See below for video of today’s Fairfax NAACP 2020 Candidates Forum, “featuring US Senate and House of Representatives candidates from the 8th (Rep. Don Beyer), 10th (Rep. Jennifer Wexton, Republican nominee Alisicia Andrews) and 11th Congressional Districts (Rep. Gerry Connolly, Republican nominee Manga Anantatmula). I’ll add highlights/summaries this afternoon…starting with 10th CD GOP nominee Aliscia Andrews.
P.S. Great job by the moderator, Fairfax NAACP President Sean Perryman, staying cool and letting the Republican candidates’ own words tell us all that we need to know about them.
10th CD GOP nominee Aliscia Andrews
The responses from 10th CD GOP nominee Aliscia Andrews (who, by the way, spoke at the Republicans’ voter intimidation event at the Fairfax County Government Center on 9/19) were extremely vague, weak, and frankly absurd. For instance, she mostly dodged on policing reform, resorting to the standard Republican rhetoric about “a few bad apples,” blah blah blah. On ending Qualified Immunity, she called it a “slippery slope” and pointed out that police sometimes have to make “split-second decisions.”
On COVID-19, she claimed it has a “99% survival rate, which is a blessing,” but didn’t note that over 200,000 Americans have died already and that many more have been sickened, many very seriously. She *strongly* implied that mask wearing, which has been scientifically proven to make a huge difference in the spread of this virus, makes no difference, claiming that both Gov. Ralph Northam – who DID wear a mask- and President Trump – who did NOT wear a mask – both got the virus, so apparently it doesn’t matter. Which is 100% false and really irresponsible. Also, Andrews kept referring to looking back at the national response and pointing out what national leadership did wrong is “Monday morning quarterbacking,” which is just absurdly false and incredibly lame. In fact, AT THE TIME, last spring/summer, almost *every single health professional* was saying that we needed to socially distance, wear masks, wash our hands, etc., yet many of Aliscia Andrews’ supporters refused to do so, even ridiculed these measures.
Asked whether she’s a Q-Anon supporter, Andrews claimed that she doesn’t “believe in Q-Anon.” She claimed the Affordable Care Act was the result of “one party trying to push [it] through, and wasn’t done in an “equitable fashion with both sides.” Huh? Did she follow the debate on the ACA *at all*??? She also claimed she believes in protecting people with preexisting conditions, which of course is what the ACA does.
Andrews said she’d protect people from police brutality by avoiding “recidivism,” making sure “school choice is a real thing,” “making sure…small businesses thrive,” etc. Also on the issue of police brutality, she referred to Black communities having a “negative relationship with the police” and that we “really stop that negative persona” and “we really to show both sides a better presentation,” as the “Black community is not always represented in the best light, and…sometimes that makes it so much worse.” WTF? She just blamed Black people for being victims of police brutality because…they don’t present well?!? Also, I missed it and will have to back and check when the video’s available, but folks in the comments section are writing that Andrews said “She said her plan to keep POC safe is that she has a black friend.” If true…yikes. [Yep, the video’s up, and she said her “closest, best friend” is Black, and…???]
On schools reopening, Andrews claimed there are ways to do it safely, but again talked in vague generalities, such as “we need a plan to open safely.”
Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-VA10)
Rep. Wexton talked about her work on combating the “school-to-prison pipeline”; her work for retirement protection, against predatory lenders’ abuses; also about making sure the CARES Act funds are distributed in “a way that’s fair and equitable.” She said she was horrified seeing George Floyd murdered, that she joined in protesting police brutality and seeking “real and meaningful change.” She said she’s proud to have been involved in passing the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act through the House, but that it won’t become law with Trump as President and that everyone needs to get out and vote in the most important election of our lifetimes.
Rep. Wexton said there’s absolutely no question that our criminal justice system disproportionately impacts communities of color. She advocated for deescalation training, bans on the use of chokeholds, demilitarizing the police, ensuring that communities of color are not “unduly policed,” interrupting the school-to-prison pipeline, implementing “restorative justice,” etc. On reparations to African Americans, Rep. Wexton said we need to have a serious discussion on what form those would take, as “the 400 years of systemic racism in this country have permeated all levels of life for African American communities.” Rep. Wexton said she supports Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee’s bill to “conduct a comprehensive study on what form reparations can and should take.”
On COVID-19, Rep. Wexton said that clearly the pandemic has “hit communities of color much harder than it has the white community, and that shouldn’t be…it’s also emblematic of the disparities in health outcomes for communities of color.” She said everyone needs access to quality, affordable health care, and that we need to continue to defend the ACA. She said voting to expand Medicaid in Virginia is her proudest vote. She said she supports “Medicare X” to provide for a public option for people who want to buy into that system.
Rep. Wexton said she absolutely supports reinstatement of ex-felons’ voting rights once they’ve served their time. She pointed out that Virginia’s been one of the “stingiest” states with respect to restoration and also to expungement.
11th CD GOP nominee Manga Anantantmula
Anantantmula claimed that health care is the biggest priority for her, but when asked for details, she didn’t really have any. She said people should get “better health care” and that pharmaceuticals are too expensive, and that nobody should be “left behind” or “denied any medical care.” On Medicare for All, she sounded open to it, as long as it was only offered to “Americans,” but when asked by Sean Perryman for some details, she didn’t seem to know.
Asked about the criminal justice system, Amantantmula said we need criminal justice reform, that police need to use “less aggression” and be trained to “be better soldiers out there.” She said “there are bad apples, definitely,” and they “must be let go…cannot be given chances again and again.” On ending qualified immunity, she first asked for Sean Perryman to repeat the question, then said “no, I wouldn’t say that,” but instead talked about training police officers and “transparency.”
Asked about education, she said “no child should be left behind,” “education should never be equitable” (huh?), “it should be available to all equally.” She said the goal should be for children to get a “real job” after K-12, “not just for waiting on tables.”
On voting rights, Amantantmula said that voter suppression “is definitely a no regardless of anybody’s ethnic background; that is our constitutional right to go vote, period.” Of course, that’s not the position of her party. She said she would work to create a “national voter database” so there “will not be any fraud” (uh oh, here we go…). She then went into outright falsehoods, such as, “Right now, our system allows multiple voting.” Really, really bad. She also 100% falsely claimed that “voter fraud is a constant thing that is happening, even now…people have received multiple mail-in ballots…there IS voter fraud…there has to be some checks and balances.” Again, that is all complete crap. Just appalling and simply not serious for anyone seeking public office. Just consider that Republicans actually nominated this person. Ugh.
Amantantmula also railed against being referred to as a “hyphenated Black American or Asian American, that is undesirable”; adding that the “ethnic background question is thrown at us.” Alrighty. She concluded, “me being a colored woman, definitely I can relate to everything that you’re saying.” Uh huh. Oh, and she’s for “freedom and liberty.” In sum, after watching this, just make absolutely sure you vote to reelect Rep. Jennifer Wexton!
Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA11)
Rep. Connolly said you couldn’t have more of a contrast between two candidates. Connolly said he’s spent his “entire adult life fighting for civil rights and voting rights, fighting against discrimination and against voter suppression.” Connolly said he and the NAACP have worked on “so many things together” over the past few decades. He added that he’s tied with Rep. Bobby Scott for the highest rating in Virginia from the NAACP. Connolly said that his Republican opponent has engaged in “hate speech,” calling Muslim-American members of Congress “jihadists”; that she has called Black Lives Matter protesters “terrorists” after the George Floyd murder (see here); and that “she is a champion for Donald Trump…including his dog whistles and racism.” Connolly said he supports the Justice in Policing Act.
On voting rights and fighting against voter suppression, Rep. Connolly said he has a strong record on this issue, having voted for the John Lewis Act and in general worked on these issues for many years. Rep. Connolly said, “I condemn my opponent for even insulting you with trying to persuade you that voter fraud is the issue…[it] is nothing but a cover for the voter suppression they otherwise can’t justify…Making it EASIER to vote is the issue.” “As we speak, we’re fighting voter suppression efforts.”
On ensuring access to healthcare and dealing with inequities in communities of color, Rep. Connolly said Republicans have only made matters worse. Connolly said we need to make sure people have access to affordable, accessible health care. On making online education equitable, Rep. Connolly said broadband is crucial, as well as giving students access to technology.
Rep. Connolly said he finds “his opponent’s views about other minorities frankly repugnant, and I do believe she’s engaged in hate speech, which is why I won’t give her a platform, I will not debate my opponent even though I’ve engaged in more than 200 debates in my career…but I’m not going to give her a platform to propagate her hate speech against Muslims, against Black Lives Matter advocates, against other groups.” He said his opponent would give Trump “another enabler in the Congress to help Trump and his agenda.” Rep. Connolly said he’s a “child of the Civil Rights movement,” that it is “the passion of my life to broaden rights in America, to protect everybody’s liberty, to raise people up and give them opportunity irrespective of background, color, gender, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation; I live my life that way and I’ll die that way.”