Dranesville 8th CD Democratic Debate, Straw Poll (Hope, Levine, Beyer Finish 1-2-3)


    Tonight was the Dranesville (Fairfax County) Democratic Committee debate for the 8th CD candidates. I thought it was the best debate so far – well attended, excellent job by the organizers and the moderator, Glenn Kessler, who asked tough but fair questions. Most of the video’s not going to be available until tomorrow, but Adam Ebbin’s opening statement just finished uploading to YouTube, so here it is. 🙂 Also, I’m awaiting results of the straw poll. By the way, there were only 6 candidates there tonight, as Derek Hyra had confirmed he’d be attending but didn’t show up for some reason. Also, tonight saw the first serious attempt by one candidate (Patrick Hope) to “go after” another candidate (Don Beyer) on their record. I talked to Beyer afterwards and he thought that Hope’s criticisms were not accurate and didn’t connect. It will be interesting to see what people thing after they watch the debate video, and also whether this campaign finally heats up a bit after being VERY sedate (aka, a snoozefest) so far.

    UPDATE: Interesting tweet by moderator Glenn Kessler regarding one of the areas Hope and Beyer clashed on (caps on tax deductions for the wealthy). “mea culpa — $1 million limit. Don threw me when he said 600k. Apologies! Pinocchios to me.”

    • truthteller

      Lowell, if you post something from Don regarding him not thinking Patrick’s critique was accurate, shouldn’t you also post some context explaining  what Patrick’s criticism was and what evidence he cited to support that claim?  

    • The graph shows the first place votes as well as the combined 1st (3 points each), 2nd (2 points each) and 3rd place (1 point each) votes. Biggest surprises: Patrick Hope winning the straw poll in McLean, which is outside his House of Delegates district; and Mark Levine having his best performance ever in a straw poll, finishing ahead of Don Beyer (!) in second place. Also interesting is that there seems to be a clear dropoff in this straw poll from the top three finishers (Hope/Levine/Beyer) to the next three (Ebbin/Euille/Chatman), with Hyra the next notch down at zero first-place votes. Of course, it’s a small sample size, but still…fascinating.

    • Hope says everyone on the stage is qualified to be the next member of Congress (note: I’d argue that Hope’s being nice, that Lavern Chatman is automatically disqualified due to the fraudulent conveyance court judgement against her and her endorsement of North Carolina Teapublican Pat McCrory for Governor), but that he will focus on differences tonight.

    • Levine stresses his work for former Rep. Barney Frank, that like Frank he’s aggressive, progressive and effective. “The only thing that can’t be done are the things we don’t try to do.”

    • Beyer says we’re all put on earth to serve others, that he’ll fight for a “new American economy” and that he supports a progressive carbon tax.

    • in contrast to Senators Kaine and Warner, as well as Gov. McAuliffe. Obviously, I’m with the 8th CD Democratic candidates on this one – offshore oil drilling is completely the wrong way to go given the urgent need to slash carbon emissions, and also the risks of devastating oil spills.

    • Beyer: It’s complicated. At the time, the reasoning seemed sound, but obviously where we are now, Boko Haram is a terrorist organization.

      Ebbin: Doesn’t know if Boko Haram should have been labeled a terrorist organization in the beginning, but they clearly are now.

    • Beyer: Very complicated. Instinct is to block aid, there has to be a consequence to Egypt’s behavior. On the other hand, we need to be conscious of the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty and Egypt’s importance to Middle East stability.

      Ebbin: What Egypt’s government is doing is outrageous and wrong, we should encourage good behavior not give aid when they’re engaging in such behavior as they’re doing now.

    • Ebbin: “We need to keep nuclear weapons out of Iran at all costs.” “A nuclear Iran is a horrible and unthinkable situation.” Glad Iran’s at the negotiating table, but not counting on reaching an agreement.

      Beyer: Supports attempts to negotiate a nuclear deal with Iran. We spent years trying to get Iran to the table via sanctions, etc, now we have to see if we can reach a deal. In the end, we have to “trust but verify.” Also very smart of Israel to draw as hard a line as they can; “Israel cannot stand a nuclear-armed Iran,” nor can Egypt, Saudi Arabia, etc. Military strikes would only push back Iran’s capability by 2-3 years, so we need a diplomatic solution.

    • Levine: Supports the toughest possible sanctions against Russia. Predicted that if we didn’t do that, they’d go into eastern Ukraine next, and that’s what’s happening. One of the best ways to avoid using military force is to use sanctions aggressively and early. President Obama has been “way too slow, way too weak” on this. Our NATO allies – Poland, Baltic states – are very nervous.

      Hope: Situation in Ukraine shaping up to be a civil war. Agrees with Levine on stricter, more aggressive sanctions to hit Russia hard, be “tough with Putin.” He won’t stop unless we stop him.

    • Hope: Supports two-state solution. Should be fair, make sure it ensures long-term sovereignty and safety of both Israel and Palestine. US has crucial role to play in this to bring two sides together. This is a complex situation.

      Note: I ran out of video memory space so didn’t get Levine’s answer on this one… 🙁

    • Beyer: Strong supporter of ACA, would like to make it even better. Cites employees cutting hours below 30 hours a week so they didn’t have to comply with ACA as something that needs to be fixed.

      Ebbin: ACA website obviously needs work. Also cites the 30 hours per week issue that needs to be fixed.

    • Levine: All we’re asking is that the wealthy pay the SAME percentage as everyone else. This is an insurance program, not a welfare program, and we need to protect it as an insurance program.

      Hope: Social Security should be treated like Medicare; you pay into the system, it should be there for you.

    • Hope: Opposes chained CPI, opposes raising retirement age. We need to worry a lot more about the Medicare trust fund than Social Security. We should lift the payroll tax. Tax millionaires and billionaires, “no disrespect to anyone on this panel.” Everyone needs to pay their fair share. Pledges to never support any cuts to beneficiaries.

      Levine: We should expand Social Security, pay for it by making millionaires and billionaires paying the same rate as everyone else by lifting payroll cap. Donald Trump’s janitor is paying a far higher percentage than Donald Trump is, and that’s not fair. If we lift the payroll cap, it would be solvent for 75 years or more, plus free up money for expansion.

    • Ebbin: Supports net neutrality. Should be a free and open marketplace of ideas. Can’t let big telecom companies decide what we get to see online. The internet is a resource that has helped kids across the country.

      Beyer: “I love the internet.” 2nd dealership in country to have its own website back in 1991. Strongly supports net neutrality. Need to change the current law to restore net neutrality. Internet makes communications symmetrical, unless you kill net neutrality, which would be a big mistake to do.

    • Ebbin: Opposes the name but doesn’t know we should legislate names of football teams no matter how offensive they are, we do have freedom of speech.

      Beyer: Agrees that Congressional legislation goes a bit too far, but obviously the name needs to go (“we’ll love the team no matter what it’s called”). Also responds to Patrick Hope’s criticism of him on welfare reform. Says he spent two years with bipartisan group of legislators going through the poorest neighborhoods of Virginia. We listened and listened and listened…things came up trying to lift people out of poverty. Women on welfare paid a 100% tax, it was as regressive as you can possibly get. We were driving the father out of the household in most cases, and there was no money for child care, training or transportation. We were saying, please lift yourself out of poverty but we’re not going to help you in any way.

    • Levine: Supports it, this is “cap and trade plus.” The best thing is that people get the money back while fighting global warming. Move away from fossil fuels. Tax carbon as well as the full impact of coal, would probably drive coal companies out of business which is perfectly fine with him.

      Hope: Climate change “probably one of the most critical issues that we’re facing.” Best way to deal with it is a carbon tax, but thinks cap and dividend or cap and trade a good alternative. Responds to Beyer regarding caps on income tax deductions, says he opposes caps as “regressive.”

    • Beyer: Absolutely do not get rid of mortgage interest deduction. Home mortgage interest deduction already limited to $500k or $600. The essence of the American dream is to own your home. We should get rid of oil company subsidies. National carbon tax would help balance the budget. Reasonable to cap mortgage interest deductions at a certain level.

      Ebbin: Tax capital gains at a higher rate than earned income. That’s a fair loophole to eliminate. Get rid of loopholes that encourage corporations to offshore jobs.

      Levine: Biggest loophole is corporations moving jobs offshore. $2 trillion being held offshore. There’s an incentive in our law to take the money overseas, we should reward those who bring it home. Today corporations pay a very small percentage of taxes, and that’s wrong.

      Hope: There are all kinds of loopholes in Virginia. Disagrees with Don on lifting the cap, “I wouldn’t lift the cap at all” on mortgage interest deduction. Lots of corporate loopholes that need to be closed. Doesn’t see the mortgage interest deduction as a loophole “at all.”

    • Levine: There’s good defense spending and bad defense spending (e.g., second engine for F-35 made in John Boehner’s district, we don’t even need it). We need to protect jobs, but shouldn’t just protect parochial needs on unneeded, wasteful defense spending.

      Hope: 8th district relies heavily on defense spending. Sequestration cuts were drastic. Need more jobs programs, millionaires/billionaires tax.

    • Beyer: We need to look outside simple answers like raising the retirement age. Need to put people back to work. Have immigration reform.

      Ebbin: Raise the cap on Social Security taxes, raise taxes on millionaires, stop the “irresponsible and outrageous” Ryan budget. We should increase spending on infrastructure, clean energy, education, etc.

    • …and the struggles with my video camera memory continue, as this one cuts out after a minute or so. Sigh…

    • “Final Four” Candidates

      Levine: A+ — At this point, after a bunch of debates, I think it’s fair to say that the guy’s simply superb at these things. I’d also argue that he’s (by far?) the most knowledgeable on a wide range of national and international issues, and the most articulate in conveying his ideas on those issues. I wonder if the straw poll results last night reflected the audience being blown away by Levine’s command last night?

      Hope: A — More forceful last night than I’ve just about ever seen him. Finally went after the presumed frontrunner in this race, Don Beyer, on welfare reform, and seemed to rattle Beyer a bit. Was strong on both domestic and international issues. Hope’s definitely gotten better and better at these forums as he’s gone along.

      Ebbin: B+ — A strong performance last night, with touches of dry humor and strong, coherent answers on both national and international issues. I’m just not sure Ebbin caught fire with the audience (see straw poll results) or in this race generally. Maybe because he’s not “flashy,” as he keeps reminding us? Not sure.

      Beyer: B+ — I’ve been giving Beyer “A” grades in all the debates so far, but last night I felt like his energy level was down, and/or he was a bit rattled by Hope’s criticisms. When Hope was speaking, I saw Beyer looking into the audience, presumably at his advisor(s), as if to say “WTF?” Still, overall he was solid on both national and international issues, and I’d continue to say that he’s the most knowledgeable about the broad range of these issues, other than Mark Levine.

      Lower-tier/also-ran candidates


      Euille: I’d give him a Gentleman’s “C” — just sorta there.”

      Chatman: C-/D+, as she speaks mostly in generalities and clearly doesn’t have a clue on foreign policy.

      Hyra: F for confirming he’d attend, then not showing up.

    • Dr.Gonzo

      Having followed the race to succeed Jim Moran in Virginia’s 8th Congressional District, there is clearly no shortage of progressive options, most notably Adam Ebbin, Patrick Hope, and Mark Levine.  Going into tonight’s debate, I was leaning toward Hope, but I also respect what Ebbin has done.  I didn’t know much about Levine, but he blew me away with his command of federal issues and his eloquence and intelligence.  Then, it struck me that we don’t have to make a choice: we can be well served by all three with Levine in Congress and Hope and Ebbin staying put in Richmond.  All three are accomplished and (real) proven progressives giving voters a bevy of true liberal choices (don’t get me started on “proven principled” – just rebranding to try to fool people who forget how conservative he has been his career).  However, my worry with all three in the race is that it is likely they will only serve to split the progressive vote, thus ensuring the moderate-to-conservative Don Beyer wins with a plurality.  That would be a defeat for the left wing of the Democratic Party, as it would squander a chance to elect solid blue Representative in a solid blue district.

      I’m now convinced that the solution to this problem is quite simple: it is time to coalesce behind Levine, the most articulate and effective progressive in the race.  Mark Levine has been a citizen activist, chief counsel to Rep. Barney Frank, and a radio and television pundit who has gone toe-to-toe with the crazies on the Right and he is the one who is most knowledgeable on federal issues.  Instead of splitting the liberal vote, the three should form a powerful alliance for years to come, each fighting for our shared progressive values.  Hope’s career in the State House is bright as is Ebbin’s in the State Senate.  And Mark could bring his passion and quick wit to Congress, something that is sorely missing since Barney Frank retired.

      Instead of fighting for the nomination and dividing the vote, the three of them should be joining together to form what I’m dubbing the Virginia Progressive Dream Team.  With all due respect, this race shouldn’t be about egos but ideas.  It should be about choosing the best progressive to fight for us in Congress.  We have two stellar progressives already fighting on our behalf in each chamber down in Richmond.  Sending Levine to Congress would give us what we sorely need – true and strong progressives working together, not against each other, for what matters most and in the best interest of we the people.