From Del. Rip Sullivan:
Flip-A-District Friday: Volume II
Welcome to this week’s Flip-a-District, except this time it is “Defend-a-District” — because these fabulous Congresswomen flipped their districts in 2018 and led the national wave which took back the House of Representatives.
This week we are highlighting Virginia’s fantastic three Congresswomen, whom we also supported when they successfully ran as challengers in 2018.
Photo Credit: Democratic Party of Virginia
Second Congressional District
Meet the candidate: Elaine Luria
When her peers headed off to college, Elaine was compelled to be part of something bigger than herself and joined the Navy at 17 — she wanted to give back and build a safer, stronger, and fairer society for this generation and the next.
On her first day in uniform, Elaine was inspired by the Naval Academy’s Mission to assume the highest responsibilities of command, citizenship, and government. She served for twenty years as a Surface Warfare Officer and nuclear engineer deploying six times — twice forward-deployed on ships stationed in Japan — conducting operations in the Middle East and Western Pacific on destroyers, cruisers, and aircraft carriers.
Whether it was enforcing sanctions by boarding Iraqi oil smugglers in the Arabian Gulf, launching jets off the deck of the aircraft carrier in the Indian Ocean to simultaneously strike terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan, operating complex nuclear reactors, serving as second in command of a guided missile cruiser or in command of a combat-ready unit of 400 sailors, providing assault craft to support the U.S. Marine Corps: Elaine never let politics get in the way of doing what was right and getting the job done.
While Elaine’s service to our country was coming to an end — she officially retired from the Navy on June 1, 2017 — she was inspired to help the community that she and her family call home.
That is why she started a family business, Mermaid Factory, that began as a block of clay on her kitchen table. From 2013 to 2018, Mermaid Factory created jobs in the community, donated over fifty thousand dollars to charity, and infused more than a quarter of a million tax dollars into our economy. Over 50,000 people experienced Mermaid Factory by spending time with family or friends, expressing their creativity, and taking home a souvenir of Hampton Roads’ iconic mermaid and dolphin symbols. Mermaid Factory continues to manufacture our products locally and give back to organizations in the community that support youth and the arts.
Elaine uses her experience in the Navy and as a small-business owner in Congress to protect our country and create an economy that works for everyone — not just those at the top. Her twenty-year Navy career makes her the clear choice to represent this military-rich district with the world’s largest navy base and among the highest concentration of veterans, including the largest number of female veterans, nationwide. Through her experience as an entrepreneur, she can relate to the challenges and potential of small businesses and their impact on the community. And, as a mother, she fights to ensure a brighter future for every child.
To help the families, seniors, and businesses of Hampton Roads, we need leaders with real-world experience. We need leaders who know what it means to serve, have overcome obstacles, faced adversity and became stronger because of it. Leaders like Elaine Luria.
The Second District is an extremely challenging race, and Congresswoman Luria is one of Virginia Democrats’ most endangered representatives in the House. The district voted for Trump over Clinton by a narrow 49 to 45 margin in 2016, and Democrats fared only slightly better there the following year when only Ralph Northam won the district of the three statewide Democratic candidates.
Elaine Luria, however, beat incumbent Republican Scott Taylor by 6,113 votes in 2018. Taylor is back for another round this year after dropping out of the race for U.S. Senate against incumbent Democrat Mark Warner. Unlike last cycle when both Luria and Taylor raised comparable amounts ($4,278,196.33 and $4,035,206.47 respectively), Congresswoman Luria is absolutely dominating on the fundraising front as of her last Federal Elections Commission (FEC) filing report. Her campaign has receipts totaling $3,927,054.81 and has $2,882,957.18 on hand, while Taylor has brought in just $897,813.62 with $311,256.71 on hand.
The race is made all the more interesting by the petition scandal that has haunted Taylor since 2018. His campaign staff was “accused of forging signatures on petitions to get a potential spoiler third-party candidate on the ballot…ostensibly to siphon votes from Taylor’s opponent, Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Va.).” One staffer has already plead guilty to “willful neglect of election duty,” and a third Taylor staffer was recently charged in the case.
While several outlets list this race as “Lean Democratic,” nothing can be taken for granted with Trump at the top of the ticket in this traditionally light red district — at least two sources consider it a toss-up. A July poll conducted by the Tarrance Group had Luria and Taylor tied, for example, among likely Second District voters.
The district includes the Virginia peninsula and stretches from Williamsburg City southeast to Virginia Beach and the North Carolina border.
Just one example of why we must beat Scott Taylor:
Taylor has a dubious record on climate change, which presents a direct threat to the Second District, an area including all of Virginia’s oceanfront land as well as Norfolk’s naval base. A 2019 study by the U.S. Army War College found that “the Department of Defense (DOD) is precariously unprepared for the national security implications of climate change-induced global security challenges.” Norfolk, home to the world’s largest naval station, will flood 280 times a year according to one estimate by the Union of Concerned Scientists. Taylor’s instinct as a member of the U.S. House was to pay lip service to environmentalists and the DOD out of one corner of his mouth while voting to roll back critical EPA regulations dealing with the causes of climate change from the other side.
When Trump pulled out of the Paris Climate Accords, Taylor issued a weak defense of the decision, writing that Trump’s choice “protects the American taxpayer from sending billions of dollars overseas, harming our national output, and eliminating millions of American jobs.”
Yet Taylor voted to defund the EPA by nearly $2 billion two months later. This critical agency has spent millions of dollars in grants and contracts in the Second District over the last decade, but apparently those jobs are not of concern to Taylor when a fellow Republican wants to pull the plug on EPA spending.
It took Taylor months as a Congressman to oppose offshore drilling after Trump called for it on the East Coast in early 2018. Despite the extremely obvious relevance of this major issue to the Second District, Taylor stated at the time that he was “undecided” on the topic, noting that “he leans in favor of drilling, but there are too many unanswered questions for him to take a definitive position.” It is baffling how a member of Congress can either be too politically skittish or too aloof to take a position on a policy area that would disproportionately impact that member’s district…
While Taylor was pondering this question, he did, however, vote for HR4606, a bill that would declare all low-volume natural gas exports or imports to be in the public interest and would undermine the National Environmental Policy Act process, thus reducing the ability of directly impacted communities to have a meaningful voice in the review process.
Taylor also voted for HR1430, a disturbingly anti-science bill — Trump’s EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt tried to ironically bury the data on this “transparency” bill because it would have cost the agency more than $250 million per year — that would prohibit the EPA from using studies for agency decision-making unless raw data, computer codes, and essentially everything used by scientists to conduct the study are handed over immediately to the agency and made publicly available online. Science Magazine called the bill “a threat to health and the environment…[and] an unnecessary and burdensome political intrusion into the scientific enterprise.”
Taylor claims to be a believer in climate change and the data behind it, stating that “I am inherently aware of the dangers climate change and sea-level rise pose to Hampton Roads, the area’s infrastructure, housing, industries, businesses and military installations.” He was even a member of the Climate Solutions Caucus. But it seems he was only willing to talk the talk, not walk the walk when it came to this imminent threat, earning him a lifetime score of just seven percent by the League of Conservation Voters.
Scott Taylor voted with his party when it counted, not for residents of the Second District.
Contact the campaign here.
Seventh Congressional District
Meet the candidate: Abigail Spanberger
Abigail Spanberger has always served her country and community. She began her career in public service as a federal law enforcement officer working narcotics and money laundering cases with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
Following her love of country, public service, and languages, Abigail joined the CIA as a case officer. She traveled and lived abroad collecting intelligence, managing assets, and overseeing high-profile programs in service to the United States.
Abigail left government in 2014 to begin a career in the private sector and bring her family back home to Virginia. When she saw partisan politics threatening the country she dedicated her life to defend, Abigail decided to run for Congress.
In 2018, she became the first Democrat since 1968 to be elected to represent Virginia’s Seventh Congressional District. In the U.S. House, Abigail serves on the Foreign Affairs Committee and Agriculture Committee, and her top priorities include strengthening our country’s national security, lowering prescription drug prices, protecting access to healthcare, and expanding broadband internet access.
Abigail grew up in Short Pump in Henrico County. She attended J.R. Tucker High School’s Spanish immersion program and graduated from the University of Virginia. After college, Abigail moved to Germany and earned her MBA from a dual-degree German-American program between the GISMA Business School and Purdue University.
Abigail and her husband, Adam, live with their children in Glen Allen.
Trump won the Seventh District — like the Second — and it will be a neck-and-neck race to the finish line. Congresswoman Spanberger is facing Republican Nick Freitas, Delegate for Virginia’s 30th District, this year after defeating incumbent Republican Dave Brat in 2018 by 6,784 votes. That year she became the first Democrat to win the seat in 50 years.
This race is considered by many to be a toss-up, but Spanberger has a great set of bipartisan achievements, including passage of her bill, the “Secure 5G and Beyond Act,” which was signed into law in March 2020, and a bill on which she was an original cosponsor, the “Hong Kong Autonomy Act,” which became law in July 2020.
Spanberger has fundraised phenomenally this cycle — she has a whopping $4,930,158.37 in total receipts and $4,085,176.15 on hand, whereas Freitas has $1,031,226.35 in receipts and just $352,982.38 on hand as of their last FEC reports — to put it in perspective, he has just eight percent of what she has in terms of cash available to campaign moving forward as of May 30, 2020.
However, Spanberger is in a difficult battle to the end and is up against dark money — super PACs started running ads against her last fall, for example, and they haven’t stopped since. One accidentally funny ad features a woman named “Stacy” who is “disappointed” in the Congresswoman. The only problem? The super PAC funding the spot used the same actress and the same script for a nearly identical series of ads, each titled “Focus.”
Spanberger, on the other hand, is running a series of great spots focusing on her bipartisan record in Congress, including one ad titled “Called to Serve” and a second called “Safe.” Others center on her refusal to prioritize corporate interests over her constituents in ads like “Home Office” and “Promised.” She is staying positive, as are we that she can win again with her bipartisan message and the resources necessary to get that information directly to voters.
The district sits east of Richmond, west of Charlottesville, and south of the Northern Virginia suburbs, nearly reaching the North Carolina border.
Just one example of why we must beat Nick Freitas:
Nick Freitas is as extreme as a Delegate can get on every issue that comes before the General Assembly. Unlike Congresswoman Spanberger, Freitas chooses to grandstand on the floor of the House every chance he gets on gun rights, socialism, and the Affordable Care Act.
He doesn’t need to showboat, however, to make it clear for Virginians to see how far to the right of most of his party he is, frequently breaking with the GOP on good, bipartisan bills to cast a “nay” vote. On the Transportation Committee, for example, he is frequently the only dissenting vote on important legislation (Exhibits A, B, C, D, E, F, and G).
Just this year, Freitas voted “nay” on important legislation that garnered support across the aisle like the ten following bills:
- HB5068: This Special Session bill would prohibit creditors from garnishing, or seizing, emergency relief payments from economically vulnerable Virginians. This bipartisan bill was reported unanimously from the House Courts of Justice committee, and Freitas was one of just 16 Republicans to vote against it on the floor.
- HB5087: Freitas was one of 19 Republicans to vote against this Special Session economic recovery bill that would remove the sunset clause on Virginia’s short-term compensation program (work-sharing) to facilitate eligibility for much-needed CARES Act funds.
- HB10: Only 15 Republicans voted against this student-protection bill — including Freitas of course — which prohibits any person from acting as a qualified education loan servicer except in accordance with provisions established by the bill.
- HB378: Freitas was one of three people in the entire General Assembly to vote against this bill to repeal the sunset clause on a needle exchange harm reduction program.
- HB1252: Freitas was one of 13 Republicans to vote against prohibiting discrimination in registered apprenticeship programs.
- HB1656: Freitas was one of five members of the General Assembly to vote against a bill authorizing Dominion Energy Virginia and American Electric Power to help low-income, elderly, and disabled individuals participate in energy savings programs.
- HB457: Freitas was the only Republican on the floor to vote against this simple bill requiring that any degree-granting post-secondary school providing distance learning to residents of the Commonwealth from a location outside of Virginia to be certified to operate in the Commonwealth.
- HB66: Freitas voted with just three other Republicans to try to stop a bill capping the cost of insulin for those who need it most.
- SB423: Freitas and one other Republican voted against this Republican-sponsored bill — which passed the Senate unanimously — that mandates health insurance coverage for hearing aids for minors.
- HB1503: Freitas was the sole “nay” vote in the entire General Assembly on a bipartisan bill ensuring health insurance coverage for autism spectrum disorder.
To view his full voting record, click here and select his name under “Delegate” and whichever session of the General Assembly that you would like to see under “Session.” Name a bill you have supported, and Freitas probably has voted against it.
Freitas is just as extreme when it comes to the bills he chooses to introduce, whether it’s a bill to allow anyone to carry concealed weapons in Virginia without a permit in 2020, a “Tebow” bill to strip funding from public school athletics programs in 2019, a 2018 bill to prevent state agencies from enacting any regulations if the total cost to the entire Commonwealth exceeds just $500, a 2017 bill — vetoed by the Governor — to shield from civil liability those who actively discriminate against same-sex couples, or a 2016 bill targeting refugees being resettled in Virginia.
It’s all bad: the blustering speeches, the extreme partisanship, the anti-Virginia record. We cannot let Nick Freitas win in November.
Contact the campaign here.
Tenth Congressional District
Meet the candidate: Jennifer Wexton
Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton has been serving the people of Northern Virginia and Shenandoah Valley for two decades as a prosecutor, advocate for abused children, state Senator, and now a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Virginia’s Tenth District.
In her legal career, Jennifer served as an Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney for Loudoun County, prosecuting felony and misdemeanor criminal and traffic cases in all of the Loudoun Courts. She later served as a court-appointed guardian ad litem, representing abused or neglected children, as a special justice in mental commitment hearings, and as a substitute judge in proceedings in Loudoun County’s district courts.
Jennifer took her passion for protecting others to the state Senate after winning a special election in January 2014. In her five years in Richmond, Jennifer found bipartisan support for her legislation to make our children safer, combat the heroin and opioid epidemic, increase access to affordable healthcare, prepare our children for jobs of the future, ease traffic congestion, and bring more businesses to Northern Virginia.
Jennifer came to Congress with experience in legislating and a deep understanding of Virginia’s Tenth District and the issues that matter most to our region’s families. In Congress, Jennifer has worked to make health care more affordable for our families, keep our kids safe from gun violence, and protect the interests of federal workers and contractors in our region. She has introduced 17 pieces of legislation in her first term, passing four bipartisan bills through the House, with her recently introduced Retirement Protection Act being signed into law as a part of the CARES Act response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Jennifer lives in Leesburg with her husband, two sons, and two rescued labrador retrievers.
Jennifer Wexton is running against Republican Aliscia Andrews in the Tenth District, and the race is considered to be going very well for the Congresswoman — three reputable sources each list the competition as “Solid Democratic.” As Politico writes, “Republicans spent millions in this Northern Virginia district in 2018 to defend then-Rep. Barbara Comstock — only to see Democrat Jennifer Wexton win by 12 points. Hillary Clinton carried the seat by 10 points, and it’s hard to see it going red again in the Trump era.”
Wexton, however, is taking nothing for granted and has raised $2,961,318.92 with $2,100,856.54 on hand versus Andrews’ paltry total sum of $334,672.13 and $111,983.21 cash on hand.
About half of the Tenth District is located in Loudoun County, a quarter is in Fairfax County, and the remainder is in Frederick County, Prince William County, Manassas City, Winchester City, Clarke County, and Manassas Park City.
Just one example of why we must beat Aliscia Andrews:
For a candidate who claims that the reason she is running for Congress is to make the Tenth District safer for families, she is an zealot on gun issues. Take, for example, one of her first campaign tweets — it’s clear from whom she’s trying to gin up support.
Andrews also cheerfully tweeted this cartoon before Christmas last year.
During the 2020 regular session of the General Assembly session, Andrews tweeted this image in opposition to “red flag” laws like the one I introduced.
Despite her and radical gun groups’ best efforts, I successfully shepherded my bill to create emergency substantial risk orders through the House and Senate. Andrews may not be aware — or care — that red flag laws work and the data bears that out.
They are also, contrary to Andrews’ ill-informed tweet, constitutional. Red flag laws “already have withstood legal scrutiny in other states, according to The Virginia Mercury, which cites rulings from Indiana, Connecticut and Florida that indicate red flag laws fall within governments’ established powers to regulate firearms.”
Andrews, who received a “Very Pro Gun” rating from an extremist group called the Virginia Citizens Defense League, states in one interview that “the radicals of the national Democrat Party [are] telling law-abiding citizens they are going to forcibly confiscate our guns, [and] we need a strong advocate of our 2nd amendment in office. I will never vote to infringe on our God-given right. I support the counties in Virginia who are in favor of becoming 2nd amendment sanctuaries and have rallied in support of doing so.”
Regarding the historic progress that Virginia Democrats made on gun safety this year, she stated, “This is not Virginians talking, this is Virginians screaming this is not what we want.”
Except that this is exactly what Virginians wanted to happen during the 2020 Session. Polls show it’s what they’ve wanted for years. Specifically, a poll conducted in 2018 in Virginia’s Tenth District found that gun safety reform ranked high as the second most important issue behind health care (69 versus 76 percent).
Andrews is unfortunately less attentive to the interests of Tenth District residents and more focused on promoting a Trumpian agenda as illustrated below.
Contact the campaign here.
That’s it for Volume II 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.