Story by Chris Graham
Arin Sime would love to be engaging in the sometimes-heated discussions going on among 24th Senate District Republican Party nomination candidates Emmett Hanger and Scott Sayre on taxes and spending.
But Sime is biding his time – knowing that he will get his chance.
“I am kind of enjoying being able to just get out and meet a lot of people – knocking on doors and talking to people one-on-one while watching those two spend each others’ money before I have to. That’s kind of a nice role from a candidate’s perspective,” said Sime, an Albemarle County Libertarian who is already on the ballot in the 24th, in an interview for this week’s “New Dominion” Internet talk show.
As a Libertarian, Sime is a strong fiscal conservative himself – and as a fiscal conservative, he feels that the battle between Hanger, the incumbent, and Sayre, a Buena Vista businessman who has signed a no-new-taxes pledge, has not gotten too far beyond the very basics involving taxes and spending.
“That conversation has not been fully fleshed out. Even as heated a topic as that has been for the two of them, I don’t think we’re getting the whole story about the situation,” Sime said.
“We hear about the state having a potential budget shortfall of $300 million this year – well, neither of those candidates, to my knowledge, have pointed out that the state budget, even if this so-called shortfall happens, is still going to increase by three and a half percent this year. And that the supposed shortfall has been because they projected a six and a half percent increase – and they’re only going to get a three and a half percent increase,” Sime said.
“The realities of our budget process I still don’t think are being described to the voters in a completely open way – and so I am anxious to be able to take that message a little more directly to the voters after the primary is over,” Sime said.
Sime has been doing his part to that end already – touting his support for a Taxpayer Bill of Rights and other ideas that he has toward coming up with real solutions to the budget quagmire in Richmond.
“It’s fine for one candidate to say, I’m going to lower your taxes, and one candidate to say, My votes for a tax increase weren’t really an increase, it was just reform, and all this stuff that we hear from both of them. But I still don’t really hear real solutions,” Sime said. “I don’t want to hear candidates just saying that I need to pay more in taxes or just saying that we need to hold the line – I want to hear them saying, How are going to truly cut taxes and cut the growth of government. Because it’s not just holding the line – we’re talking about a state budget that’s gone up 118 percent in eight years. That’s too much.”
Sime realizes that when the dust settles on the Republican side of the ledger next week, he is going to have an opportunity to reach out to a new group of voters who have to now been focused on their own intraparty politicking.
“I think it’s probably safe to say that on most of the issues, certainly on the fiscal issues, I would caucus with the Republicans on that – because they’re a little more in my direction on that than the Democrats tend to be,” Sime said.
“But one of the reasons that I really value being an independent candidate is I don’t want to be beholden to any special interests when I get there in November and when I get there for session next year. I think that’s what happens to a lot of our candidates – they can say one thing on the campaign trail, but when they get there to Richmond, a lot of those lobbyists are going to come knocking on those doors and say, Remember me? And expect them to toe whatever party line,” Sime said.