This past Saturday, I listed my 8 criteria for choosing the Democratic nominee in the 8th CD race. How do these criteria apply to specific candidates? I started with former Virginia Lt. Governor Don Beyer, continued with Del. Mark Sickles, Del. Charniele Herring, Lavern Chatman, Bruce Shuttleworth, Alfonso Lopez, and Patrick Hope. We now turn to Sen. Adam Ebbin.
1. The next Representative from the 8th CD should be a strong, rock-solid progressive.
Adam Ebbin was elected to the House of Delegates in 2003 and to the State Senate in 2011. Here are highlights from his Project Vote Smart ratings:
*100% from NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia
*73% from the Virginia Chamber of Commerce (I believe this is the lowest score among everyone I’ve rated so far, which generally – given my negative feelings about the Chamber of Commerce – is a good thing!)
*100% from Equality Virginia
*18% from the far-right-wing Family Foundation of Virginia
*60% from the Virginia Education Association in 2012 (the last year’s rating listed).
*100% from the Virginia League of Conservation Voters.
*A solid “F” (good!) from the NRA.
*100% from the AFL-CIO.
On Ebbin’s website, he highlights his work “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.” He says he has “distinguished himself as a voice for the easily exploited,” and that he has “won approval of legislation to enable lower interest rates on deferred property taxes for seniors (HB 2635, 2005), to create a solar resource fund to increase production of clean energy (HB 2919, 2011), to create a Public Defender office in Arlington County (HB 1500, 2004), to provide support to victims of human trafficking (SB 259, 2012; HB 2190, 2011) and to provide prenatal care for immigrant mothers (SB 568, 2012),” as well as “a bipartisan effort that provided access to life insurance benefits to domestic partners (HB 865, 2008; HB 352, 2010).” Ebbin also notes that he is “the first openly gay member of the Virginia General Assembly” and that he “co-founded Virginia Partisans Gay & Lesbian Democratic Club in 1992.”
2. I want to see a tenacious, indefatigable FIGHTER for progressive values
Adam Ebbin is certainly a fighter for progressive values; I don’t think anyone can possibly doubt that. Sample bills from the past few years include: “Hybrid electric motor vehicles; repeals annual license tax, refunds;” “Discrimination; prohibited in state employment;” “Tuition, in-state; Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals;” “Firearms; criminal history information check required to sell;” and “Virginia Waterways Clean Up and Consumer Choice Act; paper and plastic bag fee.” Ebbin is co-chair (with Del. Patrick Hope) of the Progressive Caucus, which is great except that – as I noted in my writeup of Del. Hope – I’m not sure exactly what this group has done over the years.
UPDATE 2/10/14: It was brought to my attention that, when he was a delegate, Adam Ebbin voted to repeal Virginia’s Estate Tax. I checked, and it appears that Ebbin voted against it several times before ultimately voting for it (the final vote was 91-0). Given my strong feelings that repeal of the Estate Tax was the biggest – absolutely outrageous, really – mistake of the Kaine administration, still costing us somewhere in the $120-$140 million/year range to benefit a few hundred super-rich Virginia families, I’m going to lower Adam Ebbin’s overall grade by one notch, from A-/A to B+/A-. I understand that a bunch of great progressives, like Donald McEachin, also voted for this under pressure from the Kaine administration, but it’s still not acceptable in my view.
3. We need a Representative who will fight for the 8th CD.
Based on his past performance, as well as my personal conversations with him, I have no doubt that Adam Ebbin would do that as a Member of Congress.
4. We’re going to be losing some big-time seniority and need to build it back up.
Adam Ebbin is 50 years old, should have plenty of time to build back some seniority in this position.
5. We want, need, and deserve a Representative who has the highest ethical standards and who makes us proud every day.
To my knowledge, Adam Ebbin has very high ethical standards.
6. A superb, impressive track record of accomplishment over the years.
See item #1 above; I’d certainly say that qualifies as “impressive.”
7. Obviously, we want someone who will do a great job on “constituent services.”
I have no reason to believe that Adam Ebbin wouldn’t do a fine job in serving his constituents.
8. I want to see a “heavyweight” in this job — someone who is a serious policy wonk, someone who really loves diving into the weeds of legislation, someone who can go toe-to-toe with Republicans and Tea Partiers (and conservative and/or corporate Democrats for that matter) in the battle of ideas.
Adam Ebbin is a very smart and knowledgeable person, someone who’s certainly not afraid to fight back against Republicans and Tea Partiers. How he’s perform on the national stage is the only question, just as it is for all the other candidates running for this seat. I’ll be interested to hear Ebbin’s vision for Congress, as well as his national and international policy ideas, during this campaign.
Overall: Adam Ebbin is one of the top candidates, from a progressive point of view, for this seat. I give Ebbin an overall
A/A- B+/A- grade.
UPDATE 2/10/14: See my update in item #2 for why I’m lowering Ebbin’s score to a B+/A- from an A/A-.