First let me show you what's appears in today's Times, or at least a portion thereof (see "9th District long shot's story of blackmail rings true"):
What [Jeremiah Heaton] never expected was the bare-knuckled politics, including what he called "threats" and "blackmail."
Those strong words, he told me Sunday, arise from what Heaton called an ugly carrot-and-stick showdown in an Abingdon pastor's office Sept. 17 aimed at forcing him to drop out of the race.
If he did, he said he was told, he would get Republican Party support for a future House of Delegates bid.
If he refused, Heaton said he was told, scandalous information would be spread about his "business relationship" with Boucher's wife, Amy.
This probably leaves you wondering what this "business relationship" is. Well, here we go: Amy Boucher has played banjo in a five-piece bluegrass band at Heaton's business, the Damascus General Store, three times in the past year.
Heaton paid the band $200 each time. If the money was divvied evenly, Amy Boucher earned $120. Big deal, right?
Boucher said he had heard the "business relationship" rumors and called them "a lot about nothing."
A month later, on Oct. 17, Reavis sent an e-mail to reporters and others in which he referenced the "business relationship" and encouraged reporters to look into it.
That got picked up Oct. 18 on an influential conservative Southwest Virginia political blog, From On High. Blogger Jerry Fuhrman's headline was, "Scandal Rocks the 9th District," though it seems he meant that tongue-in-cheek.
The bottom line is, the gossip about Heaton's business and Boucher's wife indeed got spread after Heaton refused some Griffith backers' request that he drop out. [link]
1) Jeremiah Heaton has no chance of winning this election. But his poll numbers hover in the 4% range. With Morgan Griffith and Rick Boucher currently running in a dead heat, Heaton's 4% becomes all important and could make all the difference one way or another.
2) If Jeremiah Heaton were trying to unseat the incumbent, a rational person might think that he would be running against the incumbent. Instead Mr. Heaton has chosen to devote his every energy to attacking the Republican in this race. Remember his infamous YouTube video that had him blaming Morgan Griffith for having created conditions such that people who look Mexican are able to work on Virginia's road crews? Like Griffith ... and not Boucher ... has anything to do with immigration policy?
Heaton's explanation for this bizarre campaign strategy?
"Morgan Griffith took my opportunity to beat Rick Boucher away from me by rolling in here with all this special-interest money and running in a congressional district where he does not live. I don't care if his feelings are hurt." (source)
That's why Heaton has chosen to employ the tactic of relentlessly attacking Boucher's opponent so as to get Boucher defeated.
Can you say Strange? As well as Strained? Do I need to drag out my bullshit-o-meter again?
3) If Jeremiah Heaton has a bug up his butt about Morgan Griffith, so be it. If he chooses to waste his time attacking the incumbent's only real opposition, fine. But then the real bottom line kicks in. As it turns out, Mr. Boucher and Mr. Heaton have met in the recent past, with the flimsiest of explanations provided ("Boucher said that both he and Heaton have met before to discuss the impact of Heaton's general store in Damascus on the town's tourism economy.")
Right. Two guys running for the same office never discussed running or the office.
More importantly, a business relationship exists between two competing candidates in the race for Virginia's 9th Congressional District seat. The reporter can poo-poo the amount that changed hands (as Boucher's Committee for Southwest Virginia will attest, the money is no object to the Bouchers these days anyway), but what can't be denied is the relationship.
So who are the two candidates who have this business relationship both devoting their time and resources to defeating? Morgan Griffith.
That, to me, adds up to more than just coincidence.
As for the Times reporter who cited my weblog post, "Scandal Rocks the 9th District," I would respectfully recommend another: "I Smell a Rat." What I wrote then and will repeat now is that something in this story smells. And it's not that a concerned citizen down in Abingdon tried to get Jeremiah Heaton to bow out of the race by dangling some promised reward in front of his nose. It's that Morgan Griffith may lose the election because of the (coordinated?) efforts of Rick Boucher and Jeremiah Heaton.
Bottom line? There's a story to be told here. Perhaps the Roanoke Times can see fit - some day - to tell it.