Home 2019 Elections “Flip-a-District Friday” Is Back: Josh Cole, Brent Finnegan, Laura Galante, Shelly Simonds

“Flip-a-District Friday” Is Back: Josh Cole, Brent Finnegan, Laura Galante, Shelly Simonds


From Del. Rip Sullivan’s “Project Blue Dominion”:


Flip-A-District Friday: Volume I

Welcome to the inaugural edition of the 2019 Flip-a-District series.

I am reprising my role as Campaign Chair for the House Democratic Caucus this election cycle. In fact, I have been working since November of 2017 to make sure that we are not in the minority simply because the wrong name is drawn from a bowl.

With redrawn, fairer electoral maps, a record-breaking number of diverse and talented candidates, and exceptionally high Democratic enthusiasm, we are on the verge of a historic November election that I am confident will put Democrats back in charge of the General Assembly.

We are ready to win in November, and we are ready to govern.

No more Republican attempts to roll back Roe v. Wade, weaken labor laws, advantage dirty fuel sources over clean energy, and make it more difficult for Virginians to vote. Virginia’s citizens are one election away from finally getting the laws they want and deserve.

The candidates we cover in our Flip-a-District series are the Democrats that Virginians can elect to take back the majority on November 5th. But the true power that can and will put us over the top lies in your hands. It is the time, contributions, and activism of Virginia voters that will determine our collective future. I hope you will join us in seizing this historic opportunity.

House District 28

Meet the candidate: Josh Cole

In 2017, Joshua Cole proudly ran for the Virginia House of Delegates to represent Virginia’s 28th District, becoming the first American-American, and youngest person to receive any party’s nomination in the 28th. In an underfunded, hard-fought race, Josh finished less than 100 votes shy of having the honor of representing the 28th District.

Since then, Josh has served the state by acting as the Chief of Staff for Delegate Kelly Convirs-Fowler, fighting for the people by working alongside Delegate Convirs-Fowler on issues important to all Virginians, like fair housing. Simultaneously, Josh serves on the Stafford County Public Schools Superintendent’s Equity, Diversity and Opportunity Committee, the Greater Fredericksburg Area Interfaith Council, as the President of the Stafford County NAACP and participates with numerous other local and community initiatives.

Clear in all of this work is Josh’s commitment to the communities of the 28th District. Raised in the 28th, Josh knows not only what it is like to live here, but what it means to build a home in Fredericksburg and Stafford County. He understands the excruciating drive along I-95 that is the bedrock of so many constituent commutes. He’s seen first-hand the ever-increasing cost of living in this community, and has sat with hardworking friends and neighbors, proud Virginians, who simply want to find a way to raise their family in the same town in which they grew up.

A product of the Stafford County Public School system, Joshua’s background in Virginia’s political affairs is rich, dating back to 2005, as a Page for the Virginia House of Delegates. That same year he was chosen as the Governor’s Page by Governor Mark R. Warner. He returned to the General Assembly again in 2016 as a Staff Assistant to the Clerk of the Virginia State Senate. As a Delegate, Josh will bring this experience to the fore to fight for a Virginia that serves all Virginians.

House District 28: 

The 28th is a “blueish-purple” district, with elections on the national level swinging back and forth between Democrats and Republicans. The district encompasses parts of Stafford County and Fredericksburg City. Winning here would be a particularly symbolic victory, as Josh lost by less than 100 votes in 2017 due in no small measure to confusion around ballots in “split precincts.” Delegate Bob Thomas, who holds this seat, was defeated in June’s Republican primary by Paul Milde. Click here for more district details.

Just one example of why Milde cannot win:

Milde is radically right-wing. He claims to have run against Delegate Bob Thomas in the Republican primary because Thomas “effectively aligned with Governor Ralph Northam and the Democrats,” particularly on Medicaid expansion. Let’s allow Milde’s Facebook graphic to speak for itself (it’s worth noting that “Liberal” Bob Thomas was certainly no progressive when he served during the last two sessions):

Milde is as extreme as it gets, a very poor fit for a district like the 28th.

Contact the campaign: info@jgcole.org

Contribute here.

House District 26

Meet the candidate: Brent Finnegan

Brent has spent most of his life serving communities across the Shenandoah Valley. He was raised in Broadway, and lives in Harrisonburg, where he currently serves on the Planning Commission.

He has been an active volunteer, teaching citizenship classes at Skyline Literacy and raising funds for Our Community Place. He has produced TV shows and documentaries about immigration policy and farming issues. He founded and ran a local news website, hburgnews.com, which broke local news stories and implemented innovative ways to include readers in the news-making process.

Currently, Brent works at the Institute for Innovation in Health and Human Services at James Madison University, where he collaborates with local educators and health professionals to create online trainings and resources to reduce drug abuse and teen pregnancy, and support rural health initiatives in our community.

Brent takes a values-based approach to every issue. He believes we must protect and preserve our planet and natural resources. He will continue to push for equality, dignity, and justice for all Virginians. There is a better way of operating, and examples are all around us. We can learn from the successes and failures of other states’ policies to create a Virginia that works for all of us.

House District 26: 

The 26th District was won in 2018 by Senator Tim Kaine by 50.06 percent, a major improvement over Hillary Clinton’s 42.33 percent of the vote in 2016, so a win in 2019 is a strong possibility with the right resources. This match-up between Brent Finnegan and incumbent Delegate Tony Wilt will be a rematch of their head-to-head in 2017, but this time we’re determined to have a different outcome. The 26th encompasses Harrisonburg City and parts of Rockingham County — click here for more district details.

Just one example of why Wilt needs to go:

Wilt is extremely pro-gun rights — not surprisingly, he has taken money from both the Virginia Citizens Defense League and the NRA. Just two years ago, Wilt introduced an anti-public safety bill, HB 2077, that would have removed “the authority of a governmental entity under the Emergency Services and Disaster Law of 2000 to limit lawful possession, carrying, transportation, sale, or transfer of firearms in any place or facility used by the governmental entity as an emergency shelter.”

If then-Governor McAuliffe had not vetoed this extreme bill, anyone could choose to bring a weapon into an already emotionally heightened and chaotic situation in an emergency shelter during a crisis. You can read the Governor’s veto statementhere. The Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police, among other groups, opposed the misguided bill.

The gun violence epidemic is already a threat to Virginians, and the last thing we need is for people to introduce deadly weapons into a highly fraught situation. The 26th District deserves smarter representation — Brent Finnegan.

Contact the campaign: manager@brentfinnegan.com

Contribute here.

House District 18

Meet the candidate: Laura Galante

Virginia is on the cusp of a moment when living in rural areas and small towns can mean locally-based opportunity and close knit communities – not a youth and skill drain to the cities and suburbs. It’s why Laura, her husband, and their son choose to live here in hard-working Marshall, and it’s why she’s running to be Delegate for Virginia’s 18th House District.

After September 11th, her focus turned to international relations and national security issues, which she studied at the University of Virginia. That’s also where she met Tihomir, her husband of over ten years. After graduation they got married and lived in DC while they both studied law. While she worked toward her law degree at Catholic University in the evenings, by day she led a team contracted to analyze Russian cyber capabilities at the Defense Intelligence Agency.

In 2012, she joined one of the private sector’s first cyber intelligence teams at Mandiant (later FireEye), ultimately leading a 90-person intelligence team located on three continents. Their work included exposing Russian military hackers and the Chinese military’s theft of American trade secrets. In 2017, she gave a TED Talk(take a moment to watch this), joined the Atlantic Council as a Senior Fellow, and started a consulting practice, Galante Strategies, whose work has included assisting the Ukrainian government in defending against aggressive Russian cyber operations.

She’s passionate about giving back to her community and serves on the board of the Northern VA 4-H Center in Front Royal, advises a Charlottesville-based cybersecurity company, and leads a livestock cloverbud 4-H club in Fauquier.

She has been unwinding hard security and policy problems for years – and it all starts with listening to the ground truth, building dedicated teams, and tirelessly getting the job done. That’s why she’s spending real time, face to face, door to door, with Virginians of all stripes – Republicans, Democrats, Independents, Greens, and non-voters.

Laura believes that the mission to build a dynamic American future starts here in Fauquier, Warren, Culpeper, and Rappahannock counties.

House District 18: 

The 18th District is light red, but Democrats are not going to let the incumbent Delegate Michael Webert (R) keep the seat. The district encompasses parts of Fauquier, Warren, Culpeper, and Rappahannock Counties. Click here for more district details.

Just one example of why Webert needs to go:

Webert voted against Medicaid expansion in Virginia, immediately and baselessly claiming “we will fail.” According to the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services’ Expansion Dashboard, 1,550 Virginians in Fauquier County, 1,515 in Warren County, 1,742 in Culpeper County, and 243 in Rappahannock County — all of which have parts in the 18th District — now have access to health care services because of Medicaid expansion. Would he strip these economically vulnerable Virginians of this critical care?

Additionally, recent polling proves that Virginians want expansion to stay. A survey from September 2018 (months after the General Assembly voted to expand Medicaid) “found that 76 percent of Virginians support Medicaid expansion and 18 percent oppose the policy shift.”

Remarkably, a “majority (55 percent) of respondents who said they approved of President Trump’s job performance favored Medicaid expansion in Virginia” – that is a stunning number that speaks to how popular this policy is in the Commonwealth, even among conservatives.

Webert is on the wrong side of this important issue, and it’s time to replace him.

Contact the campaign: info@galantefordelegate.com

Contribute here.

House District 94

Meet the candidate: Shelly Simonds

Shelly Simonds is a local property manager, an educator, and a community leader. She serves as a Newport News School Board member, and knows how to bring people together to find common-sense solutions and get things done.

As a mother and a deeply engaged Newport News neighbor, Shelly has the right priorities to make smart budgeting and spending decisions in Richmond. In the House of Delegates, Shelly will fight to keep our economy working for everyone, not just the wealthy few. She’ll fight to improve our schools and invest in our future by raising teacher pay and prioritizing career and technical training. Shelly will also push to expand access to healthcare and support efforts to prohibit price gouging in prescription drugs.

Shelly Simonds will fight for a Virginia that works for everyone.

House District 94:

Hillary Clinton won this district with 55 percent of the vote in 2016, while Senator Tim Kaine won it with a whopping 64 percent in 2018. The 94th encompasses parts of Newport News City and is currently represented by Delegate David Yancey (R). Click here for more district details.

This race will be the second match-up between Simonds and Yancey, whose race in 2017 was (in)famously determined by the drawing of a name from a bowl. It wasthe ultimate reminder that every vote counts — had Shelly’s name been drawn from that bowl, it would have dramatically shifted the balance of power in the House of Delegates.

Just one example of why Yancey needs to go:

Yancey likes to present himself as a moderate, but the bottom line is that Virginians cannot trust him to vote the right way when it counts. Take, for example, the following votes where he was the deciding Delegate…for the Republicans.

– HR280: a procedural vote that blocked bringing the ERA to the floor for a vote.
– SB1038: a bill to make voter ID laws harsher.
– HB2570: a bill to make it more difficult for schools to teach family life curricula, including age-appropriate sex education, to students.
– HB2253: a bill to make it dangerously easier to get a concealed-carry permit.

Meanwhile, Yancey has voted against bills that would have prohibited child labor on tobacco farms, allowed the presumption when former firefighters are diagnosed with PTSD that it is service-connected, required notification to parents before children have to go through lock-down drills, increased the minimum wage, ensured that health care plans include reproductive health services, and more.

Yancey is no moderate, and not a match for the 94th District.

Contact the campaign: click here

Contribute here.

This concludes Volume I of our Flip-a-District Friday series. We’ll be back next week and every week between now and Election Day. I encourage you to review this email and future editions to find a candidate or candidates whom you would like to support with your time or financial resources.

The fight for 51 is on.




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