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Bowerbank Drops Out, Endorses Wagner

by: Dave

Fri May 15, 2009 at 18:22:19 PM EDT

( - promoted by Admin)

Russell County Board of Supervisors member Jon Bowerbank announced this afternoon that he is withdrawing from the Democratic primary for Lt. Gov. He also took the additional step of endorsing Jody Wagner for the post. This leaves the primary, which once stood at 5 candidates, now at 2: Ms. Wagner and Mike Signer.

Statement from the Bowerbank campaign:

"For the past year and a half, I have traveled the length and breadth of our great Commonwealth. I have been inspired by the people of Virginia, the commitment of the various candidates and elected officials I have met along the way and by the many people who are such an important part of our democracy ... committed volunteers, activists, reporters, editors and bloggers just to name a few.

I have had the pleasure of occupying a front row seat at numerous major political events, debates and forums. I have spent a significant amount of time getting to know the other candidates for various offices. I have also learned a great deal about the issues that confront the people and institutions of our Commonwealth.

Dave :: Bowerbank Drops Out, Endorses Wagner

My campaign for Lieutenant Governor was born from a desire to be of greater service to the people of Virginia. That desire has not wavered. In fact, I have found that my service as a member of the Board of Supervisors in Russell County is extremely satisfying. I feel that my colleagues and I are really making a difference in the lives of the people we serve.

I firmly believe that my central campaign premise - increasing job creation for Virginia centralized through green/non-conventional energy and rebuilding our core infrastructure while we retool our educational systems - is as sound now as it was 18 months ago. In fact, it is probably even more critical as we are all unfortunately in the midst of a severe economic crisis not experienced since the Great Depression.

However I am responsible first and foremost to my family and my employees at EMATS and because of those responsibilities for the next 30 days and the next 6 months, I would no longer be able to devote my energies to this campaign full time. I believe Virginia and the Democratic Party need someone who can devote their full attention and energy to the job of being the Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor

I have, therefore, reached a decision to suspend my campaign and to throw my full and unqualified endorsement behind the candidacy of Jody Wagner. I have gotten to know Jody well on the campaign trail and believe she would be a great nominee and a great Lieutenant Governor.

I have also come to know Mike Signer, and I wish him well now and in the future. My decision to endorse Jody is not a negative reflection on him.

I care deeply about Virginia and I fear that to continue this campaign at this time would simply cause tumult and acrimony and give aid and comfort to those who stand in the way of the process. I want to be part of a unified Democratic Party now and in the future, and I believe my decision is in the best interest of the party.

I want to personally thank those who have been so supportive of me. My Congressman, Rick Boucher, was an early and enthusiastic supporter as were former Congresswoman Leslie Byrne, State Senators Chap Petersen and Phillip Puckett and Delegates Dan Bowling, Bud Phillips, Lionel Spruill, and Joe Johnson. I also wish to thank the 100+ elected and party officials that have endorsed my candidacy. I especially want to thank my family for the sacrifices they made as I traveled across the state and I look forward to spending more time with them.

I am very grateful to my staff; they have worked hard for me and I have said many times that I have the hardest working campaign and we were positioned well. I hope they will all work as hard for our nominee as they have worked for me.

I have also made a decision to return political contributions to those who have supported my campaign. I will instruct my staff in the coming days to prepare checks to refund those contributions.

Now simply wasn't my time. I resolutely believe, however, that my time will come. In the future I intend to again offer myself for public service. When that time comes I will be prepared to run and to serve.

Today is the two year anniversary of the death of my hero ... my father ... Tom Bowerbank. He and I shared a great admiration of Winston Churchill. My father taught me this quote of Winston Churchill's. "Never give in! Never give in! Never, never, never, never - in nothing great and small - large and petty - never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense."

I believe my decision to give in on this campaign is based on honour and good sense and, in that respect, I hope this would have made Winston, and my father, proud."

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So, I guess that means Wagner wins
My top choice would have been Bowerbank.  I really liked his responses in the online interview on here.  But such is life...

Though he'll still be on the primary ballot, right?  So, I could vote for him anyway.  =)

I don't know
this probably helps Signer, as now the anti-establishment/anti-Wagner vote won't be split. Granted, Bowerbank was not getting any support outside of SWVA, so it really depends on who voters there will gravitate to.

This is definitely bad news for Deeds, though. Now he won't get any downticket help in SWVA.

[ Parent ]
Not necessarily
I'm in Lexington and we consider ourselves "SWVA". But everyone I've talked to (both in "Lextropolis" and Rockcbridge County) seemed to be singing the same song:"Deeds for Governor. For Lt? Not sure, but not that what's his name, Bowerbank". That, despite the fact that Bowerbank was the only one who bothered to woo us (we got 3 mailings from him and nothing from any of the others)

[ Parent ]
He was the only one that sent mail to me too,...
Regardless, Bowerbank ran a very anemic campaign.  Mark Signer gets in, and he is polling better than Bowerbank who was running for a year and a half.  Most of the Democratic Primary voting electorate is still undecided, even with someone like Jody Wagner with her name recognition.  

Jody Wagner supports Right-to-Work and At-Will employment practices.  What kind of Democrat in today's age supports that position?  Mark Signer has my vote.  

[ Parent ]
A bunch of Bowerbank signs just sprouted up last night in Chesapeake. I feel bad for the guy who took the time to go around and put them all up.

Wagner, not on your life!
Any Democrat that supports Right-to-Work and the principle of At-Will employment doesn't deserve to run under the standard of the Democratic Party.  

There is too much at stake to have someone who supports these things be our nominee.  Mark Signer has my vote.  

If right-to-work is your most important issue...
...then you will not have ANY statewide candidate to support.  They have all said that they would not seek to change the right-to-work law.  

In fact, your guy Mike (not Mark) Signer is not trying to change the right-to-work law either.  Here is his answer on that point on NLS on March 10:

As for Right to Work -- I have been advised by labor leaders in Virginia that Right to Work is not the top fight on their agenda right now... I think shifting the terms of the debate on this important but difficult issue, as an outgrowth of hostility to labor in general, is a gradual matter requiring steady pressure and consistent support from public officials. I think the most urgent short-term fights we need from officials like the LG is on licensing enforcement (so non-union contractors don't unfairly compete with unions and provide consumers with shoddy work products) and best-value contracts (so state contracts go to the best-qualified contractors with the best bids).

Virginia's right-to-work law has not been around forever.  It has been around for 58 years -- longer than Jody, or Mike Signer, or every other candidate for statewide office this year.  

The "right to work" law is so well-entrenched that no member of the General Assembly -- including Brian Moran or Creigh Deeds or Steve Shannon -- has even introduced a bill to amend, much less do away with, the "right to work" law since at least 1994.  Don't believe me?  Go to the Legislative Information Service website, to their "search across sessions" feature -- and enter "40.1-59", the section of the Virginia Code that is known as the "right to work" law.  What you will find is that in 1997, a group of Republicans introduced a bill that would have amended the requirement that workers be specifically notified of the provisions of the "right to work" laws.  That's it.

There is simply no political will to repeal the "right to work" law -- that which Leslie Byrne called the "right to be poor" law.  And as Leslie found out, there is no quicker way to being branded a liberal nutcase than to take on that beast.

In fact, Leslie was the only one of the statewide candidates in 2005 who wanted to repeal the "right to work" law -- though she herself had done nothing in the General Assembly to repeal it while she was there -- and when she made her speech against it, not only was she dumped on, but her Democratic running mates were dumped on for not immediately denouncing her.  See this in the Washington Post from 2005.  

When you are running for statewide office, you need to pick your battles.  Let's fight about things we can possibly win on.  Let's fight about taking federal money for unemployment compensation.  Let's fight about criminalizing abortion.  Let's fight about adequate funding for transportation, or for pre-K education.  These are all issues Democrats can win on.  But to choose the repeal of "right to work" as an issue?  That's like a boxer sticking out his chin and saying to his opponent, "Hit me.  Right here."

Mike Signer recognizes that (to his credit).  Jody Wagner recognizes that (to her credit).  If you're going to castigate Jody for not supporting a change in the right-to-work law, how can you support Mike Signer when his position and hers are the same on that issue?

If you want to pick a basis for choosing which candidate or candidates you are going to support, why not pick an issue that is at least up for grabs?  

[ Parent ]
You makes some good points and I know that you support Jody, but...
Right-to-Work is not my only issue.  But for someone that has been involved in Democratic politics, especially since the days when she ran for Congress, and she can't articulate a better answer on Right-to-Work, who are we kidding.  Her answer during the Young Democrats LG Forum on March 29th about Right-to-Work, posted on YouTube on April 1st by the Edmondson Campaign, was just awful and what I believe is probably closer to her true feelings on Right-to-Work. As you said, Right-to-Work has been around for 58 years, not forever as Jody Wagner thinks.  She doesn't understand the issue very well, or maybe she does.

Your reference to her answer on the Live Blog here on this site on April 14th was much better, but still a pass.  Adequate for a "do-over," but when are we going to have Democratic Candidate stand up for workers, employees, and worker's rights?  In this respect, I don't think that Jody Wagner understands how far back the Right-to-Work law has put Virginia.  It might be one of the best states for business but I am absolutely opposed to the practice of At-Will employment in Virginia and that is something that can be changed, for which Jody Wagner can be an advocate.  Firing someone with out cause is wrong.  I am opposed to having to join anything as a condition of my employment, but union jobs are not a killer to job creation.  Union jobs ensure fairness and accountability between workers and employers.  

If I wanted to vote for Bob McDonnell, Bill Bolling, or Chris Saxman, I would vote for them.  Having someone who doesn't fully understand how this issue has affected worker rights in this state, running under the Democatic banner, is disappointing.  

As for Mike Signer and having a limited resume, as you refered to when he first got into the race.  I agree.  I felt that way about Tom Perriello last year but guess what, he's Congressman Perriello now and he's doing a good job.  As I recall, you were an enthusiastic supporter of Tom at the time, but I was not.  It didn't seem that his thin resume and lack of political experience bothered you.  Jim Webb use to be a Republican, but the netroots embraced him.  Signer actually has more political experience than Tom.  So, what's the problem?  

The long and short of it is that Jody has been in the race for almost a year, Jon Bowerbank for over a year, and Jody is a know quantity with the Democratic electorate that will be voting in the June Primary.  Why is there still over 60% undecided about this race?  What is holding back Democrats from supporting her in the overwhelming what that they should be for someone that has put in her time?  

[ Parent ]
Voter fatigue
Not everyone pays attention to the statewide races like the political junkie class, especially after a long, hard-fought presidential election that ended just six months ago. There is voter fatigue in the Democratic party; just look at the recent special elections in Northern Virginia. This is a symptom of a larger problem -- it doesn't make sense why Virginia still has state and local elections in the off-off-years. It just seems to engender lower turnout and voter apathy. We'll be lucky if we see a quarter million people vote in this primary.

[ Parent ]
Right on!
You hit the nail right on the head!  Something that refreshes me everyday I'm feeling worn out from calling or whatever else I'm doing?  The possibility of hear these words come November:  Governor Bob McDonnell, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (Scariest of them all)

Deeds, Signer and Shannon Supporter!

[ Parent ]
Doug Wilder issued a warning
when interviewed by Mark Plotkin on his "Politics" show on WTOP. He said something to the effect that results of the recent elections in Northern Virginia should tell us that "it isn't coming up all aces for Democrats," as I quoted in my diary here on BC:
Doug Wilder is a very canny politician, and when he finally deigns to make a comment, I pay attention.

[ Parent ]
Anyone's race
While there is so much talk as to who the Governor's race could be anyone's game given the amount of undecideds as well as those who say they could change their mind, the Lt. Governor's race is even more so!  70% Undecided!  Just wow, it's exciting to see how the campaigns are going to use their resources coming down the home stretch!

Game On!

Signer's Statement to Supporters


"Jon Bowerbank was a formidable opponent and I wish him the best of luck in his personal, professional, and future political life."

"This development is great news for this campaign. We will now have a two-person race, with clear choices.  Make no mistake: I am running because the Democratic Party I've been fighting for for nearly 15 years is about social justice and economic fairness. I have the fire in the belly to take on Bill Bolling with my message of turning the office of Lieutenant Governor from a placeholder to a public advocate and shine a spotlight on problems we've ignored for too long. As Senior Strategist to Tom Perriello on his upset race last year, I have a record of beating tough Republicans-and I can't wait to do it again this fall."

"With the highest number of online donors, growing union support, three Congressional District Democratic chairs, dozens of local Democratic chairs, and a growing number of elected officials joining my campaign, one thing is clear: this campaign is about momentum, which will take us through June 9 and to victory this fall."

Truly Odd Move In Odd Lt Gov Race
Given the negligible public enthusiasm I have noted in the LG race and the fact that Bowerbank has devoted many months and many dollars to his run I find his withdrawal at this late hour downright weird. (In this race, who knows, maybe a smidgeon of publicity for pulling out--while still on the ballot--will let him ride the decisive flip-a-coin vote to a win!)

That explanation about  'wanting to devote more time to his family--and employees,' makes it particularly odd.

That 'I just rediscovered my family' line is usually reserved for pols caught in salacious scandal. Having heard of none of the usual skeletons in JB's closet, I can only assume that his much-touted green business is in trouble--which would be a real killer on the campaign trail for Dems overly reliant on hyping dubious claims about those mostly very temporary 'green jobs.'

Other statewide candidates might want to take to heart Mark Warner's declaration at the 2008 Dem convention that "we need to take a second look at nuclear energy." That is an 'alternative energy' source that can provide lots of electricity for industrial development in ways that heavily subsidized fads like wind, solar--chicken droppings--cannot. (!)surely cannot  

Missing green
I actually never quite understood what made Bowerbank's business so green. Per the website,,"EMATS is a national company with proven technical and business experience in the design, construction, engineering and operation of natural gas, utility and oil infrastructure."  Fine and dandy, but where's the green?

BTW, the idea that wind and solar are "heavily subsidized" is a joke.  Jimmy Carter initiated some subsidies in the 70s that got hacked as soon as the Republicans reclaimed the White House.  And there's barely been a trickle since.  Meanwhile, the fossil fuels industries get billions every year of your tax dollars -- to supplement the billions in profit they make every year. If you want to be pissed off about something, how about that?

[ Parent ]
I wondered about this as well n/t

"One person, one vote" died at the hands of SCOTUS, January 21, 2010

[ Parent ]
So who will help a Democratic governor get elected?
Well, we now have two lawyers who have name recognition because they were on the staffs of previous politicians. Bowerbank was and is an outsider, but at least he has business experience beyond selling popcorn. Both talk about issues as if being elected will let them actually do anything they talk about, but the facts are that the Governor's agenda is the one that counts. If McDonnell were to win, either one would mostly end up at home practicing law or popping popcorn. Who would be the one to strengthen the ticket enough to defeat McDonnell? At this juncture, I'd have to say that Signer would be a stronger candidate for Lt. Governor because he has much stronger political experience.

I agree that dropping out now is a bit odd. Since Jon Bowerbank is facing name recognition issues but has been sending out mailings that people remember, he could have just sent out more mailings and put up signs until the primary.  

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