‘If It’s Labor Day, This Must Be Buena Vista’
For the better part of five decades, Buena Vista has hosted a Labor Day festival that long ago became the traditional launch of the political campaign season in Virginia. Originally dominated by Democrats, it evolved into a bipartisan event, then one that was heavily Republican (last year no Democratic candidates showed up), and again — based on Monday’s attendance — multipartisan, with candidates and campaign workers from the Democratic, Libertarian, and Republican parties.
As usual, the day began with a parade down Buena Vista’s main drag, led by a pipe-and-drum corps from the Virginia Military Institute (located in nearby Lexington) and featuring local groups like the marching band from Parry McCluer High School.
Local, state, and federal candidates walk along the parade route, greeting potential voters and old friends alike, often accompanied by campaign workers distributing candies.
This year’s parade included incumbent Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA06) and the two candidates seeking to succeed him, Delegate Ben Cline (R) and newcomer Jennifer Lewis (D).
Incumbent Senator Tim Kaine joined Lewis in marching alongside a contingent of Democratic Party activists while his challenger, Matt Waters (L), led a small group of Libertarian Party members. (Waters stood out because he was not dressed like a typical politician with khaki slacks and a collared shirt. Instead, he took to the streets in short pants and a Waters campaign t-shirt.) Republican Senate candidate Corey Stewart took his time to meet voters along the route and so was not in the midst of his group of GOP supporters.
Here are some video highlights of the parade, which began under cloudy skies:
After the parade ended, the candidates gathered in a pavilion at the top of a hill in Glen Maury Park to deliver short speeches (8 minutes or fewer) to introduce themselves to the voters — although it seems there were few, if any, people in the audience who were undecided about their election choices. Democrats and Republicans were equally vocal in cheering for their team’s speakers.
Among the candidates, Corey Stewart went first:
Senator Tim Kaine was next:
Libertarian Party nominee Matt Waters batted clean-up for the Senate candidates:
The two candidates looking to sit in Bob Goodlatte’s office chair came next. First was Democrat Jennifer Lewis, who was greeted with a classy “You suck!” from a heckler:
Delegate Ben Cline gave the closing remarks, noting Virginia’s hard workers, ingenuity, and entrepreneurship are celebrated on Labor Day:
Before the speechifying, I had opportunities to talk to all the candidates, plus retiring Representative Bob Goodlatte. Those interviews will be featured on this week’s podcast, The Score — so stay tuned.