad transcript:

Ed Gillespie: “My grandfather worked in a corporate boardroom, but he never sat at a table like this. He polished it. He was a janitor. I inherited his work ethic from my parents, who ran a small grocery store. They never went to college, but insisted I do. I got a degree, started three small businesses, and advised a President of the United States. Where we start out in life shouldn’t determine where we end up. I’m running for governor so all Virginians can realize the American Dream.” 

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Charlottesville’s Street Artists Turn Talent To ‘Talking Wall,’ 4th Street

Emancipation Park at night, Charlottesville.

A street artist’s rendition of Heather Heyer, victim of a hate crime when a speeding car driven by a neo-Nazi plowed into the crowd during the “Unite the Right” march in Charlottesville.

Charlottesville’s 4th Street where Heather Heyer was killed on August 12.

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Republican Mike Makee Will Face Democrat Jennifer Foy for Open HD-02 Seat

Mike Makee (pronounced Mackie) served his country as a U.S. Naval commander during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. Now he is prepared to serve his Commonwealth in the General Assembly, stepping in to run for the open House of Delegates Second District seat left vacant by retiring Republican Delegate Mark Dudenhefer.

House District 2 covers parts of Prince William and Stafford counties. In November the District carried Hillary Clinton with 56 percent to Donald Trump’s 39 percent.

A U.S. Navy veteran, Makee, 47, of Stafford, retired in 2012 after 20 years of service, graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis and earning a Master’s degree from the Naval Postgraduate School. Currently a government contractor specializing in ballistic missile defense, he serves in the community on the Stafford County Utilities Commission representing the Rock Hill District, and is treasurer of the Stafford County Republican Committee.

House Speaker William Howell, while announcing that a new candidate had been named, noted that Makee “believes in the ideas and values that House Republicans have championed over the last 15 years – creating good jobs, responsibly balancing budgets and solving Virginia’s toughest challenges.”

Republicans had until August 18 to find someone to run after the previous candidate, Laquan Austion, withdrew when questions arose after it was discovered he had not completed the educational degrees listed on his resume.

“I want to use my leadership skills, experience in the Navy and understanding of our community to grow and strengthen our economy, work to solve our transportation problems, and fight for a better future for everyone in Northern Virginia,” Makee said of his decision. He added, “I look forward to campaigning to every voter in every corner of the district and earning the support of my neighbors and our community.”

Makee and his wife are the parents of six children, according to Potomac Local. This is his first run for public office.

Makee will face off against Democrat Jennifer Carroll Foy, a VMI graduate who works as a public defender and adjunct professor at Northern Virginia Community College. She and her husband live in Woodbridge.

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John Adams for AG Endorsed by Va Police Benevolent Association

John and Lisa Adams. Photo by Lynn R. Mitchell.

On Tuesday the Virginia Police Benevolent Association (PBA) endorsed John Adams, the Republican candidate for Attorney General.

In 2013 they endorsed current Attorney General Mark Herring, a Democrat, who is running for reelection against Adams.

Saying “public safety will be my top priority as attorney general,” Adams accepted the endorsement of the organization composed of more than 4,700 law enforcement officers employed by federal, state, county, and municipal governments

Writing on Facebook, Adams noted:

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Racist, Anti-Semitic Website Kicked to the Curb By Go Daddy

The alt-right, racist, anti-Semitic website Storm Front has been kicked to the curb by Go Daddy. Google has refused to accept them as they look for a host.

Out of curiosity, I went to the website to check out the hate behind Charlottesville’s white nationalist march over the weekend that left three dead and dozens injured. Across the top of the sit, under the name, it proclaimed, “Summer Of Hate Edition.” That pretty much said it all.

I should have stopped then but I dug deeper.

What I found were the “featured” stories on the main page:

  • “Richard Spender’s Press Conference On Charlottesville”
  • Trump Finally Gives Half-Assed Charlottesville Statement to Whining Jew Media
  • Trump Attacks Histrionic Black Bastard Who Resigned From Council Over Alleged Misstatement

As I scrolled down the page, these disgusting titles were listed under the title “Jewish Problem:”

  • Kikes Pressing Trump to Condemn Innocent Nazis Who were Attacked by Terrorist Cops and Leftist Terrorists
  • Starbucks Managers Interview Somalis with Latent Tuberculosis for Jobs as Part of Jewish Chairman’s Plan to Destroy America
  • London: Inbred Jewish Tapir Stabs Two People in Kike Neighborhood

I’m not around people who talk like that so it was a little shocking.

Perhaps the most disgusting front page article was this: “Heather Heyer: Woman Killed in Road Rage Incident was a Fat, Childless 32-Year-Old Slut.” For those unfamiliar with the name, this is the young woman killed Saturday when a speeding car plowed into a large crowd during the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville.

For those having difficult believing such hate is around us, here are the stories as proof. On top of that, they carry the David Duke radio show including the August 10 show that was titled, “The David Duke Show: A Call for Every True White Man to Stand Up in Charlottesville.”

I haven’t included any links. That’s intentional.

There’s more but that gives an idea of just one of the many hate-filled websites that were behind the march in Charlottesville … the mindset and the propaganda.

It’s disgusting. Pardon me while I go wash my hands.

Charlottesville Judge Sides With Alt-Right, Violence Breaks Out Friday Night

A federal judge sided with alt-right organizers and upheld their right to meet Saturday in Emancipation Park, formerly Lee Park, where the Robert E. Lee statue is located that city council wants to remove.

Bearing Drift contributor Rick Sincere wrote Thursday about the last-minute lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Virginia and the Rutherford Institute on behalf of Jason Kessler, alt-right organizer of the event, after the city of Charlottesville revoked the permit for Emancipation Park and moved it to McIntire Park about a mile away. McIntire Park is much larger than Emancipation Park and, with thousands of protesters expected, the city is understandably concerned.

Friday night by 10:00 reports were coming from observers in Charlottesville that hundreds of alt-right supporters were already marching with torches through the streets and surrounding the newly renovated Rotunda on the University of Virginia campus where a brawl broke out between white supremacists and those opposing them.

NBC-12 will have coverage. Be safe, Cville.

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Where Are the GOP Gubernatorial Candidates This Weekend?

The GOP’s candidates are campaigning around Virginia this weekend. Where can you find them?

Ed Gillespie, candidate for Governor

Friday:  Wytheville, Bristol
Saturday:  Smyth, Pulaski, Floyd, Patrick, and Carroll Counties.

Galax — Fiddler’s Convention and Poor Man’s Dinner

 

Jill Vogel, candidate for Lieutenant Governor

Not available.

 

 

John Adams, candidate for Attorney General

Saturday: 
1:30 – Newport Agricultural Festival (434 Blue Grass Trail, Newport)
6:00 – Poor Man’s Dinner and Fiddler’s Convention in Galax
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Charlottesville Prepares For Alt-Right Crowds, Announces Street Closings

Street closings that will begin late Friday afternoon and last all Saturday have been announced by the Charlottesville Police Department as they prepare for what is being described as “largest hate-gathering of its kind in decades in the United States,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

A change in venue was met with protests from alt-right leaders who have filed a complain after their rally location was changed from Emancipation Park, former Lee Park, where a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee is slated for removal by Charlottesville City Council.

Bearing Drift’s Rick Sincere reported on the latest:

An article published on Bearing Drift is among the exhibits attached to a complaint filed in federal court late today by the ACLU of Virginia and the Rutherford Institute, calling on the City of Charlottesville to reverse its decision to revoke a permit granted to alt-right activist Jason Kessler to hold a rally in what was until recently called Lee Park, now known as Emancipation Park.

Billed as the “Unite the Right” rally, Newsweek reported on those planning to attend:

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Poll Shows GOP Needs to Catch Up In Gov, LG, AG Races

It’s early in the race. The numbers are skewed. We haven’t passed Labor Day, the traditional beginning of the fall election season. There’s still plenty of time before the November 7, 2017, election day.

Those are the reasons I can toss out to explain why Virginia Republicans are trailing Democrats for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Attorney General in the latest Virginia Commonwealth University Office of Public Policy Outreach-L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs poll. The poll also covered other areas of the 2017 election.

Here is the rundown of the numbers among likely voters.

Governor:

  • Ralph Northam (D)  42 percent
  • Ed Gillespie (R)  37 percent
  • Cliff Hyra (L)  6 percent
  • Undecided  13 percent

Lieutenant Governor:

  • Justin Fairfax (D)  43 percent
  • Jill Vogel (R)  38 percent
  • Undecided  15 percent

Attorney General:

  • Mark Herring (D)  45 percent
  • John Adams (R)  39 percent
  • Undecided  15 percent

For full results and to dig into the cross-tabs, see the poll results here.

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