Shenandoah County GOP


Blast from the Past
July 30, 2008, 10:21 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Readers, family, friends, and anyone unfortunate enough to be within earshot when I’m talking politics can tell you that one of my great loves is political history, particularly as it relates to Virginia politics in the last half-century. It’s an odd phenomena…… political stories grip the nation when they occur. During some of the coverage of this past race there’s been a peppering of references to elections past. But they often seem like a bit of an afterthought and sometimes a bit tacked on. Besides, every election occurs with its own personalities, issues, and circumstances. To try to say “This is 1976 all over again” can often be not just lazy journalism but lazy history as well. Elections are re-runs; American politics is one continuous story arc. I try to live by the maxim that all past is prologue, be it in teaching people about Belle Grove or in politics.

I visited the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley not too long ago. They have a very nice display up there and a number of very engaging exhibits. Yet there was not one mention that I could find of Harry F. Byrd and his machine, both in politics and business, that dominated Virginia and the Valley for over half a century. And again, it can be boring for many. People visit Belle Grove to hear about the Battle of Cedar Creek. But Civil Wars just don’t happen, and boys from parts of the south that are separated not just physicially but economically and culturally didn’t fight for the same reasons. But that’s for someone’s thesis. 

Rather than continue to prattle on about what I don’t like in the presentation of political history, I present you with two interesting articles:

-The first is a Roanoke Times sit-down with former Governor Linwood Holton, who in 1969 broke roughly a century of Democratic rule (not counting a run of Readjuster Governors). A progressive Republican, Holton has often been at odds with the party since, most recently in 2004 when he joined with other former Republican officeholders to decry the Republican Party platform. I can’t wait to get a copy of his memoir. 

-The second gives me pause with the title I chose for this post, since John Warner isn’t really off the scene yet (I get probably 6-8 editorials or blog posts each day in my Google Alerts regarding his recent comments advocating a 55 MPH speed limit nationwide), but this is still the first election for Virginia’s Class II Senator in over a quarter century in which Warner’s name won’t be on the ballot. If you can stomach talk of emissions control legislation, read this Style Weekly profile for a neat glimpse into Warner’s past. 

Fun fact: Warner and Holton actually ran against each other in 1978 for the Republican Senate nomination. If I remember correctly, Warner came in second and Holton came in third in one of the largest conventions in Virginia political history: well over 10,000 people ATTENDED (not registered to attend).

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