Lib·er·tynoun \ˈli-bər-tē\ Natural liberty consists in the power of acting as one thinks fit, without any restraint or control, except from the laws of nature. It is a state of exemption from the control of others, and from positive laws and the institutions of social life. Webster’s 1828 Dictionary
“United we stand, divided we fall. Let us not split into factions which must destroy that union upon which our existence hangs.” Patrick Henry
Sometimes I wish I lived in Hanover County, birthplace of my favorite founding Father and often quoted Patrick Henry. But I am a Henrico citizen and on May 17th and 18th, like a lot of you, will represent our county as a Delegate at the upcoming Republican Party of Virginia State Nominating Convention.
I am also a TEA Party Leader and have a responsibility to help lead and educate others in this fight for Liberty. Liberty – therein lies the rub. WHAT? Why would liberty as a TEApartarian ever be a struggle? Let me explain.
The weekend of April 26th and 27th, 6 Henrico County TEA Party Leaders, along with 5 HCTP members, attended the Candidate Vetting Process organized by the Virginia Tea Party Patriot Federation and Middle Resolution PAC which is “committed to restoring the individual rights of all Americans as identified in the Declaration of Independence and protected by the framework of limited government as described in the U.S. Constitution. Achieving this mission requires the election of leaders who are committed to these principles and act consistently on the values of integrity, personal responsibility, courage and justice.” We were 1 of 31 TEA Party groups, with over 200 attendees.
In the live interview phase, 32 identical questions were asked of all 9 candidates vying for the nomination of Lt. Governor (7) and Attorney General (2). Each question was scored on a 0-5 scale. These totals were then added to the Preliminary score (based on Campaign viability and Opposition research). Some candidates scored really high in the Preliminary stage, others did not fare as well mainly due to incompletion and campaign viability.
When all was said and done, 2 candidates floated to the top – Corey Stewart for Lt. Governor and Mark Obenshain for Attorney General.
For the panel of 10 from the Henrico County TEA Party, Mark Obenshain was the clear winner. But in all honesty, Corey Stewart was not our favorite, though he did rank 3rd. Needless to say, we were not in full agreement with the outcome. Then the backlash started against Mr. Stewart with emails and Bloggers in full attack mode discrediting the candidate and process. This has gone on for 2 weeks and continues.
We had Mr. Stewart speak at our TEA party meeting on May 7th and several members asked some difficult questions, some which were left unanswered or led to more questions. To Mr. Stewart’s credit he stayed around long after the meeting was over and spoke to individuals and clarified his answers. But, we were still not satisfied. If we were going to support the process, therefore supporting the candidates, we needed to be fully satisfied. One of the questions in the live interview phase was “If the Tea Party and allied groups should choose to endorse you for the nomination while, nonetheless, holding some reservation perhaps having identified some vulnerabilities would you be willing to meet with our representatives again to discuss those reservations?” On Friday, the VTPPF organized an event to get some answers to the TEA Party’s tough questions. For me and the other Leaders, this was a “make it or break it” time. We needed finality with the process and to make our decision whether to remain neutral, or embrace it and promote the candidate ranking.
In the meantime, Budget gurus Brent and Johnna Maney looked into the Prince William County budget and voting record of Board of Supervisor Chair Corey Stewart. In particular were the Real Estate taxes Mr. Stewart said he did not raise but kept at a level amount. They found he was telling the truth. At the Friday “Grilling”, Mr. Stewart was hit hard with questions regarding taxes, family values, his views on Sharia Law, Islam and his Muslim constituents, campaign propaganda and Agenda 21. He answered honestly, firmly, with conviction and no regrets. It was at that point when seemingly all of the Leaders present came to the same conclusion, this was someone we could get behind and support.
So what does the original discussion of Liberty have to do with this? As TEApartarians, we’re an independent lot and not sheeple. Therefore when a candidate is endorsed by a person or group and folks are told to get on board, we say to ourselves, “no one is going to tell me who to vote for“. After all, isn’t that what true Liberty is all about? Yes and therein lies the rub. How do we assert our individual liberty and yet show the Establishment we are a viable force not to be trifled with? We do it by becoming a united front. If we unite, we have a real chance to make a difference at the Convention by getting behind the one candidate with all the components: a Conservative record, a strong campaign organization and staff, financial backing and one who can stand up to the attacks from the Left. After all he survived the attacks from the Right!
Therefore, the Henrico County TEA Party Leaders, those who were part of the Candidate Vetting Process and those who were not, stand in support of the process and the ranking of Corey Stewart for Lt. Governor and Mark Obenshain for Attorney General.
Leaders & Vetting Process Participants
Leaders in Support