Quick Thoughts On the Republican Party of Virginia Advance 2019
This weekend, hundreds of Republicans like myself gathered in the cavernous and majestic Omni Homestead in Hot Springs, VA, to attend the 2019 Republican Party of Virginia Advance. The mood was cautiously optimistic but with a good dose of pessimism. Yours truly was quoted in the Washington Post saying we have hit rock bottom and that the only way to go from here is up.
And might I say it was really rock bottom at one Hospitality Suite at the Advance. For those unfamiliar, hospitality suites are parties where candidates or interest groups bribe with liquor and food to try to win favor with the attendees of the Advance. But apparently, and I did not attend this event, someone had a cash bar at their hospitality suite. To which many at the Advance replied:
One Republican leader was quoted as saying, “That’s not a hospitality suite, that’s giving someone the shaft.” Let’s just say that someone who was “specially” inhospitable was hosting that party.
Instead of continually focusing on the negative, let’s talk about positive things.
Congressman Denver Riggleman was a riot! I love Denver — from his pluckiness to his goofy sense of humor that is contrasted with his extreme seriousness to the job. I thoroughly enjoyed his hospitality suite. I walked through the door with my dear friend and Roanoke Times political reporter Amy Friedenburger and Denver called over, “NO INTERVIEWS UNTIL YOU HAVE A DRINK!” I was happy to oblige and have some bourbon and get a chance to talk with him.
Congressman Ben Cline and his lovely wife Elizabeth were around, along with Congressman Morgan Griffith and Congressman Rob Wittman. They were all in good spirits.
Jean Gannon threw a hospitality suite both nights and my goodness she had a fantastic party. We laughed with so many Republican friends, young and old. Good food and wine to be had by all.
I had a chance to sit down with Dr. Daniel Gade, a candidate for United States Senate. Dr. Gade is extremely intelligent, a West Point graduate, and a decorated military veteran. He is punchy in interviews, he’s got “gumption,” and he’s looking to take the fight to former Congressman Scott Taylor. I would definitely be looking at Dr. Gade. By the way, shout-out to my new friend and Dr. Gade’s political director Loren, who was fun to hang out with this weekend.
If there was one candidate I was absolutely enamored with it was Tina Ramierez who is running for the 7th District Congressional seat. The great theologian John Wesley had a quote I use to describe great political candidates that says, “Catch on fire with enthusiasm, and people will come for miles just to watch you burn.” Tina Ramierez is a raging wildfire of enthusiasm who is extremely competent. I not only interviewed her in her hospitality suite but then we sat and talked after midnight for over 45 minutes about her story. She runs an international organization to promote religious freedom that has been in some of the toughest countries in the world. She told some of those stories and I was in awe of her work. As a single mom from Chesterfield, she may be the shot in the arm the Republican Party of Virginia needs in the 7th. Keep Tina’s name on your mind; she’s going places.
Lastly, it was good to see my friend former Congressman Scott Taylor at the Advance. Scott threw a great Advance hospitality suite that was in support of the Second Amendment with Nerf gun targets, good beer, and more importantly a vibrant crowd. (I, in my own capacity and not as an endorsement of this site, have endorsed Taylor’s U.S. Senate campaign because of his electric energy.) I got a chance to interview Congressman Taylor for over thirty minutes on Saturday morning and he said something to me that for the first time in my career as a citizen journalist/political prognosticator made me cry. Congressman Taylor said, “Matt, I’ve heard Amazing Grace on the bagpipes too many times, meaning I’ve buried too many of my friends to not live life to the fullest.”
That is what the Advance and the Republican Party message should be about, ladies and gentlemen. Faith, family, and sacrifice to the love of one’s country. Scott is a hero of this political fight in Virginia, and I pray he is the next Senator from Virginia.
I did have a fantastic time talking to my friend John Fredricks who let me be on his radio show for two hours out of three. We had a great time interviewing Dr. Gade, Senator Mark Peake, and I did get to share the microphone with my fellow commentators Shaun Kenney and Chris Saxman.
Other than that, the best part of the weekend was the “counter-programming” at the Advance. We had a great time having a Young Republican Federation of Virginia dinner on Saturday night. We also had a great time spent in the pool/hot tub of the Homestead. At one point close to 10PM we were almost at a quorum of the YRFV Executive Committee and considered calling a meeting in the hot tub!
Truthfully a good time to be had by all. We can only go up from here.
Photos by myself and my Editor-in-Chief Lynn Mitchell