Redistricting gave northern Virginia a new House of Delegates seat which picks up the northwest corner of Prince William County, runs out through Dulles Airport and ends around Route 7 in Loudoun County. This new 87th District’s somewhat strange shape so far seems to fit the somewhat strange political theater that has been playing out in recent weeks as novice political candidates start getting their campaigns together. Political season is always entertaining to political junkies, and when you have such massive confusion introduced by legislative redistricting, prompting novice candidates to vie for an open seat, the entertainment level really starts pegging the meter.
Two Republicans have announced their intent to seek the nomination in the 87th. Jo-Ann Chase, a conservative political activist and State Central member with ties to the Northern Virginia Tea Party and David Ramadan, an immigrant businessman, television commentator, and LCRC stalwart are gearing up for a nominations process that hasn’t been defined yet. On the Democrat side of the aisle, homosexual rights Mike Kondratick has changed focus from challenging Delegate Bob Marshall to running for this open seat. Not only will this be an interesting race to watch, but there’s already plenty of blog fodder swirling as candidates position themselves for primaries.
Of these candidates, I’ve known Jo-Ann the longest. She’s done yeoman’s work for conservative causes for a long time and been engaged in many of the issues I’ve been concerned with. She’s been dedicated and tireless, and it has made a difference. She is however one of the most exasperating people you will ever work with, armed with an absolutely unique talent of converting friends into enemies, driving people away from any cause she takes up, and utterly predisposed to perceive enemies and conspiracies where they simply don’t exist. One minute you think Jo-Ann is a visionary warrior for the conservative movement, the next you wonder if she’s off her medications.
There’s going to be a moment when this campaign is flying high and fast, looking tremendous right up to the point it noses down at Mach 2 and leaves a smoking crater of utterly spectacular proportions. It will be one of those momentous occasions where friends turn to each other years later and reminisce about the day Jo-Ann Chase’s campaign effectively ended. I hope that the ensuing collateral damage to the local conservative movement is minimal and short-lived.
I met David Ramadan recently and before agreeing to do some campaign videos for him did a little research to find out what basis Jo-Ann had for incongruously telling me he was a closet radical jihadist bent on imposing Shariah law on Virginia. I’d long ago learned to suspect anything Jo-Ann told me, but doing some due diligence here on a topic I’m pretty familiar with was definitely called for. I’ve torn into numerous candidates on both sides of the aisle who had connections to the Muslim Brotherhood and have been pretty relentless about it, and in the process of all that research gained a fair understanding of what the threat is and who the players are.
David did make an early miscalculation that could lead the more conspiracy-minded to wonder. Having Grover Norquist pimp for your campaign is a huge red flag. Norquis’s attempt to exert influence over CPAC and his involvement with the Faisal Gill campaign are deeply disturbing, and it’s not at all unreasonable for anyone to question a campaign where Norquist shows up to help. Beyond that, there’s nothing however. David Ramadan doesn’t seem to have any of the other connections that would immediately get me started on following a trail that leads to the all-too common unsavory Islamist characters. As troubling as Norquist is, basing a conclusion that David’s somehow a jihadist solely because the novice campaign made the blunder of having Norquist speak at an event is utterly irresponsible, and that’s the only ‘evidence’ Jo-Ann and her supporters actually have.
I had several hours to work with David during our recent filming saw a much different, and quite familiar story. I’ve had the great pleasure to get to know some people in the Lebanese-American community in the past, so I know a bit about the culture and the modern history of these people. Lebanon has more in common with France than it does a place like Pakistan and the country was utterly destroyed during a fifteen year long civil war by radical jihadists. During that time it went from the beautiful “Paris on the Mediterranean” to an utter, devastated horror that is difficult to imagine. The radical jihadists, and some brave nationalists stayed to try to sort out who would rule over the ruins, and a sizable number of western-oriented Lebanese fled. David Ramadan was among them.
These expatriates are the last group of people who might support Islamic law. Their education is western (David went to a Christian private school in Beirut), their outlook is thoroughly western, and they have a personal experience with the effects of radical islam we should hope no one else should ever experience. The jihadists wrecked their once beautiful homeland, were responsible for killing their families, and forced them to flee their homes. If you want to find anyone more committed to stopping Shariah law, look no further than the people displaced by those who sought to impose it on a westernized nation. David is even one of those folks radical islamists would consider an apostate, someone subject to summary execution because he was born into Islam and doesn’t practice it.
So here’s a guy who talks about freedom and liberty with the passion of someone who has personal experience with what it is like to live without it. Mounted on his wall is a four-point buck which he says is only there because it’s the first one he ever got. Pictures of him at dove hunts, and with impressive elk hang on his walls. So what happens when he announces his campaign at an LCRC meeting? A dozen people from Mike McHugh’s Virginia Gun Owner’s Coalition descends on the LCRC to protest David’s candidacy. Say what? How many more hunting pictures does David have to hang on his wall in order to satisfy these folks?
I’d call this silly, but that would be giving people too much benefit of the doubt here. No, this is deliberately stupid.
Of course this kind of bizarre attack prompts David’s campaign to fire back, and he ends up making the situation a little worse. That’s unfortunately what happens with a novice campaign when things get emotional. That makes for ready blog-fodder, and long discussions about this have already started over at the blogs that specialize in Loudoun County politics. Eventually these campaigns will get a bit more professional. Until they do, there’s your entertainment value for political junkies.
Although people are currently distracted with these bizarre claims that David Ramadan is somehow the opposite of who he actually is, and his rather imperfect efforts to defend himself from these claims, I doubt that’s going to be what entertains political junkies for much longer. When a campaign like Jo-Ann Chase’s starts out heavily negative before it defines what is actually positive about Jo-Ann as a candidate, when it bases the entire campaign on a laughably incompetent conclusion, and every activity of the campaign seems to elicit a discussion about mental health issues, there’s where you find long-term entertainment value, at least until the primary is over.
After that, it starts to get even stranger. Really.
The opinions expressed here are solely the views of the author, and not representative of the position of any organization, political party, doughnut shop, knitting guild, or waste recycling facility, but may be correctly attributed to the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy. If anything in the above article has offended you, please click here to receive an immediate apology.
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