College of William and Mary Board of Visitor member Pete Snyder ’94 announced his intention to run for lieutenant governor of Virginia this past Monday.
Snyder spoke at the College Republicans meeting Nov. 29 about the state of the Republican Party and what he hopes to bring to the lieutenant governor race. Snyder dove into politics this year while serving as a Republican campaign commentator for Fox News.
Snyder admitted this year’s elections were a disappointment but expressed great confidence in the Republican message. He said Virginia’s status as a national standard-setter inspired him to enter the race.
“I truly believe states are the great laboratories of ideas,” Snyder said. “Once again, all eyes are going to be on Virginia. How do we respond? What are we doing? How will our party here rally and fight for liberty? And that was what called me to run for lieutenant governor.”
Snyder plans to present himself as a business-friendly, Washington, D.C. outsider, drawing from his experience at New Media Strategies, the social media marketing company he founded. In his talk, Snyder explained his plans to advocate for conservative, free market principles in his platform.
He named education as the first of three areas he wishes to reform in Virginia. One reform he suggested includes increasing the amount of accredited charter schools in Virginia.
“There’s an education revolution in New Orleans right now, post-Katrina,” Snyder said. “Why? Because they had to bring in charter schools to rebuild their system. We need these free-market ideas in Virginia.”
He also plans to foster business growth in Virginia through lower taxes and deregulation.
“We need to open up Virginia even more for entrepreneurs,” Snyder said. “I want to fight to get rid of the corporate income tax for business. Imagine if we can get rid of [it]. It would create a haven for relocation and investment for both medium- and small-sized business. There’s no reason why Virginia can’t be a haven for entrepreneurs.”
He also hopes to orient his campaign around the idea of reduced government spending.
“Time and time again families and businesses are being asked to tighten their belts,” Snyder said. “Government can do the same. … Our Governor went into [the Virginia Department of Transportation], shook out the cushions, and found $1.4 billion – with a B. I think people can find 10 percent of their budget to cut.”
Students in the College Republicans reacted positively to Snyder’s talk and expressed optimism about the Republican party’s long-term message.
“Snyder said we had a difficult time getting our message across, and I think if we have a clear-cut message in the 2013 state election, things will start going our way,” College Republican Chair Chandler Crenshaw ’14 said.
Crenshaw also said support from College Republican members will not wane after this election season.
“I think our turnout tonight shows students are still going to be interested and involved. Even though we lost in November, people are still going to come out in the fall to canvas and phonebank,” Crenshaw said.
Former Chair Tyler Johnson ’13 also has high hopes for Republican student involvement, arguing that the nature of state elections encourages a stronger connection with the candidates.
“I think people will be really motivated because people see that local politics are the only safeguard against the federal government. … One of the unique things about state races [is] that when you campaign for someone like Mike Watson or Pete Snyder, these are guys you can make connections with. … I think that’s a unique draw for campaigning for local elections,” Johnson said.