Part 2 of my series (leading up to the next DPVA meeting) examining how DPVA can be the best state party possible.
Dave Leichtman is the DPVA Vice-chair for Technology and Communications
Last week, we delved into the financial side of how we can make our party the best it can be (Read: "A Better DPVA in Depth - Part 1: Money"). Since then, a lot has happened! It's no secret that I'm not comfortable with the Governor's advancement of Mayor Jones as his pick to be Chair. But I'm going to avoid that topic here and focus on moving forward after March 15th. Whoever emerges as Chair, Mayor Jones or otherwise, has a lot of work to do and is going to need all of the help he or she can get.
Somebody once told me that they were seriously disappointed in the Party over the primary results from June 2013 when both candidates of color (Justin Fairfax and Aneesh Chopra) lost. They said that we needed to instill racial diversity in our party and candidates. I agree, but I don't agree on the method or the outcome. Primaries are democratic, and it's the way we should pick our nominees. Tinkering with the will of the people may produce the results you desire, but it doesn't always lead to the strongest outcomes. What then is the solution to promoting racial and gender diversity in statewide candidates? Start at the bottom: local candidates! If we have quality, diverse candidates for local offices, then the most qualified ones will work their way up, plain and simple.
So let's talk about how we can recruit the best candidates to run locally and how we can foster and develop talent.
The following are the statements I've received as of 5:15 pm today regarding whether Dwight Jones - who opposes marriage equality - should be the next Chair of the DPVA. I've listed them roughly in descending order of forcefulness (several are roughly tied, such as Ebbin's, Hyra's, Shuttleworth's and Levine's). Also note that I have sent multiple emails to the Charniele Herring and Lavern Chatman campaigns, starting on March 2, but for whatever reason have not received any statement from them Herring's campaign at all. In Chatman's case, I was told yesterday to expect a statement shortly, but never received one (I followed up by telephone...still nothing). In Herring's case, I didn't hear a word. Not cool. And let me just add, if Herring can't/won't stand up against the governor of Virginia (who put her in the position, and who she obviously doesn't want to cross), why on earth would we ever think she'd stand up against the President of the United States?!?
P.S. Also check out the poll results, which show that Blue Virginia readers overwhelmingly oppose Dwight Jones as the next DPVA Chair.
UPDATE 5:33 pm: A few minutes after posting this, I received a statement - albeit one that doesn't even mention Dwight Jones - from Lavern Chatman's campaign. See below.
Adam Ebbin: "No. He does not represent the mainstream of our party and marriage equality is a civil right. We need someone who understands that."
Mark Levine: "He needs to be removed from consideration immediately." (Note: the Levine campaign sent me another statement on 3/4: "The tide of marriage equality turned a long time ago. Mayor Jones should evolve on the issue like the rest of the country and our fellow Virginians or he should not be taken into consideration. As Democrats lead the fight for equality and to love and live as one chooses, it is crucial that our party chair support these rights.")
Derek Hyra: "I believe that all committed and loving couples deserve equal protection and recognition under the law. As Democrats, we must fight for equal rights for LGBT Virginians. Equality is a core value of our party and it is critical that the next DPVA Chair share those values. I stand with the LGBT Democrats of Virginia in opposition to Mayor Dwight Jones' bid to be the next chair of the DPVA, and hope that all the other candidates in Virginia's 8th Congressional District will join us."
Bruce Shuttleworth: "Anyone opposing marriage equality is not embracing true equal rights and thus is not embodying the values or spirit of today's Democratic Party. Most assuredly, we should not be nominating anyone to a Democratic leadership position who is unprepared to advance and defend the hard fought gains of the recent past. Being on the Board of AGLA, and having had at least 2 gay roommates, this is very personal to me and my friends."
Patrick Hope: "The Chair of the Democratic Party of Virginia needs to reflect our values as a party. This has been a historic year for marriage equality and we can not have a Chair of the party that does not support this civil right. I'm hopeful that Dwight Jones has reconsidered his position on this issue like so many others and will support marriage equality. However, if he is still against marriage equality, I strongly oppose his appointment as Chairman of the state party."
Mark Sickles: "Over the weekend, Delegate Sickles contacted the highest level of the governor's administration to express his opposition. We have received confirmation that his concerns have been acknowledged. If the governor nominates Mayor Jones for DPVA Chair, Delegate Sickles will issue a public statement in opposition."
Bill Euille: "I believe strongly that the Democratic Party of Virginia should continue to be reflective of the rich diversity of the Commonwealth. At a time when a majority of Americans all over the nation and the Commonwealth support marriage equality, a right the Commonwealth's highest court has recently affirmed, I believe firmly that our state Democratic party and leadership should be reflective of that reality. I am deeply disappointed by Mayor Jones' opposition to marriage equality. As Mayor of Alexandria, one of Virginia's largest cities, and as a strong and consistent supporter of marriage equality, I have shared by letter today this position with Mayor Jones and urged him to reconsider his previously articulated and untenable opposition to marriage equality. There is no place in our Commonwealth or nation to treat in a discriminatory fashion any individual based upon who they are or love. If Mayor Jones reconsiders his position on marriage equality I look forward to working with him as chair of DPVA."
Alfonso Lopez: "I have spoken to folks in the Mayor's office and to folks in the Governor's office to make it clear that the chair of the Democratic Party of Virginia should not lag behind the majority of the Commonwealth in supporting marriage equality for all Virginians. I have been assured by officials in the Governor's office that, if elected, Mayor Jones will fight to ensure that LGBT Virginians have the same rights as heterosexual Virginians. It is my belief that all people should be truly equal under the law no matter who they love. And I will continue to work in Richmond and on Capitol Hill to continue moving the march for equality forward."
Don Beyer: "I believe strongly in marriage equality, and trust that the next Chair of the Democratic Party will lead in a fully inclusive manner, respecting the rights of all."
Lavern Chatman: "I have spent my life working to promote equality for all Americans. In Congress, I will fight against discrimination of any kind, whether it be based on race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. I applaud the steps the McAuliffe administration has made in promoting marriage equality in Virginia and in ending work place discrimination against the LGBT community. I hope that the administration continues to push forward on this important civil rights issue."
While riding the good fortune of geographic proximity to Washington, McDonnell never brought a single advanced industry employer to Virginia but was proud to take credit for every job at any new convenience store. Now it is Governor McAuliffe's turn to show that jobs aren't just a campaign talking point.
The kinds of jobs that mean something are those that will employ the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) workers we hear about from every politician who wants to sound like an higher education proponent. These are in industries, manufacturing and services, which pay well and contribute significantly to the GDP because they have a multiplier effect. They have supply chains that stimulate local economies by leveraging opportunities from the benefit of shorter lines of communications.
"They send you to new governors school when you are elected. We're standing outside talking ... so what'd you run on? ... We all kind of, after a while, sheepishly admitted we were going to be the jobs governor. And we realized that all thirty plus new governors at that point in time were going to be the jobs governor. The point of that is that it is a very competitive world out there." - Governor Bill Haslam (TN) speaking at the Brookings Institute
Possibly the clumsiest McDonnell attempt to weigh into advanced industry focused on Wallops Island. During his campaign for Governor he pledged a tenfold boost in state funding for the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport and proposed space tourism as a natural tie-in. His only tangible legislative achievement was an initiative that amounted to a frequent flyer program for well-heeled space travelers. No miles have been accumulated in any individual account just yet.
Great news for John Foust, the next Representative - with all our help, of course - from the 10th CD! FYI, "The DCCC’s Red to Blue program highlights top Democratic campaigns across the country, and offers them financial, communications, grassroots, and strategic support. The program will introduce Democratic supporters to new, competitive candidates in order to help expand the fundraising base for these campaigns. "
MAR 03, 2014
DCCC CHAIRMAN ISRAEL ANNOUNCES FIRST 35 DISTRICTS IN RED TO BLUE PROGRAM, HISTORIC HIGH FOR WOMEN
DCCC Chairman Steve Israel today announced the first round of candidates to qualify for the DCCC’s highly competitive Red to Blue program and emphasized that for the first time in committee history, women make up more than 60 percent of the list. These candidates have earned a spot on Red to Blue by surpassing aggressive fundraising, organization and infrastructure goals. These candidates also demonstrate they are problem solvers who will represent the American people’s priorities and strengthen the middle class.
In total, 35 districts are part of the initial list in the Red to Blue or Emerging Races programs. Of the 16 candidates selected for Red to Blue today, 10 are women. Chairman Israel announced that three districts with multiple Democratic candidates have also qualified for Red to Blue. In addition, Chairman Israel announced 12 Emerging Races and four Emerging Districts, where campaigns are on track and working hard to put seats in play.
Maggie Sacra, Chair of the LGBT Democrats of Virginia, spoke about the submission of Dwight Jones, Richmond City Mayor, to be Chair of the Democratic Party of Virginia, saying, “In response to the many phone calls and emails members of our board have received regarding Mayor Jones’ opposition to marriage equality, and frankly, in response to our own concerns and alarm, the LGBT Democrats of Virginia held an emergency meeting of our board on March 2nd, 2014. After a unanimous vote, we released the statement below to our State Central Committee, our statewide elected officials, and our legislators immediately following the meeting. Failing see a response to our concerns from those pushing for the nomination of Mayor Jones, we are now releasing it more broadly and have also launched a petition for others to voice their support for a pro-equality chair.” The statement reads:
Exhibit A: E.W. Jackson argues we don't need more/strong ethics laws, we just need people to be ethical. Uh huh....
Exhibit B: Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw (D) says basically the same thing in the Washington Post, demonstrating that he loves his perks, doesn't have any appetite to get rid of them (nor do most members of the General Assembly), and either completely misunderstands human nature and the nature of the problem here, or, much more likely, is being disingenuous...
"The absurdity is, you can't legislate ethics," said Senate Majority Leader Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax). "Either you're dishonest or you're not, okay? It's more window dressing. It's an attempt to deal with stuff, maybe tighten up a few things here or there."
Saslaw said that states with strict laws on the flow of money in politics are still vulnerable to human nature, just as laws against murder and embezzlement don't stop bad acts. And despite the McDonnell scandal, and the nine-year prison sentence given to a former ranking member of the House of Delegates in 2011 on bribery and extortion charges, he said Virginia's record remains strong.
Of course, it's utterly absurd to make a black-and-white statement like "Either you're dishonest or you're not, okay?" But since I don't think Dick Saslaw is an idiot, with no understanding of human nature (his black-and-white view is childish and laughable), I must assume that he's simply being disingenous here, since he has ZERO - nada, zilch, etc. - desire for real ethics reform and enforcement in Richmond. Why would he give up his corporate/lobbyist-funded dinners, Homestead retreats, trips, golf games, etc, etc. if he doesn't have to?
P.S. Is Saslaw seriously arguing that just because laws against murder and embezzlement don't stop those things 100% of the time, we don't need them? We just need people to not want to murder or embezzle? Again, two choices: a) Dick Saslaw is an imbecile; b) Dick Saslaw is being wildly disingenous, dishonest, etc.
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Monday, March 3. By the way, does it make me a bad person that I don't in the least bit care about the Academy Awards or the culture of celebrity worship/fascinating/obsession? In sharp contrast, we should celebrate people like Arlington Democrat and super-volunteer/progessive activist Jean Crawford (see video of Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette's keynote address at her memorial service Saturday).
It will be fascinating to see how Terry McAuliffe et al respond to this. Clearly, sentiment in the Virginia Democratic "base" is strongly against Mayor Dwight Jones, who opposes marriage equality, to be the next DPVA Chair. Among other evidence, note that the Blue Virginia poll is now running overwhelmingly against Jones. The bottom line is that marriage equality at this point is a core principle of the Democratic Party, one which Dwight Jones disagrees with. Also worth noting is that, in the 8th CD primary, so far four candidates - Adam Ebbin, Patrick Hope, Mark Levine, and Bill Euille - have issued statements opposing Jones (at least unless he changes his position opposing marriage equality). I encourage the remaining candidates to add their voices...
You are receiving this as a member of the Central Committee of the Democratic Party of Virginia.
Maggie Sacra, Chair of the LGBT Democrats of Virginia, today spoke about the submission of Dwight Jones, Richmond City Mayor, to be Chair of the Democratic Party of Virginia, saying, “In response to the many phone calls and emails members of our board have received regarding Mayor Jones’ opposition to marriage equality, and frankly, in response to our own concerns and alarm, the LGBT Democrats of Virginia held an emergency meeting today of our board. After a unanimous vote, we are releasing the statement below to our State Central Committee, our statewide elected officials, and our legislators.”
The statement reads: “Given repeated opportunities over the past few years, Mayor Dwight Jones has consistently refused to endorse marriage equality. LGBT Democrats of Virginia is extremely disappointed with the consideration of Mayor Jones for Chair of the Democratic Party of Virginia. We oppose his nomination and call on Virginia Democrats to seek pro-equality nominees at all levels of the Party and public office."
Enjoy the snow - or not! Oh, and yes, Climate Change Might Just Be Driving the Historic Cold Snap ("Climate change skeptics are pointing to the record cold weather as evidence that the globe isn't warming. But it could be that melting Arctic ice is making sudden cold snaps more likely-not less.") Meanwhile, it's warmer than normal in almost the entire southern hemisphere, Europe, China, India, the Middle East, Alaska, the western U.S., etc, etc...
I just got back from the Mt. Vernon Democratic Committee's annual Mardi Gras party and straw poll. The party was great, as always; lots more to come on that tomorrow. For now, here are the results from the straw poll.
1. Don Beyer: 105 votes
2. Lavern Chatman: 83 votes
3. Patrick Hope: 81 votes
4. Mark Sickles: 51 votes
5. Adam Ebbin: 42 votes
6. Charniele Herring: 15 votes
7. Alfonso Lopez: 11 votes
7. Bill Euille: 11 votes
9. Mark Levine: 7 votes
9. Derek Hyra: 7 votes
11. Bruce Shuttleworth (not present): 3 votes
P.S. Note that my predictions for the straw poll were 1) Don Beyer (correct); 2) Lavern Chatman (correct); 3) Adam Ebbin (he actually finished 5th); 4) Mark Sickles (correct); 5) Bill Euille (he actually finished 7th); 6) Charniele Herring (correct); 6) Patrick Hope (he actually finished 3rd); 6) Alfonso Lopez (he actually finished 7th); 9) Derek Hyra (correct); 10) Mark Levine (he actually finished tied for 9th); and 11) Bruce Shuttleworth (correct). Not too shabby, if I do say so myself. :) The big difference was that Patrick Hope finished significantly higher than I had expected. Other than that, it was pretty much as forecast...
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Sunday, March 2. Oh, and despite the fact that it's now March, we're talking about 5-9 inches of snow and bitterly cold temperatures this week. Can't wait! (not)
After watching for about 2 hours, I finally left, with the political marchers still a ways from moving out of their staging area. So...if anyone has photos or video of the candidates and their supporters marching, please post them here if you can. Thanks!
Sensing a rising tide of sentiment against the prospect of Mayor Jones' candidacy for DPVA chair, it seems the "powers that be" have chosen to short-circuit the process. This further solidifies the argument that Jones is no more than a strawman for whomever feeds his self-perceived competence.
While this certainly will save the Central Committee substantial time and effort at the meeting on March 15, if true, the announcement will come as a pre-emptive strike that is not so surprising, yet will serve to allay any illusion that the DPVA functions for the benefit of its members. And it will be good news for the Republican Party of Virginia, despite themselves, because it would guarantee that the DPVA will lack the focus required to maintain control of the State Senate beyond 2015.
The best part of this ham-handed move is that it alienates the party members who reside in districts that are currently held by Republicans; as in the grassroots members who the DPVA needs the most to accomplish any gains anywhere. While a competent, experienced, incumbent Executive Director would be able to manipulate a marionette Chair with one hand, it will probably require both hands just to keep the ship steady in the heavy rolls that can be anticipated with the staff changes that have already taken place.
Advice to the powers that be: don't ask for unanimous consent or acclamation at the Central Committee. It doesn't exist.
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Saturday, March 1. Also, see President Obama's weekly address, on action he took "this week to launch new manufacturing hubs and expand a competition to fund transformative infrastructure projects."
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