“I think there is a vacuum of leadership,” said Christiansburg Delegate Dave Nutter (R-7th). Nutter, 56, is challenging 16-year incumbent Roanoke Democrat Senator John Edwards. Nutter says Edwards is a good man but takes issue with his policies. “His policies don’t create economic opportunity for growth in this region,” said Nutter.
“The campaign will come down to jobs,” says Nutter, who has the endorsement of the National Federation of Independent Businesses.
Nutter believes Edwards is out of touch with his constituents and the values of Southwest Virginians. He said Edwards has been “a consistent advocate for a higher gas tax.” Nutter is opposed to any tax increases.
He knows it will be a tough campaign. He will first have to face Tripp Godsey, a Roanoke insurance agency owner, in an August 23 primary. At Saturday’s Republican mass meeting Godsey took issue with a laundry list of Nutter’s votes, including tax increases under Governor Warner. Godsey said Nutter wasn’t conservative enough and repeated that he would be a “100 percent conservative versus a sometime conservative.” Godsey was endorsed by the Roanoke Tea Party this past Monday.
Regarding social issues, Nutter believes life starts at conception and says he has always promoted a pro-life agenda in the general assembly. He opposes using state funds for stem cell research, saying that “the use of adult stem cells has progressed to fill research requirements.”
He would retain the Marshall-Newman Act in the Virginia State Constitution. The Marshall-Newman Act was supported by 57 percent of voters in 2006. The act defines marriage as between one man and one woman.
Governor McDonnell turned down $55 million in funding from the federal government, rejecting the Personal Responsibility Education Program for comprehensive sex education, and instead opting for the abstinence only program. Nutter supports the governor’s rejection of the PREP.
Nutter is a supporter of charter schools, but opposes the use of school vouchers. He believes Virginia has good public schools. “It’s our job to make them better,” he said. He has carried a number of bills for home schooling. “The limitations on who can home school as far as education requirements for the parents is just wrong,” said Nutter.
Virginia is one of seven states that have not adopted the federal Common Core national standards. The Obama administration made adoption of the Common Core a criterion for winning part of $4.35 billion in federal Race to the Top grants in 2010, and states receiving Title I appropriations in the future may be required to adopt the standards.
Virginia is instead incorporating them into the state’s Standards of Learning (SOL). Nutter agrees with this approach saying, “that is not the role of federal government … it is a classic case of the intrusion.”
“Funding transportation will always be a struggle,” mused Nutter. “There is no panacea fix,” he said. He would continue with the governor’s audit plan that democrats opposed. Nutter would have audits performed for all state agencies to find unspent money and uncover inefficiencies.
Nutter concluded that VDOT management issues were the fault of centralization under Governor Tim Kaine. “We’ve got to keep oversight at the state level but at the same time we’ve got to empower resident engineers [at the local level] to make common sense decisions.”
Nutter advocates for transparency and would be against any bill restricting the public’s right to know. He views ethics as “starting with the integrity of the individual more so then the [house] rules.”
He fully supports having the budget available for review a full 72 hours before a vote is taken in the house or the senate. This is a bill Senator Ralph Smith introduced that has Tea Party backing.
He was very intent on having the senate’s ability to vote by proxy eliminated. It may create a challenge for attending committee meetings but “it is something you can work through,” he said.
He also has no objection to adopting a bill similar to Delegate Chris Jones HB2098 that would prohibit the personal use of campaign funds while in office. “I am surprised that is even going on,” said Nutter.
Nutter admitted that “serving in the general assembly is difficult – it is a challenge for your family. It is not an income-producing venture.”
Born in Clarksburg, West Virginia, Nutter grew up in Richmond and now lives in Prices Fork near Christiansburg. He received his undergraduate degree at Virginia Tech in 1988. He and his wife Jackie have three grown children.