Pete Snyder had already made a name for himself in DC circles as owner of New Media Strategies, a social media marketing company he founded in 1999, before he decided to get a little more inside the political game by running in the Republican primary for Lieutenant Governor of Virginia in 2013. He lost that contest but was undeterred, chairing the 2017 campaign for Republican Ed Gillespie’s run for Virginia’s Governor.
Gillespie lost, too. But after four years of Democratic Governor Ralph Northam’s leadership, and a one-party rule situation in Richmond that Snyder calls “an unmitigated disaster,” the 48-year-old father and communications expert reckoned perhaps the time was right to throw his hat into the big ring himself and run for Governor.
And the trauma of the school closings in Fairfax County, Va. have given Snyder a timely policy platform that cuts across partisan divides in a state that works very closely with Washington, DC. And closing the partisan gap is a crucial element if a Republican hopes to win.
“The very same frustrations and angst that I heard from business owners all last year who were fighting for their lives,” Snyder tells RedState, “not because they made bad decisions, but because their own government decided to pick winners and losers…[and] it shattered their dreams…when I’ve been talking to parents and students about the schools issues…it’s the very same thing: they feel unseen and unheard by their own government.”
Snyder has been paying attention to the polls that indicate a majority of teachers who have returned to the classroom are comfortable with that decision. And he’s got his eye on the science related to school closings, releasing a statement back in January responding to the the CDC’s proclamation of “scant spread” of coronavirus among children.
“Despite the fact that science says our schools can and should open, career politicians refuse to stand up to the union bosses and are holding our children hostage,” Snyder said at the time. “Instead of following the science, Democrats prefer to line their pockets with special interest money for political, partisan gain. We need a disruptor to break up the status quo and bring new leadership to Richmond.”
Snyder believes that not only is he the disruptor the state needs, but that the disruption he brings would be welcomed by people across political interests because the desire to get kids back in schools — and break the stranglehold of teacher unions over Democrats in the state and at the national level — takes precedence over party loyalty.
“Virginia is the beginning tremors of an earthquake that’s going to hit the entire nation over the next year,” Snyder says. “The fundamentals of government have fallen down over the past year — 85% of schools are still closed and unions are pulling the strings on that. Coronavirus didn’t do this — our government did. And our civil liberties have been shredded the past year under the guise of a pandemic. The people are sick and tired of it…and that’s why we’re going to win this nomination, and we’re going to win in Virginia.”
Snyder is so confident he’s based his campaign on the issue of school closings — which he says is just an age-old tale about money and politics — and has sunk his own money into an #OpenOurSchoolsTour, which allows him to speak with local leaders and communities across the state about removing obstructionist school board members keeping children home.
And his confidence comes in spite of the Democrat stronghold in Virginia and the lingering questions in some conservative circles about election integrity.
“I’m an optimist, but I’m not a fool,” Snyder says. “I would not be running for governor if there was a slim to none chance of a Republican getting elected.”