10th House District: Minchew Brings Policy, Campaign Experience To Run
By Erika Jacobson Moore
Leesburg attorney Randy Minchew is a familiar face in county government and Loudoun politics, and has been for many years, but his first foray into the field occurred more than three decades ago. He was in his hometown of McLean, eating lunch one summer day in 1976, when he saw new Republican candidate Frank Wolf working the crowd and talking to voters.
“So I talked to him, and he took the time to talk to me-just out of high school and a new registered voter,” Minchew said. “That really made an impression on me.”
Northern Virginia is Minchew’s life-long home, having graduated from Langley High School in 1976. After receiving his degree from Duke University in 1980 and working in North Carolina, Minchew made his way back to Washington, DC, for Wolf’s oath of office and President Ronald Reagan’s inauguration later that year. He graduated from Washington & Lee University’s law school in 1984, serving as class president his senior year.
His parents, who were raised as staunch Southern Democrats, were interested in politics, volunteering for campaigns, but Minchew said around the time he entered high school and the campaigns of Henry Howell, “they started to realize their party had left them.”
“I witnessed my parents make that change to the Republican Party, and I was fascinated by the metamorphosis,” he said, adding that it taught him about seeking candidates who truly represented his personal beliefs.
Minchew said he is a believer in community service and working hard for the causes you support. He has worked on Republican campaigns from local races, to the state campaigns of Bill Mims and Del. Joe T. May, to the federal races of Wolf and Republican presidential nominees since the 1970s, and is just as committed to giving back to his neighbors.
Minchew, who moved to Loudoun in 1992, served two full terms as chairman of the Loudoun County Republican Committee, as well as chairman of the Loudoun County Boy Scouts, general counsel to the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, life director of the Northern Virginia Building Industry Association, and general counsel to the Board of Trustees of the Loudoun Country Day School. In August 2010, Minchew was appointed deputy counselor and advisor to Gov. Bob McDonnell.
After McDonnell was elected, Minchew was offered the opportunity to move down to Richmond full-time, but said it was not the right choice for his family. Instead he was given the part-time position where he could work as much as he could spare. That role, Minchew said, gave him a new view of how the state government works, as he worked on the governor’s legislative agenda from the transportation package to the privatization of the state’s ABC stores.
“It really gave me a view of the chief executive’s role in public policy and the legislative process to get things passed in the General Assembly,” he said.
After all of his years of working in government and volunteering for campaigns, this year marks the second time he is making a run for office himself. He ran in the special election in 2006 for the state Senate. It was redistricting that was the impetus, he said, noting he never expected his home to be redistricted out of May’s 33rd District, since both men live in Leesburg. But with the newly created 10th District in the House of Delegates an opportunity arose.
“You develop friendships and loyalties in politics that are almost transcendent,” Minchew said, “and I would have never run against Joe.”
But when May called him directly to tell him about the potential new district, Minchew decided it was time. He resigned from McDonnell’s administration in May, and announced he intended to run.
Like most candidates, Minchew acknowledged that “transportation and education always come right to the top” of the priority issues. Transportation must be figured out, he said, acknowledging that the $4 billion plan passed this year cannot be replicated in the same way and there needs to be a more permanent solution. But that solution cannot include tax increases of any type, he said, pointing out that the traditional reliance on the gasoline tax in particular is unsustainable as prices become cost prohibitive and new technology reduces individuals’ reliance on cars and gas.
“Funding transportation is about reallocating priorities,” Minchew said, saying he supported a more wholesale review of the state government like what occurred with the Virginia Department of Transportation last year.
Minchew believes public-private partnerships need to be expanded, and said the infrastructure bank, which was emphasized this year, could be a way to do that-with the bank serving as the public side of the equation that the private sector could apply to.
“We need to harness the thinking of the private sector to address these issues,” he said.
An infrastructure bank could address the construction funding so lacking at the state level, which would leave more of the revenues available to address road maintenance issues.
When it comes to the budget, Minchew notes that the state’s revenues are good. “We’re having surpluses. But we have to allocate the money properly.”
Minchew said it would always be painful to make decisions on what should be funded, but that it has to be done to spend the taxpayer’s money efficiently and wisely.
“There will not be a tax increase in 2012. I will go ahead and make that prediction now,” he said. “So it is going to get down to shuffling the money.”
The key functions of government are transportation, public safety and education, Minchew said, and those must be funded, instead of other non-essential functions of government, such as public radio and television.
“If the localities wish to fund that they have every right to do that,” he said. “But I believe in limited government and that government is best when it stays out of things that the private sector can do.”
Minchew has deep-rooted experience in economic development, having helped start the county’s Economic Development Commission in the mid-90s and serving as chairman in 1997 and 1998. While he was chairman of the EDC, Minchew co-chaired the Rural Economic Development Task Force-the 1997 panel that created Loudoun’s 200,000 Acre Solution report to address rural economic development. Minchew said he is proud that since that report came out in 1998 the value of the rural economy in Loudoun has doubled. “Of all the things I have done, that seems to have had the greatest number of returns.”
He said he would like to use his experience on the 200,000 Acre Solution to help McDonnell develop a plan to meet his goal of conserving 150,000 acres of land in the commonwealth.
“There is a conservation ethic that occurs in the 10th District and I am no exception,” he said. Indeed, when Minchew and his wife, a preservationist, first moved to Loudoun, they purchased an old house on Market Street in Leesburg, planning to renovate and restore it.
One issue one which Minchew is committed to working is the enforcement of the 10th Amendment, which states, “powers not granted to the federal government nor prohibited to the states by the Constitution are reserved, respectively, to the states or the people.”
“The state governments are granted the right to push back on the federal government,” Minchew said. “The General Assembly is given the right to be trustees for the people and there should be laws enacted by the legislature to begin that push back.”
Minchew said the most obvious overreach of the federal government is in the health care legislation, but said Virginia has much to be concerned about over the Total Maximum Daily Loads for area waterways that will be coming down through the Environmental Protection Agency.
“There is no money being provided to implement that and that is going to impact the state and the localities,” Minchew said. “There should never be unfunded mandates from the federal government to the states and from the states to the local governments.”
Minchew said he hopes he and other members of the General Assembly can work with the Department of Environmental Quality to reduce the negative impact on localities-and said it will be key to helping keep taxes down locally.
“People just cannot afford this,” he said.
Minchew said he represents a unique opportunity for the Loudoun voter-one not found in his opponents. “My lifetime of experience combined with my baseline conservative philosophy will be a benefit in Richmond and will help me to serve the people well.”
His decades of service has taught him about how to work for the people around him-and he said it is that value he will take with him to Richmond.
“Constituent services will the hallmark of my service. I’ll have an office in Leesburg. I’ll have an office in Winchester,” he said. “I want people to come to me, to come and talk to me about what they need.”
Without knowing their legislator is listening to them, residents cannot trust them, Minchew said. “People want to trust you. They want to hear that you’re an honest disciple of your values,” he said. “And that is what I am. I will work to turn their beliefs and priorities into good public policy.”