Home 2021 Elections Virginia House Majority Whip Alfonso Lopez Draws Primary Challenger, Karishma Mehta

Virginia House Majority Whip Alfonso Lopez Draws Primary Challenger, Karishma Mehta

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I’m still almost 100% focused on the November 3, 2020 elections, but candidates for 2021 here in Virginia are already popping up. According to VPAP, there are already four Democratic candidates for governor (Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, State Sen. Jennifer McClellan, former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax); five candidates for Lt. Governor (Del. Hala Ayala, Del. Elizabeth Guzman, Fairfax NAACP President Sean Perryman, former DPVA Chair Paul Goldman and lobbyist for nonprofits Xavier Warren); two candidates for Attorney General (AG Mark Herring, Del. Jay Jones); a contest for the seat held by Del. Elizabeth Guzman (who’s running for Lt. Governor); and three primaries of incumbent Democratic delegates (Matt Rogers vs. Del. Patrick Hope in HD47, Kyle Elliott vs. Del. Dawn Adams in HD68, and Karishma Mehta vs. Del. Alfonso Lopez in HD49). And presumably, by the spring of 2021, a bunch more candidates will throw their hats in the ring.

With that, here’s a press release from Karishma Mehta, who describes herself as a “Preschool teacher, community organizer & daughter of immigrants seeking to fully represent the people of Virginia’s 49th House District.” On the issues, Mehta’s running very much to the “left,” for instance:

  • Healthcare: “Guarantee healthcare to all Virginians”; “Immediately cancel all medical debt for Virginians”; etc.
  • Environment: “Ensure a new set of state standards that calls for a full transition to 100% renewables by 2036”; “Pass an immediate ban on fracking and all new fossil fuel infrastructure”; “pass a Green New Deal for Virginia that centers Virginian workers and Black, Indigenous and Brown communities that have been devastated at the frontline by the climate crisis.”; etc.
  • Labor: “Repeal right-to-work”; “Halt any state-level cooperation with Amazon until they agree to 1. allow workplace unionization, 2. cut all ties with Palantir and law enforcement, 3. full taxation in Virginia”; etc.
  • Racial Justice: “Cut the police budget by at least 50% and immediately begin divesting from law enforcement in favor of social programs and ending homelessness”; “End for-profit prisons and detention centers”; “Remove all police from Virginia public schools and prohibit future contracting ability”; etc.
  • Protection of Immigrant Communities: “Enact Undocumented Worker Bill of Rights”; “Pass a resolution declaring white domestic terrorism and unlawful surveillance in Black/Latinx/Muslim communities as the greatest threat to our freedom and safety”; etc.

For his part, Del. Alfonso Lopez – first elected in 2011 and now Majority Whip – is considered the 13th-most-progressive member of the Virginia House of Delegates, according to the VAPLAN 2020 scorecard. (Lopez had the highest progressive score in the 2018 scorecard and the fifth-most-progressive score in the 2019 scorecard). In 2019, Lopez was primaried, with Lopez winning the nomination 77%-23%. After Democrats won back the House of Delegates in November 2019, Lopez became Majority Whip, helping to guide a massive amount of progressive legislation – on pretty much every area – through what was an historic General Assembly session, almost any way one looks at it. The bottom line, IMHO, is that Del. Lopez – who (full disclosure) I have known for years and consider a friend – deserves a lot of credit for that, and should be evaluated accordingly (e.g., favorably). But clearly, a primary challenge will put the question out there to 49th District voters as to whether they agree with that assessment or not. Also, a primary will test how “left”/progressive this district wants to go – are they mostly happy with where they are now or want to move even further in a progressive direction? Anyway, stay tuned…assuming our democracy makes it past November 3rd in one piece, of course.