Great event earlier this afternoon in Alexandria for Del. Mark Levine’s reelection campaign. There were about 70 people there, including Lt. Governor Ralph Northam and Rep. Don Beyer, both of whom spoke. One declared and one likely Democratic Lt. Governor candidate – Gene Rossi and Del. Eileen Filler-Corn, respectively – were there as well, as was Alexandria’s Commonwealth Attorney Bryan Porter and Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey.
With that, here’s some video, including the attendees singing “Happy Birthday” to Ralph Northam (his birthday’s on Tuesday, but who’s counting, right?) and Northam blowing out the candles; Mark Levine’s thoughts about 9/11; Don Beyer and Ralph Northam strongly endorsing Levine for reelection; and Levine talking about what he’s been up to in Richmond…
First, Del. Mark Levine welcomed everyone to his event, took a few minutes to commemorate the 15-year anniversary of 9/11 by talking about his own experience (he was working on Capitol Hill) on that terrible day.
Mark Levine then introduced Rep. Don Beyer, who Levine described as “passionate,” “brilliant,” someone “who really cares” and really “tries to make a difference.” Levine also talked about what it’s like to be Beyer’s bridge partner (they won the first tournament they played in). Beyer gives a shout-out to Nicholas Benton from the Falls Church News Church, “who singlehandedly has created a sense of community in Falls Church,” and yours truly – Beyer said that Blue Virginia “is probably the greatest source for progressives in Virginia to understand what’s happening.” Beyer noted that politics actually does attract pretty smart people – pediatric neurologist Ralph Northam; also “the smartest political leader I’ve ever met is this guy right here,” Mark Levine. “I don’t know anyone in public life as articulate as [Mark Levine], with the possible exception of Bill Clinton.” “We had 10 debates, and the other guys – I love them all, but this is the one that I worried about, because he was so good.” In the House of Delegates, Beyer argued that “we’re not going to win any votes [given the overwhelming GOP majority], but we have to be able to articulate the concerns of the minority as best we possibly can…I voted him, got my kids and my wife to vote for him, because I thought noone could go down there and speak as well as Mark could and represent our values until one day we’re in the majority.” Beyer added that Levine is “indefatigable,” one of the “earliest, great leaders of the LGBT movement, marriage equality in America.” The former two-term Lt. Governor then introduced Ralph Northam with a joke about how Lt. Governor is one of the important jobs in America…[Northam is] a great Lt. Governor…we’re all going to work together to make sure that he is the next governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Ralph Northam told a story about playing “a card game [with Gov. McAuliffe and some of his friends] that supposedly President Clinton taught them how to play.” Northam said Levine “has been a breath of fresh air in Richmond.” He argued that “Virginia is on a good trajectory; good things are happening in Virginia.” How to make it better? “Elect more Democrats.” Strengthen education. Make college more affordable for all Virginians. Better vocational and technical training. Teach kids “how to think creatively,” not just how to take tests. As a pediatric neurologist and as a parent, he can say that pre-K education is crucial. Northam also argued for Medicaid expansion in Virginia, stop throwing away billions of dollars of our own money and instead use it to help 400,000 “working Virginians” to afford high-quality health care coverage. “Morally, [Medicaid expansion] is the right thing to do,” also the right thing to do from a business perspective. Great line: “Any business person that tells me it’s a good idea to give their competitors $5 million a day, I would tell you as a neurologist they should have their heads examined!” Northam concluded by saying he’s tried to change Republicans’ minds, but in some cases they are unfortunately “shut down, they won’t communicate…don’t want to make change,” which is why “we need to change the seats” (from Republican to Democratic). Northam said that Levine has “great potential,” joked that he hoped Levine wouldn’t run against him for governor.
Mark Levine talked about being “inaugurated,” at which point someone in the audience said “you ARE running for governor,” which set off general hilarity. Levine pointed out that every seat matters; that with the number of Democrats in the House of Delegates, they were able to sustain every one of Gov. McAuliffe’s vetoes. He talked about working across the aisle with Tea Party Sen. Amanda Chase on the “Virginia transparency caucus.” Northam joked that he had “put a little something in [Chase’s] juice” to get her to work with Levine. Levine said that “we are lonely…we need 17 more friends” (34+17=51 Democrats in the House of Delegates). He said Hillary Clinton is amazing, while Donald Trump “is the apocalypse” He concluded that next year, we have to focus on electing Northam as governor, the #1 reason being that we need the governor to veto the Republicans’ crazy, extreme legislation coming out of the General Assembly.