VA State Elections Season Begins in Buena Vista

By: Jacob Thayer, 2L
Contributing Writer

The 2017 election season in Virginia has officially started. While students were getting a few moments more sleep before starting their week, Buena Vista was bustling more than usual with politicos and media from around the region in attendance. For 46 years, Buena Vista has celebrated Labor Day as one of the biggest events of the year, which makes sense for a once booming manufacturing town. While the city has faced an unfortunate decline over the past 30 years because of outsourcing of the once-plentiful manufacturing jobs, Labor Day has continued as a spotlight event.

Historically, Buena Vista’s Labor Day celebration has featured politicians not just for the impending election, but also as a kickoff to the next year’s election. Names like Kaine, McDonnell, Allen, and Deeds have all graced the small city with their presence in recent years. In fact, Senator Creigh Deeds, the state senator for a district including Lexington and Buena Vista, walked in the parade again this year, despite not being up for reelection again until 2019. Delegate Ben Cline, the state delegate for the area and the incumbent candidate in next year’s election, also walked the parade route and gave a speech.

While candidates for next year’s election were not as pervasive, the campaigns for the two positions on the ballot this cycle, President and 6th District U.S. Representative, made their presences known. Roger Jarrell, Chairman of the Rockbridge Area Republican Committee, explained the event was one of the best it had ever had. He noted that the Republicans far outnumbered the Democrats. Over 100 Donald Trump signs lined the parade route, and, by the end, all of the signs had found a home in someone’s yard. Former congressman and Constitution Party presidential candidate Virgil Goode spoke on Trump’s behalf at the event. According to Jarrell, Trump had massive support, while support for Clinton was tepid, at best. Even Kai Degner, a Harrisonburg City Councilman running as the Democrat for the 6th District congressional seat, who also joined the parade, ceded that the Trump momentum was palpable at the event. Degner, the sole Democrat to speak, believes many Trump voters will look to him too as a DC outsider, a boon for him come Election Day, and he espoused his campaign theme of “listening” with local Democrats at their country breakfast.

The Republicans hosted a breakfast too and several local politicians, including Goode and Cline, attended. Sixth District congressman, Bob Goodlatte, ‘77L, also attended the breakfast, walked the parade, and gave a speech. Goodlatte – whose campaign themes include jobs, security and strengthening borders, and fighting against government encroachment – said that he “always looks forward to the annual Labor Day parade in Buena Vista” and sees it as a “great opportunity to reach out to constituents in the community.”

If you would like to get involved in the political process, remember that the last day to register to vote in Virginia is October 17th. The upcoming election will be especially critical in Virginia, now that it is considered a battleground state, according to RealClearPolitics. If you have registered in another state, consider voting in Lexington or Rockbridge. You are here most of the year and can have a much larger impact in Virginia than in states traditionally considered safe for either party.

Editor’s Note: The Lexington Democrats chair did not return a request for comment.

Categories: Opinions & Editorials