Some pictures are worth a thousand words…
Susan Stimpson has been running for Lieutenant Governor as the anti-establishment candidate with the principled record. She regularly paints the rest of the field either as “establishment” or as “lacking a record.” In a recent email from a campaign surrogate, she was described as someone the establishment is afraid of and out to get. This rhetoric has been very persuasive, and much of the Ron Paul movement in the state joined her campaign almost as soon as she announced her candidacy.
As someone who has been involved in many anti-establishment efforts over the last five years in Virginia, I was astonished that the lead anti-establishment candidate in the race was someone I had never heard of. I started asking some questions. If she is the anti-establishment candidate, when has she stood strong under fire while fighting for what she believes? Where has she been taking on the establishment as they have consolidated power, or ignored our principles? Also, whom are the anti-establishment candidates she has supported in tight and difficult races?
What I keep finding is that, prior to deciding to run for statewide office, Susan Stimpson showed few of the qualities one would expect of an anti-establishment candidate. This is particularly true in regards to whom she has chosen to support or oppose within the Republican Party.
How does an anti-establishment person campaign throughout 2012 for George Allen, side-by-side with Bill Howell? Allen and Howell are two of the people that embody the VA political establishment! Which one of Stimpson’s strong supporters would dream of supporting Allen, let alone doing it alongside Howell?
Now, maybe supporting Allen was a fluke in an otherwise impeccable anti-establishment record. However, besides supporting Bolling and Cuccinelli, which practically everyone did, the only other party issue where I can find Stimpson on record is publicly supporting the removal of Jeff Frederick as party chairman in 2009. Electing Jeff Frederick as party chairman was a major victory of the grassroots over the establishment. Defending him from the instantaneous assault by the establishment was something the grassroots worked hard to do. The fact that Stimpson publicly stood with the establishment as they ousted Frederick continues to fly in the face of what an anti-establishment activist would do.
While I can’t find public statements from Stimpson at the time, I have also heard from people involved in the 2008 U.S. Senate nomination contest that Stimpson described Bob Marshall as a “loon” who “wasn’t her brand of politics.”
This is Stimpson’s track record of whom she chooses to support or oppose within the party over the last five years. While none of these positions need to be a litmus test in and of themselves, this is not the track record of an anti-establishment candidate. Instead it reflects the values of someone who supports the safe picks and does what is necessary to curry favor with party leaders.
Stimpson’s brief record has enabled Stimpson to transform herself from someone who regularly supported the establishment into the anti-establishment candidate the Ron Paul movement sees her as.
Ron Paulers and others who are new to the anti-establishment fight in Virginia should listen to Jeff Frederick, someone who is unquestionably anti-establishment and who has worked with Stimpson and lives in close proximity to her.
I got to know Susan Stimpson (who is running for LG) during my time as RPV Chairman and in the period prior when I was seeking that job. I considered her a friend. Yet, she was a strong ally of Bill Howell (she owes her current elective office to his blessing in her seeking it). When she announced her candidacy for LG and in the subsequent time since, her rhetoric has reflected the exact opposite of the person I knew. Of course, she sounds great now (convenient as she pursues statewide office), but my experience is that she is a top-down establishment Republican who is more interested in position and power rather than her recent claims to be about people and principle. It is only because her public record is so brief that she has been so effective at leading others to believe she’s something she is not.
Then they should ask themselves, if Susan Stimpson is an anti-establishment warrior, when did she become that? Did she decide to stand for principles against power when it could cost her, or when it was politically expedient?