By Lynn R. Mitchell
Polly Campbell stood Friday on the front porch of the historic and stately Mimslyn Inn overlooking Luray and the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. She and I had made plans for lunch but she didn’t know a couple of friends would be joining us and that she was to receive a commemorative resolution from the Republican Party of Virginia honoring and thanking her for more than 50 years of service to the party. She was also actively involved in the Page County Republican Committee during those years. (See Polly Yager Campbell … growing up in the shadow of Shenandoah National Park.)
This photo is of Governor John Dalton and Polly circa somewhere around 1979. These two were Young Republicans and lifelong friends. When they began working within the party in the early 1960s, the Democratic Byrd Machine was in control of Virginia but the generation that included Polly and Governor Dalton saw that change as they worked to bring the Republican Party into relevance.
From Encyclopedia Virginia: “Although the Daltons hailed from the western ‘Mountain and Valley’ region, where Republicans tended to be centrist in their political outlook, John Dalton became a leading advocate in the 1970s for a party-building strategy that stressed recruiting conservative converts from the ranks of former Democrats. In this, he was allied closely with Richard D. Obenshain, the Republican state chairman, and with Byrd-Organization Democrats such as former governor Mills Godwin. Godwin exited the Democratic Party as its more liberal faction gained control early in the 1970s, and ran for governor again as a Republican in 1973. Dalton joined the Godwin ticket as the candidate for lieutenant governor, and the pairing helped to cement an alliance between the Republican moderates from the west and the conservative former Democrats in the eastern two-thirds of the state. Dalton simultaneously cultivated ties to the state’s moderate-conservative business establishment and projected a youthful, energetic appeal to the state’s fast-growing suburban areas.”