That’s the size of our congressional district (the 5th). A gerrymandered wonder. It is not only Virginia’s largest district, with an area of 10,181 square miles, but it is larger than either New Jersey or Vermont.
And Rappahannock is almost at the top. Small wonder that we practically never see our representatives up here, or even their staff members.
But hope springs eternal. This election cycle, there will be no incumbent. Our current Congressman, Robert Hurt, has decided to retire, so a spirited race is underway.
The Republican nominee is Thomas A. Garrett Jr., who is currently the state Senator from Buckingham. His website is here. Garrett’s platform rests on “preserving the Constitution and the Bill of Rights so that our posterity may share in our blessing.”
His website states that “In the Senate, Tom has focused on expanding liberty, reclaiming our Constitutional rights, fiscal responsibility and restraint, and common sense reductions in the size and scope of government. Tom is not afraid to stand alone on an issue when he believes it is the principled thing to do. In 2015, Tom was the lone no vote in the Virginia Senate on the final budget bill after arguing that it included wasteful spending and put the state into competition with private and small business owners.”
On the issues, he is pro-gun, pro-life, for a strong national defense, a strong supporter of civil liberties, against domestic spying without a warrant, for states’ rights, against higher taxes, against “corporate welfare subsidies”, against the US Dept of Education, a supporter of school choice, believes that there are too many federal regulatory agencies, supports energy drilling, believes we should tighten our borders and immigration policies, and, as a veteran, believes that we should not be the world’s policeman.
The Democratic nominee is Jane Dittmar, who is the immediate past Chair of the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors. Her website is here. Dittmar’s website states that she is “running for Congress because everyone in our district deserves to be connected to opportunity.”
The issues emphasized by Dittmar include expanding job opportunities (through continuing education and training programs for technical skills), creating an economic climate in the 5th District that will be attractive to larger businesses and where small businesses can also thrive, and making broadband affordable and accessible throughout the district. The latter point will be particularly salient to our region. Dittmar points to access to broadband as absolutely critical if we are to provide strong schools and if we are to attract business.
Most of the election polling sites describe our district as safely Republican, so Dittmar has her work cut out for her. To her credit, she has already made several visits to Rappahannock County to determine the issues that are important to us.
The Libertarian candidate is Stephen Harmon, a former Defense contractor and Navy veteran, and resident of Marshall VA. Harmon does not have a website, but his Facebook profile is here. You can’t get into the website to learn more without signing on to Facebook, but there is not much there, anyway.
According to the Roanoke Times newspaper, “Harmon, 27, is a student at Lord Fairfax Community College. He plans to transfer to Shenandoah University in Winchester after the semester is over. While studying economics, he will campaign against both major parties. He hopes he can ride the wave of national discontent apparent in both Republican and Democratic presidential nomination contests. His Libertarian message pairs a liberal social stance with a push to rein in government spending.”
“I do believe in the social tolerance of just letting everyone live their life the way they choose as long as they’re not hurting anybody else … but I’m also financially conservative,” Harmon said.
The only independent candidate so far is Yale Landsberg, Landsberg also does not have a website, but his Facebook profile is here. As with Harmon, you’ll have to be a member of Facebook to see his pages, and, as with Harmon, there isn’t much on the Facebook profile anyway.
There is not much information available on Landsberg’s positions. However, there is a website where he poses questions and answers them. You can find it here.
If you have any additional, pertinent information about the candidates, send us a comment.
by Jim Blubaugh, Washington VA