Last November, as he entered the contest for the Old Dominion’s lieutenant governorship, I wrote on NRO, “Pete Snyder offers the Right a new face worth watching in the race to become Virginia’s second-in-command.”
So far, Snyder is living up to his promise.
The Internet pioneer and venture capitalist made an early splash in the January 16 Washington Post, of all places. It credited him as the first candidate on air among a field of seven contenders for Virginia’s No. 2 office. Indeed, the Post deemed Snyder’s ad the first of the entire 2013 campaign. The radio spot, the Post observed, “features a fictional couple, Sally and Harry, chatting about Snyder, a technology entrepreneur and former Fox news commentator.” The 60-second commercial aired statewide on conservative radio stations.
Just one week later, Snyder locked horns with the Harry Reid of Virginia and came out ahead. Specifically, Snyder aired another radio ad slamming “liberal career politician” and state-senate Democratic leader Richard Saslaw for threatening to sandbag highway-funding legislation unless Republicans surrendered on redistricting.
Rather than ignore the rookie candidate, Saslaw told radio host John Fredericks that he “didn’t know who the hell” Snyder was until that week. Saslaw added: “I’m really not concerned about some nut job, you know, running a radio ad whose knowledge of this state can probably be put in a one-ounce shot glass with half of it empty still.”
Colorful? Yup. Demeaning? You bet.
Nonetheless, the Virginian-Pilot’s Julian Walker called this a win for the 40-year-old Republican.
“For Snyder, engaging Saslaw and getting him to respond is a score,” Walker wrote. “The dust up delivers publicity and attention to Snyder that’s helpful as he works to build his brand ahead of the Virginia Republican Party’s nominating convention in May . . . What’s more, it sends a subtle message to the Senate Republican Caucus he hopes to preside over next year that he’ll give them political cover when needed.”
Shaun Kennedy offered Snyder further praise on the conservative website Bearing Drift. “Candidates running for the #2 spot on the ticket would do well to show how’d they serve the ticket,” Kennedy noted. “Snyder taking the gloves off on Dick Saslaw? Great move.”
Snyder soon got back in the news by launching Operation Love. Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Snyder had his staff hand-deliver chocolates and Valentine’s cards to hundreds of conservative activists around Virginia. Targeting potential convention delegates who might lean against him, Snyder included a note that read: “I met my wife Burson when she was on a date with another guy . . . So if you have love in your heart for someone else right now, that’s just fine by me — get to know me, I will work hard to win you over! Happy Valentine’s Day, xoxo, Pete.”
Snyder also released online an amusing Dating Game-style video blending current footage of himself with what appear to be men from the 1970s, all looking for love.
This was a very imaginative way to reinforce supporters, lure the uncommitted, and impress the media. The Virginian-Pilot, Daily Press, The Daily Caller, and Bearing Drift all devoured this story like a Whitman’s Sampler.
Snyder got much more serious in late February when he contacted Jeffrey Reh of Beretta USA about anti–Second Amendment legislation being debated next door, in Maryland. Should those measures pass, Snyder wrote, “I strongly encourage you to move your current Maryland-based operations across the state line to the Commonwealth of Virginia.” In words that should stir constitutionalists, Snyder added: “In Virginia, we have a tradition of respect for the right to bear arms, and a robust culture of firearms ownership for sport, defending ourselves and our property, and for the best reason of all: because it is our right. After all, it was a Virginian, James Madison, who penned our nation’s Bill of Rights.”
Just last Thursday, Snyder released a visually impressive and emotionally moving Web ad in which he pounds Clinton soldier Terry McAuliffe for locating his electric-car company in Mississippi, rather than Virginia. This might not be such a big deal, except that McAuliffe is the sole Democrat candidate for governor of Virginia. Snyder stands in an open field in Danville, where state officials determined that GreenTech Automotive’s factory could have been built. He solemnly laments the “political garbage and double talk” contained in McAuliffe’s claim that Virginia policy makers “didn’t want to bid” on the plant. PolitiFact Virginia’s Truth-o-Meter rated McAuliffe’s assertion “false.”
In an odd twist, the day after Snyder’s video appeared, GreenTech announced that McAuliffe had resigned from the company before December 1 of last year, although this fact remained undisclosed until April 5. All of this undermines the alleged business acumen on which McAuliffe bases his bid.
Beyond coverage in the Richmond-Times Dispatch and other Virginia news outlets, MSNBC’s Chuck Todd showed viewers the video in which Snyder sadly notes that McAuliffe’s plant “could have been built right here. Hundreds of manufacturing jobs, right here in Danville. With unemployment stuck at nine and a half percent, those hundreds of new jobs would have meant a lot to this city and to Pittsylvania County.”
Several key endorsements also help propel Snyder’s campaign.
“I think the Republican party needs to get young, experienced, conservative entrepreneurs, the kind of people who know what it’s like to create and grow a business,” said former Reagan advisor and conservative luminary Oliver North. He called Snyder “very bright and aggressive.”
“I’m very excited to endorse Pete Snyder for Lieutenant Governor of Virginia in 2013,” said Mike Farris, founder of the Home School Legal Defense Association and chancellor of Patrick Henry College. “Pete has the kind of convictions, values, work ethic, and experience that I believe this Commonwealth needs, not just to win an election, but to serve with distinction . . . Pete is pro-life, he’s pro-Second Amendment, he’s pro-Constitution, he’s pro-family, and he understands that the way we grow jobs and businesses in Virginia is not by more government programs, but by having freedom for people to create businesses and create jobs.”
Snyder even managed to secure, on St. Patrick’s Day no less, the backing of Royston Brady, the former Lord Mayor of Dublin, who left Ireland for Virginia after retiring.
Snyder’s campaign also has developed a smart-phone application called “I’m In.” Underscoring Snyder’s background as a high-tech entrepreneur, this creation helps potential GOP state-convention delegates register and otherwise navigate the necessary steps to support Snyder at the May 18 state convention in Richmond. Even this detail drew the attention of the AP, the Washington Post, the Washington Times, the Virginian-Pilot, The Daily Caller, and Richmond’s NBC 12-TV.
Ideas, tactics, and endorsements aside, Snyder also is doing well financially. In just the first five weeks of his campaign, he raised $452,739, of which $235,000 came from a group called Ending Spending.
“We think that if conservatives and Republicans want to win in Virginia in 2013, they should nominate Ken Cuccinelli and Pete Snyder,” says Brian Baker, president of Ending Spending. “Both are proven conservatives, and both are unafraid to challenge the status quo. Ending Spending worked closely with Attorney General Cuccinelli in the litigation against Obamacare, and with new-media entrepreneur Pete Snyder during our battle against pork-barrel earmarks.”
“While we respect the service of the other candidates in the lieutenant governor’s race,” Baker tells me, “one thing is clear. Pete is the only candidate who has been both a business leader with a record of innovation and leadership, and is a proven conservative with a plan of action to move Virginia forward. We’ve seen first-hand how Pete’s creativity and energy can make a difference, and we encourage Virginia convention delegates to take a look at Pete’s record. If we want to win in 2013 — and beyond — we need new leaders like Ted Cruz, Scott Walker, Ken Cuccinelli, and Pete Snyder who are unafraid to challenge the status quo.”
Pete Snyder is proving to be a principled, courageous, and clever candidate who garners headlines, stirs airwaves, and generates campaign cash — all in the service of conservative ideas.
So far, so good.