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Mark Obenshain: Republican Advance

The 30th annual Republican Advance was this weekend and I have to tell you: the future of the Republican Party in Virginia is bright. At the dinner last night, I shared, first and foremost, my gratitude for the many hundreds of dedicated Virginians who began doing the hard work of the canvass scarcely twelve hours after the polls closed on Election Night. Your support has meant so much to Suzanne, Tucker, Sam and me as this campaign has gone into overtime. And we are so grateful for those of you who participated in one of the recount training sessions this weekend and who plan to assist in the recount. We will be holding regional training sessions in locations across the Commonwealth onSaturday, December 14, so if you weren’t able to make it this weekend, stay tuned for further details.

obenshain2One thing that was clear from everyone I spoke with at the Advance is that we must retain our commitment to common sense conservative principles of limited government, individual liberty, and personal responsibility. Having a strong and united voice from the Republican Party guided by those principles will be more important than ever over the next few years.

But it’s not enough for us to be guided by those principles.  We need to talk about how they will make a difference in the daily lives of Virginians, and how they will help us secure a better future. We need to communicate our vision – one based on these shared principles — which are expressed so well in the Virginia Republican Creed.

As many of you know, when I was 16, I witnessed the largest political convention in American history to that time, attended by more than ten thousand delegates and lasting well past midnight. I’m sure I didn’t fully appreciate the significance at the time, but the next morning, I sat at the John Marshall Hotel with my Dad, Richard Obenshain, at a breakfast to celebrate his securing the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate. At that breakfast, to the surprise of many, one of his opponents, John Warner, came in, shook his hand, gave him a campaign contribution and offered to help him in any way he could in the fight to come.

They put their fight behind them.

This year, at another Republican convention, I ran against a dedicated public servant, Delegate Rob Bell, for the nomination for Attorney General. And I was grateful not only to those of you who supported me in the convention, but also to those of you who supported Rob Bell – because we ALL came together and worked together. You helped me and our Republican ticket by knocking on doors, making phone calls, and helping with events across the Commonwealth.

It speaks to Rob’s character and his commitment to the conservative cause that he was one of those fighting for our team. He was generous with his time, support, and advice.

If we take one lesson from this year’s election, I urge you to keep in mind that we need leaders who will set aside personal differences and disappointments and dedicate themselves to the good of the party, the conservative movement, and our great Commonwealth.

We need to build a unified party not by pointing fingers or kicking out those who don’t agree with us on everything, but by uniting around the principles that have brought success to Republicans – and more importantly, around good policies that promote liberty and prosperity.

I grew up in Virginia politics in the 1960s and 1970s.  There were times when we joked about holding Committee meetings in phone booths. (Of course, now we have a new generation that doesn’t even know what a phone booth is.) We understood that the ONLY way for us to win elections in Virginia was to reach out and to build coalitions.

We understood the need to give those who weren’t sure about Republicans a clear message about how and why our values, our policies, and our principles would address the issues they cared about most deeply.

Ronald Reagan often started his speeches by saying: “My fellow Republicans … and those independents and Democrats who are looking for a better future.”

Then as now, there were not enough Republicans to win.  We won in 1980 and in every other election in which we have prevailed by reaching out to conservative independents and Democrats.

In Washington, D.C. today, we are seeing the end result of big government arrogance and incompetence with the disastrous Obamacare rollout. After three years and $640 million, the federal government could not even build a working website. But even worse, despite the promises of President Obama and many Democrats, we’re now seeing hundreds of thousands of our fellow Americans losing health insurance plans they like and want to keep. Next year, all of us together are going to make sure we hold Senator Mark Warner accountable for being the decisive vote that gave us Obamacare.

But it’s not enough to oppose big government blunders and abuses. We must work to create jobs – good jobs – so we can give Virginians a hand up, not a handout.

We must work for educational choice, accountability and opportunity for communities where schools are failing their kids – and letting members of those communities that don’t traditionally support Republicans  know that we are fighting for them and for their kids.

We must stand for the protection of innocent human life.

We must argue that you are better equipped than the government to decide how to spend your hard earned resources.

We must continue to stand up for the 2nd amendment.

We must reach out to entrepreneurs and small business owners in immigrant communities before it’s an election year to explain not just why the other side is wrong, but how our policies will help them grow their businesses and create greater opportunity for their kids.

We are frankly playing catchup in a lot of these growing communities.  These are the political mission fields. We must start this work.

Whether as your Attorney General or in some other role, I’m going to continue to fight shoulder to shoulder with you  for conservative principles: mainstream principles that get results . . . and win elections.

Keep the Faith, God bless you, and thank you for everything that you do for the cause of freedom in Virginia.

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