For those of you who want a quick primer on the 2015 campaign for Loudoun County sheriff, this short video clip from the April 13 debate captures a lot. If you are a delegate at Saturday’s Loudoun County Republican Committee convention, you ought to watch this because it underlies what you will hear in the speeches by current Sheriff Mike Chapman, and the challenger Eric Noble.
The video is from the point where the men are allowed to ask the other a question. It contains Mike Chapman’s question, Eric Noble’s answer, and Chapman’s rebuttal.
Chapman sums up the problem he has had with Noble from the beginning of the campaign, and which Chapman up until this point has not stated this directly: When Chapman took office, he elevated Noble to a position of trust and authority, following Noble’s professed desire to serve in the new administration. But from early on, Noble worked to undermine Chapman, in public yet under the cloak of anonymity, rather than address the disagreements in-house.
Yes, it is a long question, but for anyone listening it could have been boiled down to a very short one. To paraphrase Julius Caesar:
“Et tu, Eric?”
Then, both the moderator, Randy Minchew, and Noble, sort of riff on the length of the question. (Some might argue it was not the moderator’s place to make such a comment.)
I don’t think Noble means to trivialize the question, but he definitely proceeds to give a very different perspective on the past three years.
Noble’s reply, on one level, merely reinforces the accusation of betrayal: I may have been doing such and such behind your back, but you never knew it. You signed off on my performance reviews. Or to paraphrase Nelson Muntz:
Noble also goes on to address the “sock puppet” issue which as readers of that post know, leaves open the question of just how long Noble was conducting that activity. Noble implies it was minimal.
But seen from another perspective, Noble’s response also says: There were problems I could not fix, and while I continued to do my job to the best of my ability, my frustration led me to find an outlet through online arguments.
As he looks back at that period, Noble’s irritation is visible.
One of Chapman’s main problems in this campaign is having been caught off guard by one of his senior staff turning against him and then airing a lot of dirty laundry in public. In the scenario of an underling challenging the boss, the boss always faces the disadvantage of the other guy getting to play Monday morning quarterback and unearth every problem, retroactively, and turn it into a campaign issue. That’s the deal every Loudoun County sheriff will have from now until the end of time. Has Mike Chapman painted a clear enough picture for us to believe that his opponents are simply resisting change, and will use whatever means necessary to denigrate his administration?
One of Noble’s main problems is that we, as outsiders and voters, have to take his arguments largely on faith. Most people believe public safety is going well in Loudoun County. If there are problems not yet on our radar, then we would have to rely on someone with inside knowledge to alert us. If drugs and gangs are returning, and if there are problems no one is even aware of yet, we would want someone looking into the future. Has Eric Noble made the case that things are worse than we know, and that he is better prepared than Mike Chapman to face the future?
For those who need to vote on Saturday, go ahead and read as much as you can in advance ….. but it will probably come down to a question of whom we believe. The video provides insight into how the candidates see the past three years very differently.