Home 2023 Elections Audio: SD31 Dem Nominee Russet Perry Talks to Molly Jong-Fast, Explains What’s...

Audio: SD31 Dem Nominee Russet Perry Talks to Molly Jong-Fast, Explains What’s at Stake in Her Crucial, “Tipping-Point” Race to Keep Virginia From “Becom[ing] the Next Florida”

"If [Youngkin's] able to flip the Senate and keep the House of Delegates red, then there is no more blockade to these extremist bills that I previously referenced."


If there’s one key, “tipping-point” race for control of the VA Senate, it’s arguably the one in SD31 (mostly Loudoun County), between superb Democrat Russet Perry and godawful, right-wing/MAGA-talking-points-spewing Republican Juan Pablo Segura.  (Note: two other key races for VA Senate control are SD24 – go Monty Mason!; SD16, where Schuyler VanValkenburg is favored over incumbent Republican Sen. Siobhan Dunnavant. Also, we need to lock down SD30 – go Danica Roem!; and hopefully also win SD17 and SD27 – Clint Jenkins and Joel Griffin, respecfully – for some cushion)  SD31 went for Joe Biden by 13.3 percentage points in 2020, so you’d think that Democrats would be in great shape there, but in 2021, Glenn Youngkin narrowly (by 0.6 percentage points) won the district, plus Segura’s father’s a billionaire who’s poured a lot of money into trying to elect his “nepobaby,” which means that this isn’t a slam-dunk by any means. But it’s CRUCIAL that we win it, so if you can help Russet Perry with a contribution, please do so today!

With that background, see below for audio of an excellent, informative interview Russet Perry just did with Molly Jong-Fast (it starts about 39 minutes in). Also, check out the partial transcript, below the audio.

Molly Jong-Fast: “Tell us a little bit about your race – when it is, what it is, etc.

Russet Perry: “Yeah. So I’m running for State Senate in Virginia. My race is the most competitive race this year in Virginia and probably in the entire country. It is coming up; early voting starts September 22nd, and the actual election day is November 7th. But the reason my race is so important is because of the way that Virginia is currently divided. We have a Republican governor, a House of Delegates that is Republican held, and a Senate that is narrowly held by Democrats. My seat is the tipping-point seat for whether or not Democrats are able to hold the Senate this fall here in Virginia. What that means, sort of the top priority is abortion and abortion rights and abortion access and abortion freedom like we’ve seen across the country in other states and on other ballots. My race is the race that will likely be the deciding vote for what happens with abortion here in Virginia this year.”

Molly Jong-Fast: “This is sort of the big election before 2024, this Virginia State House race. Will you explain to our listeners. Virginia has a House of Delegates and it has a State Senate.”

Russet Perry: “That’s right.”

Molly Jong-Fast: “The entire thing everybody is up this year.”

Ruset Perry: “Yeah, that’s exactly right, every single race is on the ballot.”

Molly Jong-Fast: “We saw right after Trump got elected, Democrats were able to flip both the House of Delegates and the State Senate. Since then, Virginia has sort of lost Democratic focus and Republicans were able to win back the House of Delegates.”

Russet Perry: “Yes, and that came with the wave of Governor Youngkin who we saw national news come out with this parent’s right sort of thing that happened primarily in my district here in Loudoun County, Virginia.”

Molly Jong-Fast: “And then we were subjected to cycles and cycles about how what a genius Youngkin was because he wore a red vest and didn’t advertise himself to be a total fascist, unlike a lot of other Republican governors. Explained to us what his gubernatorial record has been like, because I think some of us in the national press got the idea that because he was treated as a moderate, he was governing as a moderate. I don’t think that’s really accurate.”

Russet Perry: “Yeah, I don’t think that’s accurate either, But that is the press that he’s been able to get. But that is in large part due to the fact of what we call the blue brick wall in the Senate right. So whatever Younkin’s agenda is, it has been routinely stopped by Virginia State Senators.”

Molly Jong-Fast: “Can you say more about that. Give me an example of something he tried to pass that you were able to stop.”

Russet Perry: “Yeah, there’s a whole slew of bills, right, that he’s put forward that are these more extremist type bills that we have seen from these MAGA republicans, right, that have only been stopped in the Senate. And those include things like wanting to be able to access menstrual data from women through search warrants, which is used of course in criminal prosecution; wanting to outright ban abortion altogether. You know, we’ve just seen bill after bill after bill that has been these extremist MAGA-like positions.”

Molly Jong-Fast: “So Youngkin is not up now.”

Russet Perry: “Youngkin is not up for election this year. That’s exactly right. There has been national press over the issue, and Youngkin himself has said that his focus right now is on trying to flip the Senate and making sure that he has that Republican trifecta, the Republican governorship, the Republican House of Delegates, and a Republican Senate, with the goal of being able to enact the agenda that he has been wanting to enact and using that as a launch pad to run for president.”

Molly Jong-Fast: “So if he is able to do that, tell us what it will look like if Youngkin is able to flip the House of Delegates read and keep the Senate.”

Russet Perry: “Yeah, if he’s able to flip the Senate and keep the House of Delegates red, then there is no more blockade to these extremist bills that I previously referenced. There is no stopping it. And we’ve seen nothing from Republicans on wanting to limit or tamp down or stand up to any of those sort of extremist agendas. There have already been numerous people out here, Republicans running for office, who have talked about, you know, wanting to be an abortion altogether. And you know, if you think about it, it makes sense if Youngkin wants to run for president, he still has the issue of trying to win over all of those MAGA supporters and pulling them from Trump. There’s one way to do that, and that’s by running on a MAGA agenda. We expect that those bills and those things that haven’t put forward that have been stopped by the Senate would then proceed forward and that Virginia would become the next Florida.”

Molly Jong-Fast: “That would mean abortion access. What else would that mean?”

Russet Perry: “Yeah, I mean abortion access is huge because Virginia is the last state in the South that does not yet have a ban on abortions, and so we have seen an uptick across the state in folks who are coming here from states in the South relying on Virginia for their access to abortions. So it would mean that, and we’ve seen what that means for women who are suffering miscarriages, doctors fleeing the state, women being sent out to their car to bleed out. It also will mean Democrats made great strides in extending ability to vote through early voting, through no-fault absentee voting. So we would…expect to see a rollback on all of those things, which then, of course could have further impacts on the presidential election next year when people are unable to get to the ballot box and to vote. We expect to also see environmental impacts. Governor Youngkin has already tried…to pull Virginia out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. That was something put in place by Democrats whenever they had control to reduce carbon emissions here in Virginia. And so we expect that we will see it in a number of things. Certainly, book banning has been big here in Virginia. And of course, in the schools, we expect that we will see funding diverted away from public schools through vouchers. You know, we’ve seeing a rewriting of history here in Virginia and a rollback of what kids learn in school.”

Molly Jong-Fast: “If Youngkin is able to flip both the House of Delegates and keep the Senate, will he be able to turn Virginia into Florida?”

Russet Perry: “I think if he is able to flip the Senate and keep the House of Delegates, yeah, there won’t be anything left to stop him from turning Virginia into Florida. Democrats won a special election in January of this year that gives us one cushion seat. But because of redistricting, I should have mentioned that, all of the seats here in Virginia were redistricted, and this is the first year after redistricting, and so really all of this comes down to what happens in my race in this seat this year, what direction Virginia ends up taking. And Virginia is always a bellwether state.”

Molly Jong-Fast: “if Democrats don’t win, we’ll be subjected to some of the worst punditry known to man….Sorry, But also, you guys will lose all your rights, so that’s also bad. But more importantly for us on the national level. No, I’m just kidding. No, there’s nothing funny about losing all your rights. And it really is scary that Virginia, which is very much a purple state, could become Florida, which is very much now a complete kleptocracy. Talk to us about your opponent.”

Russet Perry: “Yeah, so my opponent moved into the district to run for this race. He is the son of a billionaire. He has no ties to this district and moved in here at the end of last year, right before the deadline to move in – one week, he closed on his house one week before the deadline.”

Molly Jong-Fast: “Amazing, at least he bought a house. I mean, not to be flippant. But we’ve seen Republicans run with less – I’m looking at you, Josh Hawley. But yes, continue.”

Russet Perry: “Well, I will say he has a little bit of a cash advantage; he’s the son of a billionaire…he bought a house here to run for the seat. He is very much pursuing the Youngkin model when Youngkin ran in 2021. Almost from day one – he bought house here. I guess I shouldn’t say, I don’t know where he stays at night – and immediately sued the school board and has been seen on parents’ rights parents’ rights much like Youngkin has, even though he doesn’t have any children in Loudoun County public schools.”

Molly Jong-Fast: “So your opponent is suing the schools despite the fact that he does not have children in the schools?”

Ruset Perry: “That’s exactly right, first order of business, that’s exactly what he did.”

Molly Jong- Fast: “Incredible stuff. Explain to me this ‘Parents Rights’ thing. Because…it seems to me as if Republicans saw that parents were upset about COVID, wanted to run on that, then COVID unfortunately for [Republicans], COVID restrictions ended, so they had to find something else to fill in this idea of parents’ rights, and they picked books.”

Russet Perry: “Yeah, I think that’s roughly accurate. It’s interesting. There’s been a lot of writing here lately about where this idea of ‘parents rights’, where it came from, and it actually came out of a very conservative evangelical movement that was originally intended to try to, you know, put forward this Christian agenda and to get funding out of public schools so that kids could be you know, get money at homeschool or in schools. You know, Republicans have been able to successfully use it with the COVID mandates, and of course like, with books and education and what’s being taught, and of course the parents matter. I am a parent. I’m a parent to two children who actually attend Loudoun County public schools and have for their life. My father was a public school teacher, my mother was as well. Parents matter, of course they do. I don’t think anyone thinks parents don’t matter. The question is in education, really you’re looking at a multileg stool. Parents matter, kids matter, teachers matter. To sort of use this to sort of come in here and stir the pot when you don’t live here, and then sort of walk back after you’ve thrown that grenade in, I think it is disingenuous at best. And our kids are depending on us, as the adults in the room, to do everything we can to make sure they get the best education and that they are protected at school. And I think that should be the focus. And it seems instead that we just are seeing politics injected here into Loudoun County Public schools in particular…”

Molly Jong-Fast: “Why do you think your district is such a hotbed here.”

Russet Perry: “I think part of it is Loudoun is because it’s a purple district. I think part of it is Loudoun is a suburb…and we have a lot of educated parents who, of course, much like myself, care very deeply about their children. I think that what has happened here is a little bit politics of fear. Of course, parents want the best for their kids. I want the best for my kids, and I want them to have the best education. And so coming in and talking about and saying things that aren’t true… I think they’ve been able to spin that in a way to make parents afraid of what’s happening. And you know, there have been other mistakes that have been made right by a variety of entities. It’s not totally unwarranted. But I think what’s happening here is just continuing to start the pot as opposed to sitting down and having actual conversations about where mistakes were made, where things could be done better, and seeking to correct them, as opposed to sort of what’s happening here, you know, which is just causing teachers to leave. You know, they’re getting treated terribly and just a variety of other things, as opposed to actually sitting down and trying to solve the problems.”

Molly Jong-Fast: “Okay, so early voting starts on September twenty second. If you’re listening to this podcast, what do you need?”

Russet Perry: “The biggest thing I need right now is money. I’m running against the son of a billionaire and the force of the Virginia governor…My opponent is heavily backed by Governor Youngkin, he is here in the district campaigning for him. Going back to the more extremist stuff, my opponent has given a lot of money to some of the abortion extremists that we have seen, who say abortion is similar to the Holocaust and other just really egregious statements, and has donated to Rick Santorum, who doesn’t believe in contraception. But what I need is money to make sure that voters are informed – this is an off-off year election, no governor’s race, no presidential race – to get people out to the ballot box to vote, and make sure they know exactly what’s on the line, to make sure that they know that this is not some sort of a moderate play at something, that they look at the actions of what people are doing and are aware of them. And so the DC media market is incredibly expensive. We’re up on TV right now. We have been since Thursday with an ad. I’m a former prosecutor. I started out in domestic violence and sex crimes and was a prosecutor for about ten years here in this district and also served over the Central Intelligence Agency for several years. And it is just about making sure we can get our message out, making sure we have people hitting the doors, and we have money to stay up on television and send mailers and get up on digital ads as well.”

Molly Jong-Fast: “Thank you so much for coming on this podcast. This is one of these races. That is going to be incredibly important and meaningful. It could end up being a question of whether or not women in Virginia are able to get the medical care they need. And that’s incredible stuff.”

Russet Perry: “Yeah, not just here, but there are women across the South who are who are depending on us as well.”



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