Patrick Wilson, political reporter, Richmond Times-Dispatch

Patrick Wilson, a political reporter with the Richmond Times-Dispatch, talks with J.R. about growing up in Michigan and becoming interested in journalism, becoming a journalist, his transition to being a political reporter in Virginia, his relationship with sources and the new media, how to tell a good pitch from a bad one, what a typical day is like for a political journalist, the importance of building good and trustworthy sources, the tools he uses to do his job, the current state of political reporting in Virginia, and the story of 2017 (beyond the election) that had the greatest impact and his thoughts on the most important issues heading into 2018.

Follow Patrick:
Patrick Wilson, Richmond Times-Dispatch, Twitter, and Facebook

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John Whitbeck on the state of the Virginia GOP

John Whitbeck, chairman of The Republican Party of Virginia, chats with J.R. about the clear message voters sent November 8 when they delivered a resounding defeat to the GOP. Republican candidates have lost ten straight statewide contests since 2012, and Whitbeck explains how the GOP needs to change. That said, he also mentions how Washington DC disproportionately affects Virginia’s politics and how the state electorate tends to nationalize our politics differently than other states. Regarding that messaging, he says that calls to “Drain the Swamp” are unlikely to be effective in northern Virginia and Hampton Roads. However, that doesn’t mean candidates should abandon conservative principle; rather, they need to work on finding the right tone that reflects the Virginia Republican creed for new and diverse voters.

Whitbeck also addresses Corey Stewart’s call for Whitbeck to be replaced. He says that this was a “media stunt” and “garbage” because, despite the recent drubbing, the party as an organization is very healthy financially, has growing field and grassroots operations, significant digital/online activism, and excellent relationships with affiliated organizations. He recognizes the concern and knows that winning elections will go a long way to unifying the party. He says it’s his job to roll with the punches and ensure fairness in the nomination process.

Ultimately, Whitbeck says the party is far from dead and has no intention of rolling over going into 2018 and 2019.

Links of Note:


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Mary Jones, Republican Candidate for Congress, VA-2

In this episode, Mary Jones, a Republican candidate for Congress in Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District, joins J.R. to talk about her background and candidacy. Jones is challenging freshman Congressman Scott Taylor for the nomination.

She is a two-term member of the James City County Board of Supervisors where she served as chairman. She talks about some of her experiences and achievements, including being the lone voice to change how I-64 expansion through the peninsula was planned and how she regularly opposed tax increases.

Also on the podcast, she details why she is challenging Taylor and it pretty much boils down to one reason: She feels Taylor does not support President Trump. Republicans, she says, despite being in the majority in Congress, are unable to get major legislation enacted that was promised during the last campaign and she explains why she holds Taylor accountable. She feels Taylor is not being a strong advocate for conservatives or the district.

Jones also describes the top issues motivating her to run for office, including the repeal of Obamacare, immigration reform, the economy, jobs, and taxes, and national defense.

Links of Note:

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Advancing Technology in Virginia with Gabe Venturi and Wayne Ozmore

From artificial intelligence to drones, broadband to wifi, workforce development to public safety, and much more, Gabe Venturi and Wayne Ozmore come on the show to talk about the current state of technology in Virginia, how it’s advancing, and some things to consider.

Ozmore is a technology advocate, futurist, and Navy Vet. Venturi is the chief commercial officer of Inmarsat Government and has spent about twenty consecutive years working for technology and telecommunication companies in Virginia.

Technology is such a huge topic, but we wanted to get the conversation started. Here are just some of the topics we cover this podcast:

  • What do we need to do to be leaders in technology development? “We’ve been at this for decades,” says Venturi and he goes further to discuss the current state of Virginia technology and the opportunities for growth.
  • As technology advances with the Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, neural programming, drones – is Virginia’s law enforcement, education, government, and business community keeping pace with the developments? Are these communities not only understanding the benefits of implementing the technology in their organizations but how their organizations will also evolve (like teaching technology, enforcing cybersecurity, maintaining rights and privacy, etc.)?
  • What is going on with “The Skills Gap” where we have many technical jobs available, but certification levels are low? How is that remedied? Will soft skills remain important in the new economy? What is happening with workforce development in Virginia and who is leading the charge?
  • What is the Internet of Things? Is there value of objects being connected or connected to the Internet?
  • What is the importance of the connectivity and what is the likelihood that broadband will expand to rural Virginia? What about the lack of a wireless signal in certain pockets of Virginia? “Unless we have leadership, it isn’t going to happen,” said Ozmore. The Tobacco Commission, Del. Danny Marshall, and Senator Frank Ruff are expected to play key roles.
  • Is there politics associated with broadband expansion? What does it mean to be technology agnostic?
  • What should be our concerns regarding personally identifiable information (PII) and what things can we individually do to protect our identity?
  • How is drone technology advancing in Virginia? How is Virginia leading in workforce development at repair and manufacturing of drones and what is the “highways in the sky” program?
  • What types of drones are out there and where are they being built? What are some of their functions? How will humans possibly use them for transportation? Will there be something like a taxi service?
  • Also, what about drone piloting and licensure schools?
  • Finally, Gabe and Wayne also make some predictions for what might be in store for us by 2025.

Links of note:

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2017 Virginia Election Recap with Dr. Quentin Kidd, Director, CNU Wason Center

Dr. Quentin Kidd, Director of the Judy Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University, enjoyed this post-election interview knowing that his center’s polling was spot-on when it came to predicting Ed Gillespie’s final total.

Kidd explained that he noticed a trend among voters called the “shy Tory” (h/t Garren Shipley) that he incorporated into CNU’s polling beginning in 2016. To account for them, he asked questions to draw them out so that Republicans would not be under-sampled. Also in this podcast, Kidd describes how Ed Gillespie was perceived by the electorate, the Trump effect, the mood of the voters to create a wave election, how northern Virginia is changing Virginia politics, whether issues had anything to do with the results, how the down-ticket races were perceived, how parties should communicate with the electorate, and what all this means going forward to the as of yet undetermined General Assembly.

Links of note:

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2017 Virginia Election Preview with Gov. Jim Gilmore and Norman Leahy

Former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore, also elected as Virginia’s attorney general, and president of American Opportunity along with Norman Leahy, columnist at The Washington Post and reporter for Real Clear Investigations, joins J.R. to preview and predict the 2017 Virginia General Election. We take a look back at the key moments for each campaign – governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, and Virginia House of Delegates – and also analyze their strengths and weaknesses. Gov. Gilmore also looks back on his campaigns and offers insights on how elections have evolved. We also discuss some other political heavy-weights, like former Gov. Doug Wilder and U.S. Senator John Warner and their role this election cycle. And, Gov. Gilmore reflects on redistricting (some very interesting thoughts).

Links of note:

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Rev. Mark Nieting on the Reformation and Luther’s Legacy

Reverend Mark Nieting has been a Lutheran educator and pastor for four decades. He joins J.R. to explain the importance of Martin Luther and the ideas and reforms put into motion 500 years ago.

On Oct. 31, 1517, Luther posted a series of discussion points on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg just prior to the major festival of All Saints Day – and not by chance. Luther did this for maximum exposure, knowing that many people would be coming to church the next day.

Luther’s ideas, while clearly spiritual, played a profound and lasting role that can still be felt to this day in government, education and literacy, economic freedom, and personal responsibility – which is exactly why we’re talking about it on a show known for its politics!

Rev. Nieting talks about who Luther was and his lifelong quest of trying to “find peace with God.”

This pursuit led the reformer to not only find his answer in scripture but unleash ideas that would bring about societal change, particularly those ideas which gradually eroded the Medieval feudal systems that were in place.

Through the good fortune of provincial protection, a strong network of allies, the arrival of the printing press, and time to devote to his translation of the Bible from Latin to German, Luther’s lasting legacy is not only evident in Protestant Christianity across the world, but in our systems of government.

Links of note:

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Ed Gillespie, State Sen. Jill Vogel, and John Adams

The 2017 Virginia Republican ticket joins J.R. for a comprehensive look at the campaign as it heads into the homestretch. Ed Gillespie for governor, State Sen. Jill Vogel for lieutenant governor, and John Adams for attorney general make their case as to why Virginians should elect them Nov. 7, 2017.

In a policy-focused discussion, the candidates talk about the economy, energy production, job growth, attracting businesses to the state, healthcare and Medicaid expansion, public safety, combatting gang violence, partnerships with local law enforcement and the federal government, and providing support for those battling opioid addiction.

Getting through the noise and chaff created by their opponents and the media, this podcast gives the straight answers you’ve been looking for. This includes a discussion on how the policy to combat MS-13 is not an anti-immigrant policy, but a pro-immigrant one or how questioning whether Democratic candidate for LG, Justin Fairfax, could “talk intellectually” about the issues has nothing to do with race, as The Washington Post alludes, but about his complete inexperience on how the state government operates. On the other hand, when you have a record like Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam or Attorney General Mark Herring’s, there is ample opportunity to compare and contrast with them too.

There is little doubt going into the final days of this campaign that the ticket feels unified and confident.

Gillespie said that the ticket has all the “intensity, energy, and momentum” right now, and that sentiment was echoed by his running mates.

If you would like to know more about the campaigns, visit:

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Episode 1. Dave Levitan, author, “Not a Scientist”

In 1980, then-presidential candidate Ronald Reagan appeared alongside President Jimmy Carter to discuss the environment at an event in Steubenville, Ohio.

Reagan, who we all know as the great communicator, said:

“I have flown twice over Mount St. Helens out on our West Coast. I’m not a scientist and I don’t know the figures, but…”

Thus was born what has been called by GOP strategist Mike McKenna “the dumbest talking point in the history of mankind.”

And this is on page one of Dave Levitan’s book, “Not a Scientist: How Politicians Mistake, Misrepresent, and Utterly Mangle Science.”

You can only imagine where it goes from there.

We send our representatives to decide lots of things for us that they’re not experts in, so, why should science be any different when it comes to policy? As long as good testimony is being given by qualified experts, saying “I’m not a scientist” can only be considered a crutch.

The array of rhetorical devices politicians employ are numerous: Whether it’s oversimplifying the complex, cherry-picking data, buttering up only to undercut, or my personal favorite, blaming the blogger, there’s a convoluted pretzel of an argument that you’ve likely heard before – and probably, if you’re like me – accepted hook, line and sinker.

Levitan joins me to talk about how he came up with the idea for the book, how he collected and cataloged the information, and then he explains the rhetorical devices that politicians employ to “advance” their agenda. Spoiler alert – they only undermine it.

This book is a must-read for all Republicans – if only to stop the embarrassment.

Links of Note:
Dave Levitan’s Official Book Page
FactCheck.org and SciCheck
Interview on Science Friday
Interview on Physics World
Goodlatte Praises Passage of Micah’s Law

If you liked this podcast, please support it by subscribing either on iTunes or Stitcher – and please leave a review. It helps!

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