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

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Shenandoah's Gilbert wins backing from NFIB; B1

By Garren Shipley
Daily Staff Writer

The Republican contender in the race for the 15th House of Delegates seat was endorsed by a state business group Tuesday.

The National Federation of Independent Business put its support behind former Assistant Shenandoah County Commonwealth’s Attorney Todd Gilbert. But the Democrat in the race said the group never bothered to ask him his views before picking his GOP opponent.

Gilbert is running against Democrat Jim Blubaugh, a retired federal worker and business owner from Rappahannock County.

Both men seek to succeed retiring Del. Allen Louderback, R-Luray.

The National Federation of Independent Business is an organization that lobbies for small businesses in Washington and Richmond. It represents some 9,000 enterprises in the commonwealth.

“Your response to the NFIB candidate questionnaire made you one of our top contenders in the 2005 election,” wrote Gordon Dixon, the federation’s state director in Richmond, in a letter to the Gilbert campaign informing it of the group’s decision.

“Your response to keeping health insurance [costs] low for small businesses, full repeal of the death tax and tort reform is not only good for small business owners, but the employees of small business.”

“I’m delighted to have the endorsement of the NFIB,” Gilbert said. “The NFIB is really the leading small-business advocate in the country and in Virginia.”

Blubaugh said he never received a questionnaire or any other contact from the lobby group, but would still be very interested in talking with it in the future.

Calls to the federation’s office in Richmond for comment weren’t returned Tuesday.

“Folks in business really need somebody fighting for them,” Gilbert said. “By fighting for business owners, you’re also fighting for the people who are working for them. I think they deserve a legislator who is going to stand up for them in Richmond.”

The candidate said he’d do that by working to repeal the estate tax (sometimes called the death tax), lower taxes and support less cumbersome business regulations.

“Government regulation can be so oppressive on a small business that it can really drive that business owner to decide that it’s not worth being in business anymore,” Gilbert said.

Blubaugh said he’s well-acquainted with the needs of small business and would support those interests if elected.

“I’m a businessman myself, and I’m sensitive to the issues of job creation and the problems that businesses have, especially related to health insurance,” he said.