This November 2nd, Virginia Democrats will be fighting to hold not just statewide offices – Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General – but also the Virginia House of Delegates, which is currently 55-45 Democratic. Now, obviously, you should care deeply about the top three offices, but you should care JUST AS MUCH about the House of Delegates, which over the past two years – under Democratic control – has passed literally 100s of pieces of progressive and environmental legislation. So, unless you want the House of Delegates to be run by right-wing Republicans, including their leader Todd Gilbert as Speaker (shudddderrrr), then make sure you vote, and remind every Democrat you know to vote, between now and 11/2!
As for the House of Delegates, there are a number of competitive districts with superb Democratic incumbents who we really need to keep in office. One of those incumbents is Del. Joshua Cole (D-HD28/Stafford and Fredericksburg), first elected in November 2019 by a narrow, 51.8%-47.8% margin in a highly competitive/”purple” district that went for Donald Trump by 4 points in November 2016, and which narrowly went for Joe Biden in November 2020. So this time around, Del. Cole is facing a right-wing Republican named Tara Durant, who “gained national attention when a 911 call she made in 2020 was picked up by Fox News.” In that call (click here for a completely different take on what actually happened), which has “been disputed by eyewitnesses who were there when the incident occurred,” Durant “claimed that Black Lives Matter protestors were threatening her and her daughter.” Durant “describe[s] the experience as the pivotal moment that informed her decision to run for office.” Also note that “Durant has never held or run for public office before.”
So this past week, Del. Cole debated Durant, and the differences couldn’t be starker. First of all, Del. Cole clearly knows the issues, speaking knowledgeably and authoritatively, without any notes. In stark contrast, Durant basically read her answers, which were standard right-wing talking points. For instance, asked about combatting the climate crisis, Del. Cole responded correctly that the climate crisis is “a problem and it’s imminent and it is real.” Del. Cole added that it’s crucial that we create a clean energy economy, and that he has worked “to make sure that we can protect our planet…creating jobs and making sure that our communities feel safer and healthier.” In STARK contrast, Durant read right-wing talking points from a piece of paper, completely dodging a response on whether she even “believes” in the climate crisis, and instead blathering about how she supports an “all-of-the-above approach to energy” – including methane-and-CO2-spewing natural gas – while flatly LYING about the Virginia Clean Economy Act. Fortunately, Del. Cole was able to rebut Durant’s nonsense, responding:
“The question was about climate change and…we see that my opponent doesn’t know what it is, nor does she have a plan to correcting it and making sure we’re protecting our planet.”
Which should, of course, be automatically disqualifying from holding public office at this point, given how urgent the need to combat the climate crisis is. But it’s not just on this issue where Durant should be disqualified; check out the debate, and watch her dodge telling voters what her actual views are on guns; reading her right-wing talking points about Democrats supposedly wanting to “defund the police” (which Democrats absolutely do NOT want to do, of course, but which Glenn Youngkin’s slashing of state revenues would likely lead to…); dodging a question on the draconian Texas anti-abortion law by claiming she has “not read it” and then reading her right-wing talking points about Democrats supposedly supporting “infanticide” (which, obviously no Virginia Democrat does!); etc.
In short, the contrast between Del. Cole – knowledgeable, reasonable, serious – and Durant – definitely NOT knowledgeable, reasonable or serious! – couldn’t be greater. Let’s make sure we do EVERYTHING we can to reelect Del. Josh Cole and not allow someone like Tara Durant to become a member of the Virginia House of Delegates!