The McCollum Campaign recently called on Senator Frank Wagner to apologize for his comments that he wishes he only represented certain parts of the 7th District.
Last week, while speaking at an event at a local country club, Wagner explained that the makeup of the 7th District includes everyone “from very, very high income right on down, ya know, up to and including rent-assisted places and that type of thing. So it’s a very diverse district. I wish sometimes I represented this half, but I’m very, very happy to represent the folks I have.”
“This is a clear indication that Frank Wagner is out of touch with the district,” said Gary McCollum. “Unlike Frank, I’m running to represent all the people of the 7th District. No matter their income. And in Richmond I’ll put their priorities first, not the special interests.”
“At best this is offensive to half of his constituents. At worst, Frank Wagner made disrespectful comments that show exactly how out of touch he is. After 24 years, it’s time to send Wagner packing and elect a real leader who will focus on commonsense solutions,” said Gaylene Kanoyton, President Greater Hampton Roads Black Democrats.
“Frank Wagner has been in Richmond so long he forgot what he’s supposed to be fighting for. When you’ve accepted as many lobbyist gifts and trips as Frank, you can see how he’d forget he’s supposed to fight for all his constituents, not just the most well off,” said Greg Turpin, Chair Virginia Beach Democratic Committee.
The chair of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus Sen. Mamie Locke of Hampton condemned Wagner’s comment as divisive, as well.
“These divisive, offensive comments have no place coming from an elected leader in 2015,” Locke said.
According to a story in the daily Virginian Pilot, Wagner’s campaign manager dismissed the criticism, calling the comment “a harmless remark” and that “everyone in the room” knew its intent.
There are some 199,0202 voters in Virginia’s 7th Senate District that encompasses parts of Norfolk and Virginia Beach, which is typical of the GOP-controlled districts in the Common wealth.
The 7th District is heavily Republican and is 66.1 percent White, 22.5 percent African-American, 0.8 percent Native American, 7.2 percent Asian and 1.1 percent other racial.
On Saturday, September 26, McCollum supporters showed up en masse for a BBQ fundraiser to encourage the candidate who is standing strong to front page reports from the daily media that he misrepresented his duty status in the U.S. Army reserve.
McCollum, who had reported he was an active member of the Individual Ready Reserve, said he only recently became aware that his IRR status was inactive.
According to U.S. Army Personnel Regulations, at the end of active duty, exiting soldiers are required to spend some period of time in “IRR status” and though they are “on call” in case of a national emergency, they are not required to drill, nor are they paid.
McCollum was an Intelligence officer and served in the U.S. Army Rangers before exiting the active reserves in 1992 and entering the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR).
“I do regret the mischaracterization of my military career and service,” he said. “But we found out from the military archives that I was still part of the military reserves. I was inactive from 1989-92 and I was in Individual Ready Reserves in 1992 and said I was still part of the IRR.”
“I am proud of that service and no political attacks will change that,” he told the New Journal and Guide during a recent interview. “No attacks will change my 26 years of business and service to organizations like the Boys and Girls Club.”
Recently, Cox Communications where McCollum worked before taking a hiatus to run for the 7th District seat, ended his employment. This occurred after Republicans questioned the terms of agreement between McCollum and the giant cable firm.
Molly Ritner, McCollum’s campaign manager, noted in an email as reported by the Virginian Pilot on September 22 that her candidate is under attack “to hide the fact that Frank Wagner is the Senate’s top gift recipient and epitomizes the corrupt, pay-to-play culture in Richmond, supporting legislation for the special interests that subsidize his lifestyle and his campaigns, not for his constituents.”
New prime time television ads show McCollum striking back at Wagner’s record of support for special interests.