Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Susan Stimpson for Lieutenant Governor: Experience Matters

When I first heard that Susan Stimpson was running for Lieutenant Governor, I was intrigued.  A young attractive conservative woman could be quite compelling on the Republican ticket in 2013.  Solid conservative activists I appreciate and trust support Stimpson. Chris Stearns invited me to watch her announcement video and released a video personally endorsing Susan Stimpson.  Steve Albertson is as good as they come and also strongly supports Susan.  Patrick McSweeney and Russ Moulton are rumored to be strong supporters and early proponents.  There are even substantial rumors that Cuccinelli encouraged Stimpson to run and is supporting her.

While many good friends that I trust support Susan Stimpson I am concerned by her lack of experience.  My concerns about Susan Stimpson's experience relate both to her electoral and governing experience.

I.  Electoral Experience

Susan Stimpson has one election in her life.  In 2009, she won a board of supervisors race for Falmouth District.  She won this race with 2,424 votes in a four precinct election.  In the high water year for Republicans in Virginia she won with 50.07%.

While she currently serves as Chairman of the Stafford County Board of Supervisors, she has not run in a county wide election.  Like many counties across the commonwealth, this position is elected by the supervisors as opposed to the voters of the county.  This is important for people from counties like Prince William and Loudoun to keep in mind since in these counties the Chairman is elected countywide.  Susan Stimpson was elected Chairman in early 2012 after Mark Dudenheffer, the previous Chairman, won his race for delegate.

From a political perspective, why should we have confidence Susan Stimpson can win statewide?  Barely eaking out a win when Republicans won historically statewide does not inspire confidence in her ability to win.  There is also a world of difference between winning a race in 4 precincts vs. statewide.  Is winning four precincts once in a year when Republicans won overwhelmingly really proof that someone has the campaign abilities to win statewide.  When have we ever believed someone is qualified for statewide office because they won 4 precincts under three years ago?

December will tell us how good Stimpson's abilities are in fundraising and building a campaign organization.  However, she seems to have the weakest track record in these categories of any candidate for VA statewide office in 2013 on the Republican side.  

II. Governing Experience

Closely related to the issue of electoral experience is the issue of governing experience.  Susan Stimpson has held elected office for a little over 2.5 years, and has been Chairman of Stafford for a little over 6 months before running for Lieutenant Governor.  This seems to be a very small amount of time to claim credit for the number of reforms she claims to be responsible for.

More importantly though, this comparatively short governing experience means she isn't as familiar with state issues as others.  Candidates like Steve Martin, Scott Lingamfelter, and Jeannemarie Devolites-Davis have much more experience at the state level than Stimpson has at the local level: 24 (6 as Delegate 18 as Senator), 10 (as Delegate), and 10 (4 as Senator, 6 as Delegate) years respectively.  Corey Stewart has served on the local level for 8 years.  While I don't believe you have to have years of elected experience to run statewide, this can impact knowledge of the subjects.  Candidates like Lingamfelter and Martin have an intimate knowledge with state issues because they have sponsored legislation and voted on many of the issues at stake.

Peoples I know who have talked with Stimpson say she is great on principles but sketchy on the details.  This is largely a reflection of her inexperience with the issues.  If she doesn't work hard to learn them soon she may look very weak and inexperienced when on a stage with the rest of the Lieutenant Governor candidates.

As conservatives, nominating the right person is crucial.  Are we sure that making a person with very little experience our standard bearer the right way to go?  Am I missing something?  Does she have experience I am missing?  I am curious to hear responses from those supporting Susan Stimpson. 

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