Chapter Six: The Cast of Characters, Continued
As convention season winds down it’s time to take a look at the third of the four frontrunners, Pete Snyder. In the interest of full disclosure Pete has been a liked and known quantity for Caroline conservatives since 2012. This was back in the day before Trump thundered upon the national stage and the eternal Republican circular firing squad began in earnest.
Long story short, for me Pete was a phone call away for an interview. He’s been a busy man so we caught up while he was on the road between gigs.
Here’s a little bit of background on how Caroline knows Pete Snyder. Over the years it has become increasingly hard for committees to obtain signs for Presidential and Congressional candidates. In 2012 however, the word was out about some new guy who was running the Romney Victory Centers and could get rural committees anything they needed in the way of collateral. A call was made to this new guy who was from Northern Virginia, and Pete Snyder showed up not once, but three times with signs galore.
This new guy, we learned, had a strong business background as founder of a company called New Media Strategies in 1999. By the time we met Pete he had gone on to create another company called Disruptor Capital.
Snyder had a keen interest in local issues which is always something to take notice of in any candidate. At a local event, Pete sat down with about 50 people and talked about what was important to them.
Just a few months later Snyder was back in Caroline announcing his run for Virginia Lieutenant Governor and asking folks here what he could do in that position to support business, create jobs, limit government, and protect the 2nd Amendment. While he lost at the convention in May 2013 to E.W. Jackson, his pledge to remain active on the team was a good one.
Who should show up that October at the local Harvest Festival in the county seat of Caroline to campaign for Republican candidates but Pete Snyder. He had fun that day going door to door on Main Street knowing just how to talk to people. As one resident said, “Well for a politician, his mama raised him right!”
Pete continued to touch base with Caroline (we think he likes it here) and in 2017 sponsored a large local event for Ed Gillespie.
When he decided to throw his hat in the ring this year though, I was determined not to give him a “friend’s pass” on some of the scuttlebutt concerning his campaign. First question out of the gate from me was about the many endorsements and alliances he has formed since January. The list is long, diverse, and controversial.
While few Virginians would be familiar with most of the names, activists were quick to throw flack about the list, the names of which, according to who you ask, are considered both good and bad for campaign business.
Pete was quick to answer. “Look,” he said, “one of our biggest problems is how fractured we are as party. I’m going to be the first to change all that and welcome everyone from the grassroots to the traditional establishment. The Snyder campaign will be a united front. I’m not telling anyone who offers help and support to go away. It’s a plus that people with differing conservative views know and trust me. Just think of us as the Hatfields and McCoys. We have an election to win.”
My second question to Pete was one I never fail to ask a candidate. “Who are your locally elected officials and have you ever been to a board of supervisors or city council meeting?”
Honestly, this is a question that most candidates can’t answer. Not only had Pete attended local government meetings, he rattled off the names of the Charlottesville City County members faster than I could write. When on the subject of re-opening schools, which is the mantra of all the candidates, it’s crucial to understand local government and understand how those schools are funded.
Having watched the Fredericksburg Tea Party Patriot’s forum some weeks ago, I knew Pete had been educating himself on local government in particular and how budgets work in relation to schools. He is the only candidate to date who can tell you what the average percentage of county budgets all across Virginia goes to schools. While no one in the forum seemed to understand the significance when Snyder spoke on this, it is quite important.
Many school boards claim that conditions in buildings were not safe to reopen. Not only are schools sitting on 2020-21 already approved budget surpluses from dollars not used when kids were not in classrooms, but they received millions in federal COVID money. They are sitting on considerable revenue. Could that revenue be used to address infrastructure issues and improvements school boards say they need to return safely? The answer is a big yes.
Snyder did not wake up one day and decide to run for Governor. He has done his homework and asked the right questions. Pete Snyder is a good listener.
Evidence of this appears in some key pieces of his platform including immigration reform and voter integrity. When Pete first started talking about immigration, I saw some comments on social media about the duties of the Virginia Governor’s office and how there was little a governor could do about federal immigration policy.
This is in fact not true. Virginia is home to a number of “sanctuary” localities for illegal immigrants, according to the Center for Immigration Studies, including the cities of Alexandria and Arlington as well as Fairfax, Albemarle, and Chesterfield counties. Snyder’s approach is not just a bullet point on a mailer. His plan as Governor would be to take a practical approach which includes holding local officials who push these “safe haven” policies accountable for crimes committed by illegal immigrants.
In addition, Governors hold broad authority and influence in the area of cooperation with ICE as well as the operation of detention centers for illegal immigrants.
One of the other important issues addressed and spelled out in Snyder’s platform is his voter integrity plan. Operative word … plan. Every candidate pledges to remediate the problems with our election system, but absolutely none of them tell you how they will do it.
Snyder’s plan proves he actually understands what happens on the ground during early voting, and real time on election day. Those hastily organized groups who pretended to stand up to voter fraud after the last election demanding all the Freedom of Information requests to localities found nothing and made themselves a laughing stock. Pete gets where the problems actually are.
Snyder’s plan calls for a unique scannable code for each ballot mailed for absentee voting which would allow those to be tracked if and when it’s returned. Addressing those without state-issued IDs, Pete plans to take this problem to localities to get help in issuing identification at the county level. His plan further calls for absentee ballots to be signed, and for the use of signature matching software.
The plan also includes the ability to allow registrars to scrub the voter list against an e-verify system, which currently registrars are not permitted to do. This will help ensure deceased voters are removed as well as those who no longer reside in Virginia. This will also ensure non-U.S. citizens are not allowed to vote. He will expand the Virginia State Police Bureau of Investigation to seriously investigate voter fraud with an ability to upload evidence, video, photographs etc.
Snyder’s special skill set, however, beyond a doubt is in the realm of the economic engine called business. His talents lie in creating business as well as jobs, but even more importantly his record shows a creative streak that could serve the Commonwealth well. Both large and small business is the key that lifts the tax burden from ordinary citizens. It’s a crucial part of the machine that funds services that create good quality of life for Virginia citizens.
I asked Pete about his mailer which said, “Every small business is someone’s American Dream.” The mailer referred not only to the non-profit company he founded last year called the Virginia 30 Day Fund, but to Virginia’s sad decline in the last decade as a great place to do business.
Regarding his recent endeavor, the 30-Day Fund, Snyder watched the devastating impacts of lockdowns on small businesses during the early days of the pandemic. He and his wife, Burson, created the fund last April as a job-saving mechanism for the state. He knew the Federal CARES Act of $2.2. trillion in economic relief would not be enough.
In the mail piece he wrote, “The average small business isn’t sitting on a year’s worth of cash reserves. The average small business has two weeks of cash reserves and that’s it. So, we gave $3,000 fully forgivable grants to small businesses to keep people on payroll, keep the lights on, pay the rent. In Virginia we’ve saved nearly a thousand small businesses in every single corner of the state.”
Looking back on how Snyder got his own start in business, in 1996 he started his first company working from his apartment on Capital Square in D.C. He was 26 years old and had a Gateway Computer, a dial up modem, a savings account, some credit cards, and several investments by friends. Social media was an unknown commodity in its infancy but Pete saw its enormous potential as a marketing universe with unlimited possibilities.
He also, though, had a deep creative desire to drive this new industry. He wanted to be what he called a “disrupter.” He wanted to change the way business was actually done. That year he founded New Media Strategies.
The concept was simple. The first order of business was to listen to people and enable companies to see what their customers were saying online, but many people were sure this concept would fail.
He turned a deaf ear to the naysayers. “I had to grind it out at every turn and make my success on my own, and you know what, it’s much better to earn it this way,” he said. His company’s strategy became the blueprint for many who followed suit. He had indeed become the disruptor of the industry.
Pete eventually sold New Media Strategies and started another successful company, Disruptor Capital. Disruptor is an angel investment company, which translated means he gets to take the ideas of entrepreneurs and small business owners and make their dreams a realty. As he helped small businesses get off the ground, Pete learned more about how business withers and dies under big government and higher taxes.
Last year it drove him to create the 30-day fund, but he decided it wasn’t enough. He had created his companies as an innovator and disruptor, but he knew he was also a patriot who needed to act. Said Pete, “I’m running for Governor to be Virginia’s angel investor to breathe life back into small business.”
In 2013 when he lost the LG race, he pledged to stay involved and, in our region for sure, he has done just that. The past month as I interviewed Pete, I saw a laser focused, more issues-oriented and informed listener.
I know Pete will forgive me when I say in 2013 he was a young, bright-eyed idealist who thought everyone was on the same team. He had no concept of the circular firing squad. He was then, as he still is, a high performing individual who was deeply committed to the Commonwealth. I remember him promising not to take his marbles and go home then, but to stick around and be a driving force in helping make Virginia better. He kept his promise.
I like the new wiser, still incredibly energetic, and unjaded Pete who just may be the future of the Republican Party with his young family and strong determination to disrupt the status quo. There can be little doubt he has the electability factor with his focus on real Virginians, business and jobs, and his major ties to the grassroots all over Virginia.
His considerable ability to raise money ($6.8 million) is also a huge factor when considering who can actually make it to the finish line. If you are looking for a candidate who does not deal in bullet points, but actually spells out what he will do, is not an insider, and is ready to disrupt and shake up Richmond, Pete is your man.
Previously in this series:
–Chapter One: Truth is Stranger Than Fiction – Convention Season 101
–Chapter Two: Strange Bedfellows
–Chapter Three: The Cast of Characters – Four Frontrunners
–Chapter Four: The Cast of Characters, Continued
–Chapter Five: The Cast of Characters Continues