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Saxman explains decision

I met with Chris Saxman for an hour and a half Tuesday morning to talk school choice, an issue that the Staunton Republican has made his issue in his eight years in the Virginia General Assembly. I remarked to my wife after sitting with Saxman that it struck me as odd that in the course of our long interview, for a story in the August issue of The New Dominion Magazine, Saxman didn’t once mention his re-election campaign.

Now it all makes sense.

“I knew then. I did. And I felt badly that I didn’t tell you,” said Saxman, who announced on Friday that he is withdrawing from the 20th House District campaign, citing his desire to focus his political energies on advocating for issues and specifically highlighting the school-choice issue.

Last year, Saxman formed School Choice Virginia to push the issue of public- and private-school choice higher on the state policy agenda.

“It’s weighed on me because these other things have been taking my time, and really – spending a lot of time on the road, exploring them, and just recently, the last couple of weeks, they started to come together, with some intensity and with some encouraging signs that this could be something significant,” Saxman told me in a one-on-one interview following a news conference at his home in Staunton.

“I thought, Well, wow, I either have to keep it going, take it to the next level, or it’s going to go away. And I don’t want it to, because I’ve been working on them so long, been investing my time, and I think I might have more of an impact, a favorable impact, on society if I did that instead of stayed in the House for two more years, and I couldn’t guarantee that I’d stay in the House for two more years,” Saxman said.

“You’ve just got to make those tough calls in life sometimes. But the tougher the call, I always think, it gets easier,” Saxman said.

When Saxman and I met earlier in the week to talk school choice, we also discussed his busy schedule. We’d had trouble getting together for an interview because of work and family demands, including a run of youth baseball games that has left him with a bad case of “bleacher-bottom syndrome” of late.

“Even though we go to probably 200 games a year each, we still miss some, and we miss those moments that you never get back,” Saxman said.

“When my son said last week that he wanted to go fishing, I thought maybe I wouldn’t be able to take him fishing. I don’t ever want to be able to say to my kid that I can’t take you fishing,” Saxman said.

I asked Saxman about what’s next for him, and he pointed to school choice. “At the end of the day, you’ve got to be able to take these things and believe in them and get them to the next level. And then maybe look at something else in your life. But these things are a strong passion of mine, and I want to work on them,” Saxman said.

He isn’t ruling out an eventual return to the electoral fray. “If these things go the way I think they could go, I’d be happy doing that. And if they don’t, they don’t. And if I feel I can best make an impact by serving in the public sphere again, I’ll ask the public to put me back. But this is not what I’m intending to do,” Saxman said. “I have no race in mind. I have no date in mind. Other than that I have a 7-year-old, and he’s got about 11 more years in this house, and then maybe we’ll do something. But until then, we’ve got some management of these kids to get through.”

 

– Column by Chris Graham


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