Home 2019 Elections Danica Roem: Here’s How We Finally Defeat Del. Bob Marshall

Danica Roem: Here’s How We Finally Defeat Del. Bob Marshall


By Danica Roem
Democratic Candidate – District 13

Author’s note: This is an in-depth look at the 13th District and Del. Marshall’s record from the last two years. If we’re going to win this race, we need to fully understand the incumbent, his record and his constituents and present an acceptable alternative. I can do it and I need your help to make it happen.

“Why does Del. Bob Marshall keep winning?”

It’s the question I’ve been asked more than any other since I declared my candidacy for the 13th District of the Virginia House of Delegates on January 3.

It’s one I’ve spent 25 years figuring out as one of Del. Marshall’s constituents and nine years probing as a newspaper reporter for the Gainesville Times from 2006-2015, where I covered every issue under the sun related to Prince William County.

As a lifelong Manassas resident who was baptized, confirmed and went to school for five years at the same Roman Catholic parish where Del. Marshall celebrates mass (All Saints Catholic Church), I know Del. Marshall’s base well. Some members of his base are literally my family members.

As a journalist who interviewed Del. Marshall for nine years, I also know his public policy positions and his strengths and weaknesses better than most people who aren’t already in elected office or government.

There a few things about Del. Marshall and the local community outside people need to understand in order to figure out why Del. Marshall has won his re-election races even as six out of the last seven statewide Democrats have also won the 13th District (that includes every statewide election since redistricting in 2011).

The first is that insults don’t work. Yes, Del. Marshall files discriminatory social legislation, focusing his attacks this year on transgender people like me who aren’t a threat to anyone. Yes, he says things that make members of his own party roll their eyes or burst out laughing in ridicule.

But what his constituents like about him, according to his own words, is that he says what he means and he means what he says. What I hear from his constituents who vote for him is often a refrain that goes something like this: “Even if I don’t agree with him on X, I know he’ll fight for me on Y.”

And, indeed, if Del. Marshall agrees with you on something, he’ll put on quite a show…IF he agrees with you. If he disagrees with you, he will go so far as to legislate against you to take your rights away, even if you’re his own constituent. Ask any of his LGBTQ constituents about that.

Next, please understand the nature of the 13th District. Yes, it is Democratic-leaning in statewide elections, but it is also a heavily Catholic area with a lot of people who will cite limiting abortion rights as their No. 1 issue. And those voters show up. I know; I went to school and church with them. In fact, I attended Catholic schools for 13 years and know many of them well.

They crossed party lines to vote for Del. Marshall and Sen. Chuck Colgan every four years when both of their names were on the ballot. When conservative Roman Catholic women receive direct mail attacking Del. Marshall on his abortion stance merely because they’re women, so they must be pro-choice, it makes me wince. I have seen this happen. Repeatedly.

To Richmond Democrats, quit making social issue assumptions about women based on gender in the 13th District. Stop trying to follow Del. Marshall down the social issues rabbit hole just because your polling says it makes our voters agitated enough to vote and focus on bread-and-butter issues affecting everyone in the district: traffic, jobs and schools.

On those quality of life issues, Del. Marshall has shown since 2012 that he is almost completely incapable of delivering results with his own legislation, even while the other Republicans in the Prince William delegation pass bill after bill of their own with unanimous support.

Virtually every single bill Del. Marshall has submitted since 2016 has died in the General Assembly: he passed one out of 41 bills last year and, as noted below, only three of his 30 bills this year even made it out of the House, and two of them did on party-line votes, suggesting they will be vetoed.

As a transgender woman, of course I support reproductive rights and reproductive freedom. I don’t want the government telling me what I can and can’t do with my reproductive system and I don’t want the government telling any other woman what they can and can’t do with their bodies.

And of course I know that climate change is man-made, it is real and we are stuck paying the bill for it in Virginia as Tangier Island sinks and Norfolk floods.

And of course I’m a champion for equality, especially as someone who traveled to Richmond four times last year to successfully help kill all nine anti-LGBTQ bills (including two filed by Del. Marshall) and testified in front of the Prince William County School Board four times in favor of adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the PWCS nondiscrimination policy.

But regardless of whether the people of the 13th District agree with me on those issues, I know the overwhelming majority of constituents agree that Route 28 was a disaster 25 years ago when Del. Marshall took office and it’s still a nightmare today. It’s something we’re all sick of dealing with and yet, Del. Marshall on the front page of InsideNova also said that it’s not his responsibility to fix it:

“Marshall charges that Prince William’s Board of Supervisors has the prime role to play in passing policies to clear the way for Rt. 28 improvements, but Roem believes Marshall has failed to press the issue and left ‘the biggest quality of life issue we face in the 13th District” unresolved for far too long.’” – InsideNova, Feb. 4, 2017

That’s where we win this election.

Not only has Del. Marshall not provided the funding to fix Route 28 (he actually voted against it) despite being on the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority’s Route 28 Steering Committee, but his own party has killed every transportation funding bill he’s submitted during the last two years, despite his status as a 25-year member and being number 6 in seniority.

He hasn’t gotten the job done and has shown he won’t get the job done, even though Sen. Colgan and the late Del. Harry Parrish (R-50) spent decades delivering transportation funding results for our area.

As a result of Del. Marshall’s ineffectiveness, his constituents are forced to sit in hours of traffic every single day of work. I talked to one resident along Polk Drive in Manassas Park who told me she leaves her home every morning at 7 a.m. to make it to her job in Springfield by 9 a.m. — and sometimes still runs late.

I talked to a man in Yorkshire who told me he and his wife leave their house every morning at 4:50 a.m. so he can drop her off at work and still make it to his job in Bethesda in time. They go to bed each night between 8:30 and 9 p.m. They recorded the Super Bowl on Sunday because there was no way they would be able to wake up in time the next morning if they watched it that night.

Another woman in Yorkshire told me she has to leave her house no later than 5:30 a.m. because every 15 minutes she delays is another 30-40 minutes added to her trip.

The way we win this election is by showing how Del. Marshall’s ineffectiveness has hurt his constituents, how his failure to deliver on the bread-and-butter issues affecting the people who live here has hurt their lives and how my proposals on infrastructure and education don’t raise taxes, help the economy and can actually be implemented within two years, not 25.

We need to turn Del. Marshall’s perceived strength into his greatest weakness: his ability to deliver results for the people of his district. After 25 years in the General Assembly, as someone ranked number 6 in seniority in a 2-to-1 majority of 66 members, Del. Marshall has the futility rating of a freshman member of the minority party.

Of course, we have to have strong support for the Democratic nominee to win this race too. From my campaign launch on Jan. 3 through Jan. 31, we raised $10,402.55 from 227 people-powered donations, all of which came in increments of $1-$500 from individuals, not corporations or PACs.

During our first canvassing event Jan. 28, we had 25 volunteers show up, most of whom were people I had never met before the start of the campaign. We had more than 20 people, all but one of whom I had never met, show up later that night to a house party for me in Heritage Hunt, where they all signed petition signatures and laid out hundreds of dollars in donations.

Meanwhile, I’ve been quoted in 20 hard news stories to date with more on the way, a number most first-time House of Delegates candidates won’t reach in an entire campaign.

That’s helped generate for us an enthusiastic volunteer base that helped me collect more than 200 petition signatures in January alone (we only need 125 petition signatures from district residents to qualify for the ballot). We’re going to collect hundreds more this month as a way to introduce ourselves both to potential primary voters and to general election voters, to hear their concerns and work their own policy ideas into my own proposals.

Meanwhile, more than 2,000 people have “liked” us on Facebook: by far more than any House candidate living in Prince William County, challenger or incumbent. We only trail Delegates Tim Hugo and John Bell, who both live outside of the county, and we’ll be catching up to them soon.

Those “likes” are important because those are people who are willing to spread the word about the campaign, who are willing to volunteer and who are also our small-donor base for when we boost fundraising statuses. “Likes” aren’t votes but they do help a lot with organizing.

So during the last six weeks, I’ve focused my campaign heavily on three core issues affecting the people of the 13th:

Transportation: fixing Route 28 and finding a cost-effective way to extend the Virginia Railway Express out to Innovation Technology Park through a first-of-its kind efficiency study conducted by Virginia Tech examining best practices in Europe and Asia;

-Economic development: incentivizing localities to eliminate their BPOL taxes, relocate defense, high-tech and bio-tech jobs to Innovation, and fill long-standing office vacancies along Manassas Drive in Manassas Park; and

Education: raising teacher pay in Manassas Park and Prince William County so it’s not the lowest in Northern Virginia and easing overcrowding in our schools by expanding our commercial property tax base so we have more money for recurring and CIP expenditures.

And we can do all three while working to make Virginia a more inclusive commonwealth, one where we focus on transportation, not discrimination.

Now you know more about the constituents of the district, where I stand on the issues, my background and Del. Marshall’s record. That last part is key.

Del. Marshall told InsideNova, “I will match my record against any other legislator who claims I don’t get bills passed.”

Challenge accepted.

On Tuesday, delegates had to finish voting on all of their bills for the year and senators had to do the same before sending those bills to their counterparts in the opposite chamber. With his 25 years of seniority and status as a member of a 2-to-1 majority, let’s see how Del. Marshall’s record for 2017 stacks up with the other five Republican delegates representing Prince William County:

Del. Mark Dudenhefer (R-2)
House Bills introduced: 9
Passed through House: 4
Died in House: 5

Resolutions introduced: 1
Passed through House: 1

Total introduced: 10
Passed House: 5
Died in House: 5

Del. Bob Marshall (R-13)
House Bills introduced: 15
Passed through House: 2
Died in House: 13

Resolutions introduced: 15
Passed through House: 1
Died in House: 13* (Action pending on Celebrating the Life HJ 867)

Total introduced: 30
Passed House: 3
Died in House: 26
Pending Resolution: 1

Del. Scott Lingamfelter (R-31)
House Bills introduced: 13
Passed House: 8
Died in House: 5

Resolutions introduced: 6
Passed House: 2
Died in House: 3* (Action not taken on Celebrating the Life HR  355)

Total introduced: 19
Passed House: 10
Died in House: 8
Pending Resolution: 1

Del. Tim Hugo (R-40)
House Bills introduced: 15
Passed House: 10 (8 stand alone, 2 incorporated into HB 1410)
Died in House: 5

Resolutions introduced: 2
Passed House: 2
Died in House: 0

Total introduced: 17
Passed House: 12
Died in House: 5

Del. Jackson Miller (R-50):
House Bills introduced: 14
Passed House: 10
Died in House: 4

Resolutions introduced: 0

Total introduced: 14
Passed House: 10
Died in House: 4

Del. Rich Anderson (R-51)
House Bills introduced: 15
Passed House: 10
Died in House: 5

Resolutions introduced: 4
Passed House: 4
Died in House: 0

Total introduced: 19
Passed House: 14
Died in House: 5

Ranking by most House Bills and resolutions that passed the House:

Anderson: 14 (10 House Bills + 4 resolutions)
Hugo: 12 (10 House Bills + 2 resolutions)
Miller: 10 (10 House Bills)
Lingamfelter: 10 (8 House Bills + 2 resolutions)
Dudenhefer: 5 (4 House Bills + 1 resolution)
Marshall: 3 (2 House Bills + 1 resolution)

Ranking by most House Bills and resolutions that died in the House:

Marshall: 26 (13 House Bills + 13 resolutions)
Lingamfelter: 8 (5 House Bills + 3 resolutions)
Anderson: 5 (5 House Bills)
Hugo: 5 (5 House Bills)
Dudenefer: 5 (5 House Bills)
Miller: 4 (4 House Bills)

Source: http://lis.virginia.gov/171/mbr/MBR.HTM

In sum, Del. Marshall passed three bills, with action still pending on one Celebrating the Life resolution, honoring Sen. Chuck Colgan (which absolutely should pass). Meanwhile, 26 of Del. Marshall’s other bills died, more than three times the number of the next closest delegate.

Of those 26 bills, Del. Marshall’s own party killed 18 of them in subcommittee or committee outright, allowed seven to die without any action taken before crossover, and killed one on the floor of the House.

Yet our other Republican delegates from Prince William County didn’t have this problem. Keep in mind, all five of the other Republicans have less seniority than Del. Marshall.

For example, Del. Dudenhefer is in his fourth overall year (2012-2013, 2016-2017) and is retiring because, he said, it’s too difficult to pass legislation in the House of Delegates. Even he moved more bills through the House and his are more likely to be signed into law than Del. Marshall, given that Del. Marshall’s two House Bills both passed on party-line votes.

This is not an isolated event.

Last year, Del. Marshall introduced 41 bills (37 House Bills and four resolutions). One passed. That’s it. Even Del. John Bell (D-87), a member of the minority party, passed a House Bill last year in his first year. That showed Del. Marshall with the same futility rating as a freshman Democrat.

Since 2016, Del. Marshall has introduced 71 bills: 52 House Bills and 19 resolutions. If the governor vetoes his two House Bills that cleared the House on party-line votes and the General Assembly sustains the vetoes, he will have passed one out of 52 House Bills by the end of this year and likely two out of 19 resolutions.

A 1-for-52 showing is inexcusable for a delegate with that much seniority who’s a member of a 2-to-1 majority party. How is that even possible?

For starters, take a look into which bills Del. Marshall put in the legwork to round-up co-sponsors. Of his 15 House Bills, only one had multiple co-sponsors: the so-called “bathroom bill” (HB 1612). That discriminatory bill never stood a chance, and yet that’s where Del. Marshall focused his attention for earning support among his colleagues at the start of the session.

While some of Del. Marshall’s resolutions had multiple co-sponsors, most of those died too, but next to constitutional amendments, House Bills are where the rubber meets the road: those are the ones the governor actually signs or vetoes, they’re not just an expression of the General Assembly and don’t just authorize studies.

So what does this mean for the residents of the 13th District?

If you live in Haymarket, Gainesville, Manassas, Manassas Park or Yorkshire, this means that when you exercise your constitutional right to petition your government, the legislation your local elected official is carrying for you is more times than not destined to die.

The problem with that is that even the good bills that Del. Marshall carries, the ones that don’t discriminate against his own constituents and could actually be helpful, keep dying.

Nine of his transportation-related bills died last year. This year, his only transportation funding bill, HB 2448, died. His bills about keeping the government from spying on you died (HB 1614 and HB 1657). His resolution about studying the effects of drugs used to treat people with ADHD died (HJ682), even with 13 co-sponsors.

This is a big problem. Del. Marshall during the last few years has struggled to pass even good legislation, the sort of bills that would actually help people. Instead, he has spent so much of his 25-year career focused on bills designed to discriminate against LGBTQ people or make reproductive decisions subject to the will of the government, not the individual, all of which he knows will die, yet he pursues anyway so he can “start the conversation,” not deliver results.

We don’t pay our delegates to “start the conversation” with their legislation. That’s why we have campaigns, town hall meetings, public hearings and the pre-filing session of the General Assembly. We pay our legislators to bring home results and that’s where Del. Marshall is failing:  1-for-41 didn’t get the job done last year and he’s not getting the job done this year either.

I can do better.

Please check out danicafordelegate.com, like us on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, donate to our campaign on ActBlue and let’s finally win this race so we can deliver results on transportation, not discrimination.


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