Why I'm Not Supporting Creigh Deeds for the Nomination

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Anyone who's gotten to know Creigh Deeds (as I have, since first meeting him in the spring of 2005) knows that he's a good man, a class act, a smart and thoughtful person, a strong Democrat, a dedicated public servant, pretty much anything good you can say about someone. In addition, his campaign for governor has been overwhelmingly positive, as have the vast majority of his supporters. Heck, I even like his campaign staffers, particularly his campaign manager Joe Abbey. In short, Creigh's a great guy who I respect tremendously.

So, having said all that, why am I not supporting him for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination? Very simple: as a progressive, I disagree with him on a wide variety of issues. Strongly, in some case (e.g., mountaintop removal mining). Today's Washington Post story by Anita Kumar pretty much sums it up. Here's an excerpt:
Those votes have included support for a family life program in schools that would define abstinence before marriage and fidelity within marriage as "moral obligations and not matters of personal opinion or personal choice," a mandate that the words "In God We Trust" be displayed prominently in every school and a bill to increase the penalty for killing a fetus.

Deeds voted to designate English as the official language of Virginia, to make illegal immigrants ineligible for state or local benefits, and against a bill to allow illegal immigrants to pay in-state college tuition rates. He voted to void contracts between members of the same sex that would have provided rights associated with marriage, such as hospital visits, and voted against adding sexual orientation to a list of hate crime categories.
Teaching abstinence in schools as "moral obligations and not matters of...personal choice?" I strongly disagree. Prominently displaying "In God We Trust" in every school? I strongly disagree. Increasing the penalty for having an abortion? I strongly disagree. Making English the official language of Virginia? I strongly disagree. Preventing same-sex couples from having visitation rights at hospitals or adding sexual orientation to the hate crimes list? I strongly disagree on both issues.

Later in the article, there's more stuff I disagree with: voting to putting the Marshall-Newman, anti-gay-marriage amendment on the ballot; opposing a ban on purchasing more than one handgun a month (according to the Post article, "Even Republican gubernatorial candidate Robert F. McDonnell, then a legislator, supported the ban."); and voting "repeatedly against closing a loophole that allows some private vendors at gun shows to make sales without background checks." On all of those areas, I strongly disagree with Creigh Deeds.

Now, I DO agree with Creigh that we're all a "work in progress" (as he says), and that he has shown signs of becoming a bit less conservative in the last couple of years on the so-called "guns, god and gays" issues (as Howard Dean famously called them). I particularly commend Creigh for his evolution towards supporting full rights for all Virginians, regardless of their sexual orientation. Overall, though, the bottom line for me is that I'm not on the same page with Creigh on the wide variety of issues mentioned above, not to mention Creigh's stance on mountaintop removal coal mining, which I strongly oppose, and his position on energy/environmental issues in general, which I believe is weaker than Terry McAuliffe's or Brian Moran's positions in that area.

In sum, I like Creigh, respect Creigh, believe he's an admirable person and public servant. But a primary is a place to battle it out for the hearts and minds of the Democratic Party, and I'm simply in a different place - broadly progressive with a social libertarian streak - than Creigh Deeds happens to be.

P.S. Needless to say, if Creigh Deeds is the Democratic nominee for governor, I will strongly support him against the extreme right-winger (newly reinventing himself as a supposed "moderate") Bob McDonnell. But for now, we Democrats have three choices, and mine is enthusiastically Terry McAuliffe.


  1. I think a lot of people have the same reaction to Creigh. I know I personally really like Creigh and his campaign team, but simply disagree with him on some of the important issues. At the same time, I also think there are some issues -- such as nonpartisan redistricting -- that I am pleased to see Creigh actively supporting.

    What I think is worth taking away from this is that we can disagree on issues, but all still work together for the common good. I think the bitter partisanship that has been promoted by some people down in Richmond ignores the fact that we can come together on some issues while disagreeing on others.

  2. Actually, my problems with Richmond aren't so much "partisanship" as right-wing ideologues in charge of the House of Delegates on the one hand, and lobbyists swarming all over the place on the other. We need people who can stand up to both. We also need to win back the House of Delegates if at all possible.

  3. I think a lot of the issues that bother progressives are the same ones that are going to win those moderate republicans and conservative leaning independents. Voter turnout isn't going to be what it was in November and we are going to need every vote that we can get to include those who aren't progressives! Terry does not appeal to those voters and it'll be much harder for Bob McDonnell to paint Creigh as a hard left liberal in the general election! Remember, it's about who can win in November!

  4. Daniel: I respectfully disagree with your analysis. Barack Obama won Virginia last November while running as a progressive. Tom Perriello beat Virgil Goode while running as a strong, faith-based progressive. Leslie Byrne lost by 1 point to Bill Bolling in 2005 running as an unabashed "liberal." The bottom line is that a strong progressive can win Virginia, as can a strong conservative by the way.

  5. Hey Lowell, I guess my concern and obviously we'll agree to disagree :) but I'm not sure if turnout is going to be as high as it was in November which benefited Tom and Barack. Also, the Republicans want their state back and will bring the firepower to do so. Obviously, we disagree here but I think it's safe to say Virginia is going to be ground zero this year!

  6. Daniel: You're absolutely right, turnout won't be as high this November as it was for Obama. Given that, I'd say we'll be seeing a higher concentration of activists on both sides, Republican and Democratic, and probably fewer independents/swing voters than in November 2008. But I reserve the right to be completely wrong about this! :)

  7. I do not think it is accurate to suggest that Tom Perriello is "Progressive" while Creigh is not. In many ways, they are cut from the same cloth in the sense of being religious men who find Progressive values in their religious beliefs. It is tough to compare them on an issue by issue basis, as they operate in different spheres and face different issues.

  8. Alan: So, are you arguing that a progressive can't win in Virginia or that Tom Perriello is as conservative as Creigh Deeds? If so, I respectfully disagree on both counts. Look, I have no problem whatsoever with socially conservative Democrats supporting Creigh Deeds for the nomination, I'm simply not from that wing of the party. - Lowell

  9. Let me say something in regards to that quote that Creigh "voted to designate English as the official language of Virginia, to make illegal immigrants ineligible for state or local benefits, and against a bill to allow illegal immigrants to pay in-state college tuition rates."

    I'm a First Generation Indian-American. My parents came here with a whole lot of nothing and my dad worked in a small New York City Hospital for a little bit and my mom worked as a Grocery Store bagger. Even with that, they needed food stamps and medicaid to support themselves and their little son (my older brother).

    Thankfully, knowing what "hard work" is, they "pulled themselves up by the boot-straps" to use an old expression and paved the way to live out a middle class life and let their children get the education and the opportunities they could not have otherwise have gotten outside of the United States.

    I know what I'm talking about when I say this. America is a land of hard-work, dedication, and opportunities. And every time I see illegal immigrants take and advantage of this and "cut in line" so to speak of every immigrant (including my parents) that came here to build a life for themselves and their children, I get just the worst feeling in the pit of my stomach.

    So, in regards to that, I say this. Legal Immigration now. Illegal Immigration Never.

    So, I think Creigh's positions of that only seek to HELP the Democrats this fall because I will never support an amnesty panderer for the political office of anything important.