Thoughts on the 30th Senate District Race


    So far, I’ve mostly stayed out of the 30th State Senate district Democratic primary for several reasons. First, I personally like and respect all three candidates, as well as many of the people supporting them. Second, I believe that all three are strong progressives and Democrats. And third, I’ve been focusing my time and energy more on the 31st State Senate district race, since I actually live in that district (and because it’s so rare to actually have a competitive primary in Arlington, I’m almost giddy with excitement! lol), and since there’s such a stark choice in that race.

    Now, though, with just over 140 hours to go until polls open on Tuesday, August 23, and after carefully observing the 30th State Senate district primary for months, I thought I’d weigh in with a few thoughts. In no particular order, here they are:

    1. I continue to believe that all three candidates – Libby Garvey, Del. Adam Ebbin, and Rob Krupicka – are strong progressives, and that any of the three would vote the “right” way (from a Democratic and progressive perspective) if they’re elected to the State Senate. In that respect, any of the three candidates would be perfectly fine choices.

    2. The differences between the candidates seem to be more on experience, and to some extent style, than on anything else. Thus, Rob Krupicka‘s focus has been at the local level, as a member of the Alexandria City Council. In addition, Krupicka has emphasized the fact that he’s currently got two children attending Alexandria Public Schools, in large part to emphasize that he’s highly involved in his community. In addition to education, Krupicka tends to stress his expertise on environmental and energy issues, transportation, and the economy. Bottom line: if you’re looking for someone who’s worked at the local level, who understands city government, and who is a policy wonk with a broad range of issues and expertise, then Rob Krupicka might very well be your pick.

    Lots more on the “flip”

    In contrast, Arlington County School Board member Libby Garvey strongly emphasizes education, where she has an impressive – and long – track record. The extent to which Garvey is focused on education was brought home to me when she told me (in response to questions on other issues, such as energy and transportation and campaign finance), that (roughly quoting here), “in the end, it all comes back to education.” In short, if you want someone in Richmond who will focus on education above all else, and whose experience is almost 100% in that area, then Libby Garvey is probably your candidate.

    Finally, Del. Adam Ebbin emphasizes his experience in Richmond, noting that he has been “a leader in the General Assembly, Adam has fought to advance progressive priorities, including incentives for cleaner energy, funding for mass transit improvements, an end to discrimination in state employment, and justice for exploited workers and victims of human trafficking.” Ebbin also stresses his work “on issues such as employment nondiscrimination and environmental protection,” including introducing “the first legislation in the Virginia House to address waterway pollution caused by throwaway grocery bags.” Bottom line: if you want the person with the most experience in the Virginia General Assembly, the one who has focused on GLBT equality and environmental protection, then your choice probably should be Adam Ebbin.

    3. Stylistically, there have been definite differences between the candidates. By far and away, in my view, Libby Garvey has been the most aggressive in drawing contrasts with her opponents, particularly with Rob Krupicka, who many have perceived as the front runner in this race. Thus, Garvey was out of the gate early with criticism of Krupicka over BRAC, and specifically over the selection of the Mark Center site in Alexandria as the site for relocated Pentagon employees. In addition, Garvey recently ripped Krupicka for “[saying] you’re the only candidate with children in the public schools, and that’s felt to me, frankly, like code: Adam’s gay, can’t have children in the public schools, and I’m old.” Adam Ebbin responded strongly to that, saying “I don’t appreciate Libby speaking for me,” “I have gay friends with kids in the public schools,” and “I don’t think Rob has a homophobic bone in his body.” For his part, Krupicka, apparently running a frontrunner’s strategy, chose not to respond to Garvey’s criticism. Ebbin’s response was striking, as he has run a fairly quiet, positive campaign, and this response was uncharacteristic of him. Still, I think that exchange was revealing…of something. I just can’t figure out exactly what! 🙂

    4. In the end, I guess if I had to choose in this race, I’d go with either Adam Ebbin, who has a proven, strong progressive track record (with a few exceptions, such as his final vote to repeal the estate tax) or Rob Krupicka, an impressive policy wonk with tremendous knowledge of localities, something that would be very valuable to have in Richmond. As for Libby Garvey, I continue to like her a lot, and think she’d do a good job in Richmond. However, I disagree with her that, in the end, “it all comes down to education.” In fact, education is crucial, but there are tons of issues, ranging from GLBT equality to progressive taxation to a renewable portfolio standard to ethics in government to…you name it, that have nothing to do, really, with education, except in the broad philosophical sense that if people get a strong education, they’ll be more inclined to come to the right conclusions on the issues (note: see Rick Perry, a “C” and “D” student in college, and wildly wrong on basically every single issue, for an example of how LACK of education can mess you up big time).

    Anyway, I urge every Democrat in the 30th Senate District (Alexandria, Arlington and Fairfax) to vote on Tuesday, August 23. Whoever wins this race is almost certain to be your next State Senator, and most likely will be there for a long time to come. So, your vote really matters in this one; make sure you cast it!

    • clark

      I won’t go into specifics on the candidates, though from my perspective as Chair of the Alexandria Democratic Committee, it’s been exciting have three strong candidates compete for this seat. The Committee’s role has been to provide a level playing field and I believe we’ve done a good job at that- providing literature at our table for multiple events each weekend, hosting an engaging debate a few weeks back, promoting all of the candidates’ events to over 3,000 people each week via our calendar, etc.

      Not to go all George Allen here, but I do think primaries are lot like tryouts for athletic teams. When I used to coach at T.C Williams, during the year the team provided a strong foundation for players- coaching, training, tutoring, etc. and then when tryouts came around, it was time for the players to compete for a spot on the team. Players had to distinguish themselves from one another, as our three candidates are doing here. And, at the end of the day, players and candidates are “trying out” for a place on the same team. In a reliably Democratic area such at the 30SD, a strong primary like this benefits all— whomever wins will have gotten a strong group of grassroots supporters behind him or her, and the ADC will as a result benefit from all of the interest in this race, and the large number of supporters that have come out to help the candidates.

      Just like when I coached, the key, in my mind, is to having a strong foundation in place ahead of these elections so candidates have the tools they need to run, and then when the primary rolls around, the coaches need to remain on the sidelines and let the players compete. In the end, we’re going to have a stronger candidate eventually “make the team” and we’ll all be better off for it come November.

      At any rate, writing this comment from the Alexandria Hospital, where my wife and I just had out first child yesterday at 5:56AM. Puts things in perspective, that’s for sure.

      Thanks for the support in covering this race, BV.

      – Clark

    • totallynext

      This is strictly an observation and no endorsement from the trenches.

      In the new portions of the 30th in mt. Vernon…


      While Libby has the endorsement of the retiring Senator Ticer, that will have zero impact in this area.  Senator Ticer had 5 precincts but was rarely seen.   The 30th now encompasses a good majority of the mt Vernon district in solid established voting areas.  The district pickup 4 precincts and an additional two majority split  precincts.  Libby has also picked up supervisor hylands endorsement, but have not really heard a lot of factors on this, it may or may not have an impact

      Ebbin has delegate surovells endorsement, which I believe has quit a bit of weight especially in the new areas of the seat.

      Rob, congressman Connolly endorsement not much weight in this area.  

      Meetings / forums

      Rob by and far embraced in this forum.   He directly took on mt. Vernons challenges, answered directly and gave specific solutions.  I believe this is e local government, address a broad area of issues for handles unique challenges at the local level.

      Adam was next in address the challenges but I think was not able to fully get into because he has direct knowledge of the difficulties in the VA legislature.

    • Cool_Arrow

      Good write up Lowell. I agree with much of your write-up and analysis. There really isn’t the start contrast as there is in the 31st. For my part I do live in the 30th District and I will be supporting Rob on Tuesday. I like Rob’s energy and drive and his ability to listen to people and explain why his thought process and policies will be the best route to take. I think that he’ll also be a good team player for team blue and has the potential to grow into a strong leadership position down the road. Given a strong blue seat I’d like to see someone who can help grow the Party and advocate in an effective manner for Progressive ideals. I think in the end he’ll win with about 40% of the vote, Libby will come in 2nd and Adam 3rd.  

    • kindler

      And I agree with your conclusions.  I’ll add that Libby’s ridiculous attack on Rob last week really turned me off, and the way she put it (“Adam’s gay…and I’m old”) demonstrated something short of eloquence.

      I also think that Rob would represent thoughtful new blood in Richmond, which desperately needs it.  That said, I also would be perfectly happy with Adam.