Home 2014 Races Updating My 8 Top Criteria Rankings for the 8th CD Democratic Primary...

Updating My 8 Top Criteria Rankings for the 8th CD Democratic Primary Candidates


Back on February 1, I listed by “Top 8 Criteria We Should Use in Selecting the 8th CD’s Next Congressperson”. They were:

1. The next Representative from the 8th CD should be a strong, rock-solid progressive.

2. More than just the progressive scores, I want to see a tenacious, indefatigable FIGHTER for progressive values

3. We need a Representative who will fight for the 8th CD.

4. Need to build back seniority lost due to Rep. Moran’s retirement.

5. We want, need, and deserve a Representative who has the highest ethical standards and who makes us proud every day.

6. A superb, impressive track record of accomplishment over the years, in whatever field(s) the candidate has been involved.

7. Someone who will do a great job on “constituent services.”

8. I want to see a “heavyweight” in this job.

I reviewed all the candidates through the prism of these criteria, and on February 13, listed the rankings that ensued. Now, with just under two weeks to go in the primary race, I wanted to revisit my rankings in light of what we’ve learned about the candidates during the campaign. As you’ll see, there have been a few changes, up and down.

Mark Levine: Moves up from A/A- to a solid A, having proven that he has a deep and broad knowledge of both foreign policy and domestic policy, as well as being a super-strong progressive. He’s also shown that he’s not just an “entertainer” but is a serious candidate running a serious campaign.

Adam Ebbin: No real surprises, has maintained his A-/B+ rating as a strong progressive with high ethical standards and a serious, if not “flashy” or “exciting,” policy wonk.

Patrick Hope: Slips a bit from A/A- to a B+ due to questions about his “heavyweight” status on foreign policy (and disagreement on his overall thrust, which appears to be away from active engagement with the rest of the world), as well as on areas outside of his core expertise – healthcare. I’m also disappointed that he hasn’t emphasized climate change – by far the most important issue facing humanity – more in his campaign, including on his mailers.

Don Beyer: A significant move upwards, from C+/C to a B+, due to the consistently, strongly progressive and environmentalist (e.g., advocates for a national carbon tax, which I STRONGLY agree with!) campaign he’s run since I first saw him speak at the Brigades meeting back in February. The ONLY reason I don’t have Beyer even higher, in the “A” range, is that I still have some lingering difficulties completely reconciling his more “moderate” record as a statewide Virginia Democratic politician in the 1990s (e.g., his role in welfare reform, which the Hope campaign in particular has attacked, such as in this video), as well as a couple of quotes in the 2000s (about ending the “death tax” and a supporting a national sales tax), with the super-strong progressive we see today. (note: I asked him about these reports, and he said he couldn’t imagine why he was quoted that way, as he doesn’t think this way at all, that these views are antithetical to his progressive values, etc.) Of course, Beyer’s now firmly and repeatedly on the record about a wide range of issues, so if  – or more likely when – he’s elected on June 10, it could be problematic for him to back off of those positions, even if he wants to.

Bill Euille: Slips slightly, from a B+/B to a B/B- for the campaign, mainly due to little evidence of serious foreign policy expertise, his response in one debate that he was open to the Keystone XL pipeline, and his funding from Sheila Johnson (who gave $50,000 to Bob McDonnell and who disgustingly mocked Creigh Deeds’ stutter during the 2009 Virginia governor’s campaign). Other than that, I maintain my evaluation that Euille appears to be a “strong progressive, but he’s been involved overwhelmingly at the local level so it’s hard to know how that would translate to the national stage.” As for “whether or not he puts together a serious campaign,” it seems that he has for the most part.

Derek Hyra: Goes from unranked to a C-. Hasn’t run an impressive campaign (e.g., almost no money raised, little sign of any grassroots support), also has a top policy advisor who spends his days flacking for the fossil fuel industry and against the environment. Other than that, I haven’t been impressed with Hyra on foreign policy, and I’ve disagreed with him on things like raising the Social Security retirement age (which he supports doing). On numerous occasions, at debates, I’ve had the thought, “this guy sounds like a Republican in some ways.” Mostly, though, his focus has been on the urban planning issues he’s an expert on, which is fine but not particularly broad-based for someone who would have to deal with every issue under the sun in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Lavern Chatman: Goes from “Incomplete” to “Disqualified” due to a huge problem with criterion #5 (see Chatman for Congress Campaign Issues Statement on “Fraudulent Conveyance” Appeal She Lost in 2003) and also serious doubts about criterion #1 (see Video: Lavern Chatman Spoke Positively About, Donated to NC Gov. Pat McCrory (R)). Finally, Chatman would have lost ground anyway, due to her weak performance on criterion #8 (during debates, her answers on foreign policy were shaky at best, and on many domestic policy issues were general and/or vague – mostly style, little substance seems to sum it up).

  • aandw123

    Interesting though that you criticize Hyra for having an advisor who has a day job (NAM) that you don’t see eye to eye with, but have yet to explore the fact that one of the candidates, himself, works for an organization that has a PAC that gives 60% of its contributions to Republican candidates. Including many dark red candidates.  

  • amber waves

    Moran voted against the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) this week. Connelly voted for it.

    How would our candidates have voted?

    Many of them of them would have voted for it.

    Ebbin and Levine are big supporters of US military interventionism, drone strikes, etc. which means massive public welfare for the military corporations, cuts for spending on domestic priorities, and continued alienation of the US by many world citizens. They get a C-

    Patrick Hope-Who knows? But he certainly has not articulated a strong stand around US foreign policy. He gets an MIA.

    Don Beyer-  he has been endorsed by the dovish Council for a Livable World. Bill Euille came out during the Bush years against attacks/invasion of Iran. Neither has laid out an approach to Foreign Policy or the military that mirrors Moran. Give these guys B’s.

    Hyra and Chatman- whatever.

    We don’t need another Connelly who is progressive on many domestic issues and poor on military and foreign policy issues.

  • truthteller

    I believe foreign policy is a relatively modest concern for members of the House. With the exception of trade deals, wars and foreign aid the House is not the premier forum for international issues. With jurisdiction over treaties, confirmations and a more prominent visible stage on international affairs, foreign policy expertise plays a far more prominent role  in the Senate.

    Hope has established a strong record on health policy, jobs, the environment (respectfully disagree with you on this, Lowell) and addressing economic inequality (where his record is far superior to most other candidates). His expertise was inappropriately denigrated by the Post which omitted his 5 years of Hill staffing in the Senate.

    And I am sorry, aand123, but you are trolling to raise questions about Patrick’s day job representing a medical society. Patrick’s record is ANYTHING but GOP leaning and the fact is Medical societies are going to give donations to Republicans when Republicans control one house of Congress….  By contrast NAM’s donations are closer to 90% GOP and their views are antithetical to our values.

  • Matt_H

    As he posted on another blog, Patrick Hope has the courage to affirmatively write that he supports single-payer health coverage, which is what we all should strive for.  I’m pretty sure that Levine likely supports this too, but I’ve not heard the other candidates expressly advocate for it.  Such an advocate is exactly what we need in Congress from our solidly “blue” district.  Your bottom four candidates (and deservedly so), all tilt at the windmills of business, and in this post-Citizens United age we need more than ever a representative who puts the welfare of the people first, and revives the social contract.

    I’d also like to know why you call Beyer out on truly regressive decisions that he made years ago, but don’t call out another candidate who more recently voted to repeal the estate tax?