If it’s Friday, it must be “Flip-A-District Friday,” courtesy of Del. Rip Sullivan’s Project Blue Dominion. Actually, today it’s more like “Defend-A-District Friday,” with the focus on Del. Kelly Fowler (D-HD21), Del. Hala Ayala (D-HD51), Del. Mike Mullin (D-HD93), and Rodney Willett (defending HD73, currently held by Del. Debra Rodman, who is running for State Senate).
Welcome to Volume XIII of our “Defend-a-District” series, where we’re featuring districts currently held by a Democrat with a Republican challenger.
We now have less than 50 days to go before November 5th. Please make sure you help as many Democratic campaigns as you can get out the vote with either your time or financial resources.
House District 21
Meet the candidate: Kelly Fowler
Kelly Fowler’s life has always been dedicated to the service of others. She has worked as an elementary school teacher and owns her own small real estate business specializing in military family relocation and advocacy. She has been a resident of Virginia Beach since childhood and cares deeply for her community.
As a daughter to a military family, Kelly moved to Virginia Beach at a young age. She attended public school locally and received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees just up the road from her district at Virginia Wesleyan and Old Dominion.
In 2016, Kelly was fed up with the state of American politics. Donald Trump had just been elected president and her local representative seemed more beholden to his campaign contributors than his constituents. So she decided to take action. She organized marches, she ran for office, and on November 7th, 2017, she won.
Since being sworn in Kelly has dedicated her public service career to creating a better future for all, including her two young daughters, Tessa and Sophie. She was a key vote to expand Medicaid, raise teacher pay, and provide tax breaks to small businesses across Virginia. Once she is re-elected with a Democratic majority this fall, she looks forward to passing the Equal Rights Amendment, taking steps to fight flooding and climate change, and taking bold action to curb gun violence in Virginia.
House District 21:
The 21st District is light blue, with Hillary Clinton winning 49 points to Donald Trump’s 45 in 2016. The seat had been held by Ron Villanueva since 2010 until he was beaten by Kelly in 2017 despite outspending her by $201,543. Kelly is facing another tough fight in November against Republican Shannon Kane. Kane, a former member of the Virginia Beach City Council, had to resign her seat after moving into the 21st District since she no longer satisfied the Council’s residency requirements.
Located mostly within Virginia Beach City, the 21st also includes parts of Chesapeake City. Click here for more district details.
Just one example of why we cannot let Shannon Kane win:
Kane has a history of absenteeism on the Virginia Beach City Council, and she does not have nearly as accomplished a record as Kelly. Before resigning from City Council halfway through her term, Kane racked up a history of important missed votes on flooding, offshore drilling, opioid abuse prevention, and police funding.
Kane’s constituents went unrepresented for a month on these issues that are crucial to Virginia Beach City. Yet now Kane has decided that she wants a promotion to Delegate. Her leaving for higher office was particularly ill-timed for her Virginia Beach constituents. According to one article,
“[Kane’s] departure comes at a difficult time for the City Council, which has an open position after a judicial panel ruled earlier this month that David Nygaard was ineligible to serve the Beach District…Now, the city will have to figure out a plan to fill Kane’s spot when she leaves. The council is required to hold a special election and appoint an interim representative. “It is what it is,” Mayor Bobby Dyer said. “We are going to have to deal with it.” Fowler, who represents the 21st House District, said Kane is letting residents down by leaving the City Council before voting on the budget in May. She said Kane is walking out on the job before it’s done.
Virginia Beach can’t afford representation in Richmond so willing to abandon her post when it suits her interests.
Contact the campaign here.
House District 51
Meet the candidate: Hala Ayala
As a member of Prince William County community for over 35 years and elected as Delegate in 2017, Hala Ayala gives a new, needed voice for the 51st House District of Virginia.
Hala has personally experienced the challenges of single motherhood and lack of access to affordable health insurance. She understands the concerns of working families today. She has fought for raising the minimum wage, equal pay and affordable access to health care as the founder and former president of the Prince William County chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW).
Hala worked her way up from a service job without health insurance to become a cybersecurity specialist with the Department of Homeland Security. For over 17 years, she worked to protect our nation’s information systems, enforce security measures, and prevent attacks by safeguarding computers, networks and data from criminal intrusion and security breaches. She’s ready to continue to use that same determination and work ethic to ensure that Prince William County families can flourish.
Hala helped organize Virginia for the Women’s March on Washington in January 2017. She helped organize buses to transport people to DC and raised money to help with the expenses for those who would not otherwise be able to participate. As the former president of the Prince William County chapter of NOW, she fought for equal pay for equal work. Hala also served on Governor Terry McAuliffe’s Council on Women.
House District 51:
The 51st District is growing more blue every year, with Senator Kaine winning 59 percent of the vote in 2018 versus Hillary Clinton’s 51 percent in 2016. This November will be competitive, however, as it is rematch with Republican Rich Anderson, whom Hala unseated in 2017 after he had represented the district since 2010.
Hala is running a phenomenal campaign, out-raising Anderson by nearly $200,000 in the last reporting period. She is working hard and not taking her seat for granted, and with nearly twelve times the number of low-dollar contributions as Anderson during the last two months, it’s clear that she is running an excellent grassroots campaign.
South of Manassas, the 51st is entirely located within Prince William County. Click here for more district details.
Just one example of why we cannot let Rich Anderson win:
Anderson consistently and repeatedly opposed Medicaid during his time as Delegate. While his website no longer lists health care in its “Issues” section, he was very vocal about his opposition to expansion before his defeat in 2017. At one debate in October 2017, he “defended his votes against Medicaid expansion, saying it’s ‘bad fiscal policy.'”
Anderson’s opinion is simply wrong. One fascinating and in-depth Brookings Institute study found that
“[C]laims are not well founded that Medicaid expansion will cost states considerably more than what objective analysts project. Instead, those claims are based on sources that are either incomplete, inaccurate, misleading, or out of date in various ways. Although it is unlikely that Medicaid expansion will turn out to be entirely free to states, based on the considerable experience to date, the probable costs appear to be quite low in comparison with the economic and public health benefits of expansion.”
11,826 residents of Prince William County have enrolled in Medicaid thanks to expansion in 2018. Would Anderson rob those vulnerable individuals of critical health care coverage because of his outdated, faulty, partisan opinions?
The 51st cannot and should not go backward. Hala Ayala needs to hold this seat.
Contact the campaign here.
House District 73
Meet the candidate: Rodney Willett
A Virginia native who grew up in a family of teachers, Rodney has dedicated his career to public service. Rodney attended Virginia’s oldest university – the College of William and Mary – where he earned both his undergraduate and law degrees, and where he was instrumental in founding the Pulley Family Endowment which supports public service work by students.
As an attorney, Rodney represented local governments in Virginia, where he learned firsthand what good governance looks like and the positive impact it can bring to working families. He was also instrumental in establishing and expanding free legal assistance programs while running his practice.
In the late 1990s, Rodney saw the potential for technology to transform government and created Virginia Interactive, where he led a public-private partnership with the Commonwealth to move information and citizen-business services online, helping put Virginia at the forefront of the online revolution.
Rodney has continued this work with his current company, Impact Makers. Impact Makers’ “all profits to charity” model has led the company to contribute nearly $3 million in financial and pro bono support to nonprofits that help families facing health care, education, and housing issues.
Rodney is running for the House of Delegates because he wants to put his exceptional experience to work advocating for the interests of everyone in his home district, the 73rd.
Rodney lives in Henrico with his wife, Lydia, an attorney and fellow W&M graduate. They have three children – a middle school teacher, a college student at UVA, and a high school student.
Rodney chairs the Richmond Performing Arts Alliance and champions its early learning through arts program for kids. He also serves on the board of Rx Partnership, which provides free or low-cost prescription medication fulfillment to uninsured Virginians. As a member of Virginia’s Children’s Health Insurance Advisory Board, Rodney has fought to ensure the continuation of life-saving healthcare coverage for kids.
Rodney’s work has had a positive impact on all Virginians. It’s time to put that experience to work for Henrico.
House District 73:
Currently represented by Delegate Debra Rodman, who is leaving to run for the state senate, the 73rd District has only recently moved in the Democratic direction. Ken Cuccinelli beat former Governor Terry McAuliffe in the 73rd District in 2013 by 5 points, for example, and former Republican Delegate John O’Bannon had represented the district since 2001 until he was unseated by Debra in 2017.
Because the seat is now open, it is far more competitive than it would be if we were defending an incumbent, and Rodney will certainly have a challenging race against Republican Mary Margaret Kastelberg this November. Rodney is running a truly grassroots campaign, receiving nearly 30 times as many small dollar contributions as Kastelberg.
Northwest of Richmond, the district is nearly entirely located within Henrico County. Click here for more district details.
Just one example of why we cannot let Mary Margaret Kastelberg win:
In January, Richmond Times-Dispatch columnist Jeff Shapiro wrote an op-ed titled: “Looking for a win, Republicans try something different: looking like Democrats.” He was surely right about Kastelberg.
On issue after issue, she has tried to sound like a moderate, but it is highly doubtful that Kastelberg will ever buck the Republican Party line if elected. The vast majority of her contributions from both previous and her most recent campaign finance report show that her financial support is almost entirely enormous contributions from extremely partisan groups like the Republican State Leadership Committee and the PAC run by Speaker Kirk Cox (R), the Colonial Leadership Trust PAC.
Kastelberg has also taken money from a private prisons corporation and a number of extremely conservative Republican politicians. It’s hard to believe that when push comes to shove she will break with her party on the issues that matter most.
Rodney is clearly the right candidate for the 73rd.
Contact the campaign here.
House District 93
Meet the candidate: Mike Mullin
Mike is passionate about a number of issues important to the 93rd, and it’s one of many reasons he is such a great Delegate for the district. In Mike’s first year as a legislator, he passed four bills — more than any other freshman legislator in the House of Delegates that year. He served on the Counties, Cities and Towns Committee and the Courts of Justice Committee. In his first year, he was most proud of his bill to ensure that people who commit domestic violence are not eligible for “first offender status” if they have committed other violent felonies. “This bill could help stop the cycle of violence and protect women and children,” Mike noted. “It just might save the life of somebody you love.”
Mike excels at turning his experiences and understanding of the communities of the Peninsula into real results for his constituents. In his second year as a legislator, he was reappointed to the Counties, Cities, and Towns Committee and the Courts of Justice Committee, and was also appointed to the Commerce and Labor Committee. He again passed four bills, including a new law to protect victims of human trafficking. Mike served on the House Select Committee on School Safety in 2018. In the 2019 Legislative Session, he passed ten pieces of legislation and continues to be a leader in the General Assembly.
When Mike isn’t in Richmond in session in the House of Delegates, he is an Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney for the City of Hampton and a resident of Newport News. He came to the Peninsula as a 17-year-old college freshman at Christopher Newport University and loved the city so much he wanted to raise his family here, so he returned after earning his law degree from The Catholic University.
Mike is a Certified Gang Investigator by the Virginia Gang Investigator’s Association and volunteers his time to stop gang violence in our communities. He is a graduate of the Sorensen Institute of Political Leadership and a member of the Christopher Newport University Alumni Society.
House District 93:
The 93rd District was one of the districts impacted by court-ordered redistricting this year, making it much more competitive for Democrats. The new district shift 12.1 points more Republican, and while it still has a 4.1 Democratic lean, that is an extremely narrow lead in an “off off” election year.
Mike is facing Republican Heather Cordasco for the third time this November. He significantly out-raised Cordasco $103,634 to just $3,892 before the last reporting period, but he is taking nothing for granted given that in the most recent finance report, Cordasco has picked up her fundraising pace.
The 93rd District includes parts of James City County, York County, Newport News City, and Williamsburg City. Click here for more district details.
Just one example of why we cannot let Heather Cordasco win:
Cordasco is on the wrong side of the gun safety debate, and the evidence is overwhelming that she would oppose any and all attempts to make Virginia safer by reforming our gun laws.
– “Cordasco called assault weapons ‘a cosmetic change’ from a regular gun.”
– Cordasco used the old, tired — and incorrect — claim that “[g]uns don’t commit violence, people using guns commit violence.”
– She said about gun ownership, “[c]ertainly we want to make sure people are safe. We want to make sure they have the opportunity to bear arms, and I’m not sure that I think there’s specific reform that can happen.”
– The NRA gave Cordasco an “AQ” for her questionnaire response, the highest possible rating allowed for a candidate without an actual voting record.
– “Cordasco said there’s no such thing as ‘the gunshow loophole,’ because gun dealers at these shows are required to perform background checks.”
Cordasco, an NRA-endorsed candidate and recipient of their contributions, would be a consistent opponent of gun safety laws if elected. We cannot let that happen this November. Mike Mullin is the clear choice here.
Contact the campaign here.
That’s it for Volume XIII. I encourage you to review this email and past editions to find a candidate or candidates whom you would like to support with your time or financial resources.