Early Saturday morning, I jumped into my truck and headed over the mountain from my home in the hollers of Barboursville, Virginia, towards Waynesboro. This weekend, the Jennifer Lewis for Congress campaign in Virginia’s 6th District was knocking a very unique set of turfs – every single door in the blast zone of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Republican, Democrat, Independent, it didn’t matter; we wanted to let them know there are two candidates running for Congress in the Shenandoah Valley- but only one was going to stand up for them.
We met at Waynesboro’s Constitution park. Interesting enough, the picnic shelter there was built with Dominion Energy money; I couldn’t help but grin at the irony. Jen came up and gave me a hug when I arrived, sharing in my mirth. But, she noted seriously, that was part of Dominion’s strategy. A few thousand dollars for a park shelter here, a walking trail there, and hopefully folks will ignore the whole “eminent domain for corporate gain” thing. Just made the thought of using it to host a blast zone canvass a delicious treat.
Now, you can’t have a Virginia political campaign without a harmonica or banjo, as many a Virginia politician has shown for years. And true to form, after a rousing speech by Jen on the stakes at hand this November, we kicked off our door knocking session serenaded by a local bluegrass duet. It really brought home the down-to-earth nature of Jennifer, and how she’s run her campaign. Bluegrass music is tied to the land and the day-to-day existence of the people who live there, the hardships the folks in Appalachia faced, ekeing out an existence. For hundreds of years, these folks have built a living on land that’s unforgiving, against scorn and ridicule for how they lived and sounded and looked.
It’s working-class music, a melting pot of Scotch-Irish, English, and African-American influences. And – most importantly – it’s quintessentially Virginian.
We all split up and headed out to our turfs. I hung around, and waited to pick up one of the tough turfs that other folks passed by, as I’ve done this sort-of thing once or twice before and figured I could hack it. The result was a walkable turf, interestingly enough – a rare treat, and definitely something I’m not used to – but it was almost one the reddest turfs I’ve ever walked. Which is saying something, considering the district I ran in last year for the Virginia House of Delegates was one of the most gerrymandered-by-Republicans in the state.
But when you believe in the candidate and message you’re fighting for, by God, there’s not much that can stop you.
The day was amazing; almost every single interaction I had was pleasant and productive. I found a similar vibe to the one I had last year when I was campaigning for House of Delegates out in the 6th Congressional District, where people were so tickled to see a Democrat at their door they were almost joyous. As every single house we hit was in the blast zone, we had an instant “in” with the people in Stuarts Draft. Even the folks who said they were already decided for Jennifer’s opponent were polite. And, amazingly, every single one of them wanted the supplemental anti-pipeline literature we were handing out.
In fact, the only person who I didn’t have a more-than-positive interaction with was the one person who answered the door wearing a Dominion hat. But I gave him some of Jennifer’s literature anyhow and told him that if he was a working class Virginian, then Jennifer was here to fight for him.
It was a hefty turf, but as I hurried to finish it before getting caught in the rain, I couldn’t help remark once again on how lucky the folks out here in the Shenadoah Valley are to have a blue-collar mental health worker fighting for them. Working folks looking out for working folks. Damn near brought a tear to my eye.
But we’ve got no time for that, because Labor Day has come and gone- and Jennifer needs your support! So stand up with her to volunteer, donate, and get the word out about her people-powered campaign, today!