By Preston Knight
Democrat Andy Schmookler, who hopes to unseat U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Roanoke, in this fall's election, will try to drum up support for his underdog campaign in the coming days with two events in the central Valley.
The congressional challenger will be a featured speaker at the Shenandoah County Democratic Committee annual picnic Saturday and will then talk to voters in downtown Harrisonburg on Monday.
The picnic is at 5 p.m. at the Edinburg town park. Anyone is welcome to attend.
At 7 p.m. Monday at Adona Music in Harrisonburg, Schmookler will deliver a speech titled "The Real Threat to Our American Liberties" and answer questions, according to a news release. Adona is at 34 S. Main St.
Schmookler, 66, is an author who lives in Shenandoah County. A Harvard graduate and former college professor, he has never run for political office before.
Goodlatte, 59, is seeking his 11th twoyear term in Congress. He has always earned at least 60 percent of the popular vote in the 6th Congressional District Election, a reliably conservative area that straddles Interstate 81 and includes much of the Shenandoah Valley.
In June, the incumbent knocked off the first Republican primary challenger of his career when he received 66 percent of the district's vote against Shenandoah County farmer Karen Kwiatkowski. She was also a newcomer to politics.
Kwiatkowski grew frustrated during her campaign when Goodlatte declined to debate her. Schmookler said he would formally challenge the incumbent to a series of debates soon.
Goodlatte has refused most debate challenges in his congressional career, saying he thinks it's best to carry his message to voters directly, such as through phone calls or door-to-door visits.