With just over three weeks until the June 8th Democratic primaries for governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General, numerous House of Delegates seats, and some local offices (e.g., Alexandria Mayor, Alexandria City Council, Arlington County Board), I have a few criteria for/thoughts on endorsements generally, followed by…some endorsements based on those criteria.
- First off, if you are challenging an incumbent, you absolutely must make a clear, convincing, public case as to why voters should – at the bare minimum – *consider* replacing the incumbent. If you haven’t made that case, then basically there’s no sense in proceeding to the rest of your campaign, because frankly you’ve already failed. And you certainly don’t deserve to be endorsed if you can’t even explain why the incumbent should be replaced! (P.S. Per a reader comment, I agree that the incumbent should also make the case to voters why they deserve reelection)
- Second, if you *have* made the case to voters why they should consider replacing the incumbent, then you *also* need to make the case – with as many specifics as possible – why you would be a *better* person to represent the district, govern the state or locality, etc. Again, if you haven’t done that, then you don’t deserve to be endorsed or to win the election.
- Third, I’m a progressive for sure, but of the pragmatic variety, so what I want is people who I think can constructively move the ball forward, get stuff done, make people’s lives better, etc. So basically, I’m not interested in ideological “purity” or how loud someone is, but in effectiveness, experience, voting record, accomplishments, integrity, policy chops, work ethic, the soundness and practicality of a candidate’s ideas, etc.
- Fourth, I’m looking for the best people for the specific jobs they’re running for – whatever their gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion (or not being religious at all), etc., etc. Having said that, I absolutely do believe that more diversity is a positive thing, all else being equal, so if I think that two candidates for the same office would both do about the same job, but one adds diversity to the House of Delegates, governorship, or whatever office, then that will almost certainly be a tiebreaker for me.
- UPDATE: Fifth, of course the person needs to be electable in the general election…
With those thoughts/criteria in mind, here are a few endorsements.
- I strongly endorse Takis Karantonis for reelection to the Arlington County Board for all the reasons laid out in my May 5, 2020 endorsement of him: “He’s the right person specifically to replace Erik Gutshall’s skillset. Perhaps it’s not surprising, given that Takis previously managed Erik’s County Board campaign, that the two men would be in sync philosophically and, in many ways, temperamentally. Strong progressives and environmentalists? Check. Policy wonks? Check. People who understand and care deeply about smart planning, strong local governance, citizen engagement, urbanism, etc.? Check. Friendly, approachable, inclusive, caring personalities? Check. In short, if you liked Erik Gutshall, as I very much did, you’re almost certainly going to like Takis Karantonis as well. But more importantly, Takis’ skillset – and particularly his deep knowledge of planning, Arlington government, etc. – correspond the closest, of all the candidates running, to what we lost with Erik Gutshall’s untimely and tragic death.” I’d just add that, since his election, Takis appears to have been doing an excellent job, which is probably why he’s been endorsed by all of his colleagues on the County Board, plus State Senators Adam Ebbin and Barbara Favola; Delegates Alfonso Lopez and Rip Sullivan; NOVA Labor; the Sierra Club; the IBEW; etc. And finally, per the above criteria, I have not heard a strong or convincing argument for why voters should consider replacing Takis Karantonis. Which makes this endorsement an easy call – go Takis!
- I endorse Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson for reelection. Again, I haven’t heard a strong or convincing case why voters should consider replacing Wilson. Neither, apparently, have all these folks who have endorsed him for reelection – Gov. Ralph Northam, House Majority Leader Charniele Herring, State Sen. Adam Ebbin, Vice Mayor Elizabeth Bennett-Parker, Alexandria Councilman Canek Aguirre, Alexandria Councilman John Taylor Chapman, former Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille, former Alexandria Mayor Kerry Donley, Alexandria School Board Chair Meagan Alderton, former Alexandria and Councilman Rob Krupicka, the Sierra Club, the IBEW, NOVA Labor, etc, etc. Also, check out this endorsement, which very well explains why Wilson should be reelected, including his “fixation on the ‘service’ part of public service…a tireless drive to help people and to solve their problems.” And against, Wilson’s opponent – former Mayor Alison Silberberg – really hasn’t made a convincing case why Wilson should be replaced, or why she’d be a better mayor than Wilson. So yes, “vote for Justin Wilson on or before June 8. Vote for tackling the issues that actually matter.”
- I endorse Del. Alfonso Lopez (D-HD49) for reelection – strongly. For starters, per the criteria listed above, I haven’t heard a convincing argument why voters should seriously consider replacing Del. Lopez, while a wide array of individuals (including Sen. Tim Kaine, Sen. Mark Warner, Rep. Gerry Connolly, Rep. Don Beyer, Gov. Ralph Northam, Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn, House Majority Leader Charniele Herring, House Democratic Caucus Chair Rip Sullivan, Del. Patrick Hope, Del. Marcus Simon, Del. Hala Ayala, Del. Elizabeth Guzman, Del. Kathy Tran, State Sen. Barbara Favola, State Sen. Adam Ebbin, former Fairfax County Board Chair Sharon Bulova, Fairfax County Board Chair Jeff McKay, Arlington County Board members Katie Cristol, Takis Karantonis, Matt de Ferranti; Arlington School Board member Cristina Diaz Torres; VA Secretary of Education Atif Qarni, and organizations (the Virginia LCV, Virginia NOW, the Virginia Education Association, the Virginia Sierra Club, the Latino Victory Fund, Emgage PAC, the Arlington Firefighters, the Eastern Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters, Clean Virginia, IBEW, Unite Here, LiUNA, SEIU, etc.) have all endorsed him for reelection. or a (long) list of Del. Lopez’s (many, many) legislative accomplishments – on areas including high-quality affordable housing, fighting for working families, supporting small business, protecting immigrants and new Americans, defending the right to vote, expanding healthcare access and the right to choose, strengthening the social safety net, protecting our environment and increasing renewable energy, strengthening public education, investing in transportation and transit, improving public safety and cyber security, constituent service and community improvement – see here. In short, Lopez has done a great job representing his district in Richmond, and moving Virginia forward in a progressive direction. As Lopez pledged prior to the 2019 House of Delegates elections, if Democrats won back the majority, we’d accomplish the work of a lifetime in one session. And that actually happened, with Virginia taking enormous strides in a wide variety of areas, thanks to the Democratic “trifecta” (the governorship, House of Delegates and State Senate) in Richmond, and in significant part thanks to the efforts of House Majority Whip Lopez. So…thanks, and keep up the great work!