Friday, April 25, 2008

Why I Support Tucker Watkins in the Fifth District

It's rare that I use this space to endorse candidates for political party offices (or even for elective public offices), but I think it is appropriate for me to add my voice to the many who are supporting Tucker Watkins in his bid to regain his post as chairman of Virginia's Fifth Congressional District Republican Committee.

Tucker is one of those remarkable individuals who possesses both depth and breadth of political knowledge. From his years of traveling throughout the district -- which is the largest, geographically, in the state -- he knows virtually all of the political players, both Republican and Democrat, whether behind the scenes or center-stage. What's more, he has a tremendous understanding of the economic, demographic, and social scene in the district and all of Southside Virginia. He has a mind that is at once analytical and synthetic, able to piece together bits of evidence into a coherent whole and apply what he learns in a practical manner.

After one of the Sorensen Institute's bloggers' summits a few years ago, Jon Henke and I stood outside a Charlottesville restaurant for about two or three hours, listening to Tucker talk about Virginia politics. As day turned into night, it became impossible to pull myself away from the conversation. As I wrote back then:

The conference also provided me with my first chance, in nearly six years of living in Charlottesville, to speak at length with Tucker Watkins, the GOP's Fifth Congressional District Chairman and Senator George Allen's eyes and ears in Southside Virginia. So far as I know, Tucker was the only non-blogging political operative at the conference, and his presence there showed once again what an astute political activist he is.

In a long post-conference conversation with me and Jon Henke on the porch of the Guadalajara restaurant at Greenbrier and Seminole Trail north of Charlottesville, Tucker offered a tour d'horizon of Virginia politics, and Jon and I engaged him on the 2008 presidential contest as well. I was impressed by Tucker's sophisticated take on Virginia's electorate, the key issues that will decide various races this year and next, and his breadth of knowledge of both national and state politics.

Senator Allen is lucky to have him on staff, and Tucker's long record of success in transforming the Fifth District from a predominantly Democratic to a largely Republican (or at least competitive) territory speaks for itself.
Tucker does have an opponent in this year's race for district chairman, and it would be a shame to let someone with less experience, knowledge, and wisdom take the post. That would constitute a real setback to the progress made in the past decade.

I am happy to offer my support to Tucker Watkins, and I will be glad to vote for him tomorrow at the Fifth District GOP Convention at Hampden-Sydney College.

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