David Ramadan stood at the podium in a small, rectangular meeting room at Tuscarora Mill restaurant in Leesburg and said that his desire to run for a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates was simple.
“I want to serve, and I want to pay back the county and country that has given so much to me,” he said.
Flanked by the Virginian and American flags, Ramadan told the standing-room only crowd of supporters that he was proud and honored to be an American, nearly 22 years after he fled his native Lebanon in the midst of a civil war.
On Wednesday, supporters of Ramadan’s campaign hosted a meet-and-greet event with T.H. Edwin Meese, former Attorney General during the Reagan administration. The 90-minute event at Tuscarora Mill was as much about local Republican officials and voters meeting Meese as it was about supporting Ramadan’s campaign as it nears the Republican primary on Aug. 23.
Meese and Ramadan serve together on the Board of Visitors at George Mason University, where Ramadan completed his bachelors degree in Governments and Politics and Master of Arts in International Trade and Transactions.
Speaking off-the-cuff to the assembled group, Meese said he was impressed with Ramadan and described him as “another great American” and “an outstanding entrepreneur.”
“He is right on the issues,” Meese said of Ramadan. “He believes in limited government.”
Restraining government spending and keeping taxes low is what the election for the 87th district is about, Meese said, and Ramadan has the right view on taxes and a common sense transportation plan.
Emphasizing his campaign’s “business friendly, job creating” platform, Ramadan urged the crowd of supporters to get-out-the-vote before the primary.
“Every vote will count on Aug. 23,” Ramadan said. “I need your help, I need your support.”
A self-described strong supporter of Ramadan, Verne Dickerson of Leesburg noted that Ramadan is “the epitome of a person becoming a citizen.” Dickerson, who said he is retired from the FBI, added that Ramadan follows the Constitution to a “T” and is a loyal American.
Vivian Albino, an Independent voter and Stoneridge resident, said she was impressed with Ramadan’s background and story of becoming educated, embracing the United States and creating jobs. Ramadan is open to everyone, Albino said, no matter one’s religion or nationality. “That’s why I like him. He accepts me the way I am,” she said.
But not everyone present during Wednesday’s meet-and-greet was enamored with Ramadan’s credentials. Loudoun County resident Lauri Petters said that Ramadan has not sufficiently answered questions about his Lebanese background and claimed that he has suspicious ties to Hezbollah. “He’s not been properly vetted,” she said.
Petters said that she attended a press conference organized by ACT! for America NoVa Chapter that was scheduled before the meet-and-greet event. According to its Web site, ACT! for America was created to be a collective voice for the democratic values of Western civilization and is opposed to radical Islam. The group has a national network of chapters that aim to inform and educate Americans on the threat of radical Islam.
According to ACT! for America Nova Chapter’s press release, the press conference’s speakers included several former American and Lebanese intelligence officers and James Lafferty, founder of Virginia Anti-Shariah Task Force and a board member of Stop the Islamization of America.
A half-hour before the Ramadan rally began, a small band of protestors from ACT! for America gathered on the lawn at the Loudoun Government Center. "We don't know all the answers to the questions that should be put to [David Ramadan] said Frank Gaffney, president of the Center for Security Policy.
Other protestors carried signs reading "No Shariah law in America" and "No Ramadan in Richmond."
The protestors also picketed quietly in front of the restaurant.
Ramadan faces an Aug. 23 primary against Jo Ann Chase; the winner will face Democrat Michael Kondratick in the Nov. 8 general election.