GOP Hopefuls Square Off

Published 5:00 pm Thursday, July 21, 2011

HAMPDEN-SYDNEY – Five candidates. Five to choose from an August 23.

Voters in the newly created 22nd Senatorial District had an opportunity to sample the packed Republican field Monday night at Hampden-Sydney's Crawley Forum. The debate, sponsored by the Prince Edward Republican Committee and the Southside Virginia Tea Party Patriots, offered an opportunity for each to distinguish themselves in the crowded field.

Time – or, perhaps, more accurately, voters-will measure the success in the late season primary brought on by redistricting for the new district that spans from Goochland to Lynchburg and includes the counties of Buckingham, Cumberland and Prince Edward.

The field offered a contrast in backgrounds – Brian Bates, a Longwood University professor and a member of the Buckingham Board of Supervisors; Tom Garrett, Commonwealth's Attorney in Louisa County; Mark Peake, an attorney from Lynchburg; Bryan Rhode, a prosecutor with the Richmond Commonwealth's Attorney's office; and Claudia Tucker, the chairwoman of Amherst County's Board of Supervisors and former chief of staff for former House of Delegates Speaker Vance Wilkins.

“We are all conservatives,” outlined candidate Bates in his opening statement. “We all believe in limited government. We all believe in individual rights and responsibility. In short, I believe that we all have the fundamental belief in the same core principals. The task before us this evening and the decision that you must make is what distinguishes one candidate from the rest.”

As they worked to draw lines of distinction from one another, there was, in fact, much agreement between the candidates as they worked their way though two-hours-plus in questions and responses.

Will you vote to cut back taxes and user fees, be willing to negotiate or eliminate state regulations that you feel hamper business in Virginia? Please be specific which ones you propose to cut and or renegotiate or eliminate?

Bates: “I have pledged not to raise taxes of any sort as your senator. Given my experience in local government with taxes, I've seen what Richmond can do to a locality and how they can paint you into a corner. One area that I will specifically address…that deals with taxation is with an activist judiciary that could cause me to spend money that I don't want to spend and obligate my taxpayers to a bill that they don't want to pay. As a member of the Buckingham County board of supervisors in my first year on the board 12 years ago, we were told the Supreme Court of Virginia said bring your courthouse into compliance. The board of supervisors kindly said we prefer that we do something with our money. And the judges essentially said that isn't what we said. We said fix the courthouse or we'll fix it and send you the bill. So the board of supervisors fixed the courthouse. The project went well beyond what I was prepared to vote for, so I voted against the project. But…at the end of the day, an activist judiciary cost the taxpayers of Buckingham County $8 million. We will be paying that bill for another 18 years. As the next senator, I will vote on approving judges and I will not approve someone to be a judge in the Commonwealth of Virginia who I believe is gonna be an activist, pass the burden onto the taxpayer that they have no interest in taking on.”

He also cited, as a member of the legislature, he would have stepped in to help the localities and would have said that courts are a state function, not a county function, and partner on the project.

Garrett: “The first thing we would do is cut or eliminate Virginia's corporate income tax. Why? There ain't no such thing as a corporate income tax. Any economist, whether Keynesian or Smith or Austrian school will tell you that a corporation takes any cost of doing business and passes it on to the end users, the consumers, the taxpayers…So it's double taxation that's (promulgated) so that liberals can get into our wallets twice and so that they can demagogue evil corporations – faceless corporations. Cut the corporate income tax, take the businesses from states like California and New York and Illinois that apparently don't care. We want 'em here. Specifics.”

He also offered that the most burdensome branch today is the fourth branch of government-the administrative and regulatory branch.

“I spoke to a businessman from Buckingham County a month ago. And he said 'Tom I can't sneeze without filling out eight pages of state and federal paperwork. I have nine employees and one of them ensures compliance with the state and federal paperwork. Regulatory reform to remove the burdensome encumbrances of state administrative regulatory government will free the hands of small businessmen and women who create the vast bulk of jobs in Virginia.”

Peake: “I will not vote to raise any taxes,” Peake offered. “No question about it. Not an issue. Not a concern. Not gonna vote to raise any taxes.”

He also cited the corporate income tax, which he noted is not Garrett's or a new idea, was brought up in the last legislature and didn't make it through.

“Send me to the State Senate, though, and you send three other Republicans and we take over the State Senate, we'll get it through,” Peake said. “Reduce the corporate tax rate.”

He also cited the “death tax,” noting that, “You work all your life, you save your money, you invest your money, (and) hopefully have some things…Then when you die, they want to tax it again and then they want to tax it at a huge rate.”

Peake offered that he would “look at taxes like that-that burden us, that burden families that…are really a penalty to hard-working families. The more you work, the more you save, the more you want to do, the more the government wants to take from you and that does not encourage people to work hard. That doesn't encourage employers to hire more people and that's what the problem is. We use our tax burden to discourage employment. I want to use the tax system to get it out of the way so we don't hamper our businesses.”

On helping businesses, he also pointed to eliminating regulation. He cited an example involving DEQ.

“Talking to an employer in Amherst, they were trying to expand, there was a dry gulley over near it. DEQ wouldn't let 'em. They had to cut the size of the project in half.”

Rhode: “I promise to you tonight that I will never to raise your taxes. We as a country have a taxation problem where we tax people too much. We tend to put the heaviest burden of taxation on our middle class – our most productive class, which it doesn't make any sense.”

He also cited, “We take the people who have made the right choices and the right decisions and we punish them for those decisions and that's not how we should tax our people. We shouldn't punish people for success; we shouldn't punish people for doing the right thing.”

In suggesting specific taxes that he feels would make a difference in job creation, improving the economic environment, Rhode pointed to eliminating the corporate income tax.

“In Virginia, we charge corporations six percent on their profits; add 35 percent in federal corporate income tax and we have a 41 percent corporate income tax here in the United states here in the Commonwealth of Virginia and that is the highest in the world and that needs to change.”

He also cited the machine and tools tax.

“I think that folks in the 22nd district recognize that jobs that have left this area could come back if we have the right business environment -specifically manufacturing jobs,” Rhode said. “And the machine and tools tax is the type of tax that hinders manufacturing jobs returning to rural areas. We can get some of those jobs back; we just have to put the right taxation policies in place.

Rhode also cited a need to cut regulation, go through line-by-line and figure out what is hindering job creation. He cited that particularly environmental regulations make it extremely difficult for businesses to expand and hire new employees.

Ms. Tucker: “As chair of the Amherst County board of supervisors, we have passed every budget since I've been there without a tax increase. No excuses…no tax increase in Amherst County. That was hard, it was very hard. Our economy is suffering. We've got people who are out of work, we've got people who are working three, four, five jobs just to get by. No tax increases, nor were there any fee increases in Amherst County since I've been on the board.”

Ms. Tucker also cited corporate income taxes and the death tax.

“The death tax has caused people to lose their family farms, folks,” Ms. Tucker said. “They have a family farm and they can be good stewards of the land, someone dies, they have to pay the taxes. They've got to sell the land-the farms are gone because of the death tax.”

She also noted that in Amherst County they are looking at what they can do to help car dealers. Currently, she explained, they will move their inventory to Lynchburg so they won't have to pay the tax on their inventory there.

“And so Amherst County now is looking at a way that…does not increase anyone's tax, but makes sure that everyone is paying their fair share of the tax,” Ms. Tucker said.

She also suggested a tax break for small businesses starting up.

“Anyone here who's a small business person knows your first five years are tough,” Ms. Tucker said. “You are doing everything you can to make sure that business stays viable and to provide for yourself and for your family.”

Virginia is in the top 12 states in number of illegal immigrants. How do you propose to deal with the illegal alien population in Virginia. Do you support Arizona House Bill 1070-style law and e-verified systems?

Garrett: “It strikes me as ironic and frightening that the federal government can track every single dollar you earn for the purposes of federal income taxation, but we don't know how many human beings are living in our country illegally,” he said. “I do not believe that there is any such things as jobs that Americans won't do.”

He reflected on digging ditches in 1987 in 98 degrees, working as a laborer at a construction company.

Garrett cited that the put out a specific initiative that said “implement Arizona/Alabama/Prince William immigration reform and, oh by the way, implement e-verify right now in Virginia.”

The state, he cited, will use it by 2012, but localities don't. He added that the government owes a tax break to businesses that have to use the e-verify.

Peake: “I will fight illegal immigration and I've done so on a local level. He cited that probably four to six years ago there was a bill before the House of Delegates to keep any agency that received money from the state to prevent it from giving money to groups that provided aid to illegal immigrants.”

The bill was shot down, he (chair of the Lynchburg Republican party) reflected, and he spoke out against it, sent a letter to the editor and was attacked vehemently.

“And then they brought up another bill in-state tuition for illegal immigrants. And, again, I stood up and said you can't do that. Our delegate did not support that.”

He noted another bill regarding hiring illegal immigrants.

“You gotta focus on the employers, you gotta focus on the groups that are harboring the illegal immigrants. I supported that,” he said. “We got rid of that delegate. I recruited the delegate who was a good, conservative delegate.”

He offered that he will continue to fight against illegal immigration. Peake cited, “You've got to enforce the laws. When you catch an illegal immigrant breaking the law, when you catch somebody who's an illegal immigrant, you've got to get 'em out of the state and out of the country. …The state has to do its job when we catch 'em, turn 'em over to the federal government.”

Rhode: “You know, we are a nation of immigrants, but we're a nation of legal immigrants. We are a nation that lives by the rule of law and in terms of immigration, we are not living by the rule of law. We have a federal government that utterly refuses (to) step up to its responsibility on the illegal immigration front.”

He added, “In terms of the Arizona immigration law, it is absolutely unforgivable that a person could be arrested for a crime in the state of Virginia and not have their immigration status checked. So yes, I do support it.”

Rhode cited that, in terms of e-verify, it is coming on-line for state agencies, but “we haven't gone far enough. We need to make sure that the employers are checking immigration status of their employees so that legal immigrants and American citizens get the jobs that they deserve and that we're not giving jobs who have broken our laws, flouted our system.”

Rhode cited that the McDonnell Administration has put in to enforce immigration laws “and the Justice Department has been stalling for almost a year now. I would recommend that the attorney general file a lawsuit against the homeland security department and ask them to make a decision on that. It is inexcusable, again, for the federal government to completely abdicate its responsibility for this area. As a prosecutor, I've experienced the difficulty in dealing with the federal government on immigration.”

Ms. Tucker: “If Mr. Garrett thinks there's jobs here that Americans won't do, he obviously has not tried to feed cattle in two feet of snow or pick up square bales when it's 98 degrees. There are just some jobs that some folks don't wanna do.”

Ms. Tucker cited that her brother who says that “time and time again he risks his life to go and arrest someone who is here illegally who is either committing a crime, is here illegally taking a U.S. job, he turns them over and in 48 hours, they are back here again. He gets so irritated with the system and he's part of the system. He says we've got the laws, we've got the laws on the books, why won't they just enforce them.”

Ms. Tucker offered when she goes to Richmond and “e-verify comes over to us, I will absolutely make sure that we get e-verify on the books.”

It is a way for an employer at the private and state level to check the folks that are working to make sure that they are here legally.

She would ask that governments for state and local municipalities run checks on their people to make sure that they don't have folks here illegally.

“The very idea that we've got our universities-Virginia Tech, UVA, William and Mary, VCU…who have kids who are here taking up places for our children to have a spot…here illegally, is just-it's an embarrassment, folks,” Ms. Tucker said. “And I will do everything I possibly can to make sure that…that stops.”

Bates said he would sponsor legislation akin to Arizona's immigration law.

“It's important,” he said. “I'd say it's not only important, it's crucial to our survival as a society that we live by the laws that we enact.”

He offered that “We are a nation of laws and when we fail to enforce those laws, we fail to live by the rule of law, we are on our way to anarchy. So I will absolutely sponsor legislation akin to Arizona's law.”

Bates added that he will also support e-verify.

Bates would also cite that there are two sanctuary cities (localities that follow practices that protect illegal immigrants), including Virginia Beach and Fairfax.

“Now how on earth in the Commonwealth of Virginia are we going to have a locality that's gonna choose not to enforce the laws, but rather to encourage law-breaking? When do we get to choose what laws we enforce and what laws we don't enforce? It is an abomination and I think it's a blight on the national GOP that President Bush held the white house for…eight years and Republicans held the Congress for six years and did nothing on illegal immigration. I will approach illegal immigration vigorously as your next senator.”

Do you consider the Second Amendment an individual right to bear arms. What does that mean to you? And, also, do you support the passage of the castle doctrine.

Peake: “I support the Second Amendment strongly. And, that little comma some of the liberals try to refer to-that it only applies to the militia, I don't believe that for a second. And the Supreme Court and in DC they made the right decision – it applies to individuals. Individuals have the right to bear arms.”

Peake also added that he “absolutely” supports the Castle Doctrine.

“Tell me you can't protect your own home,” he said. “…It happened in Texas, the guy was on the phone calling the police-they're breaking in trying to rob him and he shoots him and they charge him with manslaughter.”

He also cited, “You're at your house and someone's trying to break in, coming on your property threatening you and you protect yourself and your family and they want to charge you with a crime or sue you-absolutely not.”

Rhode: “…One of our most sacred rights is the right to self-defense and that touches the Second Amendment and also touches the Castle Doctrine.”

He noted that he is a “strong supporter” of the Second Amendment.

“I'm a prosecutor in City of Richmond and I see a lot of gun crime, but I know that gun regulation, gun control – all it ends up doing is punishing law-abiding gun owners,” Rhode said. “All it ends up doing is inconveniencing them and it is against the explicit right of second amendment to own and bear arms. I think the Supreme Court actually got it right when they found it was an individual right.”

Rhode pledged as the next senator to “do everything I can to uphold the rights of lawful gun owners and to reduce restrictions that are already on the books and prevent them from doing things that they should have every right to do.”

Essentially, he would explain of the Castle Doctrine, you have to feel that you are in imminent harm before you can use deadly force even if someone is breaking into your own home.

“I don't know about you, but if somebody's breaking into my home, I think I'm in imminent harm and I have the right to use deadly force. And that should be the law of the land, it should be the law of Virginia and, as a state senator, I absolutely would support the castle doctrine.”

Ms. Tucker: “Had I not been raised by a father who was a firm believer in the right to bear arms, I probably would not be here today. And I say that because when I was much younger than I am now, I was living by myself and someone tried to break into my house. And I could hear them banging on the doors. Midnight, I called my father and he could also hear it. He said Claudia get the gun, go get the gun (and) sit at the top of the steps.”

She added, “Imagine being a father talking to your daughter when…you know she's there by herself when someone's trying to break into her house and so he said…shoot, shoot now. And I sat on the steps, pulled the trigger on the shotgun, my feet went above my head, but the people did not break into my house. So, do I believe in it? You daggone right I do.”

She added, “Why in the world do we want to live in a society where the bad guys have the guns and we sit there with a baseball bat?”

Bates: “If someone is coming into your home, I think the presumption should be that they're coming after your life. It's an inalienable right and you should have the right to defend yourself,” he said.

He cited that Virginia's Heartland is a rural district and that “if you live in a rural community, you know that when you pick up the phone and dial 911 because someone is breaking into your house, sheer geography means that it might take a half hour for the police to get there. People ought to feel comfortable that they can defend themselves and take what means are necessary to protect their family and their property and not worried about whether they can get sued or go to jail over it. I will absolutely protect and defend the right of people to keep and bear arms and I will support the Castle Doctrine and I will actually sponsor or co-sponsor legislation to that effect.”

Garrett: “…I get cases like this that come across my desk. About six months after I was elected, there was a man who was at his home with his sister who had moved out of the house of a drug-addict estranged husband who beat her. And he showed up at this man's house where he lived with his sister and he began to beat on that sister. The man was confined probably 70 percent of the time to a wheelchair. He could get up and get out the wheelchair, but it wasn't pretty. And so the man said stop beating my sister and the guy came over and beat on the man in the wheelchair and then went back to beating the sister. The man went to the closet, retrieved a .22 caliber rifle and shot him once through the sternum and killed him inside the walls of his own home. The sheriff's office called me, they said what should we do. I said ask the man if he feared for his life or the life of his sister. We did. He did. So what'll we charge him with? I said charge him with being a good shot.”

He also cited that he has received an “A” rating and an endorsement from the NRA.

Do you support Virginia's Right-To-Work status and, if so, would you vote to make it part of the Virginia State Constitution-why or why not.

Rhode: “Yes, I do support Virginia's right-to-work status and I would support making it a part of the Constitution.”

Ms. Tucker: “Yes, I do support right-to work.-Unlike my friend here to my right, I do not support a constitutional amendment for that.” She would later add, “I'm a purist when it comes to our constitution. I think it's a pretty daggone good document. We were rated number one (in) business from a state in the nation-we did that without an amendment for our constitution. And, so, while I support right to work, I would not support a constitutional amendment and that's why.”

Bates: “I would absolutely support a…right to work amendment to the Virginia State Constitution for a couple of reasons. One is I think it's the right thing to do. Two is it enshrines in our Constitution what's already law in Virginia. And three is, if Virginia finds itself in a position much like South Carolina did just a few months ago where Boeing, a private corporation, sought to locate its business in South Carolina…a right to work state, an entity called the National Labor Relations Board whose…constitutional authority is somewhat dubious, I believe. If we have a constitutional amendment that says we are a right to work state, then I think it gives our attorney general more leg to stand on when he challenges it-as I would very much urge him to do-any National Labor Relations action that would seek to limit our ability to recruit businesses to the Commonwealth of Virginia. Jobs are without a doubt the most important thing in this election and the right to work amendment certainly would facilitate job growth in Virginia.”

Garrett: “We have a number of competitive advantages. One of those is that we are the furtherest northern most right to work state on the east coast. So when companies seek to center themselves on the entities and areas that they do business with, Virginia is appealing in that regard as well. But I can assure you, if we weren't a right to work state, they could find North Carolina.”

He offered that he would by all means add a constitutional amendment.

Peake: “…I fully support the right to work, no question about.”

He explained that Boeing was trying to build a facility in South Carolina and the National Labor Relations Board is trying to stop them, “is filing a lawsuit because they are not unionized and is trying to make them go build it in Washington State where they have unions. Can you believe it? Is that America? That is not America. That's gotta make you outraged.”

He offered that he fully supports making it a constitutional amendment.

Do you agree that the balance of power of government has shifted too far in favor of the federal government and, if so, what plans do you have if elected to restore the proper balance of powers.

Ms. Tucker: “I absolutely think that it has shifted too far. For one, look at our…educational system. Are decisions for educating our children, are they made at the local level and our communities of interest…No, they're not. Where are they made? They're made in Washington D.C. or…some of 'em are made in Richmond.”

She also pointed to areas that are strangling small businesses. The power that rests in D.C., she also suggested, needs to be transferred to the local level. She assessed for businesses to survive that they need to start looking at what we can do through the local level to take away the regulation.

Bates: “Many of the power grabs by Washington D.C. took place during the Great Depression and the states abdicated their sovereignty at that time. I do believe that the tenth amendment is one of the most maligned parts of the United States Constitution and under the old carrot and the stick, when the federal government says if you good little states go off and do this we'll give you this money but if you don't we'll hold that money back from you, where on earth to they have the constitutional authority to hold your money back from you. It's not Washington D.C.'s money, it's you the taxpayer's money. But, states have abdicated their authority and their responsibility to be somewhere between us and the federal government. That's why I think what Ken Cuccinelli's doing on Obamacare is such a good thing. It is for the first time in my adult lifetime the states standing up and saying enough is enough.”

Garrett: “…What have we done to the pyramid that says from God to the people, from people to the states, from the states to the federal government ladies and gentlemen? I submit to you we have flipped it upside down and a pyramid sitting on its point will not stand.”

Better than half of the state budget in Richmond every year are monies dictated by the federal government in the form of entitlement programs, Garrett said.

Peake: “…The federal government is telling a private company that you can't build a factory in one of our 50 sovereign states cause we don't like the fact that you don't have a union. And you ask me whether or not I think the federal government is overstepping its bounds?”

Rhode: “…We must have five conservatives on the Supreme Court that will actually keep the federal government within its enumerated powers,” Rhode said.

He offered that he would put his shoes on that already have holes in them and-citing that the most important thing they need to do-is make sure that they elect a Republican president in 2012.

Each Candidate was also asked about abortion and funding for Planned Parenthood.

Bates: “As the youngest of seven children, I thank God every day that my mom and dad are pro-life. I absolutely would support de-funding Planned Parenthood and I would…fight any move to expand access to abortion.”

Garrett: (reflecting on talking with House member Bill Janis about ten years ago): “And I said Bill, I got a problem with rape and incest. I got a problem. And he said…I ask you three questions. And this was what really closed the door for me. He said when does life begin and I said at conception. And he said is life sacred, and I said absolutely. Then he said then why is some life more sacred than other life. Lightbulb, right. That's it. I mean, if you could ask everybody in America those three questions, everybody in America would agree with me.”

Peake: “I am completely pro-life and this is an issue that is very personal for me and my wife,” he said. “…Those are all my kids and four of 'em are 14. We had quadruplets…anybody who knows anything about multiple pregnancies, it's highly risky…and then some doctors don't recommend that people go through (with it). We did. And we went and we researched and found the best doctors that we could to make sure that we could do this, that we could give everybody the chance for life.”

He offered that he is committed pro-life will remain pro-life adding “I don't think taxpayer dollars should go to fund abortions.”

Rhode: “I am pro-life. What does that mean? It means that I believe that life begins at conception. At that moment, a true innocent life has begun and it must be protected. That is the most fundamental of all our rights is the right to life. I don't recognize exceptions for rape and incest and I know that that is a controversial position, but I don't think it is morally or logically consistent to think otherwise.”

Ms. Tucker: “…I thank my lucky stars that a woman somewhere-I have no idea where-but to this day I thank her for the choice that she made,” she said, reflecting on her brother, who her parents adopted.

Candidates were also asked about Tort Reform and a lose or pay for court costs similar legislation proposed in Texas:

Garrett: “You're darn right we need tort reform. Lose or pay makes all the sense in the world. There is no impetus not to frivolously sue people.”

Peake: “…We have a provision that's called rule eleven sanctions right there in Virginia Code that judges never enforce and we have to…tell them to start enforcing that because they can be sanctioned for filing frivolous lawsuits.”

While he would cite sometimes there needs to be lawsuits and lawyers need to take those lawsuits and sometimes people need to defend people (citing the Duke Lacrosse players). “When something's wrong, you gotta stand up and defend, you have to do your job and that's what lawyers do, that's the oath I've taken. I'm proud to be a lawyer, I believe in the constitution, but we do have to stop frivolous lawsuits. There are ways to do it and I will examine legislation to stop frivolous lawsuits.”

Rhode: “We need tort reform. We need to make sure that people aren't filing frivolous lawsuits, not only because it hurts the people who are being sued for no good reason, but it hurts business and it hurts jobs and it costs companies enormous amounts of money. They pay insurance that protects them from lawsuits and the general practice is when they're sued, they do a quick evaluation how much is it gonna cost in lawyers fees versus how much is it gonna cost to settle. And it doesn't really matter what the merits of the case are, if it's cheaper to settle, they're gonna settle. And what does that do? That just encourages more lawsuits.”

Ms. Tucker: “I'm not an attorney. I do work in the office of the general council for a Fortune 50 company and so I see, regularly, decisions that are made…not based upon merit, but based upon whether it's cheaper to settle or go ahead even if you believe that you are right. I think one of the biggest strangleholds that we see on business now is business making (a) decision based upon whether or not they can carry the insurance to avoid being sued, they make decisions on how to expand their businesses based upon any type of litigation they may or may not encounter.”

She also suggested looking to the area of health care, which she offered would dramatically decrease health care costs.

Bates: “I think we definitely need tort reform and let's turn it up a notch, instead of loser pay, loser and loser's lawyer pay.” He offered that there would be fewer ambulance chasers if there were a cost for chasing the ambulance in a frivolous way,

Candidates were asked about primary goals and their top three priorities to accomplish or three pieces of legislation they would write.

Rhode: The candidate identified the primary goal as jobs in the 22nd district.

“…That is the first thing that I intend to go work on if I'm elected to be your next senator. There's a couple of specific things that I think we need to do.”

He cited tax reform, eliminating the corporate income tax, eliminate the machine and tools tax, and make sure that regulations are kept low, that they have a business friendly environment.

He offered that they need high tech infrastructure in the district (noting that they need to have high speed internet access in rural areas) and that he would work with localities to try to make that happen. He noted the need to transition resources for technical degrees for high schools-not just vocational, but high tech.

Ms. Tucker: “My top three priorities-that's easy-they're jobs, jobs, jobs.”

She cited tax incentives, making sure that localities have fertile ground for businesses to come and touted telecommuting.

“It's not about eBay, it's not about surfing the internet, folks,” Ms. Tucker said. “It's about being able to get a job and a company is not gonna come here if they don't have high speed internet or they don't have access to it. So that is…a foundation…a foundation that we need in order to bring these jobs here.”

She also cited the need for tax breaks for small businesses to grow the revenue, need to help those who are trying to start a small business and not strangle them with regulation, said she wanted incentives for small businesses that want to hire.

Bates: “I will go after jobs and I will go after them aggressively. In Buckingham County, I did that by building a coalition with a bunch of good people.”

He specifically cited the late Edward LeSueur.

He cited his experience in the power plant project, which he offered would create 700 jobs in the 50-mile area around the project.

“I will form a committee, council if you will, of key business leaders across the districts. It isn't gonna be one of these things where we meet once a month and have coffee and donuts. This is gonna be a working group. We're going to identify the strengths and the weaknesses in our communities throughout this district. We're gonna figure out how we can improve the weaknesses and how we can market the strengths. And then, I'm gonna take those industrialists, those business leaders, and I'm gonna take them to New Jersey, to New York to California and we're gonna start hunting jobs and bring 'em back to this district.”

He also said he would sponsor legislation on illegal immigration and tort reform law with losers lawyer pay language.

Garrett: Cited immigration reform, reducing the corporate income tax, reducing the burdensome branch of government-the administrative and regulatory branch that he said is choking small business that is providing the lions share of new jobs.

Garrett also offered a proposal that those who receive welfare benefits they should sign a conditional waiver that says that they will be drug tested.

He added that that it's “not so we can lock a bunch of people up; so we can send 'em to get help from private faith-based…entities that already exist in our communities. Because if you want to break the cycle of poverty folks, sometimes you need to break the cycle of addiction.”

He also addressed high-speed internet. He offered that a government “big enough to give you high-speed internet is big enough to take the house you keep your computer in, folks.” While it may be an appropriate action of government, he said, “but if it is, it is a local government.”

Peake: Peake offered that he doesn't want more government, but less government.

“I want to get rid of laws,” he said. “I want to get rid of a lot…I want to get all of them that come from these government agencies, these government regulatory agencies that are crippling our businesses, that are shutting down our employers, that are making it tough for small businesses to start.”

He also offered that he would stand strongly and will fight for the constitutional amendment to protect personal property rights.

Candidates were also asked about electability and taking on the Democratic opponent Bert Dotson.

Ms. Tucker: “What's the differentiator, folks? It's experience and business experience.

Bates: “I have 12 years of experience and a history of winning elections.”

Garrett: “This ain't any locality or any neighborhood seat. This is a conservative senate seat and if you start sending moderates to Richmond, you start getting MOPs-more of the same.”

Peake: “I can go head-to-head with Bert Dotson in Lynchburg and I can come out here and win and I can go to Fluvanna and win, Louisa and win, Goochland and win, Amherst and win because I've got the experience…got the private practice experience-I am a small businessman man as well.”

Rhode: “…I think that I can take on Bert Dotson. I think I can win this seat because I have a record of service both to my country and to this Commonwealth.”