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Arlington Republican Emerges to Challenge Rep. Don Beyer in 2016

Republican congressional hopeful Mike Webb (photo via Facebook)An Arlington Republican says he intends to challenge Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) in next year’s election.

Mike Webb announced his candidacy with a with a press release yesterday.

Webb says he’s a conservative Republican and a military veteran. A New Jersey native, Webb wants to bring “responsiveness and accountability” to Virginia’s Eighth District. He’s trying to assemble a diverse group of supporters to propel him to an unlikely victory.

“If we succeed in winning this race as a conservative Republican in the most liberal district in the nation and the most Democratic in the South, that will be a real revolution that will have national implications,” he said in a press release.

Webb’s Facebook page describes everything from his military background to his favorite movies.

“I own over 3000 DVDs and videocassettes, but still find myself at a movie theater looking for the latest film,” he writes. “I don’t think I have a favorite, but, I really like Good Fellas, and my favorite movie moment is Barbara Streisand singing ‘My Man,’ at the end of Funny Girl.”

After the jump: two of the first press releases sent by Webb.

Photo via Facebook

The first press release is entitled “Webb:  A New Conservative with a Politics of Revolution.”

“The revolution is not an apple that falls when it is ripe. You have to make it fall.”  Those were the words of Che Guevara, but, today, one local politician took a bold step by going to the World Wide Web to demand that his opponent reply to his letter requesting agreement on campaign finance reform.   Coincidentally, that candidate’s name was Webb, Mike Webb, Arlington Republican and challenger in the race against Donald S. Beyer, Jr., the incumbent in Virginia’s 8th Congressional District.  But, this is not the first time that Webb has done something new in social media or in politics.

Webb is a local aspirant to public office who is changing the rules of the game of politics, forever.  No candidate for federal office has ever personally posted on an opponent’s Facebook page.  “It just isn’t done,” Webb explains.  “It is like engaging your opponent in a debate, but in a completely open, free for all forum.  What candidate has the bravado to try that?  What incumbent would dare to accept that challenge?  Anything could happen, and most people, not just candidates, like control.”

As a rule in politics, candidates play at arm’s length in social media, permitting social media consultants and interns to create posts and Tweets and clips for social media, or permit fans and supporters to post embarrassing or challenging comments on the pages of their opponents.  “We get a Friend of Don Beyer with just about every post that we publish, but they always engage in personal attacks–never the issues,” states Webb.  Webb, last month, had sent an open email to the Beyer campaign that addressed the campaign finance reform issues but also to request that they take responsibility for their supporters harassment tactics, but received no reply.  So, after a Beyer supporter posted a rant several paragraphs long alleging that Webb knew nothing about science or politics, Webb got the idea to bring his concerns to the attention of the Beyer campaign through a similar method.  “We did not resort to personal attacks, like most of the Beyer supporters have on our site; we just requested an answer to our email,” explained Webb.

Webb claims that many residents are looking for responsiveness and accountability from their elected and appointed leaders. “One way to do that is to personally respond on social media.  Talk and engage with people.  Joke and chide.  Engage in dialogue.  That is what it is all about.”

Webb began pioneering the use of technology in graduate school in the 1990s, when he was the first candidate at Washington and Lee University to use email to reach potential voters for a student election.  Over ten years before, resorting to innovative campaign tactics, Webb was elected as the first African American to serve at the liberal arts institution that integrated in admitted its first African American in 1966, the year in which Webb was born, where General Robert E. Lee is buried on the campus, and where Confederate battle flags flew in the school chapel until last year. Out spent 20 to 1, in 1991, Webb almost unseated the New Jersey Assembly Speaker.  When Washington and Lee Alumni Director Beau Dudley learned that Webb was seeking to become the first African American from Washington and Lee to seek a seat in the U.S. Congress, he replied, “Nothing would surprise me about that guy.”

Webb’s efforts appear to be paying off.  In just two months, his Facebook page is at 500 page likes, and is the fastest growing conservative or Republican political page on Facebook, second only to the American Conservative, and proportionally the page, from any political or ideological affiliation, receiving the highest levels of engagement on regular posts, measured in likes, comments, and shares.  Moreover, Webb’s growth in social media is coming from constituencies thought inaccessible to most political experts.  “It’s outrageous!  The visitors to our social media presence are persons of color, persons of various religions, women, and youth–exactly who we are not supposed to get.  If we succeed in winning this race as a conservative Republican in the most liberal district in the nation and the most Democratic in the South, that will be a real revolution that will have national implications.  We will just have to wait and see,” says Webb.

Mike Webb is a retired USAR field grade officer and former Airborne Ranger.  He is a designee for the Arlington County Human Rights Commission, as well as the Disability Advisory Commission. He is also the son of the Rev. Ercel Franklin Webb, the first African American State Chaplain for the New Jersey National Guard, the first African American president of the American Baptist Convention of New Jersey, one of the first African Americans to serve on the board of directors for the American Baptists Convention, USA, and deceased trustee emeritus from Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary and College.

The second press release is titled “The Democrats Are Coming: Webb, a Conservative Republican with Liberal Democrat Friends.”

Ronald Wilcox, the Lead Organizer of the Northern Virginia Tea Party calls Mike Webb, the Republican candidate for U.S. Congress in Virginia’s 8th Congressional District, a novelty:  a black Republican with black friends.  But, that is not all that he is.  Webb has been a campaign innovator since his days in high school, but this is a new one: running a campaign to elect a conservative Republican with the help of his liberal Democrat friends.  And, Webb has some pretty big liberal Democrats in his rolodex.

Beginning his community engagement campaign events next month, Webb is will begin a monthly community event to bring free HIV testing at the Washington Lee High School for a community ravaged by HIV infection, and with some of the highest incidents of sexually transmitted diseases in the nation.  But, in attendance to raise community awareness for the concern to his community, where the county provides limited testing by appointment and for a small fee, Webb has called on his grammar school pal, Cathy Scorsese, daughter of film director Martin Scorsese.  Webb also expects that many conservative and Republican dignitaries throughout the state will also be there to support the community event, which Webb believes will send a clear message beyond bipartisanship:  Republicans care about people, too.

Webb has several other surprising names in his vast rolodex, and is working on bringing in former Bill Clinton spiritual advisor, Tony Campolo to keynote at his inaugural prayer breakfast.  “They tell me that only Democrats can win in NOVA, so, I brought in some Democrats,” shrugs Webb.  “But, I have some big Republican friends, too.  Just wait and see.”

Mike Webb is a retired USAR field grade officer and former Airborne Ranger.  He is a designee for the Arlington County Human Rights Commission, as well as the Disability Advisory Commission. He is also the son of the Rev. Ercel Franklin Webb, the first African American State Chaplain for the New Jersey National Guard, the first African American president of the American Baptist Convention of New Jersey, one of the first African Americans to serve on the board of directors for the American Baptists Convention, USA, and deceased trustee emeritus from Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary and College.

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