Meeting the Candidates, or another Dog and Pony Show?

For those of you who couldn’t attend the “Meet the Candidates” forum hosted by the Louisa Chamber of Commerce at the Mineral VFW last week, other than the opportunity to hear the two Democratic candidates speak, I can’t you missed much.

It was a tightly controlled affair with all of the candidates limited to just a handful of questions. Nor was it any coincidence that those questions were framed in such a way as to force the direction of the candidates responses.

And of the roughly fifty people who attended this “event,” the crowd was split fairly evenly between assorted campaign staff, local Republican faithful, a handful of VFW members, along with ten or so progressives. Six Republican candidates attended this event with Graven Craig sending in a “representative” from his law practice, Torry Williams to stand in for him.

And in such a crowded field, it didn’t take long for two of the  candidates; Matt Pinsker and Jay Prendergast to demonstrate that they had no business running for public office.  And  neither John McGuire nor Dr. Dhakar did much to separate themselves from the pack.

More relevantly for the people of Louisa, neither of our two local Republicans candidates (or stand- ins) were particularly impressive. Their remarks were at best non-responsive, and often times little removed from a random collection of talking points.

While operating within the constraints of the forum, both of the Democrats responses to the questions were detailed and nuanced, and clearly emphasized their different areas of expertise; from Melissa’s knowledge of the Health Care system,


to Lizzie’s grasp of educational issues.

And of the three questions taken from the audience, two came from Republican supporters, with the last question of the day coming from RW talk radio host, John Fredericks, who frequently has Dave Brat as a guest on his show.

(5-24-17 Meet the Candidates event at Mineral VFW)

Which brings us to the topic of; which of these Republicans is most likely to get their Party’s nomination? If the number of fliers you have been receiving in your mailbox these past few weeks is any indication, both Dr Dhakar, and George Goodwin are prepared to spend as much money as necessary to influence that outcome.

And while Dhakar is not well known outside of his county, Goodwin is well known in Party circles and was able to use this familiarity to ensconce himself into the General Assemblies … I mean the Republican Party’s legislative process.

For the past few months, Goodwin has been claiming that he was instrumental in helping getting several bills get through sub committees and committees in both chambers. Perhaps, but since he’s unwilling to acknowledge let alone take “credit” for legislative debacles like Uncle Tom Garrett’s SB 1130Switchblade and Nunchuckbill  one has to ask just how much “influence” over party extremists like Garrett and Reeves or legislative affairs did he really have?

Speaking of extremists, it’s long been said that you can judge someone by the company they keep, and like Uncle Tom, Craven … err Graven Craig considers himself a “Cuccinelli conservative” and from all appearances is doing everything possible to further ingrate himself with the Tea Party’s and the Freedom Caucuses and their radical agendas.

(5­-25-17 Fundraiser for Rep. Louie Gohmert, with “special guests” Dave Brat and Graven Craig)

Now one can reasonably “argue” that the Chamber of Commerce’s primary job is to promote business, their questions would reflect that focus.  Perhaps, but since none of the Republican candidates were asked any question on more sensitive topics, such as; Women’s rights and Public Safety vs. 2nd Amendment rights etc., it remains to be seen how well they will fare with a larger audience at Goochland High School next Saturday.

That being said, keep in mind that Goochland County is a Tea Party stronghold, and in the past few years they have taken over most of the counties levers of power. And since they have been actively promoting this Meet the Candidates event since late April while we’re just learning about this event, it shouldn’t come as any surprise to learn that they see this event as a prime opportunity for them to create the “just-in-time candidate exposure and information we need” … I mean perception of support for their candidates.

And since this is the second year in a row they and the Goochland Republicans, in conjunction with the Goochland Democrats have sponsored an event like this, and it remains to be seen is whether that’s a recipe for confusion over who’s running this event.  Or even if it assures that the questions will be as tightly controlled as they were at the Chamber of Commerce’s event in Mineral.

And if you can’t make it to this event, there will be a Meet and Greet  for Melissa Dart at a private home on the first of June in Louisa County, along with a phone banking for Lizzie Drucker at Floozies on the 6th.  So unless any other public events come up between then and the June 13th primary, the last opportunity you will likely have to speak with either of the Democratic candidates running for the 56th House of Delegates before the primary will be the very first Louisa Street Festival on the 10th of June.

Jon Taylor