Progressives Pushing To Take Virginia Statehouse
Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.
The Democratic Party, never one to turn down a circular firing squad, headed into the weekend before a critical governor’s race in Virginia squabbling over whether or not the Democratic National Committee rigged the 2016 primary in favor of Hillary Clinton. The fight was spurred by a Politico article by Donna Brazile. It was terrible timing, four days before the Virginia governor’s election, which as CNBC points out, “has traditionally been seen as an early bellwether for new presidents as it happens one year after the presidential election.” As pundits and journalists waged a Twitter war over how Brazile’s remarks would impact future elections, Opal Boyer, an energy analyst from Alexandria, Virginia was knocking on doors in Arlington.
“So far it’s been pretty uplifting,” Boyer said in a phone interview of her canvassing shift for Demoratic candidate Ralph Northam. People are talking about how important [the election] is, and how they’re not going to miss it.” Of the intra-party fights, she noted, “I was wondering if I would come across any of that, but I haven’t yet. I’m a little more than halfway done with my shift, and no one has mentioned it. They seem pretty committed to voting Northam.”
Marc Beallor, another Arlington canvasser, echoed Boyer, noting, “Most people are pretty savvy in terms of understanding what’s going on. They’re so used to the games that Trump is playing.” Beallor explained, “I’ve been doing this for many years, but I’ve become much more active now as a result of the Trump election. I’m strictly volunteering my time…I’m really motivated because of the situation in the country.” What he’s afraid of, however, is whether that sentiment is the same in other parts of Virginia.
David Robeck, VA House of Delegates Candidate Deborah Rodman and Opal Boyer returning from a day of canvassing. (Courtesy of David Robeck.)
Indeed, outside of Beallor and Boyer’s canvassing area, the race remains extremely tight. Ed Gillespie, the Republican candidate, has eagerly aligned himself with Donald Trump, running an anti-immigrant campaign featuring ads tying the Democratic candidate to the MS-13 gang.The polls in the week leading up to the election swing wildly. A Hampton University poll had Gillespie up by 8 points. Another from Quinnipiac had Northam up by 17. On the Friday before the election, another few had them tied.
Northam, on the other hand, has tried to emphasize his distance from Trump, but drew outrage from many progressives when he said he’d sign a bill outlawing sanctuary cities (which Viriginia doesn’t currently have). Democracy for America even threatened to pull funding.
Taking nothing for granted, multiple progressive organizations around the country have provided opportunities for Americans to help with the election, both for governor and for the House of Delegates (Virginia’s state legislature). The Virginia Democratic Party has a phone banking system, so anyone can sign up and make as many or as few calls as they want. Run for Something, an organization dedicated to helping progressive millennials run for down-ballot offices around the country, has a phone bank specially for the House of Delegates (password 2017candidates). Indivisible and Democracy for America also have an option (DFA appears to have VA back in its phone bank). The election is three days away, but whether you’re in Virginia or phone banking from your bed, there’s still time to make a difference.
Ilana Novick is an AlterNet contributing writer and production editor.
Header image source.