Former Senator Ralph Smith unexpectedly quit Tuesday night as a candidate for chairman of the 6th Congressional District, leaving the pro-Goodlatte forces defenseless against the anti-Goodlatte fever sweeping the 6th District. This is an utter failure of the Smith-Goodlatte team to put forth a viable candidate to win the district election.
Smith’s statement was posted on his Facebook page:
When Thomas Paine penned the words, “These are the times that try men’s souls,” he could have been speaking about Virginia’s Sixth Congressional District’s Republican Committee. When I was first approached by party leaders and activists to consider running for Sixth District Chairman, they pointed out that I could use my skills as a unifier and consensus-builder to bridge the gap that exists among factional elements within the party. I am, and have always been, happy to lend my assistance to advancing the principles of the Republican Creed, and so, I agreed to enter the race for District Chairman.
The outcomes of recent local unit chairmanship races and the degree of turnover within those units, makes it abundantly clear that the gap within the Republican party that I saw earlier has continued to expand rather than shrink. This divide has resulted in grabs for power by certain elements who are using “slating” to exclude and limit other Republicans from participating in party decisions. I believe many of these same people wish to throw out current Republican office holders, and replace them with “their own people.” While that might be an acceptable goal for Democrats, I do not feel we should do that to ourselves as Republicans. If an incumbent is not performing, let the people themselves decide at the ballot box.
The Sixth District is but an indicator of what’s happening on the national scene. Donald Trump’s rude, crude, and obnoxious campaigning has made him the frontrunner in the race for the Republican nomination for President. The “gap” that existed when I began this race has unfortunately expanded to a chasm. Not only does this divide affect elements within our party, but it also reflects an even greater disconnect between our party and the electorate itself! For example, while so many of the newly elected unit leaders apparently support Congressman Bob Goodlatte’s primary opponent, clearly a substantial majority of the voters within the district support our responsive and effective Congressman. The idealogical zeal of this newly emerging leadership is losing sight of practical electability.
Realizing that the environment has changed significantly since I entered this race for Chairman, there is nothing to make me want to work in a caustic environment that essentially wants to run a new candidate for every current Republican officeholder in the District and the Commonwealth. Consequently, I have decided to re-direct my energies and efforts to helping proven conservative leaders who have been serving their constituents well.
This is an ongoing story with more to come. For those following along at home, here’s the story from when Ralph entered the race, pushing out long-time 6th District Chair Wendell Walker.