Jamie Radtke, the woman behind Virginia’s effort to pass the “Repeal Amendment,” will be among the Republicans looking to retire incumbent Democratic Sen. Jim Webb when he seeks re-election next year.
Radtke will likely face former Sen. George Allen, who lost to Webb in 2006 following his infamous “macaca” remark, and Corey Stewart, a local officeholder from Northern Virginia, in the GOP primary.
Allen is considered the odds-on favorite to win the nomination, but some such as University of Virginia political guru, Larry Sabato, believe Radtke could become a formidable candidate if she can raise enough money.
“Jamie Radtke has become well-known in Virginia political circles because of the Tea Party movement, which she has helped to lead,” Sabato told The Daily Caller. “She organized the large Tea Party gathering last fall that drew thousands to Richmond.”
Radtke told TheDC her status as an outsider to elective politics makes her a strong candidate compared with Allen, who has spent most of his life as an elected official.
“People are looking to send representatives up there that are willing to make the tough decisions,” Radtke said. “I think when you send sort of a Washington insider up there, career politician or anything of that nature up there, they are beholdened to special interests and lobbyists.”
Radtke received her political start as an aide to the late North Carolina Sen. Jesse Helms on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and rose to prominence in the state over the past two years as the president of the Richmond Tea Party and as chairwoman of the Virginia Tea Party Patriots.
She has spent the past 10 years fighting the system from the outside — with the bulk of her attention being focused on promoting or opposing legislation and candidates in Virginia — but she understands the legislative process from her time as a Senate staffer.
Tea Party Patriots National Coordinator Mark Meckler expressed support for Radtke’s candidacy.
“I’m glad to see more and more Tea Partiers stepping up to run for office. For many, it is the next logical step in their participation in the public sphere,” Meckler said. “ She’s an intelligent, dynamic woman, and I think she’ll do very well.”
The Dec. 2008 “Restore the Founders” conference at the University of Virginia inspired Radtke’s entrance into the Tea Party movement several months later and her subsequent rise as a major player in Virginia politics due to its emphasis on the nation’s founding principles.
“What the founders envisioned has grown into this massive, centralized bureaucracy ,” Radtke said. “When the Tea Party movement came around in the February-March timeframe, three or four months later, I just found a home in the Tea Party movement.”
Radtke said her work with the movement mirrors work she did with the Virginia Political Action PAC (VCAP) , which aimed to promote conservative candidates against “RINOs” (Republicans in Name Only), prior to the rise of the Tea Party movement.
Her involvement with the “Repeal Amendment” later grew out of a conference call of Tea Partiers that initially aimed to support Virginia’s “Health Care Freedom Act,” which makes it illegal to force the state’s residents to purchase health insurance. The Virginia law served as a direct challenge to the mandate’s constitutionality under the U.S. Constitution’s “Supremacy Clause,” which subordinates state laws to federal laws.
“The supremacy clause only applies assuming the [health care] legislation is actually constitutional,” Radtke said.
She approached Virginia House Speaker William Howell during this period asking him if he would consider entertaining a constitutional amendment that would reign in federal power, which he agreed to do.
The “Repeal Amendment” first caught her attention when she read a Wall Street Journal article written by Georgetown Law School professor Randy Barnett about the amendment.
“I put together a working committee full of key businessmen in the community who felt as passionate,” Radtke said. “When the ‘Repeal Amendment’ came up during a conference call with the working committee we all said, ‘This is it.’”
The “Repeal Amendment” would give 2/3s of the states the ability to repeal an act of Congress.
Radtke subsequently won support for the “Repeal Amendment” from Howell, along with Gov. Robert McConnell and state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. It has also received an endorsement from House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia.
Radtke plans to take the amendment on the campaign trail as one of the planks of her campaign alongside fiscal responsibility and other issues.
“You cannot keep sending the same people to D.C. and get the same results,” Radtke said. “So my role would be to go up there and get our fiscal mess in order.
“I think we need the ‘Repeal Amendment’ and a balanced budget amendment or else we’ll keep voting to raise the debt ceiling and voting to raise the debt.”