By Tim Hannigan
Voters in Virginia’s 10th Congressional District will have to differentiate among the six candidates vying for the Republican nomination on the basis of which candidate, if elected, will actually follow through on campaign promises and deliver the most effective results as promised.
The six candidates – Barbara Comstock, Stephen Hollingshead, Howie Lind, Bob Marshall, Marc Savitt, and Rob Wasinger – mostly agreed on conservative principles and policies in their debate last evening (7:30 – 9:00 PM, April 9) at the River Bend Middle School in Sterling, VA.
Hosted by the 10th District Republican Committee, Fairfax Area Young Republicans, Loudoun County Young Republicans, and Prince William Area Young Republicans, the event drew a crowd of approximately 150 people.
Mike Haynes, Republican Party Chairman in Loudoun County and a member of the Republican State Central Committee, moderated the debate.
A brief summary of points made by the candidates in their prepared statements and extemporary responses to panel questions follows:
Opening / Concluding Statements
Stephen Holingshead emphasized his business, federal government, and Constitution teacher experience will make him effective in opposing establishment Hill Democrats and Republicans, who are “too bossy” in micro-managing the economy.
- Howie Lind said he will “stand up” to Congressional leaders of both parties to repeal and replace Obamacare; reduce the federal debt; and, as the only military veteran among the candidates, restore cuts to the military and pursue answers to the massacre of Americans at Benghazi.
- Barbara Comstock stressed she will build coalitions, as she has for the past 30 years in public life, to repeal and replace Obamacare, build jobs, restore America militarily and diplomatically, and reinvigorate American exceptionalism.
Marc Savitt promised to create jobs, saying he not only offers speeches but a full program available for viewing on his website, and cited his pact with Loudoun County residents and past suit against the Federal Reserve as evidence he will deliver results as promised.
- Rob Wasinger identified both Democrats and Republicans who fail to oppose the Democrats as the problem in Congress and argued a Washington outsider is best suited to fix the broken establishment in Washington, DC.
- Bob Marshall characterized the era as “not normal times” and urged voters to choose someone who will return to principles and “pick fights” with the opposition both legislatively and judicially, as he has done for numerous years as a delegate in the General Assembly.
First Bill the Candidate Would Introduce in Congress
- Three candidates said their first bill would be to repeal Obamacare.
- Stephen Hollingshead said his bill would call for repeal of the 17th Amendments, thereby returning the election of Senators to state legislatures and restoring federated power to the states.
Marc Savitt said he would revamp the tax code, establishing a “fair tax,” essentially a national consumption tax on retail sales.
- Bob Marshall said he would amend every one of the 13 Appropriations bills to limit the budgets of executive departments and agencies so that federal government spending does not exceed government revenues.
What to do About Russian Aggression
- Most candidates argued for strengthening economic sanctions, increasing American energy sources, and weakening European reliance on Russian energy through increased natural gas exports to Europe.
- Stephen Hollingshead identified the national debt, not Russia, as the #1 threat to national security.
How to Create Jobs in America
- Most candidates emphasized the need to repeal Obamacare, increase energy exploration, reform the tax code, reduce government regulation of business, and, in general, curb the federal government’s unnecessarily restrictive interference with private sector business.
- Barbara Comstock pointed out the federal government should create a climate for job growth and expressed support for right-to-work legislation.
How to Grow the Republican Party and Expand it in the 10th District
- Most candidates stressed the need to take control of the Republican message, especially to women and minority groups, and to connect with voters in ways they can understand.
- Barbara Comstock pushed for building coalitions of voter interest groups.
NSA Data Collection: Security vs. Privacy
All candidates opposed lawless spying against Americans, arguing the need for probable cause and warrants to collect data.
- Rob Wasinger urged Congress and the courts to take action against those who violate the privacy rights of citizens.
- Stephen Hollingshead made the broader point that the purpose of the Constitution is to limit government.
Support 0f Federal Balanced Budget Amendment
- Five of the candidates agreed unequivocally to supporting such an amendment.
- Bob Marshall disagreed, saying that a balanced budget amendment would allow Congress to increase spending and balance its spending profligacy with tax increases.
First Criterion to Consider When Voting on Legislation
- Most candidates cited the Constitutionality of the legislation.
- Marc Savitt highlighted the full costs of the proposed law.
- Stephen Hollingshead brought out, somewhat contemptuously, the need for time to read the bill.
Debt Ceiling Increase
- Five of the candidates said they would not increase the debt ceiling, with Bob Marshall qualifying his no with the proviso “unless the US is under attack.”
- Barbara Comstock said the failing economy is the real problem, and she did not directly star whether she would vote for a debt ceiling.
Support for the Winning Republican Nominee
- All candidates said they want to ensure the Democratic candidate, Fairfax County Supervisor John Faust, does not win the election.
- All pledged to provide full support for the winning Republican nominee.
Candidate Criticisms and Responses
While obviously not raised as a separate topic during the debate, some candidates inserted direct criticisms and negative remarks about their opponents while answering the panel’s questions.
- Stephen Hollingshead charged Barbara Comstock and Bob Marshall with voting for environmental programs in VA’s General Assembly.
- Rob Wasinger asserted Barbara Comstock 1) profited from corporate contracts with Carnival Cruise Lines, specifically in the aftermath of
Hurricane Katrina, and 2) served as a lobbyist for Indian gaming casinos.
- Howie Lind alleged Barbara Comstock’s website until recently showed she supports Medicaid expansion in Virginia.
Most of the infrequent and relatively mild barbs were directed against putative front-runner Barbara Comstock, who did not respond to them. Instead, she cited her practice of following former President Ronald Reagan’s 11th commandment to speak no ill of a fellow Republican.
Voter Decision Criterion
Again, the debate showed general agreement on conservative principles and policies by the candidates. Voters will have to decide which of the candidates, if elected, will muster the legislative resourcefulness, moral courage, personal integrity, combativeness, and all-around gumption to oppose government overreach by establishment Democrat and Republican lawmakers and executive officials most effectively.
Advice to 10th District voters: evaluate the policy track records of the candidates; assess their personal character; and determine whether they will fight, compromise, or flee when confronting opposing views.
Vote for the candidate who will do whatever it takes to throw out the policies and practices of the rascals who have saddled America with a 17 trillion dollar debt, high unemployment, low economic growth, confiscatory individual and corporate taxes, ridiculously burdensome business and environmental regulations, government-directed and shielded scandals, bureaucratic control of healthcare, and excessive pay and law exemptions for Senators and Congressmen.
Let’s elect a Congressman who will lead the Congressional rollback of progressive, liberty squelching big government that has eroded individual liberty and choked American prosperity.