A Voice of Reason Counters Bob Purkey

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Peter Schmidt is a political veteran. Former Virginia Beach City Councilman and Director of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, he is also a former Republican. He opposed Delegate Bob Purkey (R-Virginia Beach) in the 2005 primary for that seat. At some point, like many other new Democrats, he came to understand under which tent flap he properly belongs. Purkey, who claims he had to be convinced to run again, is looking over his shoulder.

Why the change of colors? The Virginia Republican Party, he explains, has been pushed so far to the right, that it can no longer embrace a centrist candidate interested in progress. The adventure in Iraq made the departure the easier. He describes himself as a fiscal conservative and a social moderate. He emphasizes that everything we do outside our soul is predicated on a healthy economy. A big part of the problem with accomplishing anything in the legislature is that the members focus more on reelection than on what is important to Virginia. "This legislature has squandered opportunity after opportunity" and he sees the chance to help get it off high-center.
Some of the issues he takes on:
  • Transportation
  • Access to health care
  • Education
  • Conservation and the environment
  • Energy policy
  • Ending unfunded mandates
Purkey will be difficult to beat. He is a committee chairman and he will be well-funded. “I am going to do it the old fashioned way,” Schmidt says, ”I am going to be on the streets.” In that district, going door to door for Jim Webb, the residents would at least discuss the issues and the candidates; possibly because, not unlike Schmidt, Webb had been considered a Republican at one time and his professional accomplishments struck a chord. The district has a large portion of independent moderates or moderate independents, so it will be Schmidt’s job to convince them he is nothing other than a practical person, socially concerned about issues that we have not addressed, fiscally responsible, and trying to represent good ideas on both sides of the aisle.
I appreciate passion in politics but I also believe you need constructive conversation.
In the same way he runs his business, he doesn’t care whose idea it is if it can move us forward. “Right now, the House is locked down and this is doing the Commonwealth no good. Even if Purkey were the best delegate in the Commonwealth, he would have to still do the bidding of his party’s Speaker and that means there is no winning for the people in the district with Purkey in the seat.” The demographic of the district is moderate right, but it is possible to pull votes from Purkey to add to those who already oppose him. And there already are a number of Republicans who have demonstrated that they preferred Peter to Purkey.
Mark Warner has shown that if you can convince people that you have no hidden agenda and that you are being intellectually honest with them, you can touch them.

Read the complete report at Blue Commonwealth