Home 2014 Races Video: Progressive Democrats of America Debate for Virginia 8th CD Gets Fiery!

Video: Progressive Democrats of America Debate for Virginia 8th CD Gets Fiery!


The debate last night put on by the Progressive Democrats of America turned out a lot better than I’d expected heading in, given that only 2 candidates (Mark Levine and Derek Hyra) were going to be there for the entire debate, 1 candidate (Patrick Hope) was going to be there for part of it, and the rest (other than Don Beyer) slated to send “surrogates.” It turns out that the surrogates did very well – I’d argue that at Ebbin’s (Justin Strekal) and Hope’s (Karen Gautney) were absolutely superb, in some ways better than the candidates themselves (can I vote for Strekal or Gautney in this election? LOL) – while Euille’s and Chatman’s were very strong in more limited roles (e.g., they weren’t authorized to respond to questions, other than ones they were 100% sure about).

The debate was well organized, the questions were interesting, and there were some serious fireworks between the candidates – including Mark Levine repeatedly going after Don Beyer, who wasn’t there (note that I’ve emailed the Beyer campaign to ask why they didn’t send a surrogate to the debate, which is disappointing), as well as Patrick Hope and Don Beyer as “lobbyists” (for doctors and car dealers, respectively); and the other candidates who didn’t show up. For his part, Hope went after Levine as a “passive aggressive progressive” (in response to Levine calling him a “lobbyist,” which Hope said he was proud of), as well as for attacking Beyer when he wasn’t there. Definitely a lively debate!

Here’s some video (I’ll post more in the comments section of this post), starting with Mark Levine criticizing Don Beyer for “support[ing] fast track…for the Bush Administration; he felt that the Bush Administration could be completely trusted to do trade deals and he said so very clearly…when he was the lobbyist for foreign car dealers.”

P.S. Also note that I didn’t get video of some of the exchanges at the end, as my video camera ran out of juice after 1 1/2 hours or so. On ethanol, Levine correctly called it a “sham” which could actually use more energy to produce than it produces. Ebbin’s surrogate correctly called it a “big handout” to agribusiness and “money not well spent.” For whatever reason, Hope and Hyra didn’t answer directly about ethanol, just talked about promoting renewable energy (note: I checked with the Hope campaign this morning, and they said the ethanol subsidy should be phased out and moved into investments in renewables – good answer!). On another topic, guns, Levine was very passionate that Democrats need to run on this issue and call out Republicans for it, as the vast majority of Americans support background checks.  All the candidates/surrogates who responded about the PATRIOt Act and mass surveillance felt it went too far and should be drastically scaled back or ended.

P.P.S. I’m not sure if any other reporters were there, but if so I didn’t see them.

  • Note that my video camera was running out of juice by this point, so I was at most getting snippets. Time for another camera?

  • For progressive carbon tax, for EPA regulating greenhouse gases, opposed to fracking and the Keystone XL pipeline.

  • Levine later criticized Beyer and Hope for being lobbyists (for the “car dealers” and “doctors,” respectively), but I #FAIL’ed to get that on video, unfortunately, as my camera battery was just about dead and I was only recording sporadically at that point. Oh well.

  • “You’ve gotta show up, you’ve gotta be there. And I am disappointed that so many people didn’t show up tonight, I really am. You know, they claim to be progressive (I’m not sure about a couple of them). They’re certainly Democrats and they’re certainly Americans.  Why would they not show up for a debate with the Progressive Democrats of America? You know, last Friday there was a debate; I missed by nephew’s graduation, because I felt it was important to show up…These candidates, they didn’t tell [the debate organizers] until a few minutes before [that they wouldn’t be there] and I’m very disappointed.”

    P.S. I’m checking with Beyer’s campaign to find out more about why they didn’t send a surrogate. Beyer said he wasn’t there because it was his father in law’s 90th birthday.

  • “It’s ‘we the people’ not ‘we the corporations'”

  • “The truth of the matter is that real change will come only when it costs more to harm the environment than to take care of it. And on this front, Patrick Hope is prepared to take both the offensive position and the defensive position in Congress” (pro-clean energy, carbon tax, strong limits on carbon pollution, oppose fracking/repeal exceptions Safe Drinking Water Act for fracking, specifically oppose fracking in the GW National Forest).

  • Levine pledges to have an open door policy as a member of Congress (e.g., to meet with constituents in person), and that “at no time has any of the candidates – not Bill Euille, not Adam Ebbin, not Patrick Hope, not Don Beyer…none of them have said they would take that pledge.”

  • and “absolutely not, we should NOT raise the retirement age” (note: Derek Hyra was the only candidate who said he’d support raising the retirement age for Social Security).

  • Says he supports “fair trade not free trade.”

  • Levine makes a strong argument for the estate tax, says we fought the revolution in part because we “didn’t want the inherited wealth of dukes and earls and kings and nobles; they fought against that.”

  • Yes to carbon tax, cap and trade, EPA regulating based on science, federal land management to protect our populations, no to fracking, no to Keystone pipeline, stop “mountaintop bombing” in West Virginia that dumps arsenic, cadmium into water.

  • Mark Levine emailed me this morning and asked me to post it.

    Three serious factual errors I have now counted for Patrick:

    1)  Not knowing whether or not to believe the Russians on Ukraine (OK, I guess this is more a judgment error than factual error)

    2)  Not knowing social security was indexed

    3)  Not knowing anything about ethanol, even after I gave him the answer!


    I believe I mentioned to you that the organizers told me that NO ONE canceled in April, when the forum was set up (I received my invitation on April 17 and accepted on April 19), that no candidate said they were not coming until a week or so before last night, and that more than one of the candidates said they were coming but canceled at the last minute – the very day of the debate! (but organizers wouldn’t tell me who).  

    And although surrogates were allowed, I for one do not think they take the place of the candidate at a debate and I said so at the forum.  (Some were worse than their candidates.  Some were better (Karen Gautney comes to mind).  But they are in no ways the same. Particularly in a debate where we were asked to make pledges.)

    The organizers also told me that if they had known that a number of candidates would not show up on a Wednesday night in late May when they planned this more than a month in advance, they would have moved the date or time to accommodate us.  In fact, one of the same organizers, Stephen Spitz, changed the time of his  FCDC Diversity Committee Tast of Diversity event to accommodate Marcus Simon’s conflicting event, even though Simon scheduled his AFTER Spitz scheduled his.

    See below:

    “To all 8th district CD candidates and their reps: Please note that the time of the FCDC Diversity Committee Tast of Diversity event on June 1 has been moved up to 3-5 PM to accommodate the candidates attendance at the diversity event and at Marcus Simon’s event. Stephen Spitz”

    That was very nice of Stephen and I’m confident he would have done the same in this instance if candidates had only informed him they would not attend at the time he put it on the schedule.

    Hence, my pique. I suspect that some candidates just don’t see the debates as helping their campaign. But if they want to avoid a tough debate (and we all knew PDA would be a tough debate, with audience questions!), how will they debate Eric Cantor?  Or Bill O’Reilly for that matter?

    We need a representative who is unafraid to debate anyone from the Progressive Left to the Tea Party Right

  • Kingstowne ExPat

    Patrick called Mark passive aggressive after Mark called Patrick a lobbyist. Which Patrick is. And Patrick admitted he was. And it wasn’t passive aggressive to say so. It was true.

    As for Beyer, Tribbet and Hope have been regularly disagreeing with  Beyer’s conservative positions both publicly and privately. As Mark has. Except Mark has done so openly. Patrick has hidden behind Tribbet”a “Bad Beyer” meme.

    Mark has done so both at debates attended by Beyer and several times to the Washington Post. And Mark has done so topically as well, in response to questions on the issues. (Even the lobbyist question was a response to a question about it.) in contrast, Patrick has ignored the questions to attack Beyer and chose a tough question on Burma to veer off and attack Beyer on welfare. Which has nothing to do with Burma.

    Patrick and Mark agree that Beyer’s call for “death tax reform” and Beyer”a past support for Tom Delay’s plan to replace the progressive income tax with a national sales tax — not to mention his welfare plan with George Allen — are bad ideas.

    Patrick should be welcoming Mark”a agreement with him on progressive ideals. But Patrick was rattled, not by Mark, but by the lobbyist question. Yet it’s a simple fact that Hope does not want to admit: unlike Mark, who would never profit from his time on the Hill to serve a special interest, Patrick has done so for years.  It’s a legitimate target of inquiry and a real difference between them.

    Let’s face it: Patrick is not ready for prime time. Karen was strong. Patrick is not. He just doesn’t know the issues.  He thinks Putin may be trustworthy. He doesn’t know social security is indexed. And be doesn’t know anything about ethanol (which is why he ducked the question).

    If Patrick spent more time learning the issues, he would do better in the debates.

    And if Patrick feels there’s nothing wrong with using time on Capitol Hill to personally profit from a special interest, he should say so and not let it rattle him so much.

  • From Hope’s campaign manager Ben Tribbett

    Why is Mark Levine out attacking Patrick Hope? Let me explain. Don Beyer is in the lead- all polling has shown that. While Patrick is trying to catch up to FIRST place- Mark is aiming for SECOND place- in hopes it will help him in a future run. In doing so, he is actively working to undermine any progressive chance of beating Beyer. If his attacks were to work (they aren’t)- he would target Ebbin next who is in 3rd place. Of course this is a guy who name checks Barney Frank at every debate and even in his TV commercial after working on his staff- but won’t explain why three months into his campaign Frank has still not endorsed him. Maybe he’s holding it for the end, and thinks it can move him from 2% to 3%?

  • JonesNj

    As the campaign draws to the close all the candidates are trying to draw distinctions between themselves. Mark used the questions at the debate as an opportunity to highlight the differences in style and substance. It seemed a little strange of Patrick to get upset about marks remarks on Beyer considering he had previously criticizing Beyer at past debates and did it in a much more obvious fashion. The statement regarding Hope and Beyer as lobbyists was stating a simple fact and hardly came across as much of an attack yet it seemed to strike a sore spot with Patrick.  

  • Courtesy of one of Mark’s supporters who was at the debate and videotaped Mark’s responses. I’m glad they posted it, as the battery on my video camera ran out after about 1 1/2 hours, and I missed some lively exchanges in the latter part of the debate. For instance, Levine called out several of his opponents (e.g., Adam Ebbin for voting to repeal Virginia’s estate tax; Derek Hyra for implying that we couldn’t do anything on guns; and all the other candidates for not making his “meet with constituents personally: pledge). In addition, this video has Levine’s response on ethanol, which is an important issue in my book, but which my video camera didn’t capture, as well as Levine’s comments on lobbyists, the PATRIOT Act, mass surveillance and guns. If other campaigns also have videos of their candidates, I encourage them to post them or let me know about them so I can post them at BV. Thanks.