Monday, March 03, 2014

George Allen remembers his friend Senator Benny Lambert

Former Virginia Governor and U.S. Senator George Allen lost a friend over the weekend. Former State Senator Benny Lambert, who served in the General Assembly for three decades, passed away in Richmond after an illness.

In 2006, when Allen -- a Republican -- was up for reelection for U.S. Senate, Senator Lambert -- a Democrat -- endorsed his friend who had supported Virginia's historic black colleges. It caused him his seat when Democrats, outraged that Lambert had supported Allen, primaried and beat him with Don McEachin who remains in the senate.

Allen remembered his friend in a statement:
“Susan and I are terribly saddened by the passing of the truly Honorable Benny Lambert. Along with Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp, Benny is one of the most exceptionally courageous, decent and inspirational people I ever had the honor to work with in public service.

“I am proud to have collaborated with Benny and many other teammates in business, education and governance to strengthen our Historically Black Colleges and Universities with better technology funding. Virginia and America are better because of Benny's passion, commitment, and leadership for educating our young people.

“Susan and I feel blessed to have had Benny as a true friend. Our thoughts and prayers are with Benny’s wife Carolyn and their children and grandchildren. Heaven will have Benny's always-cheerful demeanor lighting up hearts and we will continue to admire his principled example in life.”
In 2006 the Richmond Times-Dispatch wrote about Senator Lambert's thoughtful endorsement of Senator Allen, saying in part:
It is not hard to earn the title, "politician." It is much more difficult to transcend to the level of "leader." State Senator Benjamin Lambert is not a mere politician.

As a graduate of Virginia Union University, Lambert cares deeply about the mission of historically black colleges and universities -- as do many in his Richmond-based district. Over the years he has worked closely with Senator George Allen to support HBCUs, and that led to collaborations on a number of other issues. The ease with which the relationship produced tangible results caused Lambert to make an endorsement many thought unlikely.

Lambert has put politics aside, and endorsed the candidate he feels can advance the needs of his district and the Commonwealth -- despite the pull of party and ideologues. It also should be noted that his endorsement of Allen does reflect a consistency not often found in politics: Lambert couldn't bring himself to support Jim Webb in the Democratic primary, and found no "new" Webb during the general election. His independent stand contrasts with that of the General Assembly's Legislative Black Caucus, which last week did what everyone knew it would do: Endorse the Democratic candidate, in this case Jim Webb.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch has more on the life and public service of this well-respected man. Prayers to his family and friends, and those who stood by him when the others turned against him.

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