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Time for conservatives to reconcile

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By John Barnhart

    I don’t yet know, as of this writing, who won yesterday’s Republican primary. There is one thing I do know, however: 5th Congressional District conservatives will need to unite behind the winner if they hope to unseat Congressman Tom Perriello in November.

    If they don’t want to see Perriello back for another two years, Republican establishment types and TEA Party people are going to have to reconcile. The equivalent of a divorce will only give Perriello an easy path to reelection.

    Some of the candidates seem to represent an insurgency against the party establishment. Jim McKelvey appears to fit this description. McKelvey has been doing a lot of radio advertising and I’ve seen a number of his yard signs, so he is getting his name out. The possibility that he may win makes me think of a letter to the editor that we had some weeks ago from a long-time Bedford area Republican activist bemoaning the fact that a local insurgency, backing Nate Boyer, defeated Dolores Switzer’s bid to become chairman of the Bedford County unit. The lady complained that Switzer had paid her dues.

    Dolores Switzer seems like a nice lady. I think she did a great job organizing Republican headquarters last year and I think she would have made a good chairman. However, Boyer’s backers turned out lots more people for a mass meeting in April and he won.

    I suppose there are some 5th District Republicans who may not like McKelvey. If he wins, they had better accept that and do all they can to work for his election. Playing “I didn’t get my way, so I’ll just whine” will only work in Perriello’s favor.

    On the other side, McKelvey has vowed to back an independent or third party conservative bid if Robert Hurt wins. If Hurt wins and the conservatives who voted for somebody else adopt McKelvey’s attitude, then they will only hurt themselves. That’s because Tom Perriello, who is 100 percent liberal, will win the election and they will have helped sabotage the candidacy of somebody who is at least 90 percent conservative.

    Conservatives should expect Perriello to mount a tough campaign. He had plenty of money to spend back in 2008. As of the middle of May, he had a campaign war chest of a little more than $1.5 million, so it’s safe to say his 2010 campaign will be well-financed. He also ran a well-organized, creative campaign two years ago and I would expect him to do the same this year. He has already hired a deputy press secretary for the campaign who will work out of an office in Danville. The young man made his rounds of newspapers, including weeklies, in the district last month introducing himself to the news departments and leaving his card.

    Furthermore, as I mentioned in this space a few months ago, Tom Perriello isn’t the Antichrist. There  are a number of people in the 5th District who approve of what he has done in the House and would like to see him keep the seat for another two years.

    Conservatives can be a feisty bunch. A lot aren’t happy with some of the things they’ve seen the Republican Party do and the TEA Party movement, in turn,  makes some in the Republican establishment nervous. Nevertheless, the time for conservatives to duke it out over their differences is over. Republican unit chairmen have been seated throughout the 5th Congressional District and Republicans now have a candidate for the November election. It’s time for them all to work together to unseat the man who voted for the stimulus bill, ObamaCare and cap and trade. You can bet that the people who approve of those votes are going to be working hard to keep Perriello in the House of Representatives.