An unlikely candidate on the road to Richmond

Salahi WWBT

Tareq Salahi’s celebrity merges with candidacy in gripping reality campaign

By Dan McDermott
Warren County Report

In terms of minority inclusion and outreach, the election of 2012 was a disaster for the Republican Party. Cemented by that infamous “47-percent video,” the GOP message wasn’t selling and minorities weren’t buying. Republicans even lost the once rock-solid Florida Cuban vote.

In his book “Why Romney Lost,” former George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum pulls no punches when describing the party’s almost deliberate effort to drive a wedge between their party and minority and lower income voters.

“To be a patriot is to love your country as it is,” Frum writes. “Those who seem to despise half of America will never be trusted to govern any of it. Those who cherish only the country’s past will never be entrusted with its future.”

Perhaps with this in mind, it was noteworthy that in our conversation with the unlikeliest of all candidates for Governor of Virginia, Tareq Salahi – yes, that Tareq Salahi from the White House State Dinner and Real Housewives of DC fame – made his efforts to embrace minority voters almost a central theme of our recent interview.

Salahi has two versions of his website, one in English and one in Spanish. He says he is the first Va. gubernatorial candidate to do so. When we spoke, Salahi was packing to head to the Richmond area to meet with a wide variety of businesses, media and groups including black and Latino community leaders.

The Tareq Salahi of the past few years was a mountain of stress, his world seemingly falling apart around him. He lost a father, his wife and the family business. The Tareq Salahi of 2012 seems calmer, more relaxed and focused like a laser beam on the road ahead. It is a refreshing change.

But there are two Tareq Salahis.

There is Tareq Salahi the candidate. There is also Tareq Salahi the celebrity who burst onto the national stage by attending a White House State Dinner without an official ticket, who had national television networks literally camped outside his Warren County home running a video feed so the morning shows could switch live in case “anything happened.” He forever added the term “gate crasher” to the first sentence of his biography. That same Tareq Salahi once called me to complain about the term in a story I had written. “I am an ‘alleged’ gatecrasher,” he said, ‘Alleged.’ ”

Well times have changed. – So much so that the former Fauquier County winemaker now embraces the term. You can tell by the name of his website: It is a central theme to his campaign which while unconventional, is surprisingly robust. As for the Crash the Vote moniker, “I’m just having fun with it,” he said.

While political candidates often have TV cameras around them, Salahi is often accompanied at events and on the road by entire production crew. “In It To Win It” is the working title of a reality documentary being made for a movie or series to be broadcast sometime after the November, 2013 election.

Truth is indeed stranger than fiction.

Salahi says he plans to gather at least 20,000 signatures to get on the ballot, twice the number required. While he is running for the Republican nomination and is currently on the road in an effort to line up delegates he says he will be on the ballot in November regardless of whether he wins at the state party convention.

In the meantime Salahi says he plans to attend every local Republican meeting where delegates are chosen in the months leading up to the convention.

Salahi’s agenda is a vague but populist one that few would oppose: working to promote the Commonwealth of Virginia; promoting business and jobs; promoting troops and defense personnel; promoting the agriculture industry; working for lower taxes and less regulation and promoting clean energy production.

In the months ahead, Tareq Salahi the candidate is likely to show up in your town. If you miss the road show you’ll be able to tune in to your TV in 2014 and watch the recap with Tareq Salahi the celebrity.

Dan McDermott:


  1. Anyone even contemplating voting for Salahi needs to google him. Try googling his name along with “scam.” You might also want to review the Virginia District Court online case information system for many times he has been sued and the outstanding court judgements he has against him. Search under Warren and Faquier counties. If you want to know about his fiscal responsibility you can look up how he obtains services by paying with credit card then immediately disputes the charges or how he bled his parents business into bankruptcy. If Virginia elects him Governor they get what they deserve.

  2. Tareq Salahi is a delusional idiot, a fraud, and a practiced con-arist. His legacy is a string of bad debts and judgment creditors across mutliple jurisdictions. It seems he has an aversion to actually workinfg for a living, and his “candidacy”squares nicely with that mindset.

  3. This one comes under the heading of “Are you Kidding Me”? Can anyone really say they trust this guy? You nicely left out Salahi’s “alleged” misuse of funds and alleged misrepresentation of fund raising activities in the past having to do with his world cup horsing around. How that has disappeared and gone away is beyond me. Well, I guess if Sarah Palin can be taken seriously, anyone can.

  4. He’s not a serious candidate this is just the latest variation of the same Salahi con. There was the polo con, the wine tour con, the invited to the White House con, etc. shall we dub this the campaign finance con? After Virginia’s electoral season is over, Salahi will found a religious sect. Anything, anything to avoid actually working for a living. This man just loves other people’s money. He even has his ex wife’s (the woman who shall remain nameless) new lover paying his mortgage. Get a job Tareq–but then again, who’d hire him.

  5. Salahi, the name is getting to be so weary. Certainly trustworthy. After all, he had a court say he couldn’t pay his debts as recently as two years ago. Without a job since that time, he can now afford to run for a major office. Salahi is really good at making money disappear. Clown or magician, take your pick.

    • He thought he married a trophy wife (that’s debatable) whose only experience was working the makeup counter at Nordstrum’s. Feeling he had to do everything he could to keep her he used his parent’s winery as an ATM. Trips around the world, cruises, clothes, $4,000 hair extensions, an Astin Martin, a boat and on and on. His parents finally had enough and fired him as general manager of their winery (He never owned more than a 5% share). He thought he could create a gravy train by becoming famous – crashing the White House, reality TV – but they failed at that. When the money ran out she split for the rock star she banged back stage once. Now she has everything she ever wanted – attention from fans (by proxy through her rock star boyfriend) and an unlimited credit card. She is going to be wife #6. How long till the rock star gets tired of her ruining his backstage action and kicks her expensive ass to the curb? Will she return to Virginia to become first lady?

  6. Salahi has a greater chance of going to jail for business fraud than getting elected Governor. This is just another of Salahi’s cons. Still pushing weddings for a winery now closed. Still pushing a wine tour business with phantom limos. Salahi just can’t let go of a successful con. The current governor and attorney general neglected to adequately deal with this guy and now Salahi is doing what he knows best, shoveling horse manure!

  7. “If you miss the road show you’ll be able to tune in to your TV in 2014 and watch the recap with Tareq Salahi the celebrity.”

    Really Dan? The last I heard, he didn’t have a TV deal with anyone, and had simply hired an out-of-work video guy to follow him around, hoping some desperate TV network would air the footage. From the tone of your article, it appears that Tareq has gotten to you.

  8. Politics is perfect for this Salahi clown. He is a con-artist, a scammer, bad with money, and has never worked a day in his life. He’d fit right in with the rest of the criminals in the political class.

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