For nearly four decades, the Labor Day parade in Buena Vista has marked the beginning of the statewide political season. Candidates for governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general (and, in even-numbered years, for U.S. Senator) walk the parade route, shaking hands with as many spectators as they can, and follow up with speeches in the pavilion at Glen Maury Park.
The event is virtually the only time that one can see all the statewide candidates speaking on the same platform. While each pair of competitors has debates lined up (the numbers vary from office to office, and according to the recalcitrance of those who fear facing their opponents in front of reporters or TV cameras), there are few -- if any -- opportunities to see and hear all three pairs in the same place at the same time.
This unique situation gives Buena Vista pride of place in campaign season. How this small city off of Route 60, just a few miles from Interstate 81, received this honor is lost in the mists of 20th century history. (Buena Vista's Labor Day parade parallels the evolution of the Shad Planking in Wakefield as an odd but significant annual political event.)
This year's speakers at Buena Vista's LaborFest included the incumbent governor, Tim Kaine, who is not running for anything but whose role as chairman of the Democratic National Committee gives him a national spotlight. Kaine used his few minutes on stage to praise the participants for keeping politics retail (and not reducing political campaigns to TV advertising) and to boost his party's ticket of R. Creigh Deeds, Jody Wagner, and Steve Shannon, who are running, respectively, for governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general. All three candidates were also present, along with Jeff Price, a candidate for the Virginia General Assembly.
On the Republican side, former Attorney General Bob McDonnell, the GOP candidate for governor, and his ticket mates -- current Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling and AG candidate Ken Cuccinelli -- also spoke, as did Sixth District U.S. Representative Bob Goodlatte and Ben Cline, who is running for re-election in the 24th District of the Virginia House of Delegates.
I was able to capture all of the candidates on video, but I missed Congressman Goodlatte's speech because of the need to change video cassettes in my camera.
But first .... here are some highlights from the parade itself:
The political speeches were preceded by the national anthem. Mr. C.P. Brinkley led the crowd in singing "The Star Spangled Banner":
Virginia Governor Tim Kaine was the first speaker:
The first candidate to speak was State Senator R. Creigh Deeds (D-25), who is the Democratic party's nominee for governor:
Deeds was followed (for a change of pace) by former Attorney General Bob McDonnell, the Republican candidate for governor. McDonnell's remarks are divided into two parts, because he spoke at greater length than any of the others.
Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling (R-Hanover) followed his ticketmate and preceded his opponent, Democratic nominee Jody Wagner (D-Virginia Beach):
The two candidates for Attorney General were next -- first, Delegate Steve Shannon (D-Fairfax County), followed by his opponent, State Senator Ken Cuccinelli (R-Fairfax County):
The final two candidates to speak are rivals for the 24th District seat in the Virginia House of Delegates, incumbent Delegate Ben Cline (R) and challenger Jeff Price (D):
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