(UPDATE: I’ve added some excellent photos courtesy of Catherine S. Read. Thanks! – promoted by lowkell)
I’m at the Democratic Party of Virginia’s 2012 convention at George Mason University in Fairfax. It looks like a big crowd, hundreds of people from all over the Commonwealth. Right now, it’s 9:18 am and the roll call’s about to start (DPVA Chair and for-profit “education” lobbyist Brian Moran presiding). As long as the WiFi holds up, I’ll attempt to update throughout the morning…
9:30 am: Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chair Sharon Bulova welcomes delegates to Fairfax County, says it’s historic. Fairfax City Mayor-elect Scott Silverthorne delegates.
9:35 am: Sen. Mamie Locke (Virginia Legislative Black Caucus chair) asks for prayer for the city of Hampton, which was hit by a tornado last night. Rips Tea Party/Republican agenda – attacks on right to vote, women’s choice, individual rights, etc. Democrats must fight back and stand up for our principles. Need to reelect President Obama, elect Tim Kaine to US Senate, reelect Democratic Congressmen, etc. Let’s show that 2008 was NOT a fluke, Virginia will be blue again in 2012.
9:38 am: Del. Mark Sickles (D-43) speaks for House Democratic caucus, says we fought “extremism of the worst kind,” that we’re “winning in the court of public opinion.”
9:42 am: Sen. Donald McEachin speaks for the Virginia Senate Democratic caucus. “What a session we just came out of…” That budget we passed was as close to a Dem budget as we could make it. Virginia now knows what happens when you have too many Republicans – you get new words like “transvaginal ultrasound,” the end of one-handgun-a-month, etc. Need to elect Tim Kaine, reelect Barack Obama. We will win not because of the foolishness of Republicans, but because of who we are. Democrats protect working men and women, fix problems, lift all boats up in this great country.
9:45 am: Terry McAuliffe gets standing ovation. “My name is Terry McAuliffe, and I’m a proud Virginia Democrat!” Virginia will make the big difference this year. I’m a Dem because I believe in the values in this party. Every single individual should have shot at American dream. Democrats should never lose any elections based on our track record. You see how Democrats govern (Bill Clinton and his long list of successes), and you see how Republicans govern (George W. Bush). Now, Barack Obama inherited a horrible situation, but is turning things around (auto industry, health care for 35 million Americans, turning the jobs situation around). Barack Obama did what Bush couldn’t do, get Osama bin Laden. Obama has been directly responsible for Virginia’s economic prosperity, despite Republicans’ fallacious denials. Elections matter. We can’t go to sleep like we did after 2008. We got crushed in 2009 and 2010, then Republicans took control of the General Assembly in 2011 because we stayed home. “Shame on us for allowing that to happen.” “But those days are over because we know what happens when they get control” – socially divisive, attacks on working people, etc. If you’re embarrassed about the name of a bill in Richmond, you shouldn’t be able to vote for it. Lots of hot air coming out of AG’s office on climate change. We know the world is warming. 2013 is going to be important, we’ve got to win governor’s mansion, LG, AG. Let me just say, IF I were to be your nominee for governor – I “apologize” (he says sarcastically) for being enthusiastic, having a big personality, etc. We need someone who’s loud and fights. Big ideas. Renewable energy – moved electric car company from China to America. Virginia didn’t bid on it – big mistake, we need manufacturing jobs here in Virginia. We need a mandatory renewable energy standard. Bob McDonnell’s big plan is to name bridges? Is he kidding? What, a bridge in Danville “brought to you by the Koch brothers?” We will have the resources to run everywhere in 2013. (standing ovation, lots of enthusiasm for Terry – big difference from 2009!)
Here’s a count of delegates by district.
125 delegates – 1st District
48 – 2nd District
98 – 3rd District
111 – 4th District
152 – 5th District
55 – 6th District
154 – 7th District
217 – 8th District
79 – 9th District
182 – 10th District
232 – 11th District
1,453 – Total
10:30 am: Report from Rules Committee, Election of Permanent Officers
10:31 am: Candidates for DNC member (6 males, 2 females; Shaun Broy has withdrawn so there are now just 5 male candidates)
Shawn O’Donnell: Was candidate for 1st CD in 2006. Running for DNC because of experience in campaigning and “real world.” Can still get my book on Amazon. Modernizing, use of social media. Bring Lionell Spruill along with me.
Frank Leone: Yields time to George Wallace.
Lionell Spruill: Running for reelection to DNC. Being a good Dem will cost you sometime, but I don’t mind paying the price. I was removed from Labor and Commerce because I voted for labor 100%. We need to take back this country. I am fired up. Sick and tired of Republicans who disrespected our women, trying to turn back the clock.
George Wallace: Yields time to Sen. Mamie Locke. Locke says elections have consequences. Need Dems who walk the walk not just talk the talk, uphold values and principles of party, support Dems on all issues that matter, support women, labor, LGBT, minorities, the elderly and poor not just when it’s convenient. Dems support Dem candidates and Dem-endorsed positions ALL THE TIME. Not just when it’s convenient or profitable. Need to elect a team that stands up for us, will fight for working Americans and personal liberties for all. Need a team to do that – endorse and nominate the Unity Team for DNC.
Frank Leone: Been a Dem volunteer at grassroots level for 30 years. On DNC, set up a website to provide information on how to get involved in party, what DNC is doing, what state party is doing. Need to work on making things fair and open, protecting the vote, carry forth momentum from 2012 through 2013 and beyond.
Ben Tribbett: I’m the guy you’ve gotten negative emails about, but I’m not going to waste my time on that, this should be about positive ideas. DNC is important position. We are one of the states that has the most problems turning out young voters in off year elections. We have to reach these voters where they’re getting their information, online, where they are. We need them to vote next year or we’re going to have another disaster the way we’ve had the last 3 years. My campaign is about making the Dem Party accessible to all voters, strong support for primaries, pledged to restore Howard Dean’s 50-state candidate, I’m the grassroots candidate and progressive candidate. Vote for any 2 you want, not just for a slate.
10:45 am: Doris Crouse-Mays and Mame Reiley elected by acclamation, as they’re unopposed.
Distribution of ballots – can vote for up to 2 candidates for DNC man (Shaun Broy has withdrawn).
11:25 am: Taking a loooooooooong time to get the ballots for DNC member turned in, make sure each delegation’s head count is correct, etc. Ah, political conventions, gotta love ’em. Or not.
11:51 am: While the ballots are STILL being counted for DNC member, Rep. Connolly and Rep. Moran speak.
Connolly: Standing ovation. Welcome to Fairfax County, “where we hope you’ll spend a lot of money while you’re here today.” We’re in for a close election this year, but we have intelligence on our side. (tells joke about firing squad, Romney yells “fire!”). Our base more energized than their base. Two very different world views, two very different sets of values, two very different plans for what we need to do. Republicans are pretty open about what they stand for. Dems believe we’re in it together, we live in a community, we’re diminished if we don’t reach out our hand to those less fortunate. Republicans want to voucherize/end Medicare as we know it. They call Social Security a “ponzi scheme.” We don’t share that philosophy. We believe it’s a societal obligation to stand with our seniors for security in their golden years. On the other side, many believe education is a privilege best left for the few. We believe education should be available to everyone regardless of their socioeconomic condition. We don’t believe student loan rates should double on July 1.
One area we REALLY disagree – conservatives say they want government off our necks, unless you’re a woman, in which case time and again, Republicans have attempted to rule women’s rights to reproductive health and take away their freedom. We Dems don’t think that’s a good idea. Dems actually believe this is about freedom, an essential American value. What they’re doing about women’s reproductive freedom is unAmerican and not a conservative value. If you’re gonna be a phony, at least be sincere about it.
Bobby Scott: Look forward to serving with our next Senator Tim Kaine. Priorities – opportunities and needs of middle class, universal access to health care, protecting Medicare, investing in education, environment, civil rights, jobs are #1 priority (in stark contrast to what Republicans are doing – they took credit for stimulus but didn’t provide any votes to make it happen). Republicans are threatening economic collapse with games over debt ceiling. They’re not hiding their priorities these years regarding women, contraception, Lily Ledbetter, shift Medicare expenses onto the family. Their priorities are tax cuts for the wealthy and repeal of health care. Millionaires over Medicare for Republicans. Virginia will decide our future in November, this is a true battleground state, Republicans can’t win without Virginia.
Jim Moran: Deep affection and admiration for Bobby Scott and Gerry Connolly, they make a tremendous difference for our country. We are here to determine the outcome of the presidential race, this is battleground zero, this is where we’re going to decide the future of our great country.
We’re here not just because we’re Dems, but because we’re patriots. Make this an even better nation, lead world to more peaceful, sustainable, just future. People around the world look to America for leadership. We can’t let that dream die, not while we’re alive. We’re at war again, among ourselves, but not the kind of war meant to be won with military might. Need enough good people to stand up for what’s right.
Conflict of world views – Republican Party today determined to impose a Darwinian view of human nature, turning America into survival of fittest society, winner take all economy. We have a different view, inherent value of each and every individual, diversity enhances our lives, equal opportunity for all.
This vision of America is under threat by those who don’t share our embrace of each other, of investing in our futures, close their minds to scientific knowledge if it threatens corporate power and profit. Those corporations have the means and intent, thanks to a partisan Supreme Court, to buy a President and Congress to do their bidding. You are ready to do battle for what you believe in. You are the Comnmonwealth of Virginia’s frontline troops for the battle for the soul of our nation.
Barack Obama is the right commander in chief to lead our nation, he has his priorities right. Our own Tim Kaine will stand along side President Obama. Personal decency, intellectual integrity – Kaine will make us all proud to be Virginians and Americans.
This state can’t be won without you. We all have a common spiritual bond that defines us, that teaches us the importance of charity to others, golden rule. The Torah says we will be judged by how we treat the “other” – those who are different from us. Christian Gospel of Matthew, when I was hungry you fed me, a stranger you welcomed me in… That is the heritage of our nation, must be legacy of our political party. We all know what’s at stake.
The Tea Party and House Republicans have made it crystal clear what they’re all about. Their vision of America is not the vision we know and love. Punishing the poor. Cheering when unemployment goes up. Rooting for our economy to fail so their politics can win. Congress has been driven to a standstill with their dangerous and radical notions that even Ronald Reagan wouldn’t recognize. They are determined to bring about massive redistribution of wealth to the richest Americans, while slashing funding for the safety net that millions of Americans rely on, to invest in our nation’s future, fund schools, build roads, protect the environment.
Gov. Romney would come to White House dedicated to ensuring that he pays lower tax rates than most middle class families, giving Wall St. free reign to repeat mistakes of financial crisis, appointing “severely conservative” justices to Supreme Court. We cannot allow that to happen, you will NOT allow that to happen. Need to work from now until November to reelect President Obama, elect Tim Kaine, move America forward as only Democratic Party can and will.
1:05 pm: Mark Warner heaps praise on Tim Kaine. People with conscience, commitment to social justice, to getting stuff done, “We need Tim Kaine as our next Senator!” Finding common ground, have you ever heard the word “common grond,” “bipartisan” and Tim Kaine’s opponent in the same sentence? That’s the LAST thing we need in Congress – another person to gum up the works. How broken Congress is by a crowd that would say no to anything Barack Obama would propose – except their tax cuts. Top priority of these people isn’t to put forward their views, but to defeat our president.
Things are so wacky in Washington, it even makes Richmond look sane – can’t say that anymore. Republicans in Richmond put forward an agenda that had nothing to do with moving Virginia forward. Now, thanks to them, Virginia’s the brunt of jokes, not the Virginia we have fought for so many years. We may have been defeated at the ballot box the last time around, but the tide is turning, we are seeing that elections do matter. As Egyptians fight for their Democracy, Gov. McDonnell tried to restrict right to vote. General Assembly tried to restrict right of gay families to adopt foster children. Republicans passed personhood bill even folks in Mississippi rejected. And I don’t even want to “go there” on the question of ultrasounds.
After that kind of sorry record, you’d think they would have learned. But it was almost like, if you didn’t get the message what their agenda is in Congress or in Richmond, it was reinforced when we had the veto session recently, when Virginia once again made headlines for rejecting a judge, put forward by a Republican, a judge nobody questioned his qualifications, in the dark of night with half the Republicans simply being absent, simply because he’s gay. That is not the Virginia that for the last 2 decades we have fought to make.
Elections matter. The stakes have never been clearer. We’re going to see an onslaught from other side like nothing we’ve seen before, thanks to one of the worst Supreme Court decisions ever (“Citizens United”). We cannot allow the other side to get away with rewriting history. We all remember the final months of the Bush administration, when our economy was in total freefall. We turned this house from burning down to rebuilding solid foundations. We turned things around on jobs. Of course, those numbers don’t mean much if you’re unemployed, and we’re all disappointed by the jobs numbers we saw yesterday.
The Romney/Republican/Trickle Down/I’ve got mine the heck with you approach will not create jobs or get the economy moving. You’ve got to have a growth plan, have to be willing to invest – we have that kind of approach – but the other side has tried to restart the entire debate over debt ceiling roulette that could bring us to brink of economic collapse. That kind of irresponsible action will not lead America or the world out of economic challenge.
If America is going to maintain and grow its economic opportunity, we’ve got to invest. With no help from other sides, we’ve started investing again in clean energy, R&D, etc. Need to have a manufacturing economy, we’ve got to make stuff again in this country. Right now, the American auto industry is once again leading the world thanks to the actions of Pres. Obama and Dems in Congress.
We’ve got to let folks know who made the right choices (Democrats) and who wanted Detroit to fail (Romney). Every child has the right to a great education no matter where they live. I was astonished what happened in our financial sector. It was this president, Barack Obama, who put in place new rules of the road, so we won’t have a repeat of 2008. It was this president who took the first real step to say it’s just not right to have 30 million Americans without health care. We’ve come a long way, we can’t turn back. The face of this country is changing. Our country is best when everyone has a seat at the table. Many of those people have a different accent (switches into Spanish).
In 2008, we showed who can elect a president, it was Virginia. All the eyes of the nation will be on Virginia for the next 5 months. We in Virginia will determine who controls US Senate, who elects next president of the United States. In 2008 we changed the guard, in 2012 we need to guard the change. (standing ovation)
1:23 PM – Jim Webb. Chance for me to say a couple things. How much I appreciate how much you all did to help me get elected in 2006. My legacy will be the people who worked with me. Thanks Brigades – thank you thank you thank you! Everything we were able to do was made possible by work of people on the ground in the 2006 campaign. People won that campaign. I started with no money, no staff, and a set of issues I thought were important for our country. People began to believe in what we were saying. We were outspent 2:1 but we won.
This year, we’re gonna face the same types of financial situations – Citizens United, anonymous negative expenditures, air campaign. I’m a former Marine infantryman, I believe in ground campaigns. We have the message, we have the candidates, we’re doing to win.
We did what we said we were going to do in 2006. I gave the rebuttal to president’s SOTU address, but economic fairness and social justice in front of American people. GI Bill passed despite, believe it or not, strong opposition from the Republicans. Criminal justice reform – I was told it was political suicide to talk about it, but I thought we HAD to talk about it. We’ve pushed hard for legislation on the criminal justice system. We made it acceptable to talk about it. That is a victory, we will get the legislation before I leave, Sen. Reid says he’ll get me another vote before I leave. Reorienting US relationship with northeast and southeast Asia. Absolutely crucial region of the world. Made historic visit to Burma. None of those things would have been possible without the support of the people here.
Bob Kerrey is a great friend, helped persuade me to run for Senate. I had the opportunity to go to Nebraska and campaign for Bob Kerrey. I graduated from High School in Nebraska, fought golden gloves in Omaha. Anniversary of when my father graduated from Univ. of Omaha when I was a High School senior. The Great Santini.
My father stuck his diploma in my face and said you can get anything you want in this country and don’t you ever forget it. That’s only true if our leaders protect the ability of every one of us to have access to all the benefits this society offers. I love this country. I will never forget that only if we have leaders that understand the necessity to give people who don’t have a voice in the corridors of power will we preserve our system of government.
Andrew Jackson – measure health of a nation not at the apex but at the base, not on Wall Street but on Main Street. The rich and powerful can take care of themselves, the poor and powerless need the arm and the shield of the law, and that arm and shield has always come from the Dem Party. The opponents of our people may want to do the right thing, but they don’t carry that same premise inside them when they run. I predict if we all do our jobs, Tim Kaine is going to be my successor in the Senate by 5 points or maybe more, and Barack Obama will win Virginia.
1:38 pm: Anne Holton. You are the heart of the Virginia Democratic Party, I applaud you and I thank you. Thrilled to share stage with some remarkable Virginia women. We have come a long way baby here in Virginia. We need more women at the table. It’s in our genes to care about others. I’ve had some success in life, it’s in large part due to the wonderful partnership I’ve forged with the love of my life, Tim Kaine. Lots I could tell you about Tim, why he’d make a great US Senator for women in Virginia, for all Virginians.
1:48 pm: Tim Kaine. Isn’t it great that Virginia’s a battleground state? It’s because of you! Anne has been my rock and my supporter, my best friend, public service role model. Now that Anne’s out on the stump for me, I know I’m not losing now! We define family a lot broader than those other guys (the Republicans) do. I pledge to do everything to increase the # of women in elected office. Tonight you’ll hear from Debbie Wasserman-Shultz. There had only been 2 women who had ever served as DNC chair, in a short-term and interim capacity. I vowed that a strong woman leader would follow me as DNC chair.
Jim Webb is a tough act to follow on stage and in the Senate. 2006 was one of the most magnificent campaigns. It was a hard decision to run in this race after Webb announced he would be retiring. After a lot of prayer and discussion with Anne and my kids, I decided to run out of a sense of duty, we’ve come too far to move backwards.
The choices might be clearer in this election might be clearer, states might be higher, degree of extremism/violent language/over-the-top nuttiness might be sharper than they’ve been for a very very long time. Which means we’ve got to do our best work in 2012. We believe in supporting teachers not bashing them. We believe in expanding economic opportunity. Republicans opposed Obama Administration’s effort to expand Pell Grants. They’re all about divesting, privatizing; we’re not going to privatize minds, that’s what’s at stake in this election.
One way to get economy going is to invest in infrastructure, we Democrats get that. You employ people on Day 1 and leave legacy behind that will pay dividends for years to come. Republicans don’t get that. Social Security – there’s not been a time in my life that there hasn’t been more news about Soc. Sec. and Medicare. My opponent voted to privatize Soc. Sec, and that would have been an unmitigated disaster. I will fight against anyone who tries to do that. Medicare – the Ryan budget (which George Allen supports) is not a cost reducing plan, it’s a cost shift.
Issues of equal opportunity, in this campaign by the dozens. Shouldn’t be limited by gender, race, disability, sexual orientation, or anything else. I never thought that I would have talked so much about contraception because of the issues the other side is pushing. We’re fighting for women to have equal pay for equal work, whether a gay man who is eminently qualified can sit on a circuit court bench in VA. Allen has championed federal “personhood” legislation, vote to undue hate crimes protection for LGBT Americans.
These are battles that the other side has decided to put front and center and to fight about. These are NOT on the table because Dems have decided to make these issues, but because Republicans have revealed their cards. They’re wrong on the issues, also wrong to focus on most divisive wedge issues that push Americans apart when we need to be coming together to focus on the economy. We need to deal with our fiscal challenges in a balanced way. No pledges of allegiance to Grover Norquist. Not “cut cap and balance” or other gimmicks. Need to find revenues by letting TEMPORARY tax cuts expire on wealthiest Americans. The other guys talk a good game, but when they get the reins, they always do the wrong thing.
My opponent was part of the fiscal wrecking crew that turned surplus into massive deficit, voted to add $3 trillion to national debt, blocked paygo, but now he has the nerve to say put him back in so he can deal with the deficit. We need to move forward not backwards. I was governor in a very tough time. No government, noone has ever cut their way to prosperity, the math doesn’t work, anyone who tells you it’s possible is wrong. I want to get thinner, but I don’t want to get weaker, that’s the all-austerity diet. We’ve got to make cuts, find revenues, make investments in infrastructure.
The choices are clear, the stakes are high, Virginia will be right on center stage with the spotlights on. We’ve got to win these races, reelect President Obama with Virginia. It’s not just about winning elections. Citizens United – avalanche of secret money – has led to a situation where an oligarchy is trying to consume a democracy. Those who can write big checks, when guaranteed secrecy, will write even bigger checks. They believe if they just add enough zeroes to the checks they write, that they can wrest elections away from the people.
What’s at stake in this election is nothing less than the form of government we have. Can grassroots beat money? While the other side has the superPACs, we have the grassroots energy. Money or grassroots: I’m picking grassroots every time. You win by going directly to people, you serve by going directly to people.
Nobody cares how much time you spend in your office. When I went from city council to Mayor, I took those lessons with me. Any good political skill I have today is because I started at local level where money wasn’t what mattered, but doing what you said you were going to do. We believe passionately in the grassroots. We need to show, in a post-Citizens United world, that it’s still the grassroots who will come out on top of Karl Rove, etc.
I have never seen such a bunch of doom and gloomers as modern day Republican Party. It’s absolutely corrosive, negative, and not what the Republican Party has always been. They define their success not on jobs or prestige abroad, but on defeating President Obama. It is doom and gloom nonstop with George Allen, suggesting that our best days our in the rear view mirror, I don’t buy that for a minute, and neither should any of us. That Democratic “happy days are here again” tradition – work hard, acknowledge challenges, face them head on, be optimistic, positive Democratic Party. America needs us right now. I’m proud to be on the ballot, proud to fight with you. Come November we will celebrate victories in Virginia and America (standing ovation).
Leone 806 – winner, other top 3 go to runoff
2:17 pm Spruill withdraws, says he’s a good Democrat. We need to leave here united.
Second ballot – Brian Moran says we will reconvene at 3:30 pm at Mason Inn.
Motion for suspension of rules for balloted vote and have a voice vote on two remaining candidates. Voice vote seems split, but Brian says the motion carries. Objection. Move to “division,” method of voting to decide on a counted vote later at the Mason Inn or a voice vote now.
Vote by people standing: 1) for George Wallace; 2) for Ben Tribbett.
Ben Tribbett moves to elect George Wallace by acclamation so he can appeal later, because we shouldn’t be doing it this way.