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Shad Planking Kerplunk

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Shad Planking photo 140414Wakefieldmap_zps3268f662.jpg The shad are running and Virginia politicians will swim with them today. Last year Democratic candidates gave the Wakefield Ruritan event a cold shoulder. The event’s organizers made an insincere attempt to dampen the tea party spirit, discouraging stars and bars. This is a charity event, they cried, after all.

This year Virginia’s senior Senator Mark Warner will deliver the keynote and his almost certain Republican opponent will make one of his rare public appearances. It will be informative seeing if Team Warner laid the groundwork for a more civil and less homogeneous atmosphere than this annual carnival for reactionaries nourishes. Earlier this year, they stumbled out of the block when, despite refusing to commit to Democratic events closer in than 60 days, they accepted the Shad Planking appearance well in advance. Maybe, tied to an old playbook, they failed to notice that last year’s Democratic statewide success demonstrated the irrelevance of the event. One would hope that the acceptance came with some assurance that the event would be more civil, sane, and inclusive.

The impact of the “traditional” sign war has diminished considerably since the Kaine and Webb surprises during the past decade. When this became a war of paid “volunteers” it was no longer a genuine indicator of anything more than a campaign bankroll. And if the intent is to make this event relevant, where is the outreach from the Ruritan Club or encouragement from more progressive constituents to draw in displays and support from the Democratic Party, the NAACP, or the LGBT community?

So what will today provide? Boney fish, cold beer, and the themes that Senator Warner will employ to shore up and broaden his own constituency, an impressive coalition of common interests. This could also provide the national bellwether for the Democratic strategy that will be used to counter this year’s onslaught by Republican reactionaries against the Affordable Care Act. There couldn’t be a more promising petri dish.  

  • LAS

    But he does seem to have a marked preference for the ones who vote Republican and live downstate. (The REAL Virignians?) You know, anybody but his base and the people he depends upon for money and volunteer hours.  

  • Prepared Remarks of Senator Mark. R. Warner at Shad Planking

    The Prepared Remarks of

    The Honorable Mark R. Warner

    United States Senator

    Commonwealth of Virginia

    66th Shad Planking

    Wakefield, Virginia

    April 16, 2014

    Thank you, John.

    I appreciate you working with me during my Administration.

    Folks: John has served Virginia throughout his life, including Lieutenant Governor [as a Republican] – and then in Cabinet as Assistant to the Governor for Commonwealth Preparedness [still as a Republican].  

    Together, we did some great work, and I thank you, John.

    Today we gather in these pines outside Wakefield to celebrate a great tradition – and the work of some good people.

    David, Chris, and Rob, thank you and your fellow members of the Wakefield Ruritan Club for what you do.

    It’s great to be back here in Southside.

    This is a special part of our Commonwealth, and I am proud of my ties here.

    Whether it’s bringing manufacturing jobs back to Surry County, like we did in 2004 with Windsor Mill; Or announcing broadband investments in Isle of Wight; Or standing with this community in the aftermath of Hurricane Isabel, I have many fond memories of this area and the folks I’ve met over the years.

    But nothing matches Shad Planking.

    The signs and buttons declare that we gather to talk politics, but we’re also raising funds for some great local causes.

    I am honored that this is now my 4th time as your keynote speaker.

    Of course, I know among this crowd I represent an endangered species – a Virginia Democrat.

    Not unlike Republican women, our numbers here are few.

    You know, they say the face of Virginia is changing.  

    I have been coming to the Shad Planking for nearly 25 years and as I look out over this crowd, the face of Virginia looks just about the same as it ever was: just a little more wrinkled.

    Coming to this event, I see many of my good Republican friends, like former Senator Allen.  It’s good to see you, George.

    I have a lot more sympathy now for how George felt about the speed of the Senate.

    I know there are four people seeking the Republican nomination to challenge me this fall.

    But Ed Gillespie’s former partner, Karl Rove, has already conducted extensive polling along K Street and declared Ed the nominee.

    Ed and I have some things in common.

    We both were born in places other than Virginia.

    We both were party chairmen.

    And, in November, we both will have faced a Senator Warner on the ballot.

    Unlike 1996, this year I am rooting for the Senator.

    Virginia is a wide and diverse expanse of geography and people who are bound by a common belief in working together for the common good.

    That is a trait upon which we have often relied in our politics when we have achieved our greatest accomplishments.

    Our best results require the efforts of people of goodwill in both political parties.

    Like when I was Governor, and together with Republicans we managed a budget crisis, left a billion-dollar budget surplus – and made Virginia both the best managed state and the best state for business.

    Throughout my career, I worked to forge progress in a bipartisan manner.

    Earlier this year, I was humbled to receive former Senator John Warner’s endorsement in this race.

    Yes, it was the first time he ever endorsed a Democrat.

    But more importantly, it was a recognition that over years of working together for a better Virginia, I had earned his respect and confidence – and that means a great deal to me.

    Every major piece of legislation I have introduced in the U-S Senate has had a Republican co-sponsor. That’s because the American people don’t trust either party enough to give them a blank check, and bipartisan means it’s in the country’s interest.

    Reaching across the aisle in Washington is not as easy or as welcome as in Richmond.

    The Virginia way – though difficult many times to achieve – is the better way.

    And it produces results.

    Now, the issue I’ve invested the most in is taking on our 17 trillion dollar debt.

    But today is not a day to talk about policy, so I’ll spare you my 45-minute PowerPoint on the budget – on how Democrats have to be willing to give on entitlement reform, and Republicans have to be willing to look at tax reform that generates some new revenue.  

    But I would like to end with a true story about a surprising issue that I’ve become closely identified with, from one end of the country to the other – an issue that really allowed me, as a first-term senator, to “pop” into the national headlines.

    A couple weeks ago, as I was driving to work, I called-in to a Norfolk radio station for an interview. Many of you here may listen to Rick Rumble’s morning show on rock station WNOR.

    We talked about the budget. We talked about the Navy. We talked about our successful effort to maintain a fleet of 11 aircraft carriers.

    And as I was about to sign-off, Rick said: “One last question, Senator Warner. Where do you stand on this nationwide petition to deport Justin Bieber?”

    I said: “Well, as a U.S. Senator, I don’t know. But as a dad of three daughters aged 19-to-24 – where do I sign?!”

    Considering I hadn’t given Justin Bieber one second of thought, that was a pretty good answer, right?

    So I get to Capitol Hill. I gave a speech, I attended a committee hearing, had a meeting or two. When I returned to my office around lunchtime, the place was exploding.

    Phones were ringing off the hook. My Twitter feed was going bonkers.

    I’d been invited to be interviewed live on TMZ or DMZ [whatever it’s called!], Access Hollywood and Entertainment Tonight.

    My press guy says, “Senator, you’ve gotten better press in five hours on Justin Bieber than you’ve received in five years of working on the budget!”

    But I also managed to unlock the key to getting the support of dads across the political spectrum.

    Thank you for inviting me today.

    Let’s enjoy the great camaraderie of this event – raise some money for the Wakefield Ruritan Club – and enjoy the unique Virginia tradition that is the Shad Planking.

    Thank you.