Cline walks district in bid for Goodlatte’s seat

Sixth District Republican candidate Ben Cline, left, waves at motorists while walking down South Main Street in Woodstock on Friday evening with Republican Party members Woodstock Mayor Jeremy McCleary, center, and attorney Chad Logan, right. Rich Cooley/Daily

WOODSTOCK – Del. Benjamin Cline brought his walking tour of Virginia’s 6th Congressional District to town Friday in the run-up to the Nov. 6 election.

Cline, R-Lexington, seeks the seat held by longtime U.S. Representative and fellow Republican Bob Goodlatte. Cline’s opponent, Democratic candidate Jennifer Lewis, intends to flip the district for her party.

Woodstock Mayor Jeremy McCleary and other supporters joined Cline as he walked from Shaffer’s restaurant along U.S. 11 through downtown, stopping in some of the businesses and talking to employees and residents, as well as the town police and fire departments. Cline said he intends to take his walking tour through Strasburg and Front Royal later this week.

“It has two main purposes: one is to introduce myself to the district,” Cline said. “You know I represent 80,000 constituents in the central part of the 6th District, but this gives me a chance to tell people a little bit about my story, the issues that I’m advocating for and where I’m from and what I believe in.

“But it’s also an opportunity for me to hear from people about the issues that are important to them, the priorities they want me to take to Washington and learn a little bit about the small towns that I’m walking through because this is a small-town, grassroots campaign,” Cline added. “I’m from a small town – Lexington – very similar to Woodstock. I grew up there. The values are very similar. The priorities are very similar but each one is unique, and this campaign’s about taking those small-town values to Washington.”

When asked how he would differentiate himself from Goodlatte or continue his work, Cline said the congressman has served as an advocate for the district, its agriculture base and manufacturing sector.

“For the constituents, he provides excellent constituent service, and that’s something I definitely want to continue,” Cline said. “The federal government belongs to the citizens. The federal government works for the citizens and not the other way around, and all too often those of us who pay taxes feel like the federal government ignores us out here ignores our priorities. I want to represent the district in a way that ensures a responsive federal government, a federal government that when they are working with constituents and taxpayers, they respond in a reasonable time, they react, and hopefully they address the concerns. That requires not only someone who is not only aggressive and can try to get answers out of the federal government when they need to, but it is also someone who is going to just make themselves available, make themselves accessible and listen.”

Goodlatte has come under fire by many of his vocal constituents who claimed he doesn’t respond to their concerns. Goodlatte also has not held town hall meetings in person as his constituents have demanded during his current term.

Cline pointed out that he holds four town-hall meetings a year in his House of Delegates district and he plans to continue this kind of outreach. Cline has served in the state house for 16 years and, as such, has held approximately 60 meetings, he said.

“I’m committed to having them as a congressman, and so I look forward to having one up this way,” Cline said.

Asked what he feels sets him apart from Lewis, Cline said:

“Well, I have grown up here and worked here and raised a family here. I share the values of this district. I have represented those values in Richmond, and I’ve been a leader for common-sense, conservative priorities for agriculture, manufacturing, families, and I am in the best position to deliver for this district in Washington.”