The year was 2011. I was the hotshot Spotsylvania Republican Committee Chairman, fighting to elect a Republican board and a Republican state senator from that county.
That was a redistricting year. In that year, the 56th House of Delegates district was redrawn to take in just 1 ½ precincts in Spotsylvania… including my (then) house.
My new Delegate, Bill Janis, was very friendly and outgoing in reaching out and assuring me Spotsy would be important to him. I was looking forward to electing him.
Then, 2 weeks before the nomination was to be confirmed in August, a bombshell: he was resigning from the House of Delegates to run for Commonwealth’s Attorney.
That set off a 2-week scramble to have a Republican nominee for the 56th HoD district. It would be decided by the unit chairs of the Republican Committees of the four counties (Henrico, Louisa, Goochland, and Spotsylvania) at a public meeting August 23.
I declared, as did five other good men: Graven Craig, Surya Dhakar, Dave Brat, Peter Farrell, and Jack Manzari. I remain friends with all of them to this day; they are all good people.
Immediately, the Establishment began attacking me; they were trying to force me out to make room for Peter Farrell, who is the son of Tom Farrell of Dominion Resources, a large GOP donor. Understandable- although Peter had his own accomplishments, including starting his own business and being 1st Vice Chair of the unruly Henrico Republican Committee.
Nonetheless, I forged ahead, gaining endorsements and traversing the state to gain support for my bid. Among the first people to call me, however, was Dave Brat. He invited me to meet him at the Bulls and Bears Club in Richmond to talk.
I accepted, not knowing Dave or what to expect. But I am so glad I went.
We sat down in some sofas and ordered some wine and just talked. He told me he was a conservative Catholic, a conservative, a former seminarian, a man passionate about his family and a man of principle. He is a very decent man, a man of God, a man anyone would want to be friends with.
Over the 1 ½ hour conversation I found all those things to be true. I was blown away by how good a guy Dave was- how genuine- and how if I didn’t win, I wanted him to.
He had also gotten pressure to bow out to the Establishment wishes. Neither of us would be cowed so easily.
Other than the job I could have done, I felt he could have done the second best. And I told the other unit chairs as much.
We parted better for the conversation, and as new friends. Ultimately, neither of us won the office; on the day of the Mineral Earthquake, Peter was chosen as the Republican nominee, and he has done a very good job as Delegate.
But I never forgot the genuine conversation Dave and I had that day. Ultimately, he won the endorsement of the Richmond TEA Party and I won the endorsement of the Fredericksburg Patriots TEA Party. We were eye to eye since then.
I returned to Spotsylvania to help retake our Board of Supervisors for the second time since Reconstruction, as well as help defeat a 28-year Dem incumbent to retake the State Senate.
And now Dave will be a Member of Congress representing the 7th District of Virginia.
And it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.
God has different plans for all of us, and now we know he had a special plan for Dave.
Sometimes, nice guys do finish first.