Thanks to Del. Rip Sullivan and his BLUE DOMINION PAC for these weekly “Flip and Defend-a-District” writeups; they’re VERY helpful!
Welcome to the seventh edition of the 2023 Flip and Defend-A-District Series.
Last week I launched “Sip with Rip,” a discussion series with local leaders and community members about policy challenges and political issues facing the Commonwealth. To kick things off I was joined by Sen. Jennifer Boykso for a conversation on the many current threats facing our Democracy.
The previous Democratic trifecta transformed Virginia from one of the worst states for voting protections to one of the best. We passed one of the longest early-voting periods in the country. We implemented automatic voter registration and repealed voter ID and other laws meant to suppress voter turnout. When more people vote, democracy is strengthened. It is critical that we turn out to elect leaders that will uphold the values of our Democracy. We must elect Virginia Democrats, like those we profile this week.
The candidates Project Blue Dominion features in our Flip and Defend-A-District series are the Democrats—incumbents and challengers—who Virginians need to elect to gain the majority in the House of Delegates. The stakes are high and the power to elect Democrats lies in your hands. It is the time, donations, and activism of Virginia voters that will determine our future. I hope you will join us in seizing this historic opportunity.
House District 30
Meet the candidate: Rob Banse
*HD-30 is one of the most competitive districts and a must win for Democrats to take back control of the House of Delegates.
A church leader who has served in Western Loudoun and Northern Fauquier Counties for 17 years, Rob is now stepping up to represent his home district in the Virginia House of Delegates.
Rob was taught at an early age that life is about service to others. He dedicated his career to serving those around him, working for 35 years as a pastor of the Episcopal Church. Rob’s work brought him and his family to parishes around the country. From 2007 until 2018, he served the Western Loudoun and Northern Fauquier communities at Trinity Church in Upperville.
Rob considers it the greatest honor to have spent his career caring for people, celebrating life’s great moments and supporting them through life’s greatest challenges. As a pastor, Rob has been with families devastated by the cost of healthcare, with women making difficult decisions about pregnancy, and with people struggling through mental illness, substance abuse, and other crises. These experiences have shaped Rob’s outlook and affirmed his desire to lead with compassion — to address the price of prescription drugs, protect a women’s right to choose, improve mental health services, and more in the House of Delegates.
Since retiring from Trinity Church in 2018, Rob assists in nearby parishes and serves on the board of the Windy Hill Foundation, where he works alongside community leaders to increase affordable housing options in Loudoun and Fauquier Counties. He lives in Delaplane with his wife, Janie, and their two dogs, Micah and Toby. They have three grown children, Holland, Lee, and Will.
Why Rob is Running: In 2018, Rob retired after 35 years as a pastor of the Episcopal Church. He had been a lifelong Democrat, but did his best not to preach politics from the pulpit. Upon Rob’s retirement, he became active in the Fauquier County Democratic Committee and, following the release of the new legislative maps, was approached by Committee members to consider a run for this seat. He thought and prayed quite a bit about his potential candidacy and, after studying his prospective opponent’s stances, Rob decided that he needed to step up.
Above all, Rob is running for Delegate on a platform to address the real issues facing Western Loudoun and Northern Fauquier Counties and to do so with a compassionate listening ear. Too often, as is the case with Rob’s opponent, politics are inflammatory and bogged down in national partisan squabbles. He sees this office as a real opportunity to address local issues at a state level – to bring our communities together, to lead with empathy, and to get to the bottom of the real issues: preserving our environment, increasing teacher pay and school funding, and protecting a woman’s right to choose. Rob’s district needs a unifying voice, and he believes he can be that voice.
About House District 30:
The newly re-drawn House District 30 includes pieces of 4 previous House of Delegates districts across Western Loudoun and Northern Fauquier Counties. A geographically diverse slice of Northwest Virginia, the district runs from the suburbs and exurbs of Washington, DC to rural, rolling hills and small towns. A district carried by both Senator Tim Kaine (’18) and President Joe Biden (’20), HD-30 swung significantly toward Governor Glenn Youngkin (’21). A competitive swing district, HD-30 will be key to capturing the majority in the House of Delegates.
Who Rob is up against:
Geary Higgins is the Republican nominee and Rob’s opponent for HD-30. A former Loudoun County School Board Member and Board of Supervisors Member, Higgins is a far-right extremist whose number one issue and inspiration to run is to ban a woman’s right to choose. Higgins is an election denier and headlined Stop the Steal rallies in 2020 alongside convicted insurrectionist Stewart Rhodes. Higgins is running on a platform of election denial, banning abortion, and attacking transgender children in schools. He poses a direct threat to our democracy and our kids.
Contact the campaign: Here
House District 83
Meet the candidate: Mary Person
Mary L. Person is a proud native of Emporia, a rural community in Southside Virginia. She has served as an educator in her community for the past 11 years. Mary began her career in education as a teacher of children with autism in Brunswick County. She is now the Principal of E.W. Wyatt Middle School in Emporia. Mary knows firsthand the challenges of public education.Mary’s parents instilled in her a sense of God, Family, and service to the community. As she grew, Mary watched her parents constantly and consistently aiding neighbors, church family and the public at large. Her parents’ constant giving is what compels her today. Mary believes her life’s calling is to serve the public.
Mary received her early education in the Emporia area and graduated from GreensvilleCounty High School. She received her Bachelors and Master’s degrees in education from Virginia Commonwealth University. She is a former member of the Emporia City Council and holds the distinction of being the first black (African American) woman elected as Mayor of Emporia.
Mary’s campaigns centers around the areas of health care, education, economic development, and safe communities. She is concerned about the future of public education, particularly in providing quality teachers in rural underserved districts. Mary believes that health care should be affordable for everyone, regardless of their economic status. Economic opportunities should be available for all citizens. She will work hard to make our communities a safe place to live, work and receive an education.
Mary works well with others. As a teen, she participated in the youth council of the NAACP, where she learned leadership skills developed tenacity, two qualities she utilizes in her career and her community involvement.
About District 83:
District 83 is comprised of the majority of the old 75 th district. It includes the counties of Brunswick, Greensville, Southampton, Isle of Wight, Sussex, and a portion of Dinwiddie. It also includes the city of Emporia. District 83 was previously represented by Democrats but was flipped back to Republican representation in the last election. District 83 needs to be flipped back to Democratic representation and Mary is the person to do it!
Who Mary is up against:
Republican incumbent Otto Wachsmann is a far right, first time politician. He has failed his district miserably, especially in the area of education, health care and economic development. He has supported bills that seek to destroy the right of Virginians rather than enhance them. He has made it very clear that he is not concerned about rural Virginia and their needs. He has refused to introduce bills that would benefit the localities in District 83. We need to make him a one-time, done politician.
Contact the campaign here: Here
House District 47
Meet the candidate: Patrick Hope
Patrick A. Hope is a Member of the Virginia General Assembly as the Delegate from the 47th District of the Commonwealth of Virginia and now running for the 1st District. He was re-elected to his seventh term in 2021. Delegate Hope currently serves as a member of the House Public Safety Committee, the House Health, Welfare and Institutions Committee, and the House Courts of Justice Committee. He is a health care attorney with over 20 years of experience working for Virginia and has been recognized by numerous organizations for his leadership.
Patrick currently serves on several Virginia Commissions, including the Joint Commission on Health Care (2014-current; chair, 2020-21); the Behavioral Health Commission (2017-current); the Virginia Disability Commission (2021-current), and the Substance Abuse Services Council (2020-current).
Patrick was born in San Antonio, Texas. A high school graduate of Castle Hills First Baptist School in San Antonio, Hope received his Bachelor of Arts degree in History from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio (’93), then received his Master of Arts degree in Congressional Studies from The Catholic University in Washington, DC (’96), and then received a Juris Doctorate degree from The Catholic University Columbus School of Law in Washington, DC (’01).
After spending several years working on Capitol Hill for Senator Bob Kerry (D-NE) and Representative Henry B. Gonzalez (D-TX), Patrick worked for various health care organizations working to improve access and care for patients. He currently is the Executive Director of the Medical Imaging & Technology Alliance. He also is an Adjunct Professor at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health and an Adjunct Professor in the Politics Department at Marymount University.
Patrick also has a very strong record of community leadership. Patrick was the founder and first president of the Buckingham Community Civic Association (2003-2009) and chaired the Arlington County Community Services Board (2005-2008). He also was co-chairman, Arlington Implementation Task Force to End Homelessness (2008-2010), and Commissioner for the Arlington County Commission on Aging (2002-2007).
In addition, Patrick belongs to numerous community organizations and causes: Arlington County Bar Association, Arlington Committee of 100, Leadership Arlington (Class of 2010), Arlington Kiwanis, South Arlington Kiwanis, and the Arlington Historical Society.
Patrick lives with his wife Kristen and their three children – Matteo, Patty, and Lilly – in the Buckingham community of Arlington. They have lived in the Buckingham neighborhood since the year 2000.
Contact the campaign: Here
House District 67
Meet the candidate: John Quincy Smith
John was raised in a working-class family in Ohio. He is a Vietnam veteran who used the GI Bill to go to college and graduate school, earning a Ph.D. in history from the Ohio State University. He returned to DoD as a civilian historian with assignments in Europe, Asia, and various locations in the U.S. He began his career at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, and the Commonwealth was home throughout much of his career. John also deployed as a civilian in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and was awarded the Global War On Terrorism Civilian Service Medal. After retiring from the role of Air Force Senior Historian, John and his wife moved to King George County.
As a public historian documenting contemporary military operations, John interviewed commanders, senior leaders, airmen, and soldiers to ensure their perspective became part of the historical record. He is an active listener and intends to listen to the people of his district in order to make their voice heard in the legislative process. A recipient of the 2023 Moms Demand Action Gun Sense Candidate distinction, John is passionate about saving lives through common-sense gun measures. He will also work to ensure funding for quality public education, to defend the voting rights of all, and to protect women’s reproductive rights and access to reproductive health care in the Commonwealth.
About House District 67:
John is running for delegate in the new rural 67th district in the Northern Neck, consisting of the following counties: King George, Westmoreland, Richmond, Northumberland, Lancaster, and part of Caroline County. Although currently profiled as “strong Republican,” this district (formerly the 99th), had a Democratic delegate for most of the period between 2000 and 2012, and John’s goal is to work hard to return that delegate seat to his party.
Who John is up against:
The race is especially challenging, since he faces a Republican contender, Hillary Pugh Kent, and an independent candidate, Richard Kenski. Success will depend on a hard-working, issues-based grassroots campaign.
Contact the campaign: Here
House District 8
Meet the candidate: Irene Shin
Irene Shin is the first Korean-American woman elected to the Virginia General Assembly, currently representing the 86th District in the House of Delegates.
A resident of downtown Herndon, Irene has been involved in public service in Virginia since 2014. Irene currently works as Executive Director of a nonprofit organization that organizes communities to increase civic education and engagement across the Commonwealth.
Previously, Irene has worked with Supervisor John Foust, now-Vice President Kamala Harris, and spent many years in community organizing, as well as supporting a number of nonprofits to recruit and support Black, Indigenous, People of Color, and women to run for office.
Her story is not dissimilar from the stories of the families she represents in Herndon. Irene is a proud daughter of Korean immigrants, attended state college on scholarships, and paid her way through college waiting tables.
About House District 8:
The new 8th District is entirely inside Fairfax County, spanning the Town of Herndon, as well as parts of Chantilly and Fairfax.
Who Irene is up against:
Max Fisher is Delegate Shin’s opponent. He is running on the standard Republican platform, pushing Governor Youngkin’s agenda. We cannot let him win.
Contact the campaign: Here
That’s it for Volume VII of our Flip and Defend-A-District Friday series. We’ll be back next week and every week until Election Day to share more about our great candidates. In the meantime, I encourage you to review this email and future editions to find a candidate or candidates whom you would like to support with your time or financial resources.
Project Blue Dominion is committed to supporting Democratic candidates in every corner of the Commonwealth. Join us. The fight to take back the majority is on.