Virginia’s 12th State Senate district (92.5% Henrico County, 7.5% Hanover County) is yet another one that Democrats have a shot at picking up in November, as it went to Ralph Northam 52%-47% in 2017 and to Tim Kaine with 56.5% of the vote in 2018.
Of course, it will take a strong Democratic candidate and a well-run campaign to beat incumbent Sen. Siobhan Dunnavant (R). Among other things, Dunnavant ended 1Q19 with $162k on hand. Plus, Dunnavant’s a relatively moderate Republican; according to VAPLAN, she’s actually the least conservative Republican State Senator.
Of course, even a relatively “moderate” Republican these days is still very conservative by historical standards and is still way out of the mainstream. For instance, according to Project Vote Smart, Dunnavant has racked up ZERO ratings from NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia; a 100% rating from the even-more-extreme-than-the-NRA Virginia Citizens Defense League; pathetically low scores (0%-38%) from the Virginia AFL-CIO; and a 100% rating from the give-corporations-whatever-they-want Virginia Chamber of Commerce. So…yeah, Dunnavant might be a relatively “moderate” Republican in today’s off-the-far-right-deep-end GOP, but that’s not really saying a hell of a lot, and she still badly needs to be defeated this November.
Which brings us to the question of who might be the strongest Democrat to defeat Dunnavant. My view, after looking at the Democratic candidates in this race – Del. Debra Rodman and Veena Lothe – is that, although I like and respect both candidates, Rodman has the clear edge on that score. I also think that Rodman would make an excellent, progressive, pro-environment State Senator. With that, here are the main reasons why I have decided to endorse Debra Rodman for the Democratic nomination in SD12.
- I like the fact that Rodman has represented a chunk of SD12 since January 2018, as the 73rd House of Delegates district (which she is vacating to run for State Senate) is entirely contained within the 12th State Senate district. That should give her a leg up, including a name ID edge, since she’s already run there (in 2017) and won (knocking off the incumbent, John O’Bannon, 51%-48%).
- I like the fact that Rodman had $178,918 in receipts in 1Q19 and had $177,832 cash on hand at the end of the quarter, which is actually higher than the incumbent’s $49,605 in receipts and $162,279 cash on hand. It’s also much higher than Veena Lothe’s $27,155 in receipts, $34,027 cash on hand. That definitely matters.
- I like the fact that Rodman has been a strong progressive in the House of Delegates, with excellent ratings (see Project Vote Smart) all around – ZERO from the gun nut Virginia Citizens Defense League, 100% from the Virginia League of Conservation Voters, 100% from the Virginia Education Association, etc. Rodman also was endorsed by NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia in 2017, and has had a great record on women’s reproductive freedom.
- I like the fact that, according to Activate Virginia, Rodman “Refuses Dominion, Appalachian Power and Public Service Corporation Money.” I also like the fact that Rodman has called for “stop work” and “stream-by-stream” analysis on both the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and Mountain Valley Pipeline.
- I’m impressed with Rodman’s endorsements, including Chair of the Legislative Black Caucus Del. Lamont Bagby, Del. Schuyler VanValkenburg, Del. Delores McQuinn, Del. Jeff Bourne, Del. Lachresce Aird, former SD12 candidate Marques Jones, Henrico-Varina Supervisor Tyrone Nelson and Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney.
- In speaking with her, I find Rodman very personable, smart, politically astute and knowledgeable about policy. I also believe she sincerely wants to make a difference for the good of her constituents, is in this for all the right reasons, and will be an excellent addition to the State Senate Democratic Caucus.
For all those reasons, and reiterating that I also like Veena Lothe, I am throwing my support to Debra Rodman for this nomination. I encourage everyone to check out her candidacy and support her if you can (especially against Siobhan Dunnavant this fall)!