Entrepreneur Backs Pro-Business Candidates
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It doesn’t matter whether candidates are Republican or Democrat; if they are pro-business, McLean, Virginia-business owner Jim Wordsworth will support them.
“If you support business, I’m for you even if you’re a Democrat,” says the owner of J.R.’s Goodtimes Inc., a collection of hospitality businesses that include an inn, a restaurant, and a concessions business. Wordsworth ticks off a list of Democrats he’s supported in the past, including Virginia state Sens. Janet Howell, Dick Saslaw, and Charlie Waddell.
Recently, however, Wordsworth has focused his efforts on helping former Virginia Gov. and former U.S. Sen. George Allen (R) reclaim his Senate seat currently held by retiring Jim Webb (D). Allen is facing another former Virginia governor, Democrat Tim Kaine, in the November general election.
Allen and Wordsworth have a long history dating back to when Allen became governor in 1994. Wordsworth had chaired the state’s hospitality organization for a number of years and met with the new governor to make the case for boosting tourism.
According to Wordsworth, Allen immediately understood the economic impact of hospitality to the state. He put together a five-year strategic plan for tourism and appointed Wordsworth to the board overseeing it. “I’ve been a big fan of his for a long time. He’s great for business and commerce in Virginia,” Wordsworth says, even comparing Allen to Ronald Reagan. “The tone Allen sets is positive. He’s a Reagan-like guy. He brings oxygen into the room when he comes in rather than taking oxygen out, like our federal government does.”
In July, Wordsworth, who serves as chairman of the U.S. Chamber’s Small Business Council, sponsored a Chamber endorsement event for Allen. “I thought it was kind of terrific,” Wordsworth says of the “low-key” event. “George was most appreciative. I think he understood the magnitude of a Chamber endorsement. He was gracious.”
Wordsworth admits that he doesn’t always pick the right candidate. As chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, Democrat Gerry Connolly was a friend to business. So when he ran for retiring U.S. Rep. Tom Davis’ (R) seat in 2008, Connolly reached out to business to support him. Says Wordsworth, “I got some businesspeople together. We met with him and asked where he stood on issues like card check. He answered correctly, so we gave him some money.” But once Connolly went to Congress, he did “a complete 180.” Wordsworth continues, “He duped us all. He did the exact opposite of what he said he would do.” Connolly is up for reelection this year, but will not get Wordsworth’s support. “I’m going to meet the Republican challenger and hear from him,” he says.
Wordsworth says it’s essential for small business owners to get involved in the elections and take a stand. “I get involved in almost every election. If you don’t, you’re short shrifting the primary duty of citizenship, especially if you’re an entrepreneur.”
Involvement is particularly important this presidential election season, Wordsworth contends. “This election is not just a four-year period vote; it’s a destiny vote.”