Candidate stumps in Franklin

Published 8:50 am Wednesday, April 8, 2009

FRANKLIN—Democratic lieutenant governor candidate Michael Signer made a brief campaign stop in Franklin on Tuesday, part of a plan to barnstorm every congressional district in Virginia by the end of the week.

To Signer, it was a homecoming of sorts; he lived in a motel in Courtland while working as the field director to Jerry Flowers’ campaign for the state Senate in 2000.

“It was nice, I remember,” he said during a lunchtime meet-and-greet at Fred’s Restaurant in downtown Franklin on Tuesday.

Signer was a deputy counselor to Mark Warner when Virginia’s junior U.S. senator was governor. He officially launched his campaign with a press conference at Courthouse Plaza in Arlington on Monday.

When asked why he is running for lieutenant governor, Signer said, “I think it’s a very good fit for somebody with a background as an activist. I’m running to change it from a placeholder into a public advocate.”

According to Signer’s Web site, the candidate founded an activist organization in Charlottesville called the Coalition for Progress on Race, after an attack on a fellow student at the University of Virginia.

Christian Rickers, Signer’s campaign manager, said the candidate would be traveling to Courtland, Petersburg and Richmond later in the day Tuesday and would fly to Bristol and Big Stone Gap today.

“It’s so hard when you’ve got 135 localities in Virginia to hit them all,” Rickers chuckled.

“It’s a statewide campaign,” Signer said. “I grew up in Northern Virginia, which is where the lion’s share of votes will be in this primary. But I want to run a statewide campaign. It’s one commonwealth, and I think it should be treated as such.”

Signer added, “I think one of the dangers is the state is being pulled apart. The urban crescent sometimes ignores the concerns of rural Virginia. Part of my approach has been that we need to tie together, and I’m trying to do that in my campaign as much as I can.”