WINCHESTER — Campaign signs peppered the lawn at West Oaks Farm Market in Frederick County on Tuesday as the eight candidates seeking the Republican nomination in the state Senate District 1 race shared their views during a forum.
The GOP primary is June 20, with early voting already underway. The newly redrawn district includes Frederick, Clarke, Shenandoah and Warren counties and the city of Winchester.
Candidates vying for the Republican nomination are Lance Allen, John Massoud, Dave LaRock, James Bergida, Brad Pollack, Brandon Monk, Blaine Dunn and Timmy French.
According to the Virginia Access Project (VPAP), the redrawn district favors Republicans. Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) received 68.1% of district votes in the 2021 gubernatorial election while former President Donald Trump received 62.8% percent in 2016.
Several of the candidates said that most of them are likely united on most issues. But primary voters must decide which one has the track record and personality to represent the district in the Virginia General Assembly, they noted.
During the forum, hosted by the Small Business Freedom Alliance, each candidate had 5 minutes to address the audience from a podium.
LaRock, who represents the 33rd District in the House of Delegates, is the lone candidate with experience as a state legislator in Richmond. Touting his 10-year voting record, he described himself as having been ranked the most conservative member of the state legislature, citing a 2021 Roanoke Times editorial.
“I’m running because I don’t like to walk off the battlefield when I feel I am needed,” LaRock said. “This is not the time to try someone out. You need an action-oriented, battle-tested person.”
“I held two ‘stop-the-steal’ rallies, and I rallied in Washington on January 6, and I would do it again if I have the opportunity,” LaRock told the crowd. “When something’s wrong, you fight. It cost me a good committee assignment. I sued [former Gov. Ralph] Northam when he passed illegitimate COVID business regulations, rallied with high school kids to defy mask mandates.”
LaRock also mentioned he was one of three Republican state legislators to pen a January 2021 letter urging former Vice President Mike Pence to nullify Virginia’s certified election results. This led to former House of Delegates Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax) stripping LaRock of a committee assignment.
On his campaign website, LaRock publicly condemned the forced entry, violence and property destruction at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, but said he was honored to “walk among the hundreds of thousands of patriots who traveled from far and wide to peacefully protest the 2020 election,” The Star previously reported.
He has been accused by Democratic lawmakers of encouraging the violent riot at the Capitol and spreading conspiracy theories about the 2020 election. He’s recently moved from Loudoun County to Clarke County, making him eligible to enter the Senate 1 race.
LaRock said he has crafted the only anti-critical race theory bill to advance to the Senate chamber, adding he has had more bills vetoed by Democratic governors “than probably any other member of the legislature.”
He went on to blast Democrats.
“I’m helping kids to get an education without being exposed to sexually explicit garbage and groomed to be little Marxists. For ten years, I’ve been fighting the left’s insidious lies about human sexuality, which by the way are completely incompatible with Christianity,” LaRock said. “We need to invite Democrats onto that hill they are ready to die on and accommodate that political death wish. You can win when you call out the absurdity, sexual absurdity, climate absurdity, election absurdity.”
John Massoud, a former Strasburg Town Council member and the current Virginia District 6 Republican chairman, has raised the most money — $202,000 — out of the eight candidates. He is followed by Allen at $171,000 and LaRock at $140,000. Massoud has called himself “the clear conservative choice” in posts on his Facebook campaign page.
“Ours is the greatest nation and the greatest experiment known to mankind, the right that each of us has to succeed or fail, yet this is being taken away from us bit by bit, drop by drop, by a bunch of radical leftists,” Massoud said. “Pretty much everyone else here would agree, we don’t recognize this country anymore.”
Massoud noted that Strasburg cut expenditures by 5% in his time on the panel while continuing to fund key departments such as law enforcement.
“Everyone says let’s cut the waste, we actually did it,” he said.
“I’m not the prettiest candidate here, but I’m the work horse. I am the legislative tough guy. Other people will talk, I will do,” Massoud said.
Lance Allen, an Air Force veteran who has been backed by Veterans for Trump and wore a bright orange “Guns Save Lives” pin on Tuesday, spoke about school choice — a policy a number of the candidates highlighted at the forum. Parental rights initiatives have been a galvanizing issue for Republicans in recent years.
School choice refers to programs and policies that let families use public money to access schools beyond their local option, including private schools.
Allen’s legislative priorities also include repealing the red-flag law, introducing “constitutional carry” and nixing Virginia’s personal property tax as well as the tax on retired veterans’ incomes.
“I have no desire go to Richmond and keep on with the status quo,” said Allen. “Never in our history has the government voluntarily reduced in size. Send someone to Richmond who is going to right-size the government, and that means limited government. It means restrictive government.”
James Bergida, a professor of political science at Christendom University in Front Royal, said he is the sole educator in the race, before saying over-regulation in Virginia beleaguers small businesses.
He also noted the need for more funding to relieve Interstate 81 traffic-related issues and for reliable internet in rural areas. He also supports school choice policies.
“As was said in my introduction, small business is in my blood. In California, folks who want to start to start a small business have to go through forty-one agencies in order to open operations,” Bergida said. “Virginia might not be as bad as California, at least not yet, but we are heading in that direction unless we choose a destiny that honors our Virginian heritage and liberty.”
Brandon Monk, the Frederick County School Board’s chairman, also addressed education.
The winner of the primary will face Democrat Emily Scott in the General Election on Nov. 7.
About the pandemic and his role on the School Board, Monk said, “We look back to that time, and we look to see who was advocating to have students unmasked, to get back to in-person learning, and to make sure that the craziness of that woke agenda was out of our school system — and I stood alone for a while in that regard. Since then, we’ve hired a superintendent who is pro-parent.
“The urban areas don’t understand our rural values,” Monk continued. “I will stand up for what we believe in as conservative Christians in this Valley.”
Overall, many of the issues that heated the divided state legislature last year loomed large at the forum.
Brad Pollack — a Woodstock-based attorney, retired U.S. Marine Corps Reserve lieutenant colonel and Shenandoah County supervisor — underscored portions of his record litigating on behalf of clients.
Pollack was introduced at the forum as having represented “mentally disabled brothers who were swindled out of their farm” and litigated “the illegal bonds used to finance the RSW Regional Jail.” His introduction added, “He sued Governor Mark Warner and Marvin Bush (favorite brother of George W. Bush) over their role in the corrupt Battle Creek Landfill in Page County” where he brushed up against “some national-level corruption.”
Pollack said also has tried to establish a militia in Shenandoah County, consistent with the Second Amendment.
Timmy French, a farmer in Shenandoah County, came from a family of nine children, and said he has much to offer in terms of enacting agricultural policy. In a quote on French’s campaign website, he criticizes “career politicians” who are “ruining this country and only care about themselves and the special interests.”
A conservative Christian, Blaine Dunn, the Frederick County Board of Supervisors’ vice chair, has said he is the candidate most equipped to draft legislation that will address the rapidly-growing Winchester-Frederick County metropolitan area — a pressing matter for the region at large.
He wants to change laws in Richmond so development costs can be borne by those moving to the northern Shenandoah Valley, as well as propose taxes on net profits instead of gross sales.
Dunn said he believes in a “traditional marriage,” has advocated “for an election day, not an election season,” and wants to end illegal immigration.
I have been following all the candidates for senate in SD1 since January. Some of these candidates have real problems as this article brings out.
We need someone who knows the issues, and can point out what’s wrong while still remaining positive, and can articulate an ideal way to correct the problems, and then persuade the senate to vote for those ideas!
I want someone who does not embody the the negative messaging that has given the GOP a bad name for being the uptight party of older frustrated white guys who gripe rather than get things done. We need to break out of that!
We really need someone in the senate who can pass common sense reforms, fix what is broken, and pass new laws to protect and improve the good things that we have going for us! We need someone who is smart, principled, persuasive, knowledgeable, likable, and positive. I believe James Bergida fills that bill.
I actually emailed several of the candidates who are running. Some of them I could not find any contact information on. I asked some very hard questions and out of the auto response from one candidate I did not receive any answers from any of the candidates that I emailed. That tells me all I need to know. If you are too busy to answer an simple email then you are NOT the candidate for me. They are elected to REPRESENT us. They are NOT our OVER LORDS. They are supposed to WORK for US and NOT their own interests or the interests of their select few friends. It's only when WE THE PEOPLE hold those we elect ACCOUNTABLE that we can begin to see true change.
What a pod of scary clowns. Gun loving clowns.
LaRock and battlefield? He knows nothing about a real battlefield. Additionally, he is a carpetbagger and only moved over the mountain for his political advantage.
There are plenty of others to choose.
LaRock left Loudoun because his ideas no longer align with the progressive electorate that makes up the majority of Northern Virginia. The only place that will embrace his fanatical Christofascist ideology is unfortunately the Shenandoah Valley. Where racism, bigotry, and misogyny are the order of the day. It’s simply an easier electorate for him.
Does this poison really inspire anyone?
A solid slate of candidates. Each preferable by any reasoned measure over anti "Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness" Democrats.
Is the Republican Party of Virginia *this* broken? Several of these candidates qualified their petitions just before the deadline, why?
Be careful my fellow Virginians. Be wary when you consider Timmy French as a ''good 'ole boy/he's just like one of us' candidate. He's not being honest when he says, "...'career politicians' who are 'ruining this country and only care about themselves and the special interests.” Timmy French is actually being propped up by career politicians, like Todd Gilbert and local millionaires, who need his vote (not his ideas) to curtail economic development in an area that needs better paying jobs, affordable healthcare, and a secure retirement. Timmy French and the career politicians he is criticizing are on the same team. Be wary. Let's hold candidate French the rest of the fanatical Republicans in Richmond accountable for their attack on our personal freedoms and standard of living in the valley. We deserve better. Much much better.
Let's ask them what their positions (solutions) are on women's reproductive rights, a living wage complete with healthcare coverage and retirement, engineering a recession on the shoulders of the working class, access to affordable healthcare, banning books, curtailing intellectual freedom, abolishing diversity/equity/inclusion efforts, and the one that's on everyone's minds, regulating weapons of war so as to stop the terror being inflicted on us by gun-toting fanatics. Let's hold these candidates accountable for their ideas and solutions.
See which one the Pr0gs whine/screech about the hardest... [lol]
Fanatical fascism comes to mind for just about all of them. All falling over themselves to further restrain our intellectual and personal freedoms. Scary.
Doc, don't fret about which one. They all have a factor between yawn and OMG.
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