Monday, April 18, 2005

Special to Bacon's Rebellion, "Report from Potts Country" by J. Chadwick Worthington

Middleburg is the hardscrabble area of Northern Virginia. Over the lush rolling hills, punctuated only by an occasional fence, horse barn or mansion, farmers struggle mightily to make a living off the land. It is futile. Most must take work in the teeming DC suburbs as technology CEOs, attorneys, lobbyists, or government officials, just to survive. Some even scratch out a living on the fixed income of an inheritance or sale of a business.

This is Russ Potts country. And Lloyd Ross's Kentfield Farm is its headquarters.

From the main road, you turn at the little Kentbridge vegetable stand. It's a busy little profit center in the summer, but it's quiet now. There's a long ride up to Lloyd Ross's farmhouse. Passing the beautiful horses grazing in the fields, one gets a sense of the way of life Mr. Ross wants to protect, and why he has given $300,000 to the Potts for Governor campaign.

Arriving at the circular driveway, a rangy man is unloading a new Spanish saddle from a dusty Lexus SUV.

"Are you Mr. Ross?"

"Nope, he ain't around."

"Are you a Russ Potts supporter?"

"Is the Pope Catholic?"

"What do you like about him?'

"He speaks our language. Like when he said the car tax was a dead horse. We understand that kind of talk."

A housekeeper scurries from an adjoining cottage to the main house.

"Excuse me, ma'am. Are you a Russ Potts supporter?"

"Oh, yes sir, very much so. When Republicans say no, no, no, Russ Potts says yes, yes, yes."

There's not much more to learn at Kentbridge Farm. There's no use in pursuing the rumor that Ross, born in Canada, has taken a bus trip to buy cheap prescription drugs across the border. Driving back to the main road as the sun set, it's time to head into the village and learn more about the Russ Potts phenomena.

The Red Fox Inn offers heaping servings of down home cooking. Tonight's special is Chilean Sea Bass, a bargain at $27.95. Most of the locals order the special. It saves time so they can indulge in their favorite pastime: politics. One mention of Russ Potts is all it takes to get them going.

"Russ is a true-blue Independent Republican. Those regular Republicans are divided," says one middle-aged woman.

"Those Republicans are for no choice, no schools, no roads, no health or mental health, no future, no hope, no solutions and, worse yet, no vision. Russ is for all that stuff," says an older man sitting beside her.

Younger diners are bitter. One man, appearing to be in his 20's, says he is "fed up with low taxes. Russ Potts is going to fix that."

"Just look at what low taxes have done to traffic," says a red-haired woman. "When I cross the Fauquier County line, there's like gridlock because those Prince William County people won't pay taxes to build roads that will just zip me into Clarendon. Russ Potts is going to get some gas tax money invested in some serious asphalt."

"You seen his website?" asks an older man with a ponytail. "Awesome. Lots of great articles about those nasty Republicans. And more content to come!"

As for Lloyd Ross, everyone praises his donations to Potts. "Lloyd's donation really helps me out," says a Washington and Lee student. "I don't have to give any of my beer money to Russ because Ross is covering it."

"Lloyd Ross, what a dude! He's for the little guy!" The voice comes from the bar area.

The bass is served. Someone raises a glass. "To Russ Potts, to the end of in your face, to the end of my way or the highway, and to the end of cockamamie ideas!"

"Hear! Hear!"