I live in a blue bubble here in Northern Virginia, with the luxury of having a Democratic Delegate and State Senator–their districts so blue that they don’t even have challengers in the general election. But here’s the thing: as long as they’re in the minority–even literally by ONE SEAT–most of the progressive legislation that they’d like to see pass, doesn’t.
So that’s why that safe Delegate, Marcus Simon (D-53), hosted a fundraiser tonight at his house for Clint Jenkins, who is challenging Republican Chris Jones in the 76th House district, down in Suffolk. Jones is Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, and as such, holds back things like Medicaid expansion, teacher pay raises, Veteran’s benefits, and more. And as the one who DREW the House districts that the Supreme Court declared illegally gerrymandered, it’s not surprising that he’s run unopposed ever since he drew those maps, and that under the new court-ordered maps, his district is the second most Democratic-leaning seat currently held by a Republican.
Which means that Democrats have a great chance to flip this seat! And Clint Jenkins is a great candidate to do just that. He’s a real estate agent who is incredibly connected to this community, has served the local Democratic Party in numerous roles, including as Chair of the 3rd Congressional District Committee. His wife is also a prominent member of the community, serving on the Suffolk County school board.
Simon, a former Army JAG prosecutor, joked that when Jenkins wins, he’ll finally have a second House member to be able to form the Army Veteran’s Caucus. Jenkins spoke about protecting Medicaid expansion, bringing teacher pay up to at least the national average, and the importance of infrastructure investments in the Suffolk area.
But here’s the thing: Jones, as a 22-year incumbent, and as the Republican negotiator of the budget process, which has great effect on numerous corporations and organizations in Virginia, is able to raise a LOT of money, and has done so. He has over $600,000 in his war chest, and he’s spending it misleading voters about his position on Medicaid expansion (which he voted against three times, before Democrats picked up 15 seats and other Republicans started saying they would vote for it), teacher pay raises, and a host of other things.
Which is why Delegate Simon hosted this event. And why Delegates Kathleen Murphy (D-34), Mark Keam (D-35), Rip Sullivan (D-48), and Charniele Herring (D-46) took time to attend. Because we’re all a team, and he knows that he needs a few more good players.