So let’s be clear — any sane person ought to be able to beat the loony melon-smasher E.W. Jackson for Lieutenant Governor. And I’d support any Democrat, Independent, Green, Liberal, Socialist, Reform, Whig or Tory candidate running against him.
That said, it’s the responsibility of every Virginia Democrat — every one of whom better be planning to vote in our primary June 11th — to choose the BEST candidate to beat him, the one who will beat him by the largest margin and thereby send the strongest message against extremism.
I’ve decided that choice would be Aneesh Chopra.
Just look at what the two men stand for, and it quickly becomes clear that this is in many ways the perfect matchup for Democrats:
– The future (tapping the power of innovation) — vs. the past (tapping the power of fear and hatred);
– America, land of immigrants — vs. America, land of xenophobic immigrant-bashers;
– A message of inclusion — vs. a message of stereotyping and shutting out perceived “outsiders,” including gays;
– A future of clean energy— vs. a retreat into the past out of fear of crazy anti-environmental, anti-science conspiracy theories;
– A campaign focused on issues like jobs, the economy, roads and education — vs. a campaign focused on abortion, gay-bashing and guns.
– An emphasis on government as a partner with communities and the private sector — vs. an emphasis on “states rights” and “sovereignty” against the Federal government
– A sane man with much promise for the future — vs. a nutjob who’d set Virginia back a decade or more;
– A candidate in the mold of Barack Obama — vs. a candidate in the mold of Ken Cuccinelli.
– A policy wonk — vs. a hot-button pusher.
So this is a positive choice, for us, which is awfully refreshing — not even close to being about just the “lesser of two evils”!
That said, I think Chopra would be a better matchup than his opponent, Sen. Ralph Northam. Why? Jackson’s whole schtick is about the so-called “Democrat plantation.” The only way I could possibly see Jackson gaining even a handful of votes beyond his tea party base is if somehow he is able to market the vision of the Democratic party as an old boys network which he is ready to smash with his melon-axe.
The idea of Jackson as some sort of reformer is certainly absurd, considering that all of the policy positions he and his running mates hold ultimately come from either big business or the Church. That said, both parties are still old boy networks and so running against either or both of them on that basis is often a smart move.
Seen in that light, he could conceivably gain more traction against Northam than against Chopra. Because Northam could plausibly be portrayed as a Richmond insider.
Northam’s 6 years of service in Richmond may have been largely to the benefit of Democrats, but to be honest, it’s hard for me to get excited about much of what comes out of the General Assembly. Most Virginia Democrats have basically taken turns playing defense and caving in to the right wingers who maintain a lock on the state. But I see very little in the way of Democratic leadership. The DPVA really is an old boys network that needs to be cleaned up by bringing in fresh faces and new blood.
It doesn’t help his case that Northam is receiving endorsements from the dinosaurs of Richmond, like Dick Saslaw, the biggest T-Rex of them all. Folks like Saslaw are a big part of the problem with this state. How can Democrats get excited about anything when they have a Senate Majority Leader whose attitude toward leaving a healthy environment for future generations is basically: who cares because “I’m not going to be here”?
The transportation bill epitomized for me what’s wrong with the politics of the Commonwealth. Senate Democrats accepted a bill that goes in the wrong policy direction in so many ways — lowering gas taxes, raising sales taxes and taxing hybrid cars: what kind of sense does that make? That included Northam, who said he was “a little bit disappointed” in the hybrid tax, but could understand the arguments of the other side for it
Compare that to the leadership of Scott Surovell and Adam Ebbin — they voted against the hybrid tax, started a petition drive to end it, got thousands of signatures, presented it to the governor — and got the tax reduced by a third. See, if we stand up to our principles, we can at the very least do better — we don’t have to play the Richmond game of compromising and caving our souls away. It depresses the base and it just doesn’t work.
And that, sad to say, is the kind of situation that an industrious Republican would do well to run against.
Don’t get me wrong — Ralph is a good Democrat and I will enthusiastically support him if he is our nominee. But my goal is to never again give the tea party extremists even an inch of leverage to work with.
In that light, Aneesh Chopra is the better choice, and he’ll get my vote.