The Northern Virginia Daily's Political Depot

A service for our readers outside the Northern Shenandoah Valley... a sampling of The Daily's political coverage, plus unofficial, 'reporter's notebook' stuff. And occasional dry humor...

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Location: Strasburg, Virginia

Monday, August 08, 2005

Potts not political at gala speech; A1

By Garren Shipley
Daily Staff Writer

FRONT ROYAL — One of the state’s three gubernatorial hopefuls made an appearance here Saturday evening, but the topic wasn’t politics.

Independent candidate state Sen. H. Russell Potts Jr., R-Winchester, spoke to the annual “Save Our Gateway” gala at the Shenandoah Valley Golf Club, but he did not discuss his run for office.

Instead, Potts congratulated the group on its successful effort to keep Wal-Mart from building a new store on Strasburg Road.

“I knew when he came to this cause, we had hope,” Mayor James Eastham said, speaking before Potts. The senator was given a standing ovation when he took the podium.

Wal-Mart opponents credit Potts with convincing the world’s largest retailer to look elsewhere in Warren County for a site on which to build the proposed Supercenter.

“I want you all to look out there,” Potts said, gesturing toward the room’s massive wall of windows.

“That’s one beautiful view we’re looking at, and there’s only one view I can think of that’s more beautiful than that, and it’s right down the road there,” he said, referring to the abandoned Wal-Mart site between the two forks of the Shenandoah River.

“I want you all to revel in a great victory,” he said. “Isn’t it amazing what you can accomplish when you’re not worried about who will get the credit. The magic of life itself is the word ‘we,’ not ‘I.’”

Save our Gateway’s efforts are a prime example of how democracy works in the United States, he said.

“I just knew we would prevail,” he said. “This is a democracy 101” and would be a good lesson for today’s students.

“Virginia is worth fighting for,” Potts said.

But he cautioned the group that the fight isn’t over, and won’t be until Wal-Mart has found a new location and built the store.

“Many a team has lost a football game because they didn’t punch it into the end zone,” he said.

Potts is challenging Democratic Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine and Republican former Attorney General Jerry Kilgore for the right to succeed Gov. Mark R. Warner.

Election Day is Nov. 8.