Looking at Virginia’s 100 House of Delegates districts, they range from “bright-red” Republican to “deep-blue” Democratic and everything in between. One of the deepest-blue districts is HD57 (Charlottesville City, Albemarle County), which went 79%-20% for Ralph Northam in 2017 and 74%-20% for Hillary Clinton in 2016. The district is represented currently by Del. David Toscano, who is retiring after serving as House Democratic Leader and after having represented this district since January 2006.
Vying to replace Toscano are UVA Assistant Professor of Public Policy, Education and Economics Sally Hudson and Charlottesville City Council member Kathy Galvin. These are both strong Democrats, clearly, but I’m strongly endorsing Sally Hudson for the Democratic nomination on June 11, for the following reasons.
- First and foremost, I believe that in “deep-blue” districts like HD57, Democrats can and should elect the strongest progressives and environmentalists possible; people who will go to Richmond and fight hard for the things we believe in.
- In this district, I believe that Sally Hudson is clearly that person, someone who will push for taking aggressive climate action and transitioning towards a 100% clean energy economy; moving towards a “New Virginia Way” in a variety of areas; expanding the right to vote; instituting reforms like ranked choice voting; reviving our state’s democracy; promoting racial equity and environmental justice; stopping the “reckless, racist, ripoff” (as Al Gore correctly calls them) fracked-gas pipelines; combating the malign influence of Dominion Energy and other powerful corporations on our politics; loosening the grip of the wayyyyy-too-strict Dillon Rule here in Virginia; ensuring that every Virginian is covered by quality/affordable healthcare, etc.
- I’ve talked to her and watched two debates (see video of the latest one, from last night at UVA) so far, and clearly Hudson understands the need for systemic change in Richmond. That’s crucial, especially for a delegate from a deep-blue district like Charlottesville, because it’s in places like that – and Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax, Richmond, etc. – that we need to see this kind of “aggressive progressive” (to borrow Mark Levine’s phrase) leadership. I’m confident that Hudson will provide this in the Virginia House of Delegates.
- In last night’s UVA Dems debate, Hudson knocked it out of the park, starting in her opening statement, in which she explained that “racism is so much more than tiki torch rallies or hateful slurs, it’s about the structural inequities that keep people of color from getting access to the same resources that we all deserve.”
- Hudson had some great answers to questions last night. One that jumped out at me was on health care, in which Hudson discussed moving towards universal coverage: “a Medicaid buy-in would allow any Virginian to buy into our Medicaid system so you could purchase that publicly subsidized Medicaid plan from the state government just like they were a private plan…It’s kind of like what Tim Kaine has proposed at the federal level with his Medicare X but tailored to our state level.” Bingo!
- Hudson also nailed it on the climate crisis and pushing for rapid clean energy scaling: “We’ve got to confront our climate change crisis head-on we have to walk not run toward a clean energy future…[We need to pass] legislation that makes it possible for us to invest in clean energy at the pace that climate change requires…Right now they’re held back by our electric monopoly Dominion Power, which really runs the show in Richmond…I would like to invite Kathy Galvin in calling on Gov. Northam to revoke the permits for both pipelines right now.”
- Hudson also nailed it on the draconian Dillon Rule in Virginia. Following an excellent, concise explanation of what the Dillon Rule is, Hudson said: “I would absolutely support putting us on a path toward what’s called Home Rule which is the alternative to the Dillon Rule, where localities get the freedom to do what they want absent a specific regulation from the state level…”
- Hudson really gets it on what we need to do to revamp our democracy. For instance, Hudson stated last night: “I would love to write a modern Voting Rights Act for Virginia, a comprehensive election reform overhaul – automatic registration, early voting, vote-by-mail, putting teeth in our anti-gerymandering…these are the kinds of reforms that we need to build up the bones of democracy, which have become very weak both here in Virginia and nationwide. So much of what we want to tackle in Virginia is on the back burner right now because we don’t really live in a democracy; we live in a place where so many are not able to exercise their right to vote…our elections are nowhere near as competitive as they need to be in order for us to have representatives who are accountable to the voters. I think it’s the kind of thing you have to package in one big bill, kind of like Democrats did in Congress when they flipped the house in this last section with their HR 1. If you put it in one big bill, you won’t take a lot of things off the wish lists that have been waiting there for a while – Democrats have been introducing these bills piecemeal in Richmond – but we also send a really strong message to voters that when Democrats retake power in Richmond that they are not going to do business as usual, that their very first act is going to be return power to the people. I think that’s a really powerful political message that then buys you a lot of credibility to go to bat on some of those harder issues that have also been sitting on the back burner.”
- I love that Hudson rejected the premise of a question about what’s more important, doing “what is right” vs. doing “what is pragmatic.” Instead, Hudson talked about the fact that “you can do both,” about “the role of THIS seat is in the House of Delegates…our job is to stake out the full force of an agenda because the practical reality is that in politics you only get some of what you asked for so by doing what is right, by staking out a strong agenda we are doing what is practical we are expanding people’s sense of what’s possible, so that the people who are sitting on those toss-up districts…that have less latitude to stick their neck out on behalf of others they then have room to strike a compromise.” Exactly!
- Hudson’s closing last night also nailed it: “Right now…we stand at a really critical point in Virginia’s history…Democrats are finally in striking distance of flipping the General Assembly, that Democrats might actually get to govern next year, and in that time I think it matters what kind of Democrats we send to [Richmond], what kind of Democrats we want to be…if we finally want to shake things up in Richmond and really fix the bones of our democracy itself…this district has a responsibility to send someone to Richmond who is built to lead, to stake out an agenda that can pursue solutions on scale with the kinds of problems that we face, like the climate crisis like mounting student debt, like the future of work…”
- In sum, I believe that Sally Hudson really gets it, and is exactly the type of delegate the 57th district needs – and, I’d argue, all of Virginia needs – if we want real changes in the General Assembly and a move towards a much better “Virginia Way” than the old, antiquated, ineffective, corrupt one we’ve got now. For all the reasons listed above, I encourage everyone to support Sally Hudson’s candidacy!