There’s a candidate running in the Democratic race for Supervisor of Fairfax County’s Mason District who has left almost all his political experience off of his resume. And it’s not hard to guess why – because that candidate, Reid Voss, has a long history as a conservative Republican operative.
Read on and you will see that this is no wild allegation, but an easily documented fact. And it’s a fact that raises serious questions about Voss’ decision to keep voters in the dark about his political background and beliefs.
Reid Voss’ Professional Republican Career
For starters, would you believe that a candidate running as a Democrat to replace Mason District Supervisor Penny Gross was once the campaign manager for a Republican candidate…who ran against Gross? Yes, indeed, Reid Voss ran the 2003 campaign of Republican Herschel “Buzz” Hawley – a resume-builder not mentioned anywhere on Voss’ web pages, yet confirmed here, here and here.
Although his candidate Hawley didn’t win, Voss was able to convert his Republican experience and enthusiasm into a job as a member of former GOP Representative Jo Ann Davis’ staff, according to a February 20, 2004 article in Roll Call. Per her Wikipedia page, Davis (now deceased) was a fairly typical conservative Republican – for example, rated “A” by the NRA and 95% by the Family Foundation vs. ratings of 0% from the National Education Association, 0% from the Children’s Defense Fund, 4% from the ACLU, etc.
An additional GOP gig is documented in the Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP)’s campaign finance database: Voss received two payments in 2005 from Republican Lieutenant Governor candidate Sean Connaughton totaling $4,400. For what campaign expenses exactly? Who knows?
So, to be clear, Reid Voss started his career not as a mere GOP volunteer or backbencher, but as a paid, professional Republican operative at the local, state AND federal levels. So…why not let the voters know about such valuable experience?
Reid Voss, Confederate Defender
Lest you dismiss these jobs from when he was in his twenties as mere “youthful indiscretion”, let’s examine Voss’ most recent known political activity – as a leader of the group of conservatives who fought tooth and nail against the proposal to remove the name of a Confederate general from a local school.
Starting in 2015, after the mass murder of nine black Americans in Charleston, South Carolina’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church by a Confederate flag waving killer, a group of students at J.E.B. Stuart High School in Falls Church presented a petition to the Fairfax County School Board calling for the school to remove the name of Confederate General Stuart. The School Board began a long process of public hearings, discussions, committee reports and votes to identify the best course of action for the community.
Reid Voss was one of four co-authors of a 10-page manifesto submitted to the School Board as testimony, entitled “Keep the Name J.E.B. Stuart High School: Restore Harmony and Reason.” Unfortunately, rather than promoting “harmony and reason”, this screed follows the typical pattern of Trump-era Republican communications, hurling misinformation and personal attacks – here in the name of spreading “Lost Cause” mumbo-jumbo that, y’know, Confederate slaveholders weren’t that bad after all!
Here are a few samples of Voss’ and his co-authors’ defense of the Confederacy (followed by my own editorial comments):
- “It is an oversimplification to claim that slavery was THE cause of the Civil War.”
- [Fact check: Per the National Park Service: “While slavery was not the only cause for which the South fought during the Civil War, the testimony of Confederate leaders and their supporters makes it clear that slavery was central to the motivation for secession and war.”]
- “The [High School Name] Changers accuse the Confederates of being White Supremacists. Use of this slur is a racist act in itself and demonstrates their lack of knowledge about the Civil War.”
- [Hmm, okay then, Reid, what would you call people who fought in defense of a system that relegated black people to the status of pieces of property? Civil rights heroes?]
- After claiming that the Confederate Army included black, Native American and Mexican Confederate soldiers, the manifesto states: “The Civil War was complex and pitted not just north against south but families, neighbors and people of different race and ethnicities against each other.”
- [Fact check: The only role black folks were allowed to play in the Confederate Army was that of servants.]
This document also makes personal attacks against School Board members, accusing two of them by name of “furthering their personal interests in close contact with a primary political organization such as the NAACP.” Yet, despite this charge, this document fails to identify any such “personal interests”.
Asked recently by Annandale Today about his defense of the Stuart name, Voss said that “he was approached by the alumni association to oppose the name change and he agreed because he wanted ‘to defend the melting pot that the school is’ and ‘there was a fear that changing the name would divide our community.’” The first comment makes no sense, and the second does not explain why he would co-author a document that was quite divisive in its own right.
Voss’ Current Campaign
All of which brings us to the current campaign. To be sure, politicians switching parties is by no means a new phenomenon – but when it does happen, such a politician owes the voters an honest assessment of his past and a clear explanation of why he did the switch.
Voss is silent on all of these points. His website and campaign literature give little hint of any political philosophy, filled with vague commitments like “Meaningfully address our school overcrowding issues” and “Improve our workforce and professional housing options”. The only experience he mentions is that of growing up in the community and being a business owner.
Does he have any chance of winning the Democratic nomination? In fact, Democratic elected officials have been near-unanimous in endorsing his chief opponent, Andres Jimenez – as were the activists who gave Jimenez 74% of the vote at a recent straw poll. But those are the party insiders – what about everyday primary voters?
One worrying sign is Voss’ strong fundraising performance, at least in the first reporting period. Are his donors giving to him because they think he’s a Democrat – or because they know he’s a Republican? Another question to ponder.
As the campaign heats up, however, it’s important for voters to both know and circulate the facts. Republicans have every right to their own political party and beliefs. But is it appropriate for them to jump into our primaries in districts where they know they can’t win a fair fight? Tell me what you think.