Focus | Morton: A ‘principled conservative’
Fifth District GOP candidate builds support toward run for party nod
Story by Chris Graham
The Fifth District is a living laboratory to Fluvanna County biology teacher Feda Morton, a veteran Republican Party activist seeking the GOP nomination to run for Congress in the Fifth. All Morton has to do over the course of the next 11 months is dissect a seven-candidate field in a June primary and then get to the heart of the Tom Perriello phenomenon that turned the Fifth blue in ’08.
“I’m very concerned about the economy, about states’ rights, about the people’s rights. I feel that our constitutional rights are being run roughshod over, and that we need to have principled conservative leadership in Washington to get back to what the founders meant for this country to be, and for the free-market and free-enterprise system to be stabilized so we can prosper. And Tom Perriello is not a match for the Fifth District, and is not voting the will of the people of this district,” said Morton, who has been working to build a campaign strong both at the grassroots and at the top, picking up the endorsements of Republican National Committee members Morton Blackwell and Kathy Hayden Terry.
The push from others at the head of the RNC for moderate Republican Virginia State Sen. Robert Hurt to get the party nomination has rankled conservatives in the district, including Morton, who has joined with the other five candidates in the race in being critical of the district GOP’s move to endorse holding a primary to determine the nominee over going the convention route.
Morton was the unit chair of the Fluvanna Republican Party committee for 10 years and served on the State Central Committee of the state GOP for four years, “so I’ve been a part of the party process myself as a conservative, and I’ve seen this battle between the party establishment and the grassroots over the years, and that’s a big reason why I’m running,” Morton said.
“I’m tired of the party picking candidates that don’t reflect the conservative philosophy of the Republican Party,” said Morton, who describes a Republican creed that is “very conservative, a very solid Reagan conservative philosophy of budgetary restraints, limited government, lower taxes, one nation under God, strong military and national defense.”
“We have a situation where the establishment in the Republican Party has preferenced one of the seven candidates over the others by this move to go to a primary,” said Morton, who remembers a straw poll at a summer Fifth District party meeting registering support for a convention over a primary in the 90 percent range.
“When Robert Hurt got in the race, the whole dynamic change, and the pressure was on to have a primary,” Morton said.
“I’m bothered that we’re having one candidate shoved in front of the others. I would have preferred a convention, but I can handle a primary, and I’m moving forward with a strong grassroots campaign,” Morton said.
Morton feels Hurt, who has come under fire from conservatives in the GOP base for his vote on a Mark Warner-sponsored state tax increase in 2004, and Perriello both have issues with their voting records that will be ripe for the picking in 2010.
“A principled conservative is going to be like night-and-day with Perriello,” Morton said. “If you put someone in there who has crossed over and voted for budgets and voted for domestic partners and voted for regional transportation authorities, you’re clouding the issue there, and you’re making it more difficult for conservatives to get behind somebody that has that type of voting record.
“There’s no question where Tom Perriello is on the issues. There’s no question he’s voting in lock step with Pelosi and Obama. And there’s no question he’s not listening to his constituents. Twenty-one town-hall meetings, and he was begged not to support health care, gave the indication that he wasn’t, but he’s right there with them. He’s going to give them his vote when they need it,” Morton said.