My Pick in the 45th House of Delegates District: Craig Fifer

My Pick in the 45th House of Delegates District: Craig Fifer


Deciding who to support in the 45th House of Delegates district Democratic primary has been a tough one for me, as there are several strong candidates to choose from. In particular, I had a difficult time deciding not to endorse Julie Jakopic, whose performance at debates has been extremely impressive. I also really like Clarence Tong personally, also believe he’s a strong progressive and environmentalist (although I am troubled by his openness to new natural gas pipelines, which has been a common critique of the enviro group he works for – EDF – as well). As for Mark Levine, he’s super progressive and highly articulate, but I still can’t quite figure out the core rationale for his candidacy for this specific job. And no, Levine is not the only candidate who’s written legislation, nor do I believe that the problem in the Virginia General Assembly is a dearth of lawyers! 😉 Finally, while I like Larry Altenburg personally and agree with him on a great deal, I strongly disagree with him on tax policy and also on the need for the delegate from the deep-“blue” 45th to work hard at electing more Democrats to the House of Delegates (Altenburg does not believe this is the role of the delegate, while I think it’s crucial).

That last point segues nicely into my reasoning for endorsing Craig Fifer for this job. First and foremost, of course, I want a strong progressive and environmentalist in this job, and Fifer certainly is that. Note that Fifer received the highest grade on my 45th House of Delegates district candidate questionnaires, with an “A-” that I’d upgrade to a solid “A” after watching the debates. That put Fifer ahead of Levine (A-/B+), Tong and Jakopic (B+ each), and Altenburg (C+/C). Where I strongly disagree with Jakopic, by the way, is in her view that she “would not characterize Richmond as ‘broken.'” I’d argue it’s completely broken, thanks to no limits on campaign contributions or the activities of lobbyists (e.g., writing legislation) and corporations (e.g., giving huge amounts of money to legislators before whom they have BUSINESS!). On this question, I really liked Fifer’s answer, which was to lengthen the General Assembly session to six months, “raise the salary to an amount that’s not particularly attractive, but would give members a choice about whether to hold a second job,” and get “serious about change” when it comes to reforming Virginia’s “false sense of transparency, since many forms of influence occur in other ways.” I also really liked Fifer’s response in a debate that the main problem in Virginia politics is that “not enough…is a crime,” so that effectively “what we call corruption in Richmond is legal influence peddling.” Bingo!

We can debate the candidates’ resumes, but in the end I’d argue that Fifer has the best, broadest, most relevant experience (on arguably the broadest range of issues) for this specific job.  Among other areas, Fifer has worked hands-on in public safety, public works, administration of government, in addition to human services and schools. I’m also impressed that Fifer has been working for many years here in Virginia to strengthen the Democratic Party (e.g., as a CD chair, a YD president, a state vice chair, etc.) and to elect Democrats. In sum, Fifer has a wide range of relavent experience on a wide swath of subjects. That includes, as he has pointed out, writing successful laws in Virginia since the 1990s, on a variety of subjects.

Finally, the most important reason for my decision to endorse Craig Fifer is that, in talking to him and to others who are supporting him, as well as in looking at his record, I am confident that he will use the position of delegate from the 45th district to help: a) raise money for Virginia Democrats; b) elect Democrats all across the state. To me, that’s the “ballgame” in many ways, because as progressive and pro-environment as any of these candidates might be, it’s ultimately not of much help if Democrats only control 32 out of 100 seats in the House of Delegates, despite the fact that every single statewide elected official in Virginia right now is a Democrat. That needs to change, and I believe Craig Fifer – working with people like Del. Alfonso Lopez and others in House Democratic leadership – can help change that (also, see the video above, in which Fifer talks abot his work electing Democrats). Hence, my endorsement of Craig Fifer in next Tuesday’s 45h House of Delegates district Democratic primary.

  • notlarrysabato

    My favorite line from his website:

    “… has devoted his career for more than 20 years to providing opportunity to our diverse community.”

    First of all, Craig has lived here about 10 years at the most.  Before that he lived 3 hours away from the 45th.

    Second, he is 36 years old.  He claims “MORE than 20 years” of “providing opportunity”.  Let’s do the math.  As a high school freshman in Roanoke what was he doing to “provide opportunity to our diverse community”.

    Vote for someone who is not full of shit- Julie Jakopic.

  • ksmith

    Ok, notlarrysabato, let’s do the math.  According to an e-mail from the Fifer campaign in April, Craig turned 37 this year, not 36.  And according to public information (his LinkedIn page, for one), Craig graduated from high school in 1994.  1994-1978=16.  Sounds like a super smart kid who only needed half the time as the rest of us to get through high school.  Also in 1994 (when he was 16), he was a Technology Trainer for Roanoke City Public School.  2015-1994=21.  In other words, Craig has spent more than 21 years providing opportunity to our diverse community — as in, the Commonwealth of Virginia, which includes the 45th District.  The fact that Craig has spent part of his 20 years of service in other parts of Virginia seems like a plus to me.  He probably knows legislators from other districts and would enter the General Assembly with good working relationships with other delegates.

    I completely agree with you that Julie Jakopic is not full of shit.  I saw her last night at the debate and was very impressed.  But I agree with Lowell that Craig is the best person to represent the 45th District in Richmond for all the reasons he outlined in his blog post.

  • notlarrysabato

    Let’s go to his argument that Craig will work to elect more House Dems.  He has had a high paying government job since he moved to Alexandria about 10 years ago.  Look how much he has donated to House of Delegates Democrats since then:

    Counting in-kinds, less than $500 in 10 years.  Or less than $50 a year.  He’s really going to be the kind of guy to help us pick up seats!

  • lowkell

    From the Fifer for Delegate campaign:


    After stellar debate appearances, Craig Fifer continues racking up donors and key endorsements

    ALEXANDRIA, VA — Craig Fifer, Democratic candidate for delegate for the 45th District in Alexandria, Arlington and Fairfax County, has continued his impressive campaign momentum.  In the state campaign finance reports released yesterday, Fifer had more individual contributors than any other candidate and the only campaign not financed with personal loans.  While earning a list of significant endorsements over the last few weeks, Fifer was also widely regarded as delivering the strongest presentations in all three candidate debates.  In each appearance, Fifer demonstrated that he has the vision, know-how, and experience to be an effective delegate.

    Fifer had already been endorsed by The Washington Post, Senator Adam Ebbin, and eight other current and former members of the General Assembly.  Recent additions to the endorsement list include Delegate Scott Surovell of Fairfax, Alexandria City Councilman Justin Wilson, and Alexandria Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Porter.

    Today, Blue Virginia, the leading blog on progressive politics in Virginia, endorsed Fifer as a “strong progressive and environmentalist” with the “best, broadest, most relevant experience.”

    “I am honored to have earned this high praise and endorsement,” Fifer said. “I appreciate that after another thoughtful analysis of all five candidates, I again emerged as the best choice to represent the 45th District.”

  • Ron

    Ron endorses Julie Jackopic. :)

    I was active in the Alex Dems from ’07 through ’09, even knocking doors for Brian Moran when his candidacy was obviously a dead letter. Julie and Rob held events at Rob’s house to help elect Democrats; she was a constant presence at the one standing body dedicated to advancing Democratic politics.

    I still live in Alexandria, but lost touch with the ADC in ’09-’10. Life and such. Julie is a genuine person, might even remember my face if she saw me again. Regardless, a strong, common sense person for a legislature that needs such types of people … and hey, could use more women! For an otherwise insular body, Julie wasn’t — she was looking to broaden the tent and get more people involved.

    I supported Adam over Rob in the Senate primary some years back, but Rob was hands down the best City Councilman that Alexandria has had in recent years, and his endorsement should merit much weight. He was a fantastic delegate as well.

    Alexandrians should vote for Julie.

  • lowkell

    Source: Alexandria Times (page 32)

    In the 45th District House of Delegates race, five contenders vie for the Democratic nomination to succeed retiring Delegate Rob Krupicka (D). In a crowded field, it can be difficult for one candidate to distinguish him- or herself from the pack. But city spokesman Craig Fifer has done just that.

    Fifer has shown a mastery of a broad range of issues, from education and the environment to issues affecting veterans and criminal justice. His experience writing draft legislation for the Virginia General Assembly, combined with his work in local government mean he will be able to make an immediate impact in Richmond.

    Part of what made Krupicka such an effective advocate for Alexandria was his prior experience in city government as a member of both city council and the city school board. Fifer’s more than a decade serving in a variety of capacities on city staff will serve him similarly well.

    Fifer also knows how to produce successful legislation in a body dominated by Republicans. Instead of aiming for moon shots with no meaningful chance for passage, Fifer plans to introduce incremental changes to state policies, like his proposal to drop the requirement that localities provide matching funds for all state allocations for preK programs.

  • cesardelag

    I grew up believing that Democrats are the party of the people – all people: including those who have a small voice, no voice or a voice that speaks in a language other than English.  You don’t need a blood test to be a Democrat.  One of the core values of the Democratic Party is our inclusiveness – we have a big tent and all that believe in our core values are welcome here.  I have not simply espoused that belief all my life, I have lived it.

    None of us succeeds on our own and I trust Mark Levine implicitly because he is someone who truly cares about people in the community. I’ve witnessed this belief firsthand. He is committed to justice and fairness for all and he has specifically helped many people in the Latino community, and many more have reached out to him because of his reputation.  

    Mark is a true progressive advocate. I’ve seen his commitment broadcasting our shows on Fairfax Public Access. In addition, in his radio show, in his debates on television with people such as Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly, Mark has articulated Democratic views in a way that shows the kind of preparation and anticipation that is needed in Richmond.  Mark is a brilliant person and I am lucky to call him a colleague. We need more people like Mark with his genuine beliefs and intellectual capacity who understand the arguments put forward by our opponents so that they can be effectively countered.

    I am proud to call Mark Levine my friend.  He is committed to fighting for Democratic values always and not just when it is convenient. Too many elected officials forget why they went into public service and start voting based on polls or how the party leadership wants them to vote. Too many elected officials are worried about the next election and how a vote they cast today will affect them in November. That will never happen with Mark.  He is a constant voice for the voiceless and he will make sure all voices will be heard. It’s for these reasons I fully support and endorse Mark Levine for the Democratic Nomination for the HOD 45th District!

    Cesar del Aguila

  • Shuttle

    Great problem for us to have with so many qualified candidates! My perspective is somewhat unique as I shared time and space with Mark Levine as a competitor nearly every day for months during our campaigning for Congress in 2014.

    Due to the tyranny of the alphabet, I frequently found myself sitting next to, and speaking after, Mark. This is not a particularly advantageous position to find yourself in.

    I’ve had the honor of surrounding myself with world class leaders in many fields. You don’t see them all the time: the Marine, SEAL or Ranger who everyone looks to and willingly follows in combat; the Fighter Pilot who sees, and wins, the fight in advance; those top 1% Harvard B-School types who are just thinking on another level – getting 90 other competitive-minded classmates shaking their head in amazement.

    Mark Levine is that special type of candidate for public service. I’ve seen his unique blend of clear thinking mixed with deep experience at many a debate and public venue. It’s rare; it’s impressive. He speaks his Democratic mind with passion and purpose. He is happy to disagree with you; and he will bring relevant facts to that discussion.

    From the stage, you can see people sit up and take notice with a more concentrated mind when he speaks. Some people will say that he is too brash. I’m here to say, Mark’s heart is as big as his head. He has lived and continued to fight so purposefully through two incredible personal traumas: the death of his Partner to HIV/AIDS and the murder of his Sister and consequent all-consuming battle to gain justice.

    He will be a tireless fighter for our Democratic principles and he is the type of talent that all progressive-minded Virginians should want to represent them in Richmond.

  • lowkell

    Nice to see both the current State Senator (Toddy Puller) and the future State Senator (Scott Surovell) from the 36th district endorsing Craig Fifer.

    Yesterday I met with Craig Fifer and was impressed with his depth of knowledge and experience, especially the fact that he learned the legislative process from my dear friend Del. Chip Woodrum. He told me he would be a legislator “in the spirit of and honoring Chip.” This is exactly the kind of pragmatic, thoughtful person we need in the House of Delegates. I am pleased to endorse Craig for the 45th House of Delegates seat. I look forward to watching him carry on the good fight for children, education, veterans and economic development in our area.

  • fwdprogress

    If you’re main argument against a candidate is nitpicking on then nature of public service and community involvement (which included serving as a Young Dem leader since High School too) and complaining that he doesn’t donate enough money to the party….you really have no message.

    Do you know the difference between a personal donation from your own pocket and a donation by an elected official from his campaign to another? Maybe the Koch Brothers would be more qualified for this seat…so much for being an advocate of people-powered politics!