Home 2023 Elections Video: SD11 Democratic Primary Debate Between Sen. Creigh Deeds, Del. Sally Hudson...

Video: SD11 Democratic Primary Debate Between Sen. Creigh Deeds, Del. Sally Hudson Gets “Fiery” Over Several Issues (Guns, Abortion, Ranked Choice Voting, etc.)

According to J. Miles Coleman of the UVA Center for Politics, this primary is essentially "AOC versus Chuck Schumer in a national context"


Among the numerous upcoming Democratic primaries for State Senate on June 20, the contest between Sen. Creigh Deeds and Del. Sally Hudson in solid-“blue” SD11 (Charlottesville, Albemarle, Amherst, Nelson, Louisa) could end up being a very close contest. It’s also a stark contrast between the younger (35 years old), female, progressive, Charlottesville-based Hudson and the older (65 years old), male, relatively “moderate”/Bath-county-based (for most of his political career) Deeds. As J. Miles Coleman of the UVA Center for Politics put it, this primary is like “AOC versus Chuck Schumer in a national context,” with Deeds “one of the most senior Democrats…Kind of running against a younger, more upstart, maybe even more progressive type of candidate.” Also note that these two primary candidates are each likely to be well funded, so they each should be able to get their messages out there.

Anyway, last night, “AOC” (Sally Hudson) and “Schumer” (Creigh Deeds) held their first debate, with NBC29 describing it as “fiery.” Having watched it, I’d definitely agree with that description, and add that there definitely does NOT appear to be any love lost between these two candidates. See below for video of the entire thing, as well a few key exchanges that got heated (over guns, specifically the assault weapons ban; Ranked Choice Voting; abortion; etc.).

Hudson: “We finally banned buying more than one handgun a month in Virginia, which was a law that you [looks at Deeds] had crossed party lines and voted to repeal in the ten years before; that’s what created Virginia as a gunrunner state, made it so easy for there to be so many cheap firearms on our streets which are now part of that rise in gun violence. So we got a lot of good work done, but we also fell short on some important measures. We failed to pass an assault weapons ban because we had conservative Senators…who crossed party lines to vote that down, even though we had passed it through the House, even though it had the full support of Gov. Northam and AG Mark Herring…”

Deeds: “I grew up way out in the country…on a farm…I probably learned to shoot a rifle about the time I learned to read. I grew up hunting…I can’t apologize for that, I’m not going to…In April 2007 I was…watching [the Virginia Tech] shooting…I’ll tell you, that event changed my whole life and my whole relationship with firearms. I worked with family groups afterwards to close the gun show loophole…I’m a lawyer, I’ve been a lawyer for 39 years, and that [assault weapons ban] was not a constitutional bill; whatever we pass, we have to think about whether it’s going to be held up in court. The last thing I want to do is tell people we’re passing something, we’re doing something, and not really doing it. So what I did this year…we sent that bill to the crime commission…controlled by the House Democrats, and we asked them to fix it. They didn’t do it…”

Hudson: “I am all for public servants evolving on issues over the course of their career. I think it’s important that we all learn and grow…that we all listen. But it would mean more to me if you [looking at Deeds] were willing to talk more openly about your transition on gun safety issues. Because the truth is that you have been casting conservative votes since long after the Virginia Tech shootings…I think if we’re going to bring people along on the path that you have navigated in recent years, in part in response to this competitive election, it would be better if we could talk openly about what got us there.”

Deeds: “I don’t see the world as a bright line, conservative and liberal. I think with the bills that are introduced in the General Assembly, you have to consider every one…on its own merits. You have to consider legislation for its purpose and for the way its written…whether it achieves the goal it sets forth and whether it’s going to work under our framework of constitutional law. And that’s what I’ve tried to do as a legislator…as a person.”


Deeds: ”I’m the one that has my name on the bills. I’m the one doing the work. I’m a workhorse. I’m not a showhorse, you won’t see me stand up and give a lot of speeches because I don’t need to.”

Hudson: ”I’m a member of the minority in the house, when I pass bills I pass them with Republicans that means you have to put your name as second fiddle on the list. Who cares who gets the credit? All I care is getting work done for this community.”


Hudson: “I carried the legislation that you described that made Ranked Choice Voting possible in Virginia for the first time, and I carried the only legislation on Ranked Choice Voting this year that was endorsed by the Virginia Registrar’s Association, because I’m the only legislator who has been working with the Virginia Registrar’s Association on the Ranked Choice Voting legislation…You could have come any time you wanted, which you didn’t. You didn’t even ask me about the bill that you introduced on Ranked Choice Voting that the Commissioner of Elections asked you to pull because we weren’t ready to introduce it. I could have told you that that wasn’t the appropriate next step in Ranked Choice Voting adoption in Virginia, because I was carrying the bill that was endorsed by the Virginia Registrar’s Association…It comes from the adoption of local pilots…It takes a lot of careful work…I will say, I haven’t seen you introduce Ranked Choice legislation until you found yourself in a competitive election with me. It’s something that I’ve been working on now for five years…”

Deeds: “As I said at the beginning, getting things done in the legislature, a lot of this stuff is about building relationships. I’m sorry you didn’t feel like you could come talk to me and tell me about these problems that you saw in the legislation. Your friends are the ones who asked me to introduce the bill. I introduced the bill and then I talked to the head of the Board of Elections and I pulled the bill.”

Hudson: “I carried the only Ranked Choice Voting legislation that was endorsed by the Virginia Registrars Association because I was working side-by-side with them on the project.”


Deeds: “You weren’t involved in the negotiations [for the Affordable Energy Act] at all. You showed up for the press conference and that’s about it.”

Hudson: “I wrote it three years ago, sir.”

Deeds: “I don’t believe you.”


Deeds: “I’m pro-choice. And over the last 32 years, I’ve seen hundreds of abortion bills introduced, most of them to limit a woman’s right to choose. A woman’s right to reproductive freedom is equivalent to her economic freedom. Being a white man, I’ve not thought it appropriate to introduce legislation  about abortion, because most of the bills that get introduced are introduced by white guys. And I’ve not introduced a bill. I’m proud of the fact that Virginia has…we protect reproductive freedom here more than any other state in the South. I’m proud  that in 2020, we…repealed most of the Republican restrictions…But we’re one vote away from losing it…We’ve got to…take back the House…maintain the Senate…get a new governor who will sign even more bills.”

Hudson: “I would just add…I think it’s really important that we have legislators who are not just willing to CARRY reproductive rights legislation, but also being willing to talk about it in public. Because I don’t think we’re going to win back the broader culture war that secures our rights for the long haul if we are not proud, proactive advocates for abortion rights. And I know that especially in the wake of Gov. Northam’s political challenges around talking about abortion, I think a lot of Democrats have gotten cold feet about talking about abortion in public. It’s easy to get tongue-tied. And I think that’s why it’s really important that we have legislators willing to do that work out loud in public who don’t get scared when it comes time to talk about abortion, because we won’t get this work done without it.”


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