By Randy Arrington
STANLEY, April 22 — Among the high-profile speakers that engaged the 125 attendees of the annual Lincoln Day Dinner, Bryan Cave made the biggest announcement on Friday evening at the Stanley Fire Hall. The Assistant Commonwealth Attorney announced his official bid to become Page County’s top prosecutor.
“I have had some tough speaking engagements over the last 20 years, but I have never had to follow a United States Congressman, a long-serving member of the Virginia Senate, the Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates and the Chairman of the VA GOP 6th District,” Cave said. “This is gonna be tough.”
Last month, both houses of the General Assembly confirmed the nominations of five judges submitted by the legislative delegation of the 26th Judicial Circuit to fill vacancies within the region. Among those confirmations was Page County Commonwealth’s Attorney Kenneth L. Alger II, who was appointed as a General District Court judge. Alger will begin his duties on June 1 and replace the Honorable Dale Houff, who officially retires on May 1 after more than two decades on the bench.
A joint special session of the Page County Circuit Court and the Page County General District Court will be held at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, May 31 in the circuit court room for the investiture of Alger as a judge. A reception will follow at the Mimslyn Inn.
According to Virginia Code, the next in line — Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Cave — will automatically take over the top prosecutor’s role until a special election is held this November to fill the remainder of Alger’s term, which runs through Dec. 31, 2023. Another election for commonwealth’s attorney will be held in November 2023 for the next four-year term, which would run through Dec. 31, 2027.
“…I believe that the Commonwealth’s Attorney should work to make the county he serves safer, and not make the law-abiding citizens of the county more susceptible to crime and danger,” Cave told the GOP faithful on Friday. “Because of these beliefs, and because of the recent elevation of my friend of almost 40 years, soon-to-be Judge Alger, tonight, I am officially announcing my candidacy to be the next Commonwealth’s Attorney of Page County.”
Cave’s message resonated with the Republican audience as he firmly stated his support for law enforcement officers.
“I believe that a Commonwealth’s Attorney should work with law enforcement,” Cave told the GOP faithful on Friday. “These men and women know that every morning — and the events of the last year and a half unfortunately bare this out — they may not come home. If they are willing to put that on the line every day, then the least I can do as the Commonwealth’s Attorney is to support them.”
As a lawyer and prosecutor, Cave also shared the focus of his conservative values — the rule of law.
“We each have our own passions that make us identify as conservative, as Republicans…I am conservative because I believe in a conservative approach to the rule of law,” he said. “Without the rule of law, nothing else matters; everything flows from it. And political ideology with the Rule of Law is paramount.”
Cave referenced the 2019 elections, which saw both houses of the Virginia legislature and the executive branch fall under control of the Democrats, and he criticized laws and legislative adjustments passed during that time.
“The laws that were passed, amended, ratified and erased, in my opinion, made the role of law enforcement more difficult, and made the Commonwealth a little less safe…Along with these new laws, we started noticing across the Commonwealth, a bit of a movement in the types of prosecutors, of Commonwealth’s Attorneys, that were speaking. They call themselves Progressive Prosecutors. And while I tend to believe in the goodness of people first, I just don’t see how their approach to prosecuting can be effective,” Cave said. “I find them to be too quick to judge our police. I find them too quick to replace their ideologies for the laws passed by the General Assembly. And I find their positions on punishment to be less than effective. This is not how I have tried to practice as the Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney for Page County for the last three-and-a-half years. This is not my ideology.”
The last to speak among Friday night’s lineup, Cave followed remarks by the following at the 2022 Lincoln Day Dinner:
• Congressman Ben Cline (6th Dist.- Botetourt);
• Virginia Senator Mark Obenshain (26th Dist – Harrisonburg.);
• Speaker of the House of Delegates Todd Gilbert (15th Dist. – Woodstock);
• Virginia 6th District GOP Chairman John Massoud.
Todd Gilbert, who has represented the northern Shenandoah Valley in the House of Delegates since 2006, also highlighted the evening as he told a personal story about his experience of becoming Virginia’s Speaker of the House. Specifically, he recalled how his 4-year-old son decided to join him at the podium, when he was addressing his fellow members of the House.
“He took off his socks and his shoes and started rolling around on the floor under my feet, and I thought ‘okay we’re gonna do this’,” Gilbert recalled. “The photographers all gathered to take his picture instead of mine. He ran maskless through the Democrats, and they didn’t know what to do.”
Longtime friend and fellow member of the House Rob Bell of Charlottesville “crouched down in the aisle with a cookie and caught him,” Gilbert recalled with a grin. “That’s what I remember most about the whole thing, not the history or anything else.”
The Shenandoah County resident served as House Majority leader in 2017 and House Minority Leader in 2020. Now with a House majority once again, the Speaker wants to see the Virginia Senate swing back in favor of Republicans as well.
“Let’s get rid of the [Democrat] majority in the Senate that is getting in the way of bringing common sense back,” Gilbert said. “I don’t have a better partner in the legislature that Mark Obenshain.”
As Speaker, Gilbert now holds the power to make committee assignments among delegates and decide which bills get discussed on the floor of the House.
“”It’s been the honor of my life to not only be your delegate, but to be Speaker,” Gilbert said. “It’s surreal to say ‘I’m here to see the Governor’ and they let you in.”
The annual GOP dinner raised several thousand dollars for the Page County Republic Committee.
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