Home 2019 Elections Flip-A-District Friday: Jennifer Lewis (HD-20), Dan Helmer (HD-40), Karen Mallard (HD-84) and...

Flip-A-District Friday: Jennifer Lewis (HD-20), Dan Helmer (HD-40), Karen Mallard (HD-84) and Dr. Mark Downey (HD-96)


If it’s Friday, it must be “Flip-A-District Friday,” courtesy of Del. Rip Sullivan’s “Project Blue Dominion.” This week, the focus is on Jennifer Lewis (HD-20), Dan Helmer (HD-40), Karen Mallard (HD-84) and Dr. Mark Downey (HD-96).

Flip-A-District Friday: Volume VIII

Welcome to Volume VIII of the 2019 Flip-A-District Friday series.

In case you missed it, I recently wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post about the urgent need to pass my “red flag” bill in Virginia, an idea that has been adopted in 17 states — many of them Republican-controlled — and drawn support from leaders in both parties across the country. Just not from Republicans in Virginia.

I will be presenting this proposal to the Virginia Crime Commission on Tuesday, August 20th. I sincerely hope the Republicans on the Commission will do the right thing (finally) and recommend passage of this life-saving measure. If they do not, it will be one more reason we must take back the General Assembly on November 5th.

House District 20

Meet the candidate: Jennifer Lewis

Jennifer Lewis is a mental health worker, community advocate, and leader in the fight against the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. She’s been a civically active member of her community in Augusta County and Waynesboro, volunteering for various local groups, serving on boards and commissions, and fighting on the front lines for the values of the valley.

Jennifer has volunteered at the Boys and Girls Club and Big Brother Big Sister, winning “Big” of the Year in 2009. She’s served as Chair of the Waynesboro Parks and Recreation Board for eight years and currently serves as Chair of the Office on Youth Commission.

When Jennifer saw farms in the Valley being threatened by Dominion’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline, she founded Friends of Augusta, a local pipeline opposition group. As President, she has organized demonstrations, rallies, and meetings with FERC and elected officials. She has also organized fundraisers and written columns in local papers addressing the disastrous effects the proposed pipelines will have on our land, water, and air — not to mention property rights.

Jennifer spent the early part of her professional career working in the Virginia public school system, providing mental health services to at-risk youth. She currently works with adults with mental illness who are transitioning from inpatient care back into the community.

House District 20: 

The 20th District is typically a red district, but Jennifer Lewis is an experienced candidate — she ran for Congress against Ben Cline (R) in 2018 — and is a perfect fit for the region. This is an open seat, which always makes a race more competitive. Incumbent Delegate Dickie Bell (R) is retiring, so Jennifer will face Republican John Avoli this November. She’s running a great campaign, having out-raised her opponent by nearly $10,000.

Located on the border with West Virginia, the district includes parts of Augusta, Nelson, and Highland Counties, as well as the cities of Staunton and Waynesboro.Click here for more district details.

Just one example of why we cannot let Avoli win:

John Avoli’s website is full of standard political platitudes like “[t]he heart and soul of America is the small business” and “[h]ealthcare reform that puts patients first is one of [his] top priorities.” Most of his positions, however, are squarely in the Republican camp, and it’s very likely that, if elected, Avoli would just be another conservative Delegate who is out of step with the times.

For example, Avoli:

– Supports “cross state, open market policies” with regard to health insurance. In reality, that means a race to the bottom in the health insurance industry. Whichever state has the weakest requirements for health insurance policies will likely have the cheapest ones. This might sound like a good option in theory, but it would lead to Virginians losing all control over what our health plans offer. That would include, for example, protection for those with pre-existing conditions, which is required bystate law in Virginia, but not in Alabama.

– Believes that “life begins at conception and that all life must be protected.” This position goes even further to the right than the average Republican voter’s view that abortion should be legal under certain circumstances. Avoli’s stance wouldn’t even allow for exceptions in cases of rape or incest.

– Writes that “[a]s an NRA member,” he “strongly support[s] the 2nd Amendment and the right to bear arms.” I think it’s safe to say that, as a member of the extreme right organization, Avoli will toe the gun lobby line and work to kill every gun safety proposal he can.

Contact the campaign here.

Contribute here.

House District 40

Meet the candidate: Dan Helmer

Dan Helmer is a West Point graduate, Rhodes Scholar, Iraq and Afghanistan veteran, and a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army Reserve. Today he runs a small business ensuring veterans have access to high-quality healthcare. He lives in Fairfax with his wife Karen, a public school teacher, and their sons, Aaron and Harris, who attend Fairfax County Public Schools.

Dan is the grandson of immigrants. His grandparents came to America with their children as Holocaust survivors. They were welcomed here and found prosperity, freedom, and peace. This is why Dan believes the American Dream is possible for all of us – no matter our color, our religion, our ability, where we were born, or whom we love. That’s why he has dedicated his life to fighting for our values.

Dan is running for Delegate because it’s time to put country and community ahead of partisan politics.

In Richmond, Dan will take on the special interests that make health care unaffordable for seniors and people with preexisting conditions, and stop payday lenders from ripping off active-duty military families and students. He will also protect a woman’s right to make her own healthcare decisions and support universal background checks to reduce gun violence.

House District 40:

The 40th District is the last remaining district held by a Republican in Northern Virginia and is a must-win for Democrats if we want to take back the House this November. Hillary Clinton won the district with 51 percent of the vote (Trump received 43 percent) in 2016, and Tim Kaine won it with 59 percent in 2018.

Incumbent Delegate Tim Hugo (R) won by just 99 votes in 2017. He raised more money than his Democratic opponent that year, but Dan out-raised Hugo in the last campaign finance reporting period.

The 40th is located mostly within Fairfax County, with 21 percent of the district in Prince William County. Click here for more district details.

Just one example of why we must defeat Hugo:

Tim Hugo is Chair of the Republican Caucus in the House. He voted 94 percent of the time on the floor with his party in 2019, making him one of the most reliablyconservative members of the House. He even blocked his Republican colleagues’ attempts at crossing the aisle on LGBT issues. Hugo also made news in 2018 for for gutting Northern Virginia transportation funding and ending the nearly 40-yeartradition of bipartisanship with regard to judicial vacancies, unnecessarily politicizing the process and forcing several vacancies on the Fairfax County bench.

Not only does he legislate the wrong way, Hugo is a cheerleader for Donald Trump, having enthusiastically cast a vote for him as a Delegate at the 2016 Republican National Convention. There’s no sign that Trump’s horrible job as President has made Hugo’s support waver since then either — Hugo is still all in for the Trump/Pence ticket. In March, he told Politico that he was “optimistic” that “Virginia is in play in 2020″ and that “Virginia could very well end up in the Republican column in 2020.”

Politico also reported that “Pence, Hugo said, made clear that he was committed to helping them in this year’s legislative races and that ‘he’d come back as much as we wanted.'” As much as we wanted? The 40th District didn’t want Trump in 2016 and Virginia as a whole definitely didn’t either. According to Morning Consult, “[s]ince Trump took office, his net approval in Virginia has decreased by 12 percentage points.”

Hugo does not represent the views of the 40th District, and it’s well past time for him to go.

Contact the campaign here.

Contribute here.

House District 84

Meet the candidate: Karen Mallard

Karen Mallard grew up in the town of Coeburn, Virginia, the daughter and
granddaughter of union coal miners. Mallard’s first experience in local politics
occurred at age eleven, when she and her father successfully advocated for the
removal of a sewage plant that dumped waste into the Guest River, where Karen and her neighbors were baptized.

One of the first members of her family to attend college, Karen graduated from the
University of Virginia’s College at Wise and went on to earn a Master’s Degree in
Education with a Concentration in Reading from the University of Virginia. She also earned the Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) Certificate of Graduate Studies from Regent University.

After graduating, Karen returned home to teach her father to read before settling in
Virginia Beach with her husband, David, to embark on her career as an educator.

As an elementary school teacher and reading specialist at Holland Elementary, North Landing Elementary, Three Oaks Elementary, and other schools, Karen has taught generations of Virginia Beach students to read for over thirty years.

Outside of the classroom, Karen has coached local youth baseball and basketball
teams and served as a leader in the Virginia Beach Education Association.

House District 84:

The 84th District is light blue, with Tim Kaine having won there by ten points in 2018 and Ralph Northam by five points in 2017. It’s a key red-to-blue seat, and Karen is running a very competitive race against incumbent Delegate Glenn Davis (R). She raised $47,369 during the last reporting period, compared to Davis’ paltry$19,497 — his report claims $119,497 in receipts, but a closer look reveals that he loaned himself $100,000 of that sum.

The 84th District is located entirely within Virginia Beach City. Click here for more district details.

Just one example of why we must defeat Davis:

Davis is ranked second in the House in reliably voting with the Republican Party in 2019, despite the make-up of the 84th District. He consistently votes against the interests of Virginia Beach residents on almost every topic.

Energy issues are a particularly glaring example. Davis voted for SB1349 in 2015, which prevented the State Corporation Commission (SCC) — the state agency responsible for regulating electric utilities — from ordering refunds even when it found that those utilities collected revenues over the 10 percent guaranteed profit that the SCC has approved. As a result, Dominion is getting and will continue to get away with overcharging its customers by potentially “$1 billion by 2020.” Notably, Davis has received $4,500 from Dominion since 2013, and accepted $4,135 in gifts from the utility, including a golf trip to Augusta, Georgia with a Dominion lobbyist.

Davis also supports offshore drilling and increased coal mining in Virginia. While he no longer addresses the issues on his website, an archived snapshot of his site from 2013 shows that he backs drilling for oil and natural gas and “renew[ing] our commitment to coal.” Offshore drilling, in particular, is unpopular in and a potential threat to Virginia Beach. The Virginia Beach City Council voted unanimously in 2017 to “strike down offshore drilling off the coast and gas exploration.”

Davis is no friend to renewable energy either. While gearing up for his bid for the Republican nomination for Lieutenant Governor, he held an interesting fundraiser in 2016. One reporter wrote that Davis “called the party room ‘The Coal Mine,’ hitting Democrats and Gov. Terry McAuliffe in particular on their clean air policies and southwest Virginia’s declining coal economy.” Davis is on the wrong side of energy issues, and clearly does not represent the interests of Virginia Beach City.

Contact the campaign here.

Contribute here.

House District 96

Meet the candidate: Dr. Mark Downey

Dr. Mark Downey works as a pediatrician at Pediatric Associates of Williamsburg, a practice of Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters. When he is not in the office, he enjoys swimming and rowing, as well as volunteering his time with his neighborhood Queens Lake swim team, the Bruton High School swim team, and the Williamsburg Boat Club rowing team.

Mark has been a resident of the 96th District for most of his life, beginning when he moved there with his parents at age two after his father retired from the U.S. Air Force. He grew up in the Queens Lake neighborhood in upper York County, attending Waller Mill and Magruder Elementary School, Queens Lake Middle School and Bruton High School.

Mark graduated from the University of Virginia with a degree in Chemical Engineering, but after working for four years as a chemical engineer, he decided to pursue a different path. He attended medical school at the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond, where he balanced his interest in serving his patients with achieving excellence in academics (he was valedictorian) and leadership (he was Class President). After his residency and the beginning of his career as a physician, he returned to Williamsburg in 2001 to join Pediatric Associates of Williamsburg.

Mark and his wife of 21 years, Kristin, are parents of four fantastic children: Mae (20), Mallory (19), Zelly (16), and Joe (11). Since moving back to Queens Lake, Mark has strived to make their neighborhood as wonderful of a place for the next generation of children as it was when he grew up there. Mark wants to do the same for his greater community as Delegate for the 96th District.

House District 96: 

The 96th District leans red, but incumbent Delegate Brenda Pogge (R) is retiring, making the race more competitive. Democrat Mark Downey has raised $84,251, while Republican Amanda Batten has raised less than half of that ($35,352).

Over half of the district is located in James City County, with the rest in York County. Click here for more district details.

Just one example of why we cannot let Batten win:

Amanda Batten was the Legislative Aide for retiring Delegate Brenda Pogge (R), who was an extremely conservative member of the House, voting with the Republican caucus 80 percent of the time in 2019.

We know from Pogge herself that Batten will be just more of the same. Before the Republican primary in June, Pogge wrote to her email list encouraging them to vote for Batten: “I’ve worked alongside Amanda for years, and I know firsthand that she is a conservative stalwart who believes in limited government and personal accountability…Amanda will fight to protect innocent life, defend the 2nd Amendment, and bolster our free enterprise system. When tough issues arise, Amanda will not need to be convinced how to vote. She will articulate and defend our conservative values.”

On her own website, Batten touts her devotion to the Republican Party, noting that she “has volunteered for Republican candidates and principles in James City County and York County. She completed three terms as chairman of the James City County Republican Committee, and she currently serves as First Vice President of the Jamestown Heritage Republican Women’s Club. She is also the Eastern Vice Chairwoman of the State Central Committee of the Republican Party of Virginia.”

There’s no doubt about it — Batten will be just another extremely partisan Republican in the House.

Contact the campaign here.

Contribute here.

That’s it for Volume VIII of our Flip-A-District Friday series. 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.




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