Republicans hold fall picnic to rally Fluvanna base

By Tricia Johnson


About 80 Fluvanna Republicans gathered under stormy skies at Pleasant Grove on Saturday, Sept. 28, for their party’s annual fall picnic.  Attendees heard speeches from Delegates Rob Bell and Lee Ware, state Senator Mark Peake, and Kim Hyland, who is campaigning for the office of Fluvanna Treasurer. Congressman Denver Riggleman, who had been slated to speak, cancelled because of a scheduling conflict.

Local Republicans had the chance to chat with their elected officials one-on-one, and sat under the pole barn to eat before the speeches began.

Fluvanna Republican Party Chair Darrell Byers said the purpose of the annual event is to rally the Republican base in Fluvanna.  “The 2019 election cycle is really critical,” Byers said, “particularly as it relates to our Commonwealth.  It will definitely change the political landscape if one seat is lost or one seat is won,” he emphasized.  He added, “We are really just trying to maintain what we have in the House as well as the Senate.”

Byers explained that guest speaker Kim Hyland, the only candidate for local office to speak at the picnic, had not won the endorsement of the Fluvanna Republican Party, but rather was invited to speak when she attended their most recent committee meeting. The other candidates for treasurer did not attend that committee meeting, and so were not invited to the event.

Delegate Rob Bell, who has represented the 58th district in the Virginia House of Delegates since 2002 and who is up for re-election in November of this year, said these annual local political gatherings are a chance for elected officials to talk to the people that are likely going to be volunteering for their campaigns and working at the precincts. “Traditionally the people that come are the ones that are excited to meet the candidates,” he explained.

Bell added that he has always felt welcome in Fluvanna and commented on the unity he sees among his constituents here. “When something happens in the community, the whole community comes together,” he observed. “For instance, when Dakota Rigsby passed; that was a time when the whole community came together –  he was a Fluvanna son, “Bell emphasized.  And certainly,” he added, “when good things happen – like when they won the state title,” he smiled, “all the Flucos were happy that day.”

Delegate Lee Ware, a Powhatan resident, has represented the 65th district in the House of Delegates for 21 years, and is up for election this November.  He described Fluvanna as “a wonderful part of the heart of Virginia.”

Ware is currently focused on Virginia’s financial standing.  “As chairman of the House Finance Committee, which deals with tax policy – not the spending policy, but tax policy – obviously I am continually focused on the budget,” he said.  He added that he wants to “make sure we maintain that solid Triple A rating and sensible budget that we have been known for historically.”  Ware said he looks forward to serving and representing Fluvanna again in the coming term.

Later in the evening, Byers said he was “very pleased with the turnout and encouraged by the engagement” of those who attended.

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