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Why I Absolutely Will NOT Be Supporting Derek Hyra for Congress in the 8th CD


I’m following the 8th CD Democratic primary campaign closely, looking at what candidates have to say, what kind of campaigns they’re putting together, etc. This past Wednesday, I noticed that one candidate – Derek Hyra – was rolling out “the Team Behind Hyra 2014” on his Facebook page. Naturally, I was interested to see who was on board with him, especially since he has never been an elected official and therefore has no voting record on public policy issues. One really jumped out at me, since the organization he works for – the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) – is opposed to pretty much everything progressives believe in.

*Dr. Chad Moutray, Ph.D. – Economic Policy

Moutray is chief economist for the National Association of Manufacturers. According to the Federal Elections Commission, Moutray donated $250 to the Romney/Ryan campaign in 2012. In 2011, Moutray issued this declaration in a case against U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson et al., in which two environmental groups (Kids vs. Global Warming and Wildearth Guardians) sued the government for not taking strong enough action against climate change.

The lawsuit sought “declaratory and injunctive relief for Defendants’ alleged failure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” Moutray and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) complained that plaintiffs “appear to be seeking to force the complete elimination of the use of conventional fossil fuels in the United States and a nationwide ‘transition to an almost fully renewable energy system by at least 2050.'”

I know, that would be horrible, wouldn’t it? (snark) Actually, it WOULD be horrible to the folks Moutray represents, namely (in his words) “leading members of the coal, oil and natural gas sectors, petroleum refiners, and petrochemical producers,” many of whom “directly emit greenhouse gases either as a product of their manufacturing processes or through the combustion of fuels at their facilities.”

In short, these companies are the worst of the worst when it comes to trashing our planet. We’re talking about an organization whose board includes companies like ExxonMobil, Marathon Petroleum, nadarko Petroleum, Shell Oil, Sempra Energy, American Electric Power, Koch Companies, BP America, ConocoPhillips, Arch Coal, etc. In addition, SourceWatch identifies the American Petroleum Institute and Koch Industries, among others, as part of NAM. SourceWatch also notes that NAM is so bad that in “2009, Duke Energy, which operates scores of coal-fired power plants in the Southeast and Midwest, would not be renewing its membership due to NAM’s refusal to address global warming,” and based on its view that “quite frankly, I don’t see them changing.”

The bottom line is that NAM’s a nightmare if you care in the least bit about the environment. And Mr. Moutray represents these folks, arguing against taking any serious action on climate change, because supposedly it would cause the fossil fuel companies he represents to (in his words) “find new lines of business in order to survive and/or move their operations to other countries that do not impose similar restrictions and controls on conventional fuels.” It’s a complete load of crap, of course, but it’s not surprising coming from a bunch of companies who profit off of raping and pillaging the planet, and who are doing all they can to prevent the rapid scaling-up of a clean, sustainable-energy economy based on efficiency, solar, wind, etc.  

As if all that’s not bad enough, Mr. Moutray’s Twitter feed indicates that he’s a big-time Republican who, among other things, bought into the conspiracy theory that pollsters were skewing their results in the 2012 election “to sample more favorably for Dems;” believes that “Obamacare will probably downsize the workforce;” retweeted the heinous Erick Erickson (e.g., “Dems who want the law known as sequestration changed tell us Obamacare can’t be changed because it’s the law.” and “The lefties in my timeline are exceedingly angry.  A good sign for Romney.”); retweeted a headline about Justice Antonin Scalia saying that “Reading entire #healthcare bill would be cruel and unusual punishment;” retweeted John McCain that Paul Ryan “is an outstanding selection- he’s fully prepared to address our economic challenges that have only worsened under Obama-Biden;” was clearly a big Ken Cuccinelli supporter (and McAuliffe hater) last year; etc.

Yet somehow, Mr. Moutray has ended up being named as a key member of what Derek Hyra calls “the Team Behind Hyra 2014,” one of the “talented and inspiring folks” he’s “blessed to be working with.” To me, that’s disturbing, as presumably if Hyra were elected to Congress, Moutray would be a top advisor to him on economic policy. Given that Moutray is a hard-core Republican and defender of some of the worst polluting industries on the planet, that’s simply not acceptable, and certainly not from the progressive, deep-“blue” 8th CD!

I asked Hyra about Moutray’s views on carbon emissions, “Obamacare,” Ken Cuccinelli, etc., and got the following non-responsive response:

I support increasing and improving health care access and quality for all Americans and will fight for these values in Congress. These principles that undergird the Affordable Care Act are something most Americans agree on but we need to ensure that we execute on these ideals in a way that makes sense and benefits our country as a whole. In Congress, I will fight to improve our health care system to live up to these ideals. It is through honest and open debate and dialogue with people of diverse views that we will make progress on health care and other issues.

Note, nothing about why Mr. Moutray is Hyra’s top “Economic Policy” advisor. Ugh. Frankly, that’s enough right there for me to disqualify Derek Hyra from consideration for the 8th CD nomination, especially given that we’ve got several proven progressives in the race. But just as an added “bonus,” here’s another key member of Hyra’s team.

*Chris Ballard – Finance Committee

According to the Virginia Public Access Project, Ballard has donated $1,000 since 2008 to Virginia Republicans (including $500 to Bob McDonnell), and zero to Democrats. And according to the Federal Elections Commission, Ballard has donated $3,000 to Paul Ryan and $3,000 to George W. Bush.

Anyway, that’s about all I need to know about Derek Hyra for Congress. Needless to say, I won’t be supporting him and hope that no 8th CD Democrats will do so either.

  • truthteller

    Clearly unacceptable to have staunch Republicans on the finance committee of someone running as a Democrat in the progressive 8th CD. Hyra is out.

    But, based on her fraud judgment and her maxxing out to McCrory I would think you could come to a similar conclusion about Chatman. Am I mistaken, Lowell?  

  • GBrandon

    I have a funny feeling that Beyer, Chatman and Hyra are corporatists who will sound like a Democrats but vote otherwise.  I googled “corporatists” and found this from the Huffington Post:

    “[Corporatists] pander to the same socially liberal causes as their fellow Dems, but when the time comes, they vote on our behalf to deregulate and privatize and outsource and downsize.”

    That was from Clifford J. Tasner blogging from the 2012 Democratic National Convention and singling out Max Baucus as a prime example of a corporatist.  See http://www.huffingtonpost.com/

    Beyer, Chatman and Hyra may not be suitable candidates for the 8th CD that I know.  We will know more after a close examination of their 1st quarter donors.

  • campaignman

    Meet the Press just failed miserably on its Keystone XL pipeline report. The report from Nebraska never explained the seriousness of the environmental issue. It sidelined it to a statement from the NRDC. It presented the issue as one that will shortchange farmers on a good economic deal from the pipeline company and emphasized that one bar might be able to buy a new air-conditioner and a few people there might be able to buy a new car.

    Is that what is important? Should the world we live in be destroyed by taking actions to speed up climate change so one or two people in a small town can make a few more dollars and afford a vacation? Let’s just have an environmental group set up a fund to help that town if that’s what’s at issue. This was insulting to the nation and the planet. Meet the Press should be banned from the air if it believes this amounts to reporting in a serious way.

    Meanwhile, as they talked about the role of money in politics, they basically wanted everyone to believe that money was meaningless because we have the Internet. Yet, smart wealthy people still spend millions.

    Do they really think that those people are idiots? Those millionaires may not win every campaign but they know if they keep at it, they have a big advantage. After all, even though the public opposes every GOP issue and radical Republicans closed down our government last year to get their way, the GOP is in position to win control of the Senate this year.

    Beyond that, they never talk about the constant BP ads on their show. How influenced by those ads are they in choosing their guests (all of whom support the pipeline) and running that pro-Keystone “news” video?

    It’s really disgusting.

  • How many ways can you fail in responding to this blog post? Derek Hyra shows the way!  First, if he read this post, he might have noticed that the overwhelming thrust of my criticism of him was for having as his top policy advisor: a) a flack/shill for the fossil fuel industry that’s destroying our planet; b) someone who spends his time in court fighting efforts to rein in greenhouse gas emissions; c) someone who opposes pretty much EVERY progressive policy there is, based on his Twitter feed and other crap he’s written, whether on health care or economic policy or anything else. This has nothing to do with simply “having members of my campaign team who are Republicans,” this has to do with having as his TOP policy advisor someone whose views are antithetical to the vast majority of people who’ll be voting in the 8th CD Democratic primary, and who he’d be (mis)representing if he ever got to Congress (which of course he won’t). Brilliant, huh?

    Second, quoting JFK (“Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer”) is beyond laughable. So…given everything extremist Republicans have done to our country the under Reagan, Bush/Cheney, and now the Teapublican House of Representatives, Hyra is seriously arguing a false equivalence between the Democratic and Republican Parties? And he’s running as a….wait for it..DEMOCRAT? Uhhhhhhhhh.

    Finally, I love how he plays the “diversity” card, as if having a wide variety of people in terms of background, ethnicity, gender, etc. has ANYTHING to do with having a fossil fuel shill, anti-environmentalist, anti-progressive, Cuccinelli supporter, etc. as his chief policy advisor.

    Bottom line: I am now 1,000% sure I won’t be supporting Derek Hyra, not just for this office but for ANY office he might choose to run for. Gack.

    Recently, I was criticized on a blog, BlueVirginia.us, for having members of my campaign team who are Republicans. In fact, the author of this blog said that he would no longer consider voting for me for this reason. This is exactly what is wrong with our politics today. Every Northern Virginian, and American, has friends and family who are registered in a different political party or has a different ideology. They understand that these differences are not as important as what unites us. They agree with President Kennedy when he said “Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer.”

    The lack of ability to seek the right answer is why Congress is suffering from an 8% approval rating and too many Americans are disillusioned with politics. I decided to run for Congress because partisan politics are holding us back. We need a real partnership politics that will move us forward, working across the aisle to find practical solutions to the challenges facing our country, especially on our economy. I am proud that my campaign is already living up to this ideal by including friends and colleagues who might not agree with me all the time politically but share the goal of strengthening our communities and our country. Even when I do not agree with their ideas, I believe that the only way to find the right answer is through honest and open dialogue from many points of view.

    I am confident that we are putting together one of the most diverse teams in this race – not just in terms of Democrats and Republicans – but one that reflects the diversity that makes Northern Virginia and America so great. Our team has members who are straight and gay, who are white, black, Latino and Indian-American, men and women. Over 20% of this team is people of color and 47% are women. And while I believe in bringing my belief in partnership politics to Congress, there can be no doubt that both I and the majority of people involved in my campaign are progressive Democrats.

    According to the FEC and VPAP, my campaign team and I have contributed nearly twice as much to Democrats as to Republicans ($15,734 versus $8,101). My belief in the ideals of the Democratic Party started at an early age playing basketball in Harlem and coming face-to-face with social and economic inequality. Since then, my professional life has been devoted to understanding how to alleviate inequality, through my on-the-ground research in communities like Chicago’s Bronzeville, New York’s Harlem and Washington, DC’s Shaw/U Street. I have a large body of work on how we create affordable housing, economic opportunity and work across lines of race and socioeconomics to achieve equity. Because of my work, I was a member in 2008 of President Obama’s housing and urban policy teams. After he won, President Obama appointed me as a member of the SBA’s Council on Underserved Communities. More locally, I have served as a precinct captain for the Alexandria Democratic Committee and was appointed by Democratic city officials to 4 years on the Housing Authority and then the Planning Commission where I have continued to fight for affordable housing and equitable development.

    So while I am a proud Democrat, I am equally proud of the diverse team that is supporting me in this election. I believe that the voters of the 8th Congressional District are looking for someone who is looking for the right answer to our challenges, not more partisanship and gridlock.