Senator Northam’s Enigmatic Opponent


    Myth plays a central role explaining the discontinuities of our experience. Ayn Rand’s fundamental warning to check assumptions is often the first tenet ignored by her tea party disciples. Life by anecdote is so much more pleasant. The sky in Ben Loyola’s world must be a pleasant azure.

    One senses in Ben Loyola’s quiet and gentle demeanor that his world view is very settled. The refined Virginia Beach Republican is an accomplished naval aviator and businessman. He’s an immigrant success story. A regular at almost every Republican event in his now former district, he is most comfortable with those sharing his “conservative social values,” calling himself a “Pro-Life, Pro-Family, Pro-2nd Amendment, Fiscal Conservative.” It feels good to belong.

    Senator Northam’s opponent for the Virginia 6th isn’t really running for the Virginia Senate; he is continuing his campaign for the U.S. House of Representatives. He doesn’t really want to represent the 6th District; he has no substantial ties there but it was the only one handy. The filtered lens is everywhere in the candidate’s life vitae and the focus isn’t on the district’s issues or Virginia’s. There is no concern for the Chesapeake Bay, blue crabs, manufacturing and transportation on the Eastern Shore, or anything remotely essential to the constituency beyond his uncontested support of national defense. If he can find Mobjack without a GPS or even knows where it is would be a surprise. He strums the heartstrings of the tea party (and that tune plays in some parts) but at some point Loyola is going to turn and say, “Brian, we’re not in Virginia Beach anymore.”

    One wants to reach out to Loyola and ask him what he really thinks was in it for Jamie Radtke when she endorsed him for the Republican nomination. Up on the air in the week before the choice was decided, Radtke enthusiastically enumerated his qualifications for a seat in Congress, calling for his nomination to a completely different position. She has nothing to lose by the endorsement but stands to gain the gratitude of a well-healed donor/supporter in her own primary against Mr. Allen. Concurrently, Mr. Allen had nothing to lose by staying out of a local dustup; it’s not as though Loyola isn’t going to eventually support his candidacy or he needs Ben’s dough.

    On the Monday following the DPVA summit last month, the RPV was up on the air with an ad attacking Northam (and another, Senator John Miller) announcing the website “” The audio of the ad is available on the website. That ad is high production quality and didn’t come cheap. On the other hand, the producers were a little giddy when they edited my video of Senator Northam on the Eastern Shore. They generously left in the part where Senator Northam explains to the gathering, “I don’t like taxes any more than anybody else, but I think (gas taxes are) the fairest user approach…” Isn’t it the tea party that wants everyone to pay their fair share? Or is it that they don’t want to pay for anything? Or maybe they can only cherry pick the facts that support their personal myths with half truths.

    Loyola can’t win on the issues that are the purview of a Virginia State Senator and the concern of Northam’s constituency. Loyola’s strategy is to discourage Democratic turnout rather than debate Senator Northam. That might work with the leaderless DPVA running the counter-strategy. And this may be where Northam and the DPVA part ways. There is no finer gentleman than Ralph Northam in Virginia politics. He will not allow the DPVA to force him into the pig slop of making personal attacks. He will run on the issues, not away from them. The DPVA is not very adept at this technique. For that reason only, Loyola has a prayer.  


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