Happy Birthday, Mamma Lynn

Today is our dear friend, Blog Mamma, and Bearing Drift Editor-in-Chief Lynn Mitchell’s birthday. We will NOT ask her age because good southerners just don’t do that to a lady. But I wanted to share my story about Lynn.

I met Lynn via social media almost six years ago. We connected on Facebook in 2014 for some reason and then met at some long forgotten political function that year. But our friendship didn’t really hit its stride until about 2015.

One night in early 2015, I wrote a “mic drop” Facebook post about Bill Howell. This was in my younger days when I was a Facebook warrior for elected officials. I still can’t remember what it was about other than Howell, but anyway, Lynn asked me to publish it on her site, LynnRMitchell.com. I agreed and started to contribute every once in a while. About a month or two later, Shaun Kenney invited yours truly to come write with him at this very website.

Ever since then, I usually talk to Lynn at least once a week, and often more. We talk about writing, the latest about elected officials, what candidates have stepped into a race, or debate policy issues. I call her with political stories and sometimes just to vent. Lynn knows more about me than a lot of my “friends” do.

In 2015, we started a tradition that I hope continues for the next 100 or so years. Roanoke has most any restaurant you could want, except for a Chili’s. There is not a single Chili’s in the Roanoke Valley. There is one in Lynchburg, and another in Princeton, West Virginia, and then there’s the one in Staunton.

So the closest one we regularly pass by while traveling I-81 is that one in Staunton. Usually, I call Lynn on the way to or from some political function in Richmond or D.C. or Charlottesville. We meet in Staunton, and I get the honey chipotle chicken crispers and a Diet Coke (more like 10 of them because I am usually driving and need the caffeine). I stop by for the food and stay for the conversation.

Lynn is my Yoda in the Republican Party. Most people don’t know it, but she has done EVERYTHING there is to do in the Republican Party of Virginia. Volunteer coordinator, has run Victory offices, member of State Central Committee, served in 6th Congressional District leadership, unit committee leadership, and she has written or taken pictures at almost every statewide Republican function for the past 20 years.

And also, can we talk about the fact that she has won two of the most divisive primaries for Virginia State Senate in modern Virginia political history for Senator Emmett Hanger (even though she always tells me it was Sen. Hanger who was the driving force in those campaigns)? Lynn has served as campaign manager for Emmett Hanger for the past two election cycles, and to be honest, I don’t know how she does it.

That first one I understand how she won, but I still scratch my head on the 2019 primary. She (and Sen. Hanger and his campaign workers) defeated a statewide candidate’s wife in a primary that had money, name ID, and was liked by most everyone in the party (myself included). Lynn’s determination to get her State Senator elected is no match for anyone in her path.

More importantly, you want to talk about feminism? There is no greater definition of feminism. Politics, especially Virginia political bloggers, have been a male dominated gang. Lynn was the first woman editor of one of the major websites in Virginia, and she has busted down other barriers. She is fearless in her principles, and writes with the passion of a teacher and a mother.

Lynn and I have laughed together and shared the sad times, too. We have seen the best in people and we have both pulled knives out of our backs. We love politics, but really do not like some of the people in politics. More importantly, she loves Virginia — especially these old Blue Ridge Mountains — more than anyone I know. She and I are mountain people; we get revived by mountain air.

Also, can I brag on Bill Mitchell for just a second? Unlike Lynn, Bill is a quiet soul. He doesn’t talk much, he loves his man cave, and enjoys a cold beer every once in a while. However, I just hope that in my life, my wife and I have a love like Bill and Lynn Mitchell. He always has a funny comment when asked about something. Bill, I hope you get my blog mom a nice present for her birthday.

Mamma Lynn, I want you to know that I love you as a mentor and friend. You are my friend when it’s good and I’m landing exclusive interviews and getting published in the newspapers; you are my friend when an elected official sticks a knife in my back or work isn’t going well. You teach me things so that I grow as a person.

I am a firm believer that God puts people in your life as mentors to help you grow. Lynn Mitchell came into my life so that I could be a better writer, politico, and person. Thank you, Mamma Lynn, for changing my life for the better. I love you, my friend. Happy Birthday!

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