Tech entrepreneur Pete Snyder is running for Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, and for more than a half-hour Tuesday morning he talked the talk with Republicans at the Greenspring Retirement Community in Springfield.
"I want to rein in the size and scope of government," said Snyder. "You hear politicians talk about this all the time as budgets continue to rise. And when you look over the past 20 years, budgets in Richmond have grown by over 400 percent. The population of Virginia has only grown by 40 (percent). Something is out of whack. So, I want to make it a goal to rein government in by 10 percent. That's not that audacious, but the career politicians and others will tell you it can't be done. And that's the problem."
Snyder, 40, a resident of Fairfax County's Belle Haven neighborhood, founded New Media Strategies, a social media marketing firm, in 1999. After serving as chair of Mitt Romney's 2012 Virginia Victory campaign, he found himself depressed and couch-ridden in November.
It was Snyder's wife, Burson (deputy chief of staff to Republican U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri), who pushed him to enter politics. "She said: 'Where the heck is the guy that I married? Why don't you get off the couch and get off the sidelines and show some courage and actually get in the game?'" said Snyder.
And being a Republican in Virginia took a hit after the election, said Snyder.
"After Nov. 6 there was a lot of talk about our party. 'Can it survive? How do we grow?' We're getting clobbered with Hispanics, we're getting clobbered with women, we're getting clobbered with African Americans," he said. "Is there any hope whatsoever? And the first thing coming out of the pundit's mouth was that we need to throw our principles away; we've got to contort ourselves into becoming some sort of Democrat-lite.
"I'm sorry, folks. The last thing we need to do is throw out our conservative principles. We need to double down on them... Taking my brochure and putting it in Spanish isn't going to do a doggoned thing, but if we can talk to families about having your children trapped in schools that are failing and the only solution that government is providing is to shovel more money at it, and we can show a way to make an impact - that's how our party grows."
Snyder, a contributor to Fox News, faces competition in the race for lieutenant governor, from:
- Corey Stewart, chair of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors
- Del. Scott Lingamfelter (R-31st)
- State Sen. Steve Martin (R-11th)
- Former State Sen. Jeannemarie Devolites-Davis
- Susan Stimpson, chair of the Stafford County Board of Supervisors
- E.W. Jackson Sr., minister and former U.S. Senate candidate
The final candidate for Republican Lt. Governor will not be chosen in a primary, but instead at a Republican State Convention in April.
Snyder on the issues:
"I'm unapolagetically pro-life. I believe that life starts at conception. I believe that science is on our side."
On Teachers' Unions
"As far as taking on the teachers' unions: I not only want to take them on, I want to break them…
"I'm an outsider. I'm a little bit of a maverick. I've been like that in my business career. People have constantly told me, 'Pete, you're thinking too big. This is too hard to tackle. You can't create an industry that didn't exist.' I think it's wonderful to go toe-to-toe with the teachers' unions. They've had enough time, enough money and the results aren't happening in our schools."
On Tax Reform
"In this economy, I do not believe we should be raising taxes right now… The framework of the conversation always is that we have a revenue problem… I don't think that's true. I think we have a spending problem and we have our priorities often times in the wrong direction…
"I want to get rid of the corporate business tax to make Virginia a haven for all business, for small fries like me and also for medium and large companies too.
"I think we need to reexamine the entire business model of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and put in place conservative tax reform that streamlines, modernizes… with a goal of being revenue neutral, and you know what? If we can find some cuts and provide some tax relief for folks, we can do that as well. If we do that, and we look at as a goal of cutting and reducing the size of state government by ten percent, we will have plenty of revenue to tackle the major requirements of the Commonwealth of Virginia."
On the potential impact of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act on Virginia
"I think it's dreadful. I tried to do everything last year to help the entire (Republican presidential) ticket to defeat Obamacare and defeat President Obama. Unfortunately we fell short on that… Most recently we have Republicans that are looking to aid and abet Obamacare through the expansion of Medicaid. I don't think that's right. I don't think we should have Republicans acting like Democrats right now. I'm not a fan of Obamacare and I would fight it from every corner that I possibly can."
On the upcoming Governor's Race
"I am going to work my tail off to make sure we have Governor Ken Cuccinelli inaugurated next year. I hope to be right there with him as a conservative partner in reform as Lieutenant Governor. But heaven forbid that doesn't happen and we're looking at - and dare I say the words - Governor Terry McAuliffe, who the Democrats are nominating to be their choice for Governor - Terry McAuliffe is… the world's greatest fundraiser.
"No one has raised more money over the years than Terry McAuliffe. And the number one source for those campaign dollars for the Democrats and for Bill Clinton have been the liberal unions. So, you don't raise hundreds of millions of dollars… over the last 20 years from the liberal unions without a 'get' in the end.
"So, if they strike lightning and actually get this guy elected governor of Virginia, don't think for a second that they aren't going to come after our right-to-work laws. And as lieutenant governor, as the tiebreaker, I will make sure that does not happen."
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