Freeda Cathcart of Roanoke is the latest Democratic candidate for the House of Delegates to be endorsed by Democracy for America, the PAC that grew out of Howard Dean’s presidential run in 2004. Earlier this year, Dean announced a multi-year campaign, Purple to Blue, which will focus on electing Democrats to state legislatures and building grassroots support networks for the candidates. DFA has pledged at least $750,000 to support candidates endorsed in Virginia, as well as a “data-driven campaign” working with grassroots activists and investing in direct mail and media.
In a conference call reported earlier on Blue Virginia, Dean explained an expansion of the initial DFA effort in Virginia, stating, “Now that Republicans have put three anti-woman, anti-working family, right-wing candidates at the top of their ticket, now is the time for Democrats to expand the battleground in Virginia. Democracy for America’s Purple to Blue Next Wave program will help seize this opportunity and ensure that smart, people-powered progressive campaigns are making Republicans sweat in every corner of the Old Dominion in November.”
Purple to Blue starts this year in Virginia. In 2014 the campaign will focus on legislative candidates in Iowa, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. The efforts will return to Virginia in 2015, when voters will elect both delegates and state senators.
Freeda Cathcart is the Democratic candidate running against Chris Head (R-17). Head supported both the TRAP regulation of abortion clinics intended to drive them out of business and the mandatory ultrasound law passed in Virginia. Cathcart was instrumental in the fight to get approval for midwives to practice in the Commonwealth, as well as working with Sen. John Edwards on the bill to make practitioners notify women with dense breast tissue of options to ordinary mammograms which often miss cancer in those women. She is also the founder of Mothers United against Uranium Mining and has worked with a bi-partisan coalition to keep the ban on uranium mining in Virginia.
A recap of other candidates endorsed by DFA ‘s “Purple to Blue” campaign is below:
Kathleen Murphy, president of Johnson Murphy & Associates, is running against Barbara Comstock (R-34). Comstock voted against education and transportation funding, while actively backing the mandatory ultrasound bill, the “personhood” bill and the repeal of sensible gun safety laws.
Jennifer Boysko serves as aide to the Dranesville Supervisor in Fairfax County, an area that encompasses much of the 86th House District. She began her political involvement as an aide to U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby when he was a Democrat and also was the state director of the Dean for President campaign in Virginia in 2004. Boysko is running against Tom Rust (R-86) in a district that voted almost 61% for President Obama in 2012.
Bill Fleming has received the DFA endorsement in the 82nd House district, an open seat since Bob Purkey is not running this year. Fleming likely needs the financial assistance of DFA since his opponent, Bill De Steph, is a member of the Virginia Beach City Council and is sure to be well-funded.
James Harder is the Democratic candidate in the 12th district, currently “represented” by Joseph Yost. This district has been gerrymandered for the express purpose of diluting the Democratic vote in Blacksburg. Harder is no stranger to state politics. His grandmother, Joan Munford, represented the district from 1982 until 1993.
Monty Mason, a Senior Director at Visa, Inc., and chair of the Williamsburg Economic Development Authority, is running against Mike Watson (R-93), a one-term delegate. This seat is considered one of a handful of vulnerable ones following the recent Republican-controlled gerrymandering.
“Over the last two years we have seen the legislature reduce the rights of women, take further money from education that has been decreasing for years, and engage in extremist politics rather than working for the solutions our state needs. We must focus on an agenda that targets job creation and encourages businesses to locate in Virginia,” Mason said.
Traci Dippert, a teacher and chair of the Culpepper Democratic Committee, is running in the 30th House district against Ed Scott, a five-term incumbent who has never before faced a Democratic challenger. Scott’s voting record shows that he has fully supported the most extreme elements of the GOP agenda.
“[Scott] is a 10 year incumbent and over the last few sessions has strayed from the common sense values of this district, lacking the strength to stand against the leadership of his party as they continue to move to the right. Last year, he voted in favor of the transvaginal probe and the personhood bill attacking both women’s rights and reproductive rights,” Dippart stated.
Jeremy McPike is running against Scott Ligamfelter in the 31th House district. Most recently, Ligamfelter is notorious for his failed campaign to become the Republican lt. governor candidate. How extreme is Ligamfelter? Well, his candidacy was endorsed by certifiably bats**t crazy Allen West, who thankfully lost his own bid for re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives.
Jasper Hendricks is the Democratic candidate for the House of Delegates in the 60th District, a seat currently held by James Edmunds. For the past two elections, Edmunds has been unopposed. This time, he gets no free ride.
Besides the grassroots organizing experience that DFA brings to endorsed campaigns, the endorsement also means that DFA’s more than one million members will be strongly encouraged to donate to these campaigns. I want to encourage all Virginia Democrats to donate to their local races, volunteer for campaigns, and be sure to get family and friends to the polls in November. This is the most significant election in many years in the Commonwealth. It’s past time to defeat the malignant extremism rampant in the Republican Party in the Commonwealth.