In putting forward Tom McCrystal’s name for nomination to be the Republican candidate for the House of Delegates in the 57th District, long-time GOP activist Randolph Byrd related a story about the first time they met, in 1989.
“When I first saw Tom, he was covered with bruises. He had bruises on his legs, on his arms. He even had bruises on his face. ‘What happened to you?’ I asked. It turned out he had been playing lacrosse. I knew then that Tom McCrystal was a brawler – someone who will fight hard for what’s important to him.”
Byrd added that McCrystal has proven, through his civic activism and now through his willingness to run for public office, that he has all the good qualities of a brawler in the public square – not someone who roughs people up for the sport of it, but to demonstrate the strength of his convictions.
McCrystal vice president and chief technology officer at the Charlottesville-based Creative Perspectives, Inc., ran unopposed for the nomination. He was selected by acclamation by the 57th District Republican Committee at its June 6 mass meeting in McIntire Park. Committee chairman Bob Hodous ran a tight meeting; besides the nominating procedure, it only included one resolution, presented under a suspension of the rules, to commemorate the anniversary of the death of President Ronald Reagan.
The highlight of the meeting was McCrystal’s acceptance speech, presented here in full:
Before I begin, I'd like to take a moment and add my voice to the many thanking Mitch Van Yahres for his service to the Commonwealth of Virginia, and to the people of our community.
I think I was part of the first bi-partisan act of Mitch's service in the House. The morning of January 6th, 1981 was brutally cold at six in the morning. I was Tom Albro's driver, and Tom and I, alone with Mitch and his driver, were standing in front of the Rose Hill Drive precinct, waiting to meet voters.
Mitch had made sure that there was an industrial-strength gas heater there, and invited Tom and I to come over and get warm. The four of us still froze our butts off, but that morning I learned from Mitch that you shouldn't let an election stand in the way of being a good neighbor.
If you remember how cold it was that morning, you how thankful we were that morning.
While we may have disagreed politically with him at times, he gave this community many years of his time in public service. So, Mitch, thank you for everything that you've accomplished for Charlottesville and Albemarle County.
With a deep sense of duty and great determination, I am grateful to accept your nomination.
Over the past few months, I have carefully considered whether I should seek a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates. During that time, I have consulted with family and friends, Democrats and Republicans, business associates and members of the Virginia Legislature.
Many -- Democrats and Republicans alike -- encouraged me to run, because they believe that I will bring unique qualifications and experience to Richmond.
They have told me that running a business, with experience in creating jobs, meeting payroll, and dealing with regulations and taxes, will help me to understand the need for responsible economic development. Further, they believe that my experience brings knowledge of how to implement solutions that work.
They have told me that my service as the Founding Chairman of the Virginia Piedmont Technology Council, and helping to bring that organization to life, shows leadership that insures that I will represent them well in the Legislature.
They have told me that my time on advisory committees to the Joint Commission on Technology and Science, making real decisions on real legislation, means I understand how the system works. They believe that I will be effective early and that my first year won't be on the job training.
But mostly, they've told me that they want results. They're tired of politicians who confuse studies with solutions and rhetoric with reality.
So, when I go to Richmond in January, I'll focus squarely on results:
I'll work to streamline state government, so we can afford to reduce the increasing burden on taxpayers.
I'll work to protect your privacy, so identity thieves and corporate snoops will get the message: "Not in Virginia".
I'll work to bring sense to transportation policy, so we can spend less time in traffic and more time where we want to be.
I'll work to bring fiscal stability to the Community College System, so every Virginian has access to knowledge and skills and -- most of all -- opportunity.
And, I'll work to transform public education. We will do more than assure that no child is left behind. Every school, and every child in Virginia will lead.
Now, I want to take a moment and talk about the "Conventional Wisdom". Conventional Wisdom says that Republicans in the 57th, no matter how good our ideas, can not win. Conventional Wisdom believes that members of the other party, no matter how ordinary their ideas, can not lose.
Conventional Wisdom is wrong. In fact, Conventional Wisdom has a track record of being wrong around here.
Conventional Wisdom said that a Democrat would win "Mr. Jefferson's seat" a few years ago. Well, Rob Bell proved Conventional Wisdom wrong.
Conventional Wisdom said that no Republican could win a seat on the Charlottesville City Council. Well, Rob Schilling proved Conventional Wisdom wrong.
Conventional Wisdom has some believing that election for this seat is next week -- that no Republican will represent the 57th.
I believe otherwise.
I believe good ideas trump party affiliation. I believe that vision trumps party dogma. I believe that the imperative of the future trumps few political elites that would hand pick a Delegate.
So, when Conventional Wisdom tells you that the election for delegate is next week, and not in November, just smile when you think, "Conventional Wisdom is wrong. Again."
We have a tough campaign ahead. But do not doubt that we can meet that any challenge together.
Speaking about our nation, Robert Kennedy once said: "Our future may lie beyond our vision, but it is not completely beyond our control. It is the shaping impulse of America that neither fate nor nature nor the irresistible tides of history, but the work of our own hands, matched to reason and principle, that will determine our destiny. There is pride in that, even arrogance, but there is also experience and truth. In any event, it is the only way we can live."
I am running for the Virginia House of Delegates. I run, because I believe in Virginia¹s future. There is pride in that, even arrogance, but there is also experience and truth and faith.
I believe in the intellect and industry of the people in my community, and I delight in their accomplishments every day. In the end, that's why I decided to run.
I am grateful for your nomination today. In response, I say to you, "I am running for the Virginia House of Delegates, and I am running to win". There is pride in that, even arrogance, but there is also experience and truth and faith. In any event, it is the only way I can live.
Thank you for this nomination and this opportunity.
I look forward to representing you in the legislature.
Randolph Byrd's characterization of Tom McCrystal as a "brawler" reminded me immediately of the famous passage from former President Theodore Roosevelt's speech at the Sorbonne in April 1910:
"It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by the dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worthy course; who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who, at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly; so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat."Far from token opposition, McCrystal promises to be a scrappy adversary to whomever comes out on top in the June 14 Democratic primary, whether it's Rich Collins, Kim Tingley, or David Toscano. None of the three will not be able to slide comfortably into office; they'll have to work for it.