For once, I actually agree with the Washington Post’s Virginia editorial page (aka, Lee Hockstader) when it comes to Virginia Democratic primary endorsements. In Thursday’s paper, the WaPo endorsed Wexton, arguing that:
- “the best qualified and also the one most likely to chip away at partisan gridlock in Washington” — Agree on the “best qualified” part; think the “partisan gridlock” line is completely assinine and brain dead, because that is ABSOLUTELY NOT THE PROBLEM in Congress, no matter how many times the WaPo repeats this inanity.
- Wexton “has been noticeably successful in conceiving and enacting substantive bills. That, and her levelheaded bearing, have earned her bipartisan respect in Richmond.” No argument here at all, especially after Medicaid expansion passed yesterday, something she helped fight for.
- The WaPo cites Wexton’s “40 or so measures she has pushed into law.” The WaPo specifically cites Wexton’s support for Gov. McAuliffe’s deal with the NRA on concealed carry reciprocity, voluntary background checks, etc. Personally, I agree with almost all the gun violence prevention groups – and some of Wexton’s opponents – who blasted this deal at the time. So I disagree with Democrats – like McAuliffe, Wexton and others – who supported it. But overall, Wexton has a solid record on guns — the WaPo correctly cites her “general record in favor of bills to enhance gun safety.” So…while I’m not thrilled about her support for the McAuliffe gun deal, that doesn’t counterbalance all the other strong positives in Wexton’s favor, at least in my book.
- The last line of the WaPo’s Wexton endorsement is crucial for me: “if voters want a candidate who has proved she can win a tough election and then rack up genuine accomplishments while remaining true to progressive values, they have only one choice.” I couldn’t agree more with that one, and that’s the core to my own endorsement of Wexton – I want someone who has PROVEN they can win tough elections, something only Wexton has done in the field of Democratic contenders for the VA-10 nomination. I also want someone – all else being equal – who has had legislative experience, and again, Wexton is really the only candidate who fully qualifies (although Lindsey Davis Stover served as a Congressional Chief of Staff, albeit to a conservative Democrat, for years).
I’d add a few points to the aforementioned.
First off, I started this race totally open-minded to any of the candidates running. What I was looking for was someone to emerge head-and-shoulders above the rest of the field. I was also looking to see if anyone made a clear, convincing case why NOT Wexton, since Wexton was the de facto frontrunner and quasi-incumbent. Although I was impressed with several of the other candidates (note that I’ve met with and spoken at length to most of them, the only exceptions being Lindsey Davis Stover and Julia Biggins), that’s something I never really heard – a clear, convincing case (or any serious case, really) why NOT Jennifer Wexton. Sure, Dan Helmer tried, with his argument that Dems shouldn’t nominate “political insiders” or elected officials, but I frankly find that argument to be completely absurd.
By that reasoning, I guess Democrats never should have supported: Sen. Barack Obama for president in 2008; Sen. Bernie Sanders for president in 2016; former Rep. Tom Perriello or Lt. Governor Ralph Northam for governor in 2017; former Lt. Governor Don Beyer for Congress in 2014; former Fairfax County Board Chair Gerry Connolly for Congress in 2008; etc. To me, it’s a clear POSITIVE, not a negative, that you’ve got relevant experience when applying for a job. But to each their own; if you want someone with no experience at all legislating, running for (and winning) political office, etc., then fine, don’t vote for Jennifer Wexton. For me, that’s all a major plus, NOT a minus.
Second, another argument I heard from Wexton’s opponents had to do with her taking “corporate PAC money,” and how that was supposed to be really bad. I never fully understood what the issue was with this, since basically in our current, highly flawed campaign finance system, there’s no public financing of campaigns, so basically it’s a matter of raising money from people with…yeah, money (what a concept!). Is the argument here that PACs are inherently bad? Because the fact is, there are a lot of great, progressive PACs – Planned Parenthood has a PAC, the League of Conservation Voters has a PAC, VoteVets has a PAC, the Human Rights Campaign has a PAC, the American Wind Energy Association and Solar Energy Industries Association have PACs, LatinoVictory has a PAC, etc, etc. So that’s definitely not the issue, unless you reject all those progressive, environmental PACs.
Is the argument that all corporations are bad? Because I don’t buy that argument either. Some corporations ARE bad, some are good, some are mixed. But more to the point, note that OpenSecrets has Wexton receiving just 3.8% of her money from PACs (Comstock gets 38.4% of her money from PACs), and 78.8% from “large individual donors” (Paul Pelletier gets 92.6% of his money from “large individual donors”; Alison Freidman gets 91.3%; Lindsey Davis Stover 88.8%, Dan Helmer 87.4%, Julia Biggins 36.2%). So…again, the point here? I’m simply not seeing it, let alone how Wexton supposedly is any “worse” – operating within our screwy campaign finance system – than the other top VA-10 Democratic candidates.
[NOTE: also see Cindy’s endorsement of Wexton, which argues, “I also really appreciated her campaign finance situation–a very high percent of her donations come from small donors, and the top industries donating to her campaign are ‘retired’ and ‘law,’ which makes sense for someone who’s a lawyer.”]
Third, overall I’d argue that Wexton is a pragmatic progressive, which is basically where my head is at politically. According to Project Vote Smart, Wexton gets 100% ratings on “Abortion and Reproductive”; a 97% lifetime score from the Virginia LCV; a 100% rating from the Virginia AFL-CIO; and a 100% rating from the Virginia Education Association. On the other hand as Michael Pope’s VA-10 article today notes, Wexton “is not yet in favor of moving forward with impeachment.” That’s my position as well; I think Tom Steyer and some of the other VA-10 Democratic candidates are off base on this one, giving Trump exactly what he wants politically speaking, and with minimal (zero?) chance of actually getting enough votes in the U.S. Senate to oust Trump from office…and all to get Mike Pence, barf.
I also agree with Wexton that “the country should be ‘evolving’ toward a single-payer health-care system, although she says she’s not sure the country is ready for that yet.” That’s why I’m a big fan of Tim Kaine’s “Medicare X” super-charged “public option” plan. And I mostly agree with Wexton on this: “On banking reform, she says she would vote against Warner’s bill although she adds some of the regulations in Dodd-Frank are overly burdensome and she doesn’t want to choke community lending for smaller borrowers.” In sum, I find myself mostly in sync with the way Wexton thinks through issues, with the one exception being the TMac gun deal, although even there an argument can be made I suppose (although I don’t buy it)…
Last but not least, I want to emphasize how important it is that we nominate someone who can go toe to toe against a fierce, tough opponent like Barbara Comstock and defeat her in November. To me, the ideal profile of that Democratic candidate would be someone who has a proven track record of winning tough elections, preferably someone from the heart of the district (Wexton lives in Loudoun County). I’d also (strongly) prefer a woman for this race, all else being equal. And I want someone who “fits” the district (e.g., can’t be easily – if unfairly – caricatured as a sexist, carpetbagger, etc.), and someone who will run a strong campaign (on that one, I hope to see Wexton NOT running the type of unimaginative, DCCC-controlled, cookie-cutter campaigns we’ve seen in the past). To me, all of those things, plus everything else I’ve explained above, point to a fairly easy choice for my endorsement in VA-10: Jennifer Wexton.
P.S. Thanks to every Democrat who threw their hat in the ring for the opportunity to Dump Comstock! Let’s all unite behind our nominee after June 12 and work hard to make sure that VA-10 has FAR better representation starting next January.