Interview With RPV Chairman John Hager, Part 1May 11, 2008
In January, familyfoundation.org conducted an interview with Delegate Jeff Frederick (R-52, Woodbridge). Click here to read it. As three of those questions related to Delegate Frederick's campaign for Republican Party of Virginia chairman, we decided it was only fair to invite former Lt. Governor John Hager, the current state party chairman, to answer three questions about his campaign as well, and a few general questions. The election for chairman will be decided at the Republican state party convention May 30-31 at the Greater Richmond Convention Center, where delegates also will nominate its candidate to oppose Democrat and former Governor Mark Warner for the U.S. Senate in November.
Chairman Hager's answers to the eight questions we provided appear as submitted and are unedited. Part two will be posted tomorrow at around this time.
In addition, as we are a non-partisan organization, we also invited Democrat Party of Virginia Chairman Dickie Cranwell to participate in an interview on where his party stands in relation to issues of our concern. His interview will appear here in two parts starting Wednesday. We hope all of our readers enjoy these interviews, as well as others we have planned with major Virginia political figures, as much as we enjoy bringing them to you. We encourage you to leave your feedback in the comments section.
- The admin
familyfoundation.org: Lt. Governor Hager, thank you for joining us today. We are very happy you have agreed to take questions from us and look forward to providing our readers with your answers. We know there are a lot of interested voters, activists, media and others who are interested in your ideas and thoughts. Here we go:
Chairman John Hager: Thank you for the opportunity to respond to your questions. I am proud to serve as the Chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia and to be part of a great cause. Our party is made up of a dedicated group of individuals, both volunteers and paid staff, who labor each and every day to promote our principles and values. We all work together toward one common goal: electing Republicans at all levels of government- local, state, and federal.
familyfoundation.org: You've had a distinguished career as a business executive of a Fortune 500 company, a party leader, Lt. Governor, Mark Warner's Director of Commonwealth Preparedness, and an Assistant Education Secretary under President George W. Bush. What made you decide to serve as Republican Party of Virginia chairman at this point in your career?
Chairman Hager: Each position I have held was interesting and rewarding, and each allowed me to turn a challenge into an opportunity.
I served the people as Virginia's first full-time Lieutenant Governor and was America's first Lieutenant Governor in a wheelchair. Having had a successful business career I had the time and ability to devote 100% of my time to the job.
When terrorists attacked are country, I was working with Governor Gilmore to help Virginia respond. From that very day forward, I spent the next three years I working full-time to help protect Virginia — which is home to two prime targets in the National Capital Region and the Port of Hampton Roads — from future attacks. I stayed on after Governor Gilmore left office at the urging of Virginia's Republican Congressional Delegation because of the gravity of the situation and the importance of improving preparedness in the Commonwealth. My record on that matter is clear. My service on security was to the people of Virginia and most Republicans understood that the security of our people was and remains the highest priority.
I then served President Bush with a dedication to America's seven million Special Education Students and millions of Americans undergoing some form of rehabilitative training to return to full employment.
In the summer of 2007, I decided that I had been largely successful in achieving my goals in Washington and around the country. Further, in the position of RPV Chairman, I saw an opportunity to promote the cause in which I deeply believe and to put my experience and skill to work to improve our party operation and to elect more Republicans. In August of last year, I was selected to fulfill the term of Chairman at RPV. We have begun rebuilding our party and we have had successes, but there is still a lot of hard work to do to make the Republican Party of Virginia strong.
familyfoundation.org: Many values voters lost faith with General Assembly Republicans in 2007 because for so many years they controlled the General Assembly and so many important bills were killed, primarily in the Senate. As RPV chair, do you actively promote a pro-family issues platform and hold the Republican leadership in both chambers to it?
Chairman Hager: Having served as Lieutenant Governor for four years and having worked with the General Assembly, I understand the frustration values voters experience when they see important bills take too long to be signed into law, or, even worse, killed. The legislative process is sometimes not so pretty.
As RPV Chairman, I partner with the House and Senate Republican leadership to promote the Republican agenda, including many pro-family issues that I strongly support. As a team with Bob McDonnell and Bill Bolling, we now have the best opportunity in years to promote pro-family issues.
familyfoundation.org: What role do you see for the parties in the policy debate in general? Should that be left up only to the candidates and lawmakers while the party just concentrates on organization, recruitment and fundraising?
Chairman Hager: We are a partner with the Congressional Republican and General Assembly Republican leadership, our Republican statewide elected officials, and local elected Republicans in the policy debate. Our job is to work with Republicans to advance new issues and ideas and to promote them when supported by the State Central Committee. A good example is the push for Party Registration this year. We also conduct research and lobby Republicans to promote those issues that have enthusiastic support within the Party. We go far beyond organization, recruitment, and fundraising. Those are the activities that allow us to be effective.
RPV should be seen as an asset to candidates and campaigns. It is our mission to get Republicans elected. Many of our candidates have different backgrounds and represent different regional ideas and needs. Our party is there to support them all.
familyfoundation.org: What and who were your political and philosophical influences? What was it that influenced you to go into public service?
Chairman Hager: I was born into a Republican family and have remained in the party ever since. I have always been conservative by nature and have seen firsthand the impact our ideas can have in strengthening our Commonwealth and our country.
Dick Obenshain was an early political influence as my first Republican meeting took place in his living room in the 1970s. During the next decade, I was an enthusiastic Ronald Reagan delegate in 1980 at the RNC Convention in Detroit, and I was with Congressman Tom Bliley when he got his start in Washington.
There is a reason I have participated in so much over the years. After surviving a near fatal polio attack years ago, I have been motivated to take advantage of opportunities to give back and serve others.