Garrett Blasts Trump Supporter for Supporting Opponent

This morning’s news brings an oddity in Virginia’s 5th District.  Tom Garrett’s campaign has chosen to put Albemarle business owner George Benford on blast for supporting his Democratic opponent, Jane Dittmar.  More accurately, Garrett claims that Benford isn’t even a Republican given his long history of donating to Democratic candidates.

…yet there’s one small problem with that narrative.  Benford is a Trump supporter — one of the legions of Trump supporters swayed by the Republican nominee’s populist line.  From the Daily Progress:

On Monday, Benford disputed Garrett’s claims about him not being a Republican.

Claiming to have previously voted for the district’s retiring Republican congressman, Robert Hurt, Benford said he supports Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump but favors Dittmar in the 5th District race. When asked why he is supporting Trump, he said he could not bring himself to support Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, saying he has “no respect for her.”

Benford, a self-described “moderate Republican,” said the financial disclosures don’t include his contributions to Republican presidential candidates. With the exception of supporting Democrat Jimmy Carter in the 1976 presidential election, Benford said he has always voted for Republican presidential candidates.

“I have been a Republican for more than 40 years. I don’t know how much more Republican I can be,” he said. “Everyone in the city knows I’m a Republican.”

…and he’s not wrong.  Benford comes exactly as advertised — your typical moderate “Chambercrat” Republican.

Of course, this is a seat where Trump’s candidacy has effectively taken a solid and defensible Republican district and put it on the brink.  Washington has certainly noticed, as published in The Hill:

A recent Democratic poll showed Trump leading Clinton 46 to 42 percent in this district, down from a 9-point lead in July. In the survey, conducted Oct. 10-12 by Anzalone Liszt Grove Research for the DCCC, Dittmar trailed Garrett by 6 points, 41 to 47 percent. That’s a closer margin than in July, when she trailed by 10 points.

But Republicans are looking at more optimistic data for them. An internal poll conducted last weekend by Meeting Street Research for Garrett’s campaign gave him a 50 to 39 percent lead. Garrett had a 30 percent favorable to 14 percent unfavorable rating, while Dittmar’s favorables and unfavorables were tied at 22 percent each. The polling release did not include presidential numbers.

One will note that the Democratic polls were conducted before Trump’s “grab ’em” moment could be registered; one will also note that Garrett’s poll was conducted in response to flagging internals (and yes, that’s sourced).

The problem here is that the campaign has been typified by what could only be termed as a sadly typical bullying approach from one source — the Republican nominee.  From the Washington Post:

“She is dumb as a box of rocks they will take her head off it they don’t rape her first,” read one message. Another said: “Jane you are a retarded and should disembowel yourself with a spoon.”

By Monday night, Dittmar instructed her staff to take down the page; it was reactivated Tuesday morning with nearly 5,000 messages.

This sadly are the two lines that encapsulate the entire campaign effort in VA-05.  Naturally, the Garrett campaign was forced to walk back the efforts of the campaign staff to drum up the social media army (one post on a non-public GOP Facebook page stated that the gentleman outside the Fluvanna offices was open carrying and handing out Bibles… whether that is true or not would be immaterial — the ask was to head over to the Dittmar’s page and tell her how one felt about her gun-grabbing sentiments, etc.)

Yet for a campaign that has claimed to be up 11-points throughout the election season, negative campaigning does not typify the confidence of an 11-point lead.  To the point, no one believes that Garrett is up by 11 points… much less the Garrett campaign itself.  Nor does the DCCC believe Garrett is up by 11 points… or 8 points… or 6 points… or even 4 points.  For Speaker Ryan to come in with first $400,000 only to find himself doubling that amount to $800,000 to run on negative ads?  Does that sound like a campaign up 11 points?

…and when I say negative ads, they’re pretty negative (even if you have a female voiceover). See for yourself:

I suppose what is bothering me with all of this is the bullying.  For those familiar with Garrett’s style of “guerrilla campaigning” this is all too typical.  It’s how Garrett won the State Senate nod in a five-way race.  The same bullying is how Garrett won a hotly contested convention for the VA-05 nod against Del Rosso and three others — most of whom have never spoken to Garrett in the aftermath.  The same manipulation has played out with the heirs apparent for the SEN-22 seat, where more than one successor feels as if they have the personal guarantee of the incumbent to support them for the nomination.

This election effort in Virginia’s 5th District seems no different in terms of tactics.  Every two weeks, Dittmar seems to be facing some new bullying tactic consisting of a dirty-but-all-too-cute play to get her off message — a poor man’s LBJ style focusing far too much on identity rather than ideas.  From the Daily Progress editorial:

The publicizing of the Fluvanna incident has resulted in the Dittmar campaign being assaulted, figuratively, by “threats and aggressive language” directed toward the campaign and some of its personnel.

This kind of behavior is deplorable. There is no excuse for this kind of filth.

What’s more, it escalates — in more ways than one — a situation that previously had been limited and contained.

. . .

Ms. Dittmar has since made a statement deploring the lack fairness and civility in this controversy. In that, she is very wise. We agree with her wholeheartedly.

I will say this much — the only true idea that has come out of the entire race thus far?  Garrett’s idea to reduce student debt by $10,000 $7,000 $5,000 per deferred year of social security benefits.  That’s innovative — it’s the sort of ideas factory that Garrett can provide when he at his best, and it’s what Virginians want to hear.

Unfortunately, ideas such as those are blotted out when the campaign chooses to focus on attacking Trump supporters, booting people from local GOP committees for being critical (wink), knocking Dittmar off message (by hook or crook), or engaging in social media guerrilla tactics more attuned to the alt-right than “reform conservatism” within the GOP.

I would not be surprised in the slightest if Benford and Garrett — if they traded ideas over coffee — would find much to agree upon.  Sadly, that conversation never occurred with Benford and many others in the Charlottesville business community — and it has been remarked upon at places such as Keswick Hall.  In microcosm, this is the frustration of the entire VA-05 race from the Republican perspective.

Perhaps that is the best place to set the conversation down for now.  When Garrett does win the November general election, perhaps the first place he can begin to shed the bullying tactics that carried him to public office, and emerge into his better qualities.

UPDATE:  Wasting absolutely no time, Team Garrett starts in with the very same tactics we criticize here — the bullying:


…of course, the insinuation is that folks just “hate” Garrett, or that they are not loyal Republicans when they criticize certain tactics.   Tactics such as these.

Maturation and communication tend to resolve 99% of such instances.  Or — just maybe — don’t bully people.

  • CVLiberty

    I know this isn’t the heart of this piece, but for the record, the Student Security proposal has a gradual amount of debt forgiveness, so when the figures change in Garrett’s talking points (i.e. your reference to $10K, $7,500, $5,000), it depends on how many years of Social Sec. we’re talking about.

    There are 5 tiers, with the first offering up to $30,000 in debt forgiveness in exchange for voluntarily raising Social Security age by 1 year per $5,000 (up to 6 years). The 5th tier (the max amount of loan forgiveness) is $100K for a 15 year raise in Social Security (which translates to $6,600 per year).

    From the subject of the article, I think you’re implying that Garrett’s talking points present a moving target, but I’d give him the benefit of the doubt on this one. Given how little time he has to explain the concept, I don’t think the figures he is citing in a debate or on the trail are meant to be disingenuous or an over-promise.

    • That is incredibly helpful, as the goalpost did move and no one really explained why that was.

      All that having been said, it is an excellent idea — one that deserves a lot more consideration, conversation, and praise.

  • H G

    So in addition to rooting for Hillary, should republicans root for Ditmar too?

    • Sbn

      How in the world did you get from point A (being nominally critical of campaign tactics) to point F (rooting for Hillary)? Is it too much to respectfully request that a Republican candidate carry himself with a greater level of decorum? Let me guess, that’s also an unpardonable sin worthy of banishment in the neo-“Conservative” world.

      The further suggestion is that not being a jerk would probably garner him more votes. In the real world, that would be called constructive criticism in an effort to, you know, win. That is the object, correct?

      • H G

        Are you voting for Trump?

        • Sbn

          Fair enough, me, I don’t mind constructive criticism from individuals who are sincere in their efforts. You like nothing but yes men, go for it.


          • H G

            Nothing sincere about offering “help” to those who don’t need it in the form of Trump criticism from one who doesn’t support Trump.

          • H G

            Kasich wrote in McCain!!!


            You folks are crazy.

      • H G

        As for Garrett, he is already winning and will win.
        — side note: VA is back in play for Trump according to latest polls —
        Garret doesn’t need your “help” in the form of constructive criticism. If things continue to unravel for the appalling failure, and criminal democrat candidate — Hillary Clinton — Trump won’t need your help either.

        Or, you could be part of the solution and vote Trump and Garrett.

        Your call.

  • Thomas

    Everyone see’s how ridiculous this is, right? Benford claims to be an ideas-oriented Republican and a Trump Supporter. But, he supports Jane for the 5th. Has he not considered that Jane and Trump have completely different platforms? How do we know this is legitimate? How do we know he is a Trump supporter? There is no evidence of any of this. The only evidence that we have is his donating history. One quick look will reveal that he has donated exclusively to Democrats. Believe what you want. You’re entitled to your own opinions, not your own facts.

    • H G

      There are more than a few democrats supporting Trump.

  • Renee Jepson

    Garrett tries to take down a nice man like George Benford but PAYS for ads that brag about his endorsement by this looney-toon, Lawrence Gaughan….please help me understand Garrett’s reasoning here???

  • Craig Scott

    Watchdog Alleges Virginia Prepping to Accommodate Mass Voter Fraud

    • This is a very real story that needs to be told.

      • I’m certainly hoping that you mean that the truth about this issue needs to be told… and not Reagan George’s insane conspiracy theories.

    • old_redneck


      In the first place, there is no such thing as “printing provisional ballots.”

      What is being printed is ENVELOPES to hold ballots that are cast as provisional ballots.

      In the second place, there’s no source of the “one million” claim other than Reagan George, who is a documented liar.

      Listen closely. I’m about to unleash a torrent of facts.

      When a voter enters a polling place, in order to vote, that person must (1) present valid photo ID, and, (2) be registered to vote IN THAT PRECINCT. If the voter does not have ID, or, appears to not be properly registered, then, the voter casts a provisional ballot. That is, the voter marks a normal ballot — the same ballot everyone else is using. That ballot is placed in an envelope. The envelope is sealed and signed by the voter and by one of the election officers at the precinct.

      Provisional ballots are then considered by the municipality’s Electoral Board until noon of the Friday following the election. If a voter did not present ID, the voter brings their ID to the EB and the provisional is counted. If there was a question about the voter’s registration, the local general registrar researches the matter. If research shows the voter is properly registered, the ballot is counted. If there is a problem with the registration, the ballot will not be counted.

      Registration problems include:
      — voter moved, did not update address
      — voter registered after the registration deadline for that election

      Why did the State Board of Election order additional provisional ballot envelopes to be printed? BECAUSE — SBE is concerned that given the heavy voter turnout expected on Nov 8, there may be long lines and other delays at the polls. If that happens, one or more political parties or candidates may request a court order extending voting hours past the statutory 7:00 PM poll closing time.

      If such a court order is issued, then, EVERYONE WHO VOTES AFTER THE NORMAL POLL CLOSING TIME MUST CAST A PROVISIONAL BALLOT (Code of VA 24.2-653.C.).

      Why? Because. If one party obtains a court order extending voting hours, and the other party challenges that order, then, the extension order may or may not be upheld. If the order IS upheld, then, votes cast after 7:00PM will be removed from the provisional envelopes and counted. If the order is overturned, the envelopes will not be opened — instead, they’ll be stored in the local court clerk’s office for the time period dictated by statute, but, those votes cast during the extended poll hours will not be counted because the court order extending voting hours was overturned.

      Thus, the SBE order of additional provisional ballot envelopes is a prudent move in view of the possibility of extended voting hours, which could result in a huge flood of provisional ballots being cast, each one requiring a separate green envelope.

      Read the state election law:
      Code of VA 24.2-653

      Sorry. Didn’t mean to interrupt your fantasy by providing facts.

  • Connie S.

    Yes, by all means – let’s talk about bullying and nastiness – but not in trivial matters like campaign styles, but where it’s really important – in the candidates’ fundamental dissimilar beliefs and they way they’ll govern under their different values.

    NOTHING is more bullying and nasty than barbarically slaughtering pre-born babies moments before their birth. Of course I’m talking about the heinous act of partial birth abortion and pointing out how Jane Dittmar SUPPORTS that.

    Democrats Jane Dittmar and Hillary Clinton, hold extremist views, and are for taxpayer-funded abortion-on-demand up until the moment of birth. Jane Dittmar has been endorsed by Emily’s List, a strident pro-abortion PAC. That is a fundamental issue and we know how Jane Dittmar will continue America’s culture of death.

    Tom Garrett on the other hand is a very strong defender of pre-born babies. He’s been endorsed by both the National Right to Life and the Susan B. Anthony List; and during his time in the State Senate earned a 0% from the National Abortion Rights Action League. ( See )

    Tom Garrett – along with Donald Trump – will stand up together for life, against the big business, baby-killing Planned Parenthood. They will stalwartly defend our most innocent and precious American citizens – pre-born babies. They are Warriors for Life.

    As a Catholic and pro-life woman, I’m proud to vote for both Tom Garrett and Donald Trump.

    • H G

      Hear, hear!

    • You mean the Donald Trump who supports Planned Parenthood and was pro-choice up until he decided to run?

      • Connie S.

        The Donald Trump who is THE MOST pro-life candidate to ever run for President. Bar none. Here’s some more info for you –

        Bottom line – The next president will get to nominate at least 4 SCOTUS judges. If you support pre-born babies vote for Trump and Garrett. The Democrats are rabidly pro-abortion-on-demand. Those are the facts.

        • H G

          Sadly, trying to convince these “republicans” to support the republican nominee is likely a lost cause.

          They don’t care about Trump’s obviously conservative positions and conservative campaign promises. They hate him and they didn’t get their way in the primary. Therefore, they are taking their toys and going home this election.

          Don’t worry, it appears Trump won’t need them anyway. And we all know exactly who they are.

          • You can repeat over and over that Trump is conservative and his positions are conservative, but that doesn’t make it true.

          • H G

            Look Brian, Trump is not conservative through and through, but he is campaigning as a conservative on many issues. To what degree he is conservative, I don’t know. On the issues he is running on, I’d say he is somewhere around 70% conservative. Whatever the amount, he is so far, far better than Hillary it’s a no brainer.

            Go Trump!

          • I don’t believe that he has any actual principles and what he’s campaigning on aren’t his own policies, they’re just things calculated to get folks to vote for him. I don’t think he has any intentions to follow through on anything he’s suggested. I don’t trust him any more than I trust Clinton.

          • H G

            Well then he would have to be a bigger liar than Hillary. Don’t think that is even possible.

            There is nothing to base your suspicion on.

            On the contrary, there is a mountain of evidence and it grows daily regarding Hillary’s lies, cheating, and criminal behavior.

            This should be an easy decision for conservatives.

          • There’s plenty to base my suspicion on. His constant waffling and backtracking, his multiple stances on every issue that have changed radically over the years, etc. His complete lack of a political record, coupled with his business track record gives me no faith that he’s true to his word. How many contracts has he broken?

            Hillary is not trustworthy, but that doesn’t mean Trump is either.

          • H G

            Hillary is not trustworthy? That is the understatement of the decade.

            Trump has succeeded in his endeavors. That is his record.

            He is not known for being liar.

            Imagine the worst if you must but you’re not being honest with yourself.

          • Trump has succeeded in some endeavors, he’s failed in others. As an entrepreneur that’s to be expected, but to pretend that he’s never made mistakes or failed in his ventures is to ignore reality.

            Of course he’s known for being a liar. Come on, man. Just look at his politifact rating for the campaign so far:

            Hell just google “Donald Trump lies” and see what you find. I know you’ll discount it all because facts don’t matter anymore, but neither of the candidates in this race are known for their trustworthiness.

            I’m being honest with myself – both of them will be a disaster.

          • H G

            Nobody said Trump never failed.
            This is really silly. Why can’t you listen without assuming such nonsense?
            Never said Trump never lied. I said he isn’t known as a liar — unlike Hillary.

            To say the things you say you have to assume the worst of Trump and imagine the best of Hillary. Problem is Trump is not the worst and with Hillary there is no best.

            It is so weird to listen to republicans — especially those who claim to be conservative — struggle in this election to choose sides.

          • He IS a known liar. Neither of these candidates are known for their honesty.

            I am assuming the worst of BOTH of them.

            I haven’t struggled to choose sides, either. I reject both of them equally.

          • H G

            The result of a republican not taking republican’s side favors the democrat candidate.

          • No, it doesn’t. The result of a Republican not taking the Republicans side or the Democratic side is that there’s one fewer vote for both candidates.

          • H G

            Why would the republican take the democrat side?

            Fuzzy logic there.

          • I’m not taking the Democratic side. I’m not supporting anybody for President. Not a hard concept. This isn’t a zero sum game.

        • That is absolutely not true, Connie. Less than 20 years ago he was “very pro-choice” and even supported partial birth abortion. He only changed his mind when he decided to pretend to be a Republican.

          Besides, you love Dave Brat too, who supports sex-selection abortion, don’t you?

          • H G

            Where are all these purist comments coming from?

          • Some of us have always been pro-life.

          • H G

            So what?
            There is no comparison between the two. Hillary supports all abortions. No exceptions.
            Brat, according to you, supports limited abortion.

            I welcome anyone to the pro-life side regardless of their support for abortion in the past.
            You should too.

          • I welcome them with open arms.

            I just don’t trust them when their conversion appears to be more politically expedient than real.

  • old_redneck

    There was a story in the Daily Progress on
    September 1st titled “Garrett resolves spending issue,” concerning
    candidate for Congress and Virginia State Senator Tom Garrett using his State Senate campaign funds to pay for congressional
    campaign expenses.

    Turns out the Daily Progress story was
    just the tip of the iceberg. Here are several other examples of where
    Garrett used State Senate funds for his congressional campaign (note:
    sources for the following information include the State Board of Elections, Federal Election Commission and VPAP, as well as my sources):

    Garrett took two “2nd Amendment Training Courses,” both taught by
    Phillip Van Cleave of the Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL). One
    was in Madison and one in Farmville. Both were advertised on Garrett’s
    congressional campaign Facebook page. Also, press releases were
    apparently sent out for both from his congressional campaign email. Van
    Cleave was paid $1,500 for one “training” with Garrett’s State Senate
    funds, and $1500 for the other with Congressional campaign funds. The
    Hampden-Sydney room rental was expensed to Garrett’s State Senate

    Garrett expensed campaign gasoline to his State Senate account AFTER
    he announced for Congress on 12/23/15. These expenses were on 12/28/15, 12/30/15, 12/31/15, 1/4/16, 1/7/16, 1/11/16, 1/19/16, 2/1/16, 2/9/16, 2/11/16, 2/16/16, 2/18/16, 2/19/16, 2/22/16, 2/24/16, and 3/2/16. What campaigning was Garrett doing during this period for his State Senate
    seat (note: that election is not scheduled until November 2019), when
    everyone knows he was exclusively campaigning for his congressional

    For instance, Garrett attended the Albemarle GOP meeting on January 9, the Franklin County GOP meeting on January 11, the Charlotte GOP meeting on January 14, the Greene County GOP meeting on January 18, the Halifax GOP meeting on January 21, and the Pittsylvania County GOP meeting on January 28. These are just the January meetings he attended…plenty more in later months.

    As if all this isn’t bad enough, Sen. Garrett also appears to have a
    history of using campaign funds to pay for personal expenses.

    12/30/15- $830 at Joe Banks for campaign supplies

    2/16/16- $60 at Red Nails Salon, classified as campaign supplies

    1/20/16- $31 at Suk Alterations, classified as campaign supplies

    2/16/16- $106 at Old Original Bookbinder’s Restaurant, classified as campaign supplies

    2/1/16- $121 at Max’s on Broad, $49 at Dogwood Restaurant, and $49 at Vagabond restaurant, all classified as campaign food

    12/21/16– $190 at L’Opossum, a trendy Richmond restaurant, classified as campaign food

    November 2015- 18 separate gas trips expensed. Was Garrett really campaigning this much last November? Very hard to believe.

    9/5/2012- $652 auto repair

    3/29/16- $525 auto repair at Brown’s Subaru

    12/7/15- $60 at Puritan Cleaners for campaign supplies

    12/30/15– $127 at Ye Old Town Florist for campaign supplies

    Early December 2015– eight Amazon charges for “campaign supplies.” Was Garrett buying Christmas gifts with campaign money?

    12/17/11- $200 Lofts at Canal Walk, classified as travel expenses

    2/20/15– $308 at G-Force Karts (Paintball, Archery & Laser Tag) in
    Portsmouth for “campaign entertainment.” Was Garrett using campaign
    funds to entertain his children?

    There are many more examples, but you get the picture by now. Based on this record of unethical behavior Garrett appears to be the
    exact type of person republicans admire . . . a crook.

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