Only Prince William Republicans appear at Chamber business debate

Seven Republicans vying for seats in the Virginia General Assembly sat inside the old courthouse at the Bristow Courthouse Historic Centre and took questions from me on Monday, September 30.

The Prince William Chamber of Commerce asked me to serve as a moderator for their debate to focus on state and local business issues.

I asked Republicans about their positions on maintaining Virginia’s “Right to Work” status and giving public money to large corporations like Amazon and Micron to get them to locate or expand in the state.

Richard Anderson, who is running to retake his seat in Prince William County’s 51st District, said the state should continue to promote workers’ rights to not be required to join a union, as it benefits businesses.

“If you always do what you always did, you you’ll always what you always got,” said Anderson.

Ian Lovejoy, whose running to unseat Delegate Lee Carter (HD 50-Bristow, Manassas) — a strong proponent of unions — also supports “Right to Work.”

  • A Manassas City Councilman, he also praised the $3 billion Micron expansion deal — Virginia’s largest economic development deal — for its plan to bring 1,100 high—paying manufacturing jobs to the region.

Heather Mitchell, candidate for House District 2 (Stafford, Woodbridge) wants the Northern Virginia region to better collaborate with the Fredericksburg region when it comes to transportation.

  • House District 2 (held by Democrat Jennifer Carroll Foy) straddles Prince William and Stafford counties.
  • The line between the two counties is considered to be the boundary of Northern Virginia and the rest of the state.
  • Continued population growth is blurring that line.

While I was expecting to moderate a debate on business issues, the event became a GOP forum.

  • The Prince William Chamber organized the event and invited candidates to attend.
  • Those invitations were sent about Labor Day, the Chamber said.

“…it came to my attention as we reached out to the campaigns that several of them somehow did not receive the email invitation, or the email went into the spam/trash folder automatically and were not aware of the forum. So by the time I was able to reach them, they were booked with other events,” Prince William Chamber Government Affairs Director Ross Snare said.

Today, I asked Democrats about why they weren’t able to attend.

Delegate Danica Roem (D-13, Gainesville, Manassas Park) hosted an event with VDOT on improving Route 28, which has been dubbed the most-congested road in Northern Virginia, that happened at the same time of the debate.

  • Roem told Potomac Local she prides herself on attending multiple chamber-hosted events to preview, and recap events during the legislative sessions.

A campaign manager for Dan Helmer, who’s running to unseat Tim Hugo, one of the only Northern Virginia Republicans in the House of Delegates, told me Helmer didn’t attend because the event conflicted with Rosh Hashanna, a holiday he celebrates.

Other Democratic seat holders, to include Jennifer Carroll Foy (HD 2-Stafford, Woodbridge), Elizabeth Guzman (HD 31-Dale City, Fauquier), Hyla Ayala (HD 51 – Prince William), and Luke Torian (HD 52 – Dumfries) said they didn’t attend due to scheduling conflicts, or that they didn’t receive an email invitation from the chamber.

The business forum comes after the Virginia Chamber of Commerce issued failing grades to Prince William County Democrats in its 2018 legislative scorecard.

  • Prince William Democrats received grades C through F.
  • The Virginia Chamber gave legislators points for championing its issues and docked points if they didn’t vote on a bill, or were not present to vote with an unexcused absence.

Lee Carter received an “F” from the Virginia Chamber.

  • Additionally, Carter’s got no love for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

“The U.S. Chamber of Commerce cited me by name as one of the reasons they were increasing their donations to the Republican Party by up to $52 million this election cycle. I have no expectation that they’ll be impartial, and neither should any Democratic candidate for office,” Carter told Potomac Local.

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