Republican Senate candidate Daniel Gade, who grew up on a small farm in North Dakota, found himself in familiar surroundings while at the Rockingham County Fairgrounds Tuesday as he met and spoke with voters.
“I grew up showing sheep. I grew up doing 4-H, so this is like coming home for me,” the Fairfax Army veteran and university professor said outside an animal show area at the fairgrounds south of Harrisonburg.
Gade is running against two-term incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Warner and campaigning across the commonwealth before the November election.
One voter Gade met at the fair was Penn Laird resident Deb Medlin.
“I think he’s a great American,” she said. “He sacrificed and lost a leg for love of his country.”
In 2005, Gade was injured by an improvised explosive device while deployed in Iraq, and 25 other service members donated blood to help save his life.
“America is an idea, and I believe [Gade] stands for that idea,” Medlin said.
She said some of the biggest issues for her in the upcoming election are illegal immigration and the protection of the Second Amendment.
“These people are working together as Americans to make their communities better, and they don’t care about what happens in Richmond and Washington, D.C., except for when it interferes with their lives,” Gade said. “So I want to be part helping government get out of their lives so they can thrive on their own terms. That’s what this is all about.”
Gade said the COVID-19 pandemic hit many farmers hard by breaking down supply chains, impacting prices and reducing other sources of income.
“It’s really important to get our economy back up, to get our supply chains working, so that where America is fed, which is on farms, gets to continue to do this hard work,” Gade said.
He said there needs to be a tailored response instead of a blanket response to tackling COVID-19, based on scientific evidence, and a response that accounts for the realities of different communities.
“Knee-jerk government overreach is what caused most of this disruption, not the illness itself, which to be clear is a serious illness that we need to find a vaccine for and be careful with vulnerable people and so forth,” Gade said.
U.S. Rep. Ben Cline, R-Lexington, also visited the Rockingham County Fairgrounds Tuesday and attended other events with Gade.
“Gade will not get as much money as Warner from the PACs but he will make up that with retail campaigning on the ground, and I’ve been with him from Roanoke all the way up here as he’s been meeting people and telling his story,” Cline said.
Gade raised $1 million from the beginning of 2019 to July 24, with $973,000 coming from individuals, while Warner raised $9.9 million between the beginning of the year and June 30, with $6.25 million coming from individuals, according to the most recent data available from the Federal Election Commission.
After meeting voters at the fairgrounds, Cline and Gade each gave a short speech behind the local Republican campaign headquarters on South Main Street, where they met and spoke with voters and other local representatives, including Dels. Tony Wilt, R-Broadway, and Chris Runion, R-Bridgewater.
“My personal thought is if there is anyone that can finally defeat Mark Warner, it is [Daniel Gade],” said Pat Haden, who has supported Republican candidates and policies previously.
Haden said supports a smaller federal government.
“The government belongs to the people — the people don’t belong to the government,” Haden said.
Haden said her three biggest priorities in the upcoming election are political corruption, the economy and support of law enforcement.
“There’s bad apples in every barrel and I’m perfectly aware of that, but that’s all I’m going to say,” she added.
Earlier Tuesday, Gade attended a Back the Blue rally in support of law enforcement in Roanoke, one of his many stops across the state that has included parts of Southwest Virginia and a visit to a coal mine.
“This is a job interview, and in order for the people of Virginia they need to know who I am and meet me, so I’m going around Virginia doing a job interview,” Gade said.