Story by Chris Graham
What’s wrong with America, if you ask Laurence Verga, isn’t just with the direction that the Obama administration and the Democratic Congress is taking, but what their Republican predecessors did, or rather didn’t do, ahead of them.
“One of the reasons our country is in the challenged position it is in is because when we had Republican power in Congress and in the White House, it wasn’t the right type of conservatism,” said Verga, who is running for the Republican Party nomination in the Fifth District, which represents a wide swath of Central Virginia and Southside extending from the Charlottesville area to the North Carolina border.
The GOP sold itself to what some Republicans call “the RINOs,” for Republicans In Name Only, Verga said, “and didn’t do what was necessary to get the country on the right track.”
“If we were on the right track, we wouldn’t be in this condition now,” said Verga, a commercial real-estate businessman in Albemarle County, who decided to run for Congress after participating in a tea-party protest at the office of Fifth District Congressman Tom Perriello in the summer.
Verga is one of six candidates to have expressed interest in running on the Republican ticket. His chief rival would appear to be Danville State Sen. Robert Hurt, who will have the target on his back in the intrparty battle due to his vote for the 2004 budget-reform package backed by then-Gov. Mark Warner and a bipartisan coalition in the General Assembly that included more than $1 billion in tax increases.
Verga in his interview with VirginiaPoliticsToday.com this week said Hurt wouldn’t be a viable option for Fifth District Republicans “because in the world of state politics he has supported higher taxes and bigger government.”
“I think people who believe that a Republican is going to win just because he’s a Republican, and because this district has tended to lean Republican in recent years, that’s folly,” Verga said. “If it’s a middle-of-the-road Republican like Robert Hurt, what will happen is the grassroots won’t turn out, and I don’t believe he will win the election. He does not have what it takes to distance himself from Tom Perriello.”
Hurt seems to have been put at least a bit on the defensive at the outset of the nomination campaign. He stressed his conservative credentials in his October campaign announcement.
“As a conservative who has represented a significant portion of the Fifth District for the past eight years, I believe that now, more than ever, our district requires a proven conservative leader to serve as its voice in Washington,” Hurt said in the announcement. “As I have during my time in Richmond, I will fight to promote small businesses and new jobs, I will fight against the runaway taxing and spending in Washington, and I will always be a strong voice for our commonsense conservative Virginia values.”
Verga, for his part, is laying out a red-meat agenda focusing on tax cuts, the abolition of estate taxes and tort reform as the key to the solution to rising health-care costs.
“It’s not just about getting a Republican in office. Too many Republicans are middle-of-the-road, no-different-than-Democrats politicians. It’s getting conservatives in that would do the right thing for the country that is important,” Verga said.