By Roger Bianchini & Dan McDermott
Warren County Report
A long-time Warren County GOP activist is standing by a harshly worded email he sent to dozens of local citizens regarding a requested public endorsement from North River supervisor’s candidate Chris Holloway despite an apparent earlier online offer of campaign assistance.
On Nov. 2nd Warren County Report was forwarded a stinging e-mail from local Republican activist Joe Swiger to Holloway by one of a list of 84 recipients to which it was copied. Swiger, a former Front Royal Electric Department Director and unsuccessful 2010 town council candidate, was concluding what both men admit began as a Facebook “friends” exchange (see related images).
We contacted Holloway about the detailed “No thank you” reply from the longtime local Republican strategist. Holloway said he was reluctant to get into a back and forth with someone not in the race with just a week left before the Nov. 8th election. However Holloway did tell us he was stunned by Swiger’s e-mail reply because he believed Swiger had offered help to his campaign in its final weeks.
Current Front Royal Vice-Mayor Holloway said Swiger initiated recent online contact with him on Facebook. Subsequent contact included a critique of Holloway’s Oct. 25th Candidate’s Forum performance – essentially, “I thought you did well but so did your opponents” – as well as an offer to contact him if Holloway thought there was anything else he, Swiger, could do to help Holloway “hit a second gear” in his North River campaign.
Asked if he perceived his recent Facebook exchange with former Republican Holloway as an offer to help the vice mayor’s Democratic North River campaign, Swiger said simply, “Why would I do that?”
What are ‘friends’ for?
Holloway said he followed up on his perception of the initial Facebook “wall” exchange with a personal Facebook request only Swiger could view asking for a public endorsement. That private communication was sent at 6:53 PM on Oct. 29, just seven minutes after his Facebook “wall” thanks to Swiger’s earlier message of that afternoon.
Three days later on Nov. 1 Holloway and 84 others received this e-mail reply to that private Facebook communication:
“This message is being sent to you in reply to your request for me to write a letter to the newspaper and to phone everyone I know in North River magisterial district to help you be elected to the Warren County Board of Supervisors.
“I can best answer you with these facts in mind: (1) You could have resigned from Council bettering your chances of being elected Supervisor and giving me the chance to be appointed in your place. That’s the normal path for the runner-up in the past Town election, yours truly. The course you took is blatantly selfish. (2) This would have obligated me to your campaign in the district where I lived for quite some time. It would have given me the chance to either accept or refuse the appointment. I would have still been obligated to you either way. (3) Even if you are elected Supervisor you will be ineffective because you would be the only Democrat and there’s little hope for other Democrats to win in this County, in my opinion. (4) I probably will never run again for Council but if you are unopposed or under opposed I would run wide open this time to delete you just like Mr. Hrbek.
“So you know by now my answer to your request. No thank you.
“I will give you this favor: This reply will only go out via e-mail. On Facebook I’m limited to a small word total and on e-mail I only send it to my friends.”
Swiger said he sent the response out early in the morning, around 1 AM, after giving it much thought.
“I sent it. I call it a factual statement and I stand by it,” Swiger said on Nov. 2 of his non-endorsement reply to Holloway.
Holloway raised eyebrows among local Republicans when he jumped from the Republican to Democratic Committee in late July several weeks after failing to make an expected bid for the Republican nomination for North River supervisor. Holloway then drew the ire of local Democrats by garnering his new Party’s nomination over two-term incumbent Glenn White at an Aug. 6 caucus just 10 days after officially resigning from the Republican Committee. Many local Democrats were upset that Holloway’s Democratic caucus support base of 31 was made up of people never previously seen at a Democratic function or meeting. Holloway won the Democratic nomination by a 31-15 margin four days after declaring for the nomination.
Swiger is a long-time local Republican political strategist, with a hand in the political careers of two former mayors, the late Bob Traister and Clay Athey, the latter also a multi-term 18th District state House delegate, as well as current supervisor Tony Carter and former supervisor Matt Tederick. Swiger was forced out of his town electric department job in 2002 following a contentious investigation launched by Town Manager Rick Anzolut following a department accident in which lineman Dallas Campbell broke his neck and inaccurate reports about the in-house cause of the accident were initially issued out of the department.
Holloway is opposed in the North District race by Republican Dan Murray and Independent Victor “Tory” Failmezger, the latter with long-time ties to local Democrats.