Time is ticking away for the candidates for Lt. Governor and each is working to find the edge that will help push them to the top of the heap.
With a field that most voters are not intimately familiar with, few Republicans in the know seem willing to venture a guess as to who could come out on top. It has the air of a Papal election. A huge crowd of potential nominees, but not one person with the best chance of winning.
With jobs and the economy the top issue, Pete Snyder the well funded, well connected candidate could benefit from a well timed business announcement. Snyder, who sold his successful New Media Strategies social media marketing firm, has now gone into the investment business. His Disruptor Capital firm is designed to inject cash into emerging companies and Snyder believes he found one in Russel County, VA.
On Tuesday, Snyder announced a major investment into Bills Khakis, an American company with a manufacturing operation in Virginia. Snyder's investment will help to support 160 jobs in Russell County where LACorp, a cut and sew operation, manufactures more than 100 thousand pairs of Bills Khaki pants a year.
As part of his investment, Snyder will sit on the company's board of directors.
Snyder said the announcement on convention week was a "coincidence", the conclusion of something he had been working on for some time. But it was clear that he saw the political opportunities in presenting himself as a do-something businessman leading up to the important vote. Snyder appeared with company CEO Bill Thomas behind a podium that featured his campaign slogan "real world experience, real Virginia jobs."
Snyder has worked hard to paint himself as the alternative to Terry McAuliffe. He has gone out of his way to virtually ignore his fellow primary opponents and focus any fire he has on the Democratic nominee for governor. He set up his investment in Southwest Virginia several weeks ago with a lengthy web video that asked why McAuliffe chose to move his Greentech car company to Mississippi when high unemployment rates and need existed in parts of Virginia.
Snyder is counting on the economy being the central focus for convention voters who are largely strong social conservatives. Snyder checks all the important boxes in those categories, but is certainly positioning himself as a mainstream candidate who can compete in a general election in a very purple state.
It has led some of his detractors to question if Snyder has the passion to pursue a strong social issues agenda that many convention goers crave.
Former Del. Tom Gear (R-Poquoson) sent out a mass email to a large group of Virginia politicos and media members comparing Snyder to Mark Warner. Gear was upset that Snyder refused to answer a questionnaire he sent to the candidates and said his lack of participation was evidence that Snyder is not as conservative as he seems. Gear received responses from only three of the seven people standing for the GOP nomination. (Lingamfelter, Davis & Stimpson)
Snyder though has racked up endorsements from important and influential conservative leaders like one time U.S. Senate Candidate Oliver North and Former Reagan Education Secretary Bill Bennett. He doesn't run from his conservative record but seems confident that jobs and the economy will continue to be the top issue, even with the far right of his own party.
As much as the GOP cares about abortion and gay marriage Snyder feels the story of an American company defying the odds will resonate with convention delegates.
"At a time when many manufacturing jobs flocked to Southeast Asia, Bills bet on the talented and hardworking people of Southwest Virginia—and the quality shows," Snyder said. "We're excited to announce this investment in a great American business and good Virginia manufacturing jobs."