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REUTHER: Electing the competent requires knowing the candidates
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REUTHER: Electing the competent requires knowing the candidates

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A poll worker hands a sticker to a voter at a polling place in Virginia.

The 2020 presidential election was noted for its massive turnout of voters. President Biden received 81,268,924 votes, while former President Trump received 74,216,154. It appears the Republican party views the loss as the result of too many Democratic voters, and its solution is to swamp state legislatures with voter suppression measures.

One example of recent voter suppression was to create long lines at polls by closing rural polling places, then to make it illegal for poll workers to give water to those standing in line. There is no well-run, customer-friendly business anywhere that could perceive long lines as good customer service. Why would we want to discourage voter participation this way?

Indeed, across our nation courts are striking down the recent efforts of several Republican-dominated legislatures to create restrictive voting laws in their states. Virginia’s legislature, however, with its Democratic majority, is not following the voter-suppression mob. The election this November for all 100 seats in the House of Delegates will be enormously important in blocking voter-suppression efforts by the regressive Republican minority.

U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger’s win in the November 2020 election shows us that voters in the 7th Congressional District are looking for competence above party affiliation. She has proven again and again that she is willing to reach across the aisle to represent all residents in her district.

Here in Culpeper, the recent election for Clerk of the Circuit Court resulted in 71 percent of the vote going to the only candidate with the qualifications and experience for the job. Voters understood that ideological posturing alone was insufficient to qualify an individual to run this important constitutional office.

Even so, our local Republican committee’s recent actions indicate that it wants ideological candidates up and down the ballot. They have endorsed candidates for the four open non-partisan Town Council seats this November. Former Culpeper County Republican Committee Chair Jon Russell, running for the non-partisan position of Culpeper mayor, has himself been endorsed by Republican office holders, as well as the local committee. Again, is absolute party loyalty more important than what is best for Culpeper? Should a party demand that their chosen candidates agree to promote that party’s creed and uphold “other values?”

Yes, Virginia is changing. There are more Democratic candidates running for House of Delegates this year than ever before. In our area, Annette Hyde, the Democratic candidate for the 30th District, has been introducing herself around Culpeper, Orange, and Madison counties. Those county committees are hosting a fundraiser and rally for Hyde at the Lake of the Woods Community Center at 3 p.m. this Saturday, July 24.

Rep. Spanberger will be the guest speaker. Attorney General Mark Herring will also be there, and other Virginia notables will offer video tributes. Culpeper’s independent-minded voters can get more information about how Annette would represent us in the House of Delegates at Sign up for the fundraiser at to meet her and hear her ideas. In addition, concerned Culpeper citizens in the northern part of the county will want to educate themselves about 18th District challenger Doug Ward.

Yes, something is in the wind. There is a huge pool of voters from all sides of the political spectrum looking for competence.

There are several highly qualified, intelligent, and independent Town Council candidates who have the best interests of the community at heart and who are not bound by regressive political creeds, party affiliation and endorsements. Voters understand that dogmatic posturing is not the same thing as governing effectively.

Educate yourselves about the candidates at all levels of the commonwealth and vote in your own best interests this November.

David Reuther, a retired U.S. Foreign Service officer, is a past chair of the Culpeper Democratic Committee. These are his personal observations.

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