Now that the 1Q2019 campaign finance numbers are in, we can get a better feel for which campaigns are “viable” politically, which are heavy/moderate/mild favorites to win on June 11, etc. I’ve been waiting to see these numbers for a bunch of reasons, including to help me decide who else I might want to endorse for June 11. Not that I wouldn’t endorse someone with far less money than their opponent – I’ve done that many times in the past, of course – but on the other hand, I also want candidates who are running serious, strong campaigns and who have a good shot at winning not just in June but in November, against the Republican nominee. Also note that as of today, we’re exactly nine weeks out from June 11, so although we might not be – to paraphrase Churchill – at “the beginning of the end”, we’re now somewhere between “the end of the beginning” and “nearing the home stretch.”
With that, I’m ready to start making some more endorsements, which I’ll be writing up in coming days/weeks. I’ll provide my reasoning, and I’ll make the case as I see it, but of course it’s 100% up to you whether or not you agree with it. Regardless, I’m going to support the Democratic nominees in all races after June 11, when we come back together as a party to defeat Republicans, take back the General Assembly, win majorities on County Boards and School Boards, etc.
So today, I’m endorsing a Virginia House of Delegates candidate in HD38, a deep-blue Fairfax County district (74% Tim Kaine in 2018, 73% Ralph Northam in 2017, 70% Hillary Clinton in 2016) running from Bailey’s Crossroads in the east to Annandale in the west, with Lake Barcroft in the middle. According to the Commonwealth Institute, this is an incredibly diverse district, including 45% foreign-born. The district is also around 32% Latino, 20% Asian-American, 15% “Other” and 10% African-American. So yeah, this district epitomizes the way Fairfax County, and Virginia, are changing in a more diverse, ethnically and racially heterogeneous manner. Which, of course, is a great thing! Of course, who turns up to vote in Democratic primaries might not look like the district’s demography, and that’s highly relevant to this race; something we will discuss a bit more, below.
Anyway, this primary pits incumbent Del. Kaye Kory – who has served in the Virginia House of Delegates since 2010 (after she narrowly defeated incumbent Del. Bob Hull; I endorsed Kory in that primary), and who previously served on the Fairfax County School Board (following a special election win in June 1999) – against newcomer Andres Jimenez, who is “Senior Director of Government Affairs for Citizens’ Climate Lobby, “a member of the GreenLatinos,” formerly “Associate Director of Government Relations at Ocean Conservancy,” and a former Democratic Congressional staffer for Reps. Linda Sanchez, Howard Berman and “for the House of Representatives’ Immigration Subcommittee…[where he] championed Democratic initiatives for comprehensive immigration reform.”
So why am I endorsing Jimenez over Kory in this primary? Several reasons:
- Jimenez is a super-strong progressive and environmental activist, whether on LGBTQ+ rights, immigrant rights, gun violence prevention, women’s reproductive rights, education, labor, energy and the environment, etc. As for Kory, she’s generally progressive as well, but I’d argue that Jimenez is at least as progressive; is more knowledgeable and more forceful on the environment, immigration, and several other issues; and will be a better leader in the House of Delegates for the things we all care about.
- Elaborating a bit more on the previous point, I realize that the VPAP “legislators’ batting averages” metric is goofy and idiotic for the most part, as Republicans are in charge and can choose to allow bills to pass or not, depending on whether they are targeting the Democrat’s district, whether they see the Democrat as a threat, whether they simply don’t like the Democrat, etc. In Del. Kory’s case, though, it’s hard to understand why in 2018 and 2019, she was a combined 2 for 36 in seeing her bills actually get passed. Given that Del. Kory points to her great “experience…skills…relationships,” one would think she might do better than 2 for 36 in terms of getting her (often very progressive) bills passed.
- Back to Jimenez’s strengths: having looked at his background and talked to him at length, I believe this guy can really get things done, can work as part of a team, can advocate effectively both among Dems and also across the aisle (I know, I know, not a big fan of that expression these days, given how insane/extreme the Republican Party has gone, but it’s necessary a lot of the time). Jimenez has demonstrated this in as a staffer in Congress, working for leading environmental groups, and also as Legislative Representative for the City of New York, where he “worked to secure federal funding and support for issues that matter to residents of NYC.”
- Also, from getting to know Jimenez the past few weeks, I’ve been highly impressed with his intelligence, knowledge base, interpersonal skills, determination, hard work (including on this campaign!) and commitment to fighting for what’s right. Those are all valuable skills in any field, but certainly in politics, and 100% for sure in a closely divided state legislature.
- I’d argue that all else being equal, as a child of immigrants (from Colombia) and as a fluent Spanish speaker, Jimenez would be a great fit for a district that’s 45% foreign-born and 32% Latino.
- I believe that at this critical moment, when scientists say we have something like 12 years left to limit climate change catastrophe, it’s crucially important to elect as many climate champions as possible to local, state and federal office. Andres Jimenez certainly is well qualified to fill that role.
- Overall, I’d argue that Jimenez is extremely well qualified to serve in the Virginia House of Delegates, with a great blend of life and career experience to make important contributions from day #1, or even before day #1 as he helps Democrats win back the House of Delegates and then starts to introduce top-tier progressive and environmental/clean energy legislation.
- Finally, I think it’s worth pointing to this Kojo Nnamdi Show interview (specifically starting at around 45 minutes) with Del. Kory back in mid-March as an example of why I think it’s time for a change in this district. As Jimenez stated at the time in a press release, “a caller was subjected to the racially insensitive insinuation that he was in fact Andres Jimenez,” apparently because he had a Spanish accent, with Del. Kory suggesting that the caller – who absolutely was *not* Jimenez, was indeed Jimenez (Kory turned to the hosts and said, “That’s him“). Weird. Just as weird (or weirder?), Kory then commented that she was “happy to have some younger Democrats participate in the political process; it’s just very unusual to have somebody jump in at that level.” Whuuuuuut? First of all, Jimenez is 38 years old, which isn’t exactly a college kid or whatever. But seriously? Being 38 years old these days qualifies you as a “younger Democrat?” Alrighty. And why exactly would it be “very unusual” for a highly accomplished 38-year-old, with a great deal of political and life experience, to run for Virginia House of Delegates? I was curious, so I checked out how old some of our stars from 2017 were when they ran for House of Delegates: Jennifer Carroll Foy was 36 years old; Schuyler VanValkenbug was 35 years old; Danica Roem was 33 years old; Chris Hurst was 30 years old; Lee Carter was 30 years old; Jay Jones was 28 years old; etc. Note that all of these folks were younger than the 38-year-old Jimenez, so…not sure how old Del. Kory thinks people need to be in order to run for Virginia House of Delegates. Personally, I’d strongly argue that 38 is *NOT* too young, and in fact the very concept that there’s a certain adult age that’s “too young” to run for the House of Delegates is just completely wrong…absurd…ridiculous.
With that, I encourage everyone to support Andres Jimenez leading up to June 11, and of course to vote for him if you live in the district. Thanks, and go Andres!
P.S. For the record, I offered Kaye Kory an opportunity to give me her side of the story regarding what happened on the Kojo Nnamdi Show. She initially responded that she’d be happy to do so, said she would call me, then…never did. I followed up a couple days later with an email asking if she still wanted to talk, and she didn’t respond at all. Greeeeeaaaat.
P.P.S. Oh yeah, almost forgot to mention, back in April 2009 I interviewed Kaye Kory, and she said, “I have never taken money from Dominion Power and I will not take money from Dominion Power.” Excellent…except that just a few months later, she took a $1,000 check from Dominion, the first of what would be ten Dominion contributions ($7,250 in total) to Kory over the years. So much for that pledge, eh?