Home 2023 Elections Former VA House Democratic Leader David Toscano: “Why?—My Take On Senator Deeds...

Former VA House Democratic Leader David Toscano: “Why?—My Take On Senator Deeds Reelection Bid”

Toscano says he can understand why people view this primary as a "tragedy": Adds, "Yes, we could have had them both, but Sally’s challenge makes that impossible."


See below for former VA House Democratic Leader (and former Charlottesville Mayor) David Toscano’s take on the Democratic VA Senate primary between Sen. Creigh Deeds and Del. Sally Hudson.

Early voting in the Spring Democratic primary began May 5 and I hope everyone will participate.

Perhaps the hottest race around is between State Senator Creigh Deeds, who has represented all of Charlottesville and most of Albemarle for almost two decades, and challenger Sally Hudson, who has decided to leave her seat in the House of Delegates in hopes she can unseat the incumbent.

When people discuss this race, the most recent question I am asked is “why”? Why would Sally Hudson challenge a progressive Democrat who has served this region so well for so long? After all, she would clearly have won reelection to the House this fall and would have more seniority than many other newly elected Delegates. Why would she try to unseat a person who passed more bills in the General Assembly last year than anyone else? Why would this area cast aside a person who sits on the Senate Finance committee and is one of a small group of legislators who puts together the final state budget, and who is the only person from this area to serve in that capacity for almost 50 years? Why would we remove a person who ranks in the top 5 in seniority in the Senate for someone who has none?

Why would we eliminate one of the key Senators who has stood as a brick wall against Republican efforts to roll back women’s reproductive rights?  Or the first person from this area to ever pass a gun safety measure, as Deeds did when he pushed an assault weapons ban through the State Senate.

And why would we challenge someone who has been a successful crusader for mental health funding and reform? Or the person who, with newly elected Congressperson and supporter Jennifer McClellan, patroned the Virginia Affordable Energy Act to give the State Corporation Commission greater power to lower utility rates of Dominion Power? And why would anyone wage a race against an incumbent team player that will force both campaigns to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in a primary when Democrats could otherwise have invested in other races to take the House or keep the Senate? I have no answers to these questions.

A New District?
I also hear that this is a new district, and so it is an open seatThat argument is very misleading. All districts in both the House and Senate are technically “new” because of last year’s redistricting. This happens every ten years. During my time in the House, the district I represented changed at least twice, but I was always viewed as the incumbent because my constituents were essentially the same from one year to the next. The same is true with this Senate district. Its core remains all of Charlottesville and much of Albemarle. It is anything but “new” to Creigh Deeds.

Courtesy: Charlottesville Tomorrow

A Tragedy?
Occasionally, I also hear people say: “it is a tragedy; they are both so good that I wish we could have them both.” I understand that completely. Creigh is a terrific representative who knows how to get things done. And Sally is a hardworking Delegate who would likely have won a reelection bid for the House and would be building her own seniority in that body. Because Democrats have recently won more seats in the House of Delegates (we even had the majority from 2020-22), that body has changed dramatically over the last several years. Gun safety, worker protection, and renewable energy, issues that rarely got a hearing during my service, not only are discussed, but good bills were passed when Democrats were in control. If we act as a team, we can retake the majority this fall.

It is sad that Sally would simply give up her seniority in the House when it would only grow with the years.  But it is her right to say she no longer wishes to serve in that body (I think the House is more complex and therefore more interesting), and that is what she has decided. Whoever takes her place in the House will need to start building this seniority and influence anew, and our area suffers in the process. Yes, we could have had them both, but Sally’s challenge makes that impossible.

Our area is much better if we reelect a progressive incumbent Senator with seniority who we already have. That person is Creigh Deeds. Get out and vote.



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