As to why a three-candidate Republican primary in the newly-created 13th state senate district in Virginia is attracting statewide and even national attention, the answer usually given is the name of the front-running contender in the August 23rd contest: John Stirrup.
Four years ago, Prince William County Supervisor Stirrup made headlines throughout the Old Dominion (and national news broadcasts) by introducing the “Rule of Law” resolution to deal with the rise of illegal immigration in his county and the resulting high crime rate.
“Because so many constituents told me they were afraid of living in the neighborhood where they grew up with more noise in the evening, more late-night traffic violations and an increase in robberies, I began studying what other communities did in taking tougher measures against illegal immigrants as a means of crime-fighting,” recalled Stirrup. He especially cited an interview with then-Hazleton (Penn.) Mayor (now Rep.) Lou Barletta in HUMAN EVENTS (June 4, 2007), in which Barletta described the city’s policy of denying permits to merchants and landlords who knowingly hire or rent respectively to non-citizens.
Prince William’s eight-member County Board never went that far. However, amid massive demonstrations by opponents and highly critical editorials from liberal press outlets such as the Washington Post, the Board in ’08 did enact a Stirrup proposal to permit police officers to ask people post-arrest whether they are in the U.S. illegally. If they were found to be non-citizens, the new law gave the lawmen authority to request their deportation by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) once their sentences were completed in Virginia.
Three years later, has the “Rule of Law” resolution worked in Prince William County?
“There’s no question about it,” replied Stirrup, who won re-election in ’07 with 63% of the vote, “There’s been a 41% drop in our hit-and-run accidents and our crime rate countywide is at a 16-year low.” Crime began to go down even before the law was implemented, he added, “because news of its coming convinced many non-citizens “to ‘self-deport themselves.”
Stirrup believes there should be a state or national law similar to the county law that he fathered. But as he campaigns in the August senate primary that is tantamount to election, GOP voters are realizing there is much more to the 54-year-old conservative activist than the causes of law enforcement.
A graduate of Seton Hall (N.J.) University (where he was active in the conservative Young Americans for Freedom), Stirrup was an official in the Reagan Administration. Along with wife Heidi (whom he met while both worked for their hero Reagan), Stirrup has long walked precincts and hosted events for conservative candidates in Virginia. He also was top aide to Sen. Tom Coburn (R.-Okla.) during the Sooner State conservative’s House days.
Like Coburn (who is hosting an event for Stirrup), the Virginian is a hard-nosed “small government guy” who points proudly to the AAA bond ratings his county has received from Moody’s, Standard and Poor’s, and Dun and Bradstreet.
“That’s because with attrition of county employees and ending duplicative programs and taking a business-like approach, we cut our $900 million budget and did more with less,” Stirrup told us, “My vision is to bring Prince William common sense to Richmond and cut enough from the state budget so we can make the road improvement Virginians need.”
Stirrup does face two primary opponents in the primary next month: deputy clerk of the Circuit Court Robert FitzSimmonds and former State Delegate Dick Black of Loudoun County. Although both are conservatives who differ with Stirrup on next-to-nothing, both have run unsuccessfully for office outside the 13th District—FitzSimmonds having lost four races against Democratic State Sen. Chuck Colgan in the neighboring district and Black having lost his re-election bid and an out-of-district race for Congress. The primary notwithstanding, many national conservative groups ranging from the Black Republican PAC to Citizens United have already weighed in for Stirrup.
Special Election Update
No surprise in California-36: Although Republicans had high hopes for Torrance businessman Craig Huey in the special U.S. House election last week, the outcome proved predictable in California’s 36th District (Los Angeles County). In a district which had given Barack Obama and Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown 64% of its votes, Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn defeated Huey—albeit by an unimpressive margin of 54% to 46%. The sister of former Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn heavily outspent Huey and had fund-raising assistance from Democrats nationwide, including Bill Clinton. The special election was necessitated by the resignation of nine-term Democratic Rep. Jane Harman to head the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars.
The Players in Weiner-land: Now that Anthony Weiner is out of Congress, the stage is set for an unusually competitive race to succeed him in New York’s 9th District (Brooklyn-Queens). Last week, Democratic leaders selected as their candidate Assemblyman David Weprin, son of the late Assembly Speaker Saul Weprin. In a major disappointment to GOPers, City Councilman Eric Ulrich finally opted not to run. Although state and national party leaders had encouraged Ulrich to make the race, a key factor in his “no-go” was reportedly that he is on the outs with Queens GOP Chairman Phil Ragusa. The GOP nominee will be retired cable TV executive Bob Turner, who drew a record 43% of the vote against Weiner last fall. The election will be September 13, the same day that six special legislative races will be held throughout the Empire State.