An open letter on "slating" in the 1st DistrictMarch 26, 2014 | Open Letter
To the Members of the First Congressional District
I am writing to state my strong and unequivocal opposition
to the practice of “slating” at our Republican Party local unit mass meetings
and conventions.The underlying basis of
slating – the purposeful exclusion of certain dedicated activists from our
political processes – will spoil any chance to build a conservative Republican
Party to be the majority party of Virginia and a home for liberty-minded people
to work to reform our government at the local, state, and federal levels.
I applaud the efforts of the grassroots folks – many of whom
make American’s First District home – who stood up and fought back against
Tammany Hall style machine politics in our Commonwealth. I find it particularly
encouraging that when they have been in the majority, the activists who have
been the target of these slash-and-burn political tactics have not reciprocated
by excluding others, but have instead opted to allow participation by all, as
they did last night in Henrico County. It’s that kind of dedication to principle
that will help build our party for years to come.
We must reject the practice of slating because it is wrong
and in the end it is counterproductive to our goal to build a durable majority
party based on Constitutional principles and freedom.We all understand that politics is a contact
sport. But it is a game we win by the addition of people with whom we share
common cause, not by serving short-term political goals based on exclusion of
those with whom we disagree a fraction of the time. It’s time instead to unite
around the universal principles that bind us all together as Republicans, and
to end the destructive practice of slating. A political party based on fair
play, transparency, and honesty will always win in the end.
Robert J. Wittman
Member of Congress
Governor contest tightens, poll saysSeptember 19, 2013 | Times Dispatch
As Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Ken Cuccinelli are
locked in a tightening race, the Libertarian nominee for governor has
siphoned support of 7 percent of likely Virginia voters.
Neither McAuliffe nor Cuccinelli have high favorability ratings
among likely voters, potentially buoying Robert C. Sarvis, who, despite
his support, is still unknown to most voters, according to a Quinnipiac
University survey released Wednesday.
Voters are split on McAuliffe — 38 percent view
him favorably and 38 percent unfavorably — and Cuccinelli’s rating is
upside down, 51 percent unfavorable and 34 percent favorable.
As for Sarvis, 85 percent of voters said they did not know enough about him to form an opinion, according to the poll.
Overall, McAuliffe leads Cuccinelli 44 percent to
41 percent, including voters who are leaning to one candidate, which is
within the poll’s margin of error of 3.1 percentage points. Other
recent polls had showed McAuliffe leading outside the margin of error.
“Sarvis’ backing is at an unusual and consistent
level for a third-party candidate, and the reason is obvious: There’s
widespread dissatisfaction with the two major-party nominees,” said
Larry Sabato, head of the Center for Politics at the University of
Virginia, pointing to the favorability levels for Cuccinelli and
McAuliffe in the survey.
As for whether Sarvis can maintain this level of
support, Sabato said it would help him if he were allowed to participate
in an upcoming debate.
“Sarvis doesn’t have the money to sustain support on his own. He has
raised a pittance compared to the other two, and he’ll be drowned out in
the final weeks of the campaign unless he gets lots of free news
Sabato said “the one prominent exception to this
rule for third-party candidates” was Ross Perot, who ran for president
as an independent in 1992. Perot soared in the polls then faded,
dropping out of the contest in July before re-entering the race that
“When he got back in the race in October ’92, he
was at 4 percent; a month later he had zoomed to 19 percent,” Sabato
said. “But he spent about $60 million to get there.”
In 1998, former pro wrestler Jesse Ventura was
elected governor of Minnesota as the Reform Party candidate, running a
low-budget campaign that urged voters to turn against “politics as
In Virginia, it’s rare for third-party candidates
for statewide office to exceed a couple of percentage points. The
exceptions have usually been candidates who were well-known office
seekers as Democrats or Republicans before they ran as independents.
For example, J. Marshall Coleman, a former
attorney general and two-time Republican nominee for governor, ran as an
independent and received 11 percent in the 1994 U.S. Senate election
that also featured incumbent Charles S. Robb, a Democrat, and Oliver L.
North, a Republican.
Quentin Kidd, director of the Wason Center for
Public Policy at Christopher Newport University, said Sarvis’ numbers
indicate that he has a problem common to third-party candidates
generally, “which is they have a hard time breaking into the
consciousness of voters.”
Third-party candidates have several issues that
make it difficult, he said, including raising money, in part, because
there is little party infrastructure for them to tap.
John Vaught LaBeaume, a campaign strategist for
Sarvis, said: “We’re pleased to see Quinnipiac recognize that Robert
Sarvis is running a professional, mainstream campaign by including him —
finally — in their polling for this contest.
“And we’re reassured that they recognize, too,
that the Sarvis vision for a Virginia that’s ‘Open-minded and Open
Business’ needs to be polled so that it can be analyzed to determine how
it’s received in a ‘purpling’ commonwealth undergoing significant
Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the
Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, indicates that it’s difficult
to determine which major party candidate Sarvis is impacting most.
“Right now, we can’t tell whether Sarvis’
candidacy is hurting Cuccinelli more than McAuliffe,” he said, adding
that Sarvis is getting 3 percent of the GOP vote, 2 percent of the
Democratic vote and 14 percent of independent voters.
“Since there are more people in Virginia who now
consider themselves Democrats than Republicans, logic says that
Cuccinelli needs a solid margin among independent voters. Instead, these
voters are divided 37-37 percent between the Democrat and Republican,”
Cuccinelli said Wednesday after an unrelated event that he thinks Sarvis is “probably pulling from both sides.”
Cuccinelli said his campaign addresses issues of
importance to Libertarians, citing his ad that details his efforts to
get justice for Thomas Haynesworth, who spent 27 years in prison for
crimes he did not commit.
“I think as people learn more, we do better.
Virginia races really don’t start to accelerate that process until after
Labor Day, and I think we’ve got a lot of momentum, especially this
week after the (Northern Virginia Technology Council’s PAC) endorsement
and how the other side handled it.”
McAuliffe, who also commented Wednesday after
addressing the Virginia Summit on Economic Competitiveness and Higher
Education at the Greater Richmond Convention Center, said he’s “not
paying attention to polls.”
“I feel great about where we are. We’re here
talking education,” he said. “We had a spectacular day yesterday” he
said, citing his endorsement by Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms.
“I think we have 15 former legislators … putting together quite a coalition. Building a great ground game.”
The poll released Wednesday shows a tightening
between McAuliffe and Cuccinelli, as the Democrat’s edge shrank from an
August Quinnipiac poll that showed him with a 6-percentage point margin,
48 percent to 42 percent.
On whether the candidates have the right kind of
experience to be governor, 58 percent of voters said Cuccinelli does and
47 percent said McAuliffe does.
Asked if they think the candidates are
trustworthy, 39 percent of voters said they find Cuccinelli trustworthy
and honest and 49 percent don’t. For McAuliffe, 39 percent said yes and
42 percent said no.
Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,005 likely voters Sept. 9-15 with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.
The candidates for lieutenant governor and attorney general are still unknown to most voters.
Staff writer Jim Nolan contributed to this report.
Syria crisis reveals uneasy relationship between Obama, nation's military leadersSeptember 19, 2013 | Washington Post
The Syrian crisis over the past few weeks has thrust President Obama
into a role in which at times he has seemed uneasy: that of commander in
The prospect of an attack to punish Syria’s alleged use of chemical weapons exposed
the Nobel Peace laureate’s strained and somewhat tentative relationship
with the military. His dramatic oscillation from detachment on Syria to
the brink of military action, with him ultimately settling for a
potential diplomatic solution, has unsettled many people in uniform.
Obama’s two former defense secretaries weighed in on the
controversy Tuesday night, saying they disagreed with the president’s
decision to seek congressional authorization for a strike. While Leon E.
Panetta said a cruise missile attack would have been worthwhile, Robert
M. Gates said the plan was akin to “throwing gasoline on an extremely
complex fire in the Middle East.”
“To blow a bunch of stuff up
over a couple of days to underscore or validate a point or principle is
not a strategy,” Gates said at a forum in Dallas in which the two
The prospect of a new U.S. military intervention in the
Middle East elicited grumbling from a war-weary generation of senior
commanders and veterans who share similar reservations to those voiced
by the former defense secretaries. Their reluctance was informed by
lingering distrust over the administration’s handling of the wars in
Iraq and Afghanistan, which have been wound down in ways that have left
many in uniform feeling apprehensive, if not bitter.
But there was
also trepidation about a White House that many career military officers
say has monopolized decision-making in a tight circle dominated by
civilians and that often deliberates endlessly, seemingly unwilling or
unable to formulate decisive policies.
“The U.S. military feels
it has been burnt with half-measures,” said Peter J. Munson, a retired
Marine officer who most recently served as a senior adviser to a Marine
Corps commander. “There is going to be on the part of our senior
military leaders an aversion to using force when you don’t have clear
ends and escalation can take on a life of its own.”
The prospect of a U.S. strike has faded after the United States and Russia agreed on
a plan to dismantle Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s chemical
arsenal. The Pentagon, though, said that four Navy destroyers will stay
within striking distance, signaling that the White House wants to keep
the option of force on the table.
After largely sitting on the
sidelines during Syria’s civil war, which is well into its third year,
the White House’s response to the poison-gas attack in the Damascus
suburbs startled commanders.
“These last few weeks have raised
serious doubts about their agonizing failure to reach a clear decision,”
said Anthony H. Cordesman, a military strategy expert at the Center for
Strategic and International Studies and a former senior intelligence
official at the Pentagon.“This basically was seen as the president’s
As the debate unfolded, an uncomfortable narrative
for the White House began taking root: While Obama and Secretary of
State John F. Kerry were advocating a strike with zeal, senior military
leaders had deep reservations. The divide was perhaps most noticeable
during congressional hearings that featured an emphatic Kerry sitting
alongside Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the cerebral and soft-spoken chairman
of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Family Remembers Kathy Gaarde, Prince William County Victim of Navy Yard ShootingsSeptember 17, 2013 | Lake Ridge Patch
By Rachel Hatzipanagos
Lake Ridge residents are grieving the loss of wife and
mother Kathleen "Kathy" Gaarde, one the 12 victims of the gunman who went on a
shooting rampage Monday at Washington Navy Yard.
was a financial analyst who lived in Prince Willliam County with her husband,
Douglass Gaarde. Five cars were parked in the driveway of the Gaarde home on
the end of a cul-de-sac on the peaceful Tuesday morning.
A woman who
answered the door said that the family was not prepared to speak with the media
at this time. However, the Gaarde family did release the following statement:
“Kathy was a caring daughter, fantastic mother, wife (of 38
years) and best friend for 43 years.
She loved her animals and was a blue bird counter for the local refuge,”
the statement reads.
“She also loved hockey and the Washington Capitals and has
been a season ticket holder for over 25 years. She was born and raised in Chicago, IL and was a graduate of
Florida State University. She and
her family have been a resident of the DC area for 38 years,” the statement
The family is asking that donations be made in her name to
the Virginia Branch of the Humane Society.
Neighbors also declined to speak Tuesday afternoon. However,
Bolton, a neighbor, spoke to The Washington Post yesterday and described Gaarde
as a “kind woman.”
“She just helped make it a good home for her family and worked
hard and provided everything her family could need,” Bolton told the Post.
“They’re the kind of people you want to live next door to you.
“The mother was just the kindest lady in the world,” Bolton
said. “I’m not even exaggerating. I’ve never seen her do anything but nice
things for people.”
A relative told The Associated Press that Douglass Gaarde worked for the Navy until his retirement last year.
Newsmakers with Representative Rob WittmanSeptember 16, 2013 | WTOP
House Armed Services Readiness Subcommittee Chairman Rob Wittman (R-VA),
who had responsibility for the largest accounts in the Pentagon budget,
talked about Pentagon funding, the sequester and its impact on the
military, whether the strength of the military had been affected,
furloughs, the BRAC process, and Syria and potential assistance to
military rebels in Syria. After the interview, the reporters discussed
his responses with the host.
“Sequestration,” a legal procedure in which every federal agency has
the same percentage of its budget taken back in order to cut deficit
spending, was part of a debt ceiling and tax increase agreement for the
Budget Control Act of 2011 and began March 1, 2013.
View the video here.