Home 2023 Elections With 13 Days Until Virginia Primary Day 2023, Here’s Another Endorsement –...

With 13 Days Until Virginia Primary Day 2023, Here’s Another Endorsement – Heidi Drauschak for VA Senate

Virginia ranks towards the bottom when it comes to ethics, transparency in government, etc.; Drauschak will push hard to fix that.

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With just 13 days until Virginia holds its 2023 primaries on 6/20 for the State Senate, House of Delegates and numerous important local offices, here’s one more candidate who has impressed me over the past few months, and who I strongly recommend receive the Democratic nomination in her race:  Heidi Drauschak for VA Senate in deep-blue SD35 (Springfield/Annandale).

First off, let me just say that this endorsement is not *against* the incumbent, Sen. Dave Marsden, who I’ve known for years, had great conversations with, liked, believe is a good guy, etc. Sen. Marsden has been a solid Democrat as well, pretty much in the lower-middle of the pack in terms of his VAPLAN progressive ratings over the years (for discussion of the 2023 scorecard, see here). However…and it’s a big however, one thing we haven’t gotten – even when Democrats held a governing “trifecta” for two years (2020-2021) – has been absolutely crucial SYSTEMIC REFORMS – first and foremost to Virginia’s pathetically weak ethics laws and campaign finance laws (in 2020, Virginia was rated one of the WORST states in the country when it comes to ethics, transparency in government, etc.). Also, I’d argue that we VERY much need (and would benefit from) a professionalization of our legislature (the fact is, part-time, low-paid “citizen legislators” might have been appropriate in the 1800s, but today, mostly what it does is cede power to the governor and to ever-present corporate lobbyists); the end  – or at least major reform – of the slimy/corrupt “Virginia Way” (aka, the revolving door of corporate lobbyists and legislators in Richmond, plus in general the faaaar-too-great influence of corporations like Dominion Energy on our legislature); and preferably other changes, such as an overhaul of our tax code to make it less regressive/more progressive than it is today. So all of these things are crucially important, IMHO, yet to date, all I’ve really heard is some variant on “it’s not the right time,” “we have an election this year, maybe later,” “we need to study it more,” blah blah blah. That’s simply not acceptable.

All of which is why I’m today endorsing Heidi Drauschak, first and foremost because she would be a strong, tireless advocate on ALL of the issues mentioned above.

But first, who is Heidi Drauschak? From her website’s “Meet Heidi” section:

Democrat Heidi Drauschak is a small business owner, non-profit leader, and new mom who has dedicated her career to putting power back into the hands of regular people by fighting corruption in government. In every capacity of her life, Heidi has always been someone who takes action – moving quickly and boldly to get the job done. 

Heidi was born and raised in the Philadelphia suburbs. Her parents were (and are) small business owners and her mother is a German immigrant, who came to this country as a young adult. Heidi went to college at American University in Washington, D.C., where she worked in the Obama White House and experienced firsthand the power of government to change people’s lives for the better. After graduating, she worked in federal politics until she moved to Virginia to attend the University of Richmond, where she graduated with her law degree and MBA.

Heidi has worked with multiple nonprofits — including one she founded — to fight government corruption, reform Virginia’s campaign finance laws, and give everyday people access to the legislative process. Now she’s ready to take that fight to the halls of the Virginia State Senate!

Heidi and her husband, Sam, live in Springfield with their two dogs, cat, and son, Atlas (born April 2023). Heidi and Sam are equal partners both at home and in the consultancy they run together to help small businesses reach their full potential. 

Very impressive. Also note that Drauschak literally has “spent the last five years advocating for campaign finance reforms here in Virginia,” including work for the advocacy group “Big Money Out” (“a group of volunteer advocates in Virginia dedicated to getting big money out of politics, especially here in the Commonwealth”). As I wrote when Drauschak announced her candidacy back on January 8:

I had a chance to speak with her this morning, and I’d say her intro and press release sum up our conversation very well: 1) she’s running against “special interests, corporate interests, party politics, and personal interests,” and really against the “Virginia Way” (which I’d argue is mostly about corporate interests; the “revolving door” between the General Assembly, lobbying, etc; and money; 2) she wants to address “many of these systemic issues (like campaign finance reform, General Assembly reform, and good governance reforms like ranked-choice voting) will help bring Virginia’s government into the modern age and allow us to address many of the pressing issues that real Virginians face”; 3) she’s not going to be taking corporate contributions, but hopes to run a people-powered campaign. 

Now, of course, Drauschak’s had to raise money to get the word out about her campaign, and she’s done that from a lot of small-dollar donors, but also from Clean Virginia – a group  funded by billionaire Michael Bills which advocates for “clean government and clean energy.” I spoke with Drauschak about this several weeks ago, asking her specifically if she’d support campaign finance reform that restricts both corporate contributions (e.g., from state-regulated monopolies like Dominion Energy) and also some sort of reasonable limits on individual donations, and she agreed. Yet again, when it comes to campaign finance reform, the Catch-22 is that in order to have any power to change the flawed system, you first have to run within that very flawed system in order to win election in the first place.

On other issues, Drauschak is a strong progressive – almost certainly more progressive than Sen. Marsden – but definitely not “far left” or “radical” or anything like that (unless, for whatever bizarre reason, you think that pushing for clean, honest government, women’s reproductive freedom, commonsense gun violence prevention measures, etc. are “far left” or “radical”). For instance:

  • Heidi will fight to protect our democracy and put power back in the hands of the people.
  • Heidi will fight to fully fund our public schools so that every child has access to a world-class education in a safe classroom.
  • Heidi will fight to expand access to quality affordable health care, while defending a woman’s right to choose.”
  • Heidi will fight to get guns off our streets and out of schools through bold legislation to end gun violence.
  • Hard-working families are the engine of our economy. Heidi will fight for good jobs with good benefits so that workers can support their families while also being able to spend time with them.”
  • Heidi will fight to find solutions to the pressing environmental challenges of our time, including climate change and sea level rise.
  • Heidi will fight for inclusivity and equality for all individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

All excellent stuff, and all things that would make Heidi Drauschak a strong, progressive, pro-environment voice in the VA Senate, possibly for many years to come. So again, this is nothing against Sen. Dave Marsden, but in the end, having spoken with her at length, I simply find myself more in line with Heidi Drauschak on her priorities and, specifically, on her strong emphasis on fundamental reforms to a “Virginia Way” which I believe is corrupt, corporate-dominated, and desperately in need of good-government reforms – ASAP!

P.S. I’d add that while I’m not a big fan of “identity politics,” I’ve always said that “all else being equal,” I’m in favor of increased diversity – gender, age, race, ethnicity, etc. – in the Virginia General Assembly, so that it reflects what Virginia actually looks like. In this case, we have a young woman (29 years old) running against an older man (75 years old). And while I have no problem whatsoever with people being in their 70s or even 80s being elected officials (e.g., in Joe Biden’s case, he brings a *tremendous* amount of experience, knowledge and wisdom to the job, plus continues to be VERY sharp mentally, plus is the right person to keep the White House away from Donald Trump or one of the Trump “mini-me”s running this year), if all else is roughly equal between two candidates, and if the body they’re running for doesn’t reflect the diversity of the people it purports to represent, then why NOT opt for moving in the direction of increased diversity? In this case, that would also mean supporting Heidi Drauschak for this VA Senate seat. Which is exactly what I’m doing.

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