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.