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Seven people are running in the low-profile race, which actually can lead to big things.
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
RICHMOND — You’re forgiven if you can’t name the seven Republican men and women running for lieutenant governor, one of whom will be nominated at the GOP convention Saturday in Richmond.
It’s a low-profile contest that will be settled by a subset of the roughly 13,500 party insiders registered as Republican convention delegates.
But that doesn’t mean there’s little at stake: The nominee for the November ballot could become the presiding officer in the now evenly split state Senate, with a tie-breaking vote on crucial policy issues.
The Republican field to succeed Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling includes two sitting state legislators and a former one, two county government officials, a faith leader with legal credentials, and a businessman.
Former legislator Jeannemarie Devolites Davis, Del. Scott Lingamfelter of Prince William County, and Chesterfield County Sen. Steve Martin say their firsthand experience in the General Assembly make them natural fits for a job that requires considerable technical know-how.
Others outside state government argue that what’s needed is an ear for the demands of grass-roots Republicans and a fresh set of eyes not jaundiced by State Capitol experience.
That set includes Chesapeake faith leader E.W. Jackson, Fairfax County businessman Pete Snyder, Prince William County Supervisor Corey Stewart and Stafford County Supervisor Susan Stimpson.
Stimpson bills herself a tax reformer who saved county business owners from paying a business license tax by helping abolish it before it took effect.
“I stand alone in my record of accomplishing a limited government,” she said. “I’m the only candidate who has held elected office who has never voted for a tax increase.”
Martin cites his work on Virginia’s landmark welfare reform legislation in the 1990s and his more recent legislation to exempt Virginians from a federal health insurance mandate.
“These other folks can promise all they want, but I have a record,” he said.
Lingamfelter points to his work on efforts to audit state spending, repeal Virginia’s long-standing law limiting handgun purchases to one per month, and service on a legislative money committee.
“I am the only guy in recent history who has run statewide who is actually a sitting member of a major money committee,” he said, pledging to focus on government reform if elected.
Jackson and Davis both see themselves as candidates who can broaden Republican appeal among voters who haven’t been part of the traditional GOP coalition.
Davis says she has worked to recruit delegates to the convention from Virginia’s growing ethnic minority communities, explaining that making the conservative case to them is critical to GOP election success.
Jackson, a black and the only ethnic minority in the race, is a conservative firebrand. “People say I am the only candidate who gives them hope about presenting a different face for the Republican Party, the only candidate who articulates conservative values with broad appeal,” he said.
Stewart has been campaigning the longest for lieutenant governor and recently has been accused of backing anonymous attacks against fellow candidates, charges he denies. The county supervisor from populous Prince William is perhaps best-known for a push to crack down on illegal immigrants through a 2007 county law change requiring police to check the immigration status of people arrested.
Snyder has run one of the more visible campaigns for lieutenant governor, leveraging his social media savvy and business background, as well as his barbecue pit master skills, to connect with voters. His pitch is that of an outsider who will bring his experience running profitable companies.
“With seven candidates seeking that office, it’s totally unpredictable. It should be a spectacle,” said Bolling, who won’t be there to witness it Saturday.
He’ll be fishing in West Virginia.
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