Today Ralph Smith was the guest speaker at the Montgomery County GOP luncheon. The luncheon was well attended, a few new faces; most of them coming from Roanoke to support Smith.
The interesting thing from today was what Smith talked about in his speech.
First off, he began talking about how the Senate district has 2 parts; the Roanoke Valley and the New River Valley; and that the Senator needs to remember that and not forget about the part they aren't from. He pointed to his election as Roanoke City mayor where he reached out and listened to the NW area that voted about 3-5% for him and how he tried to represent everyone as mayor.
He then basically spent the rest of the time on open government. He wants to see a state run website that would allow the user to look up any and all government contracts any company has as well as a detailed financial statement of where all our money is going.
What I took from this was the following: first and foremost, Smith is not the best speaker. I think he did his best when talking about the open government thing (b/c I guess he is most passionate about it) but all-in-all he isn't a great speaker.
Second, the issues he has chosen aren't that good in my book strategically. They may be good issues, but Bell is disliked for his smoking ban bill and the support for tax increases. If Smith is going to win this primary; he has to focus on those two issues and convince people that he is better than Bell on them.
Lastly, he does need to continue to talk about his background. His experience in the party and his devotion to the cause should help him. Also his story of how he began work at a gas station and built a company from his hard work should play well; especially in the Roanoke and Christianburg business communities.
All in all I think Smith needs a new strategy if he is going to win, but his story is a pretty good one.
UPDATE: At the luncheon there were flyers from Brandon Bell that listed his supporters. By my count, there were 615 names in the list (I think it must be all his donors). From what I can tell, there are some on there who do not live in the district; but most of them do. There are about 115-120k registered voters in the district. A 10% primary turnout means around 12,000 total votes. 600 votes out of 12,000 might not seem like much; but thats a pretty good bank of people to raise money and do grassroots work for you. We will now have to see how Smith's organization shapes up.