Mar 2, 2010

Tea Party plays host to candidates

by Melinda Zosh

They carried signs into a packed auditorium. Their silent protest was clear. They had had enough of the Obama-Pelosi-Reid-Perriello administration.

The silence broke when Lynchburg Tea Party chairman Mark Lloyd interacted with the audience.

“How many of you were happy when Obama got all kissy face with Hugo Chavez?” Lloyd said.

“No!” the audience shouted in unison.

Community members and Liberty University College Republicans gathered at Brookville High School Feb. 27 to hear seven conservative candidates who are vying for the Republican nomination in the June 8 primary election.

The chosen candidate will run for Rep. Tom Perriello’s (D) seat in the Fifth Congressional District in the Nov. 2 U.S. Congressional election.

The Lynchburg Tea Party hosted the grassroots event. WSET’s Len Stevens moderated a question-and-answer debate between the seven candidates: Virginia Senator Robert Hurt, Ken Boyd, Mark McPadden, Jim McKelvey, Laurence Verga, Feda Morton and Ron Ferrin.

Lloyd asked the crowd to evaluate the candidates. Audience members voted at the end of the night for the candidate whose values most closely match their own — representing a limited government, free market economy and Constitutional principles.

“If you are looking for a leader, look in the mirror,” Lloyd said. “This is a job application, and you are the boss. They are here to represent you.”

In the first round, 14 questions were given to three candidates at a time. The first question asked candidates what they would do if their principles conflicted with those of their constituents.

The candidates wanted to create more jobs and cut government spending. McPadden and McKelvey voiced their opinions against pork barrel spending and earmarks.

“This country is in a crisis,” McKelvey said. “We are going broke and heading toward bankruptcy. It has got to be fixed and fixed now. I’m the man to do (the job).”

The National debt is a problem that today’s young people will be paying for years from now, according to McPadden.

“I would like students to understand that the things I am working for are not for me,” McPadden, a father of four, said. “The government has taken opportunity away from you by spending your money today and making you pay for it in the future.”

Several Liberty students including freshmen Meagan Vance and Israel Jackson have joined Ferrin’s campaign. Vance joined Ferrin’s campaign after he spoke to her government class.

“As a Christian, I need someone who represents my values and does the most good for the people, and I feel like Ron Ferrin has that message,” Vance said. “It is vital to have someone (elected) who believes in what is right.”

Ferrin is relying on volunteers for his campaign, because he is a self-proclaimed “middle- class man” who is relying on donations to run his campaign. He is also one of the only candidates who has not hired a campaign manager yet, he said.

Jackson said his pro-life position and support for capitalism and the Second Amendment won him over.

“He is honest and very transparent,” Jackson said. “He will restore those principles that the founding fathers held near and dear to their hearts.”

People have forgotten most of Ferrin’s speeches, but they have not forgotten the way that he made them feel, he said.

“If you can connect on a person’s emotional level using anger, fear or humor, that drives the message deeper,” Ferrin said.

Liberty students campaigned for Hurt in the 2007 Virginia Senate election, and he hopes they will help him again.

“I have got a proven conservative record. I know what it takes to balance budgets, cut taxes and adopt policies that create job growth,” Hurt said. “That is the number one issue in the 5th District.”

Contact Melinda Zosh at

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