Del. Surovell Condemns “the same thinking that drove attacks on John F. Kennedy and Barack Obama”


    I just received the following statement from Del. Scott Surovell (D-Mt. Vernon). It seems that Barbara Favola and her allies (Dick Saslaw, Mary Margaret Whipple) have stirred up something of a hornet’s nest here with their constant implication (or outright statement) that even an extremely accomplished Latino (as Jaime Areizaga-Soto happens to be) is “unelectable” in liberal Arlington, simply because of his ethnicity, or that there’s something wrong with the fact that he has friends and family in Puerto Rico. Anyway, Del. Surovell has some thoughts on this, which I’ve posted below (bolding added by me for emphasis).

    Northern Virginia is one of the most diverse areas of the country and the Democratic Party is the one party that is open, inclusive and cares about the concerns of Northern Virginia’s new residents.

    Several of us within the party, both before and after we were elected, have been working as hard as we can to recruit qualified minority candidates who advocate Democratic Party principles to run for office.  In the House of Delegates, we have successfully recruited Esteban Garces to run in HD 2.  Alfonso Lopez is running in HD 49.  

    When anyone impugns one of our candidates’ electability because of the community they represent, it should be condemned by all leaders of our party.  It is the same thinking that drove attacks on John F. Kennedy and Barack Obama.  The House Democratic Caucus has four non-white members who represent districts that are not made of a majority of constituents of their own race.  To suggest that someone like Jaime Areizaga-Soto is unelectable in Northern Virginia because he is Hispanic is not just wrong, it runs counter to our experience in the House of Delegates, the broader nation, and common sense.  

    The younger members of the Democratic Party also bring new ideas, energy, and passion to the Democratic Party.  Younger generations also bring a greater respect for tolerance – whether that be for race, sexual orientation, disability, or age.  Older generations of voters may have come from a time when white voters refused to vote for anyone who was not their race and perhaps do not fully appreciate this yet.  However, tolerance, civility and respect for diversity is the new reality in most of Northern Virginia.  Our nominees should embrace that reality and condemn the spasms of intolerance that occasionally rear up to our south and west.  

    Finally, President Obama was able to generate huge turnouts in 2008 because he embraced our country’s youth and the newest members of the Democratic Party. We should follow his lead at the state level because doing the same old thing we have done before is not going to be enough to get a majority of Democratic candidates across the finish line in 2011 and in the future.  

    Jaime Arriezaga-Soto deeply appreciates this which is one reason why I endorsed him.

    • NewVirginia

      Thank you Delegate Surovell, for speaking up.

      Your courage will not be forgotten!

    • totallynext

      elect a new majority leader.

    • My good friend, Mark Keam, is correct in reacting the way he did.  I think discrediting someone because of their race is despicable.”

    • I am shocked to hear the statements you quoted from your phone conversation with Barbara Favola. That anyone in public office (especially in NoVA) would make those disturbing comments is difficult to comprehend.

      I have represented districts (Mason and the 38th) which are majority-minority for over 12 years and I know that voters don’t vote only for candidates who look like them, or share their lifestyle.  Not only are these comments insulting to candidates and elected officials, but are extremely insulting to voters.

      I have publicly endorsed Jaime Areizaga-Soto from the beginning of this primary race. I have known Jaime for years to be intelligent, hard-working and dedicated to public service.  His qualifications for elected office have everything to do with who he is and what he has accomplished—nothing else–and that is exactly as it should be.

    • When I endorsed Jaime Areizaga-Soto for Senate last week, I expressed my anger that Democratic leaders in the Virginia Senate seem to think they — and not the voters — have a right to anoint his opponent, Barbara Favola, as the Democratic nominee. Since then, it has come to light that Favola has been quietly attacking Areizaga-Soto’s candidacy based on his ethnicity, suggesting in one-on-one conversations with voters that a Latino is unelectable in the 31st District.

      Our community has a proud tradition of electing qualified leaders who reflect the diversity of our citizens, and the idea that a Latino candidate — or any minority candidate — cannot win support from or effectively represent us in the Virginia Senate is deeply offensive. If a Republican candidate said such a thing, we Democrats would fall over ourselves to call out his or her racism, and we must hold candidates from our own party to that same standard.

      Therefore, I urge all Democrats — and especially my fellow Democratic elected officials — to condemn Barbara Favola’s racist statements that Jaime Areizaga-Soto cannot win or effectively represent us because of his ethnicity. More importantly, I hope voters will support Jaime Areizaga-Soto on August 23rd and demonstrate that the Democratic Party is still the open, inclusive party of good government we have worked so hard together to build.

      Finally, I expect Favola’s campaign will dismiss my comments because my wife is a paid consultant for Areizaga-Soto. However, regardless of my wife’s role in this election, racism is unacceptable, and Democratic voters, activists, and leaders should reject it.

    • Will Radle

      Great statement, Delegate Surovell.  I would only correct one point.  Democrats are not alone competing for the hearts and minds of people of Hispanic heritage.  Keep that in mind as you consider whom to support on August 23.

      In fact, two candidates of Hispanic heritage are proudly competing for the Republican nomination to face Senator Linda Puller in the 36th Senate District.