A bit earlier this afternoon, Sen. Barbara Favola began a debate with her Democratic challenger, Nicole Merlene, by apologizing for what happened this past Wednesday evening, when she criticized Merlene’s campaign manager for social media posts from several years ago, when he was 18 or 19, and also called Merlene a “tantalizing” “new flavor that you can look at,” while suggesting that Merlene might share the views expressed in her campaign manager’s tweets. These comments by Favola appeared to have not gone over well, so I was definitely expecting Favola to address them in today’s debate. Which she did, as follows:
“Before I start my comments I do want to take a moment, because I have to and I think you would appreciate this. And Nicole, I want to say to you that unfortunately in the last few weeks, the campaign has taken some negative turns, and I sincerely apologize for words that I used on Wednesday evening, but I respect you and I respect your campaign, and I think you bring a very added? voice and I really hope that the two of us can commit to a positive campaign.”
For some more video from today’s debate, put on by the League of Women Voters, Arlington, see below.
Priorities if Democrats take back the Virginia General Assembly? Merlene said the first priority is to “fight back against what’s going on across the river…the first thing is human dignity…for every single individual.” Merlene also mentioned the importance of Metro funding. Favola said one of her top priorities is to “codify Roe v Wade in Virginia.” Favola also said we should work on economic security, including raising the minimum wage, and “gun safety.”
Ideas on preventing gun violence, also whether educators should carry guns. Both oppose arming teachers. Merlene mentioned limiting high-capacity gun magazines and increasing resources for mental health care. Favola specifically pointed to the “red flag” bill as something that could help avert gun violence tragedies.
Question on “sanctuary cities” (which, as the candidates pointed out, don’t exist in Virginia) immigrants and refugees.
Question on “Ranked Choice Voting.” I didn’t record Favola’s response, but basically it was that she supports Ranked Choice Voting for primaries, particularly when there are multiple candidates, but is skeptical about using it for general elections, as she believes it could be confusing. Merlene supports it, strongly, for both primaries and general elections.
Voting rights for ex-felons? Favola supports it, wants a constitutional amendment. Merlene supports it, also doesn’t see any reason that felons should lose their voting rights in the first place.
Why are you running for election/reelection? Merlene said she loves being able to serve the community, but that as much as can be done locally, we need better/more coordinated actions at the state level. Merlene said she “did not feel comfortable having someone represent me having someone represent me that I felt was not representing the issues of constituents.” Favola said “I can assure you…I do not represent anybody but the constituents of the 31st Senate district…my employment is very locally based and it does not cross over to my Richmond, so there’s absolutely no issue there…I’ve never looked at my donation records before I’ve taken a vote.”
Sen. Favola closing statement
Nicole Merlene closing statement
UPDATE: Here’s the full video.