From Del. Rip Sullivan’s
Flip and Defend-A-District Friday:
Welcome to the twelfth edition of the 2023 Flip and Defend-A-District Series.
The General Assembly finally passed an amended budget this week. It was a big win for Virginians, thanks to the Democratic budget negotiators who stood firm against the Republicans and insisted on a budget that puts families over big corporations. The budget includes historic investments in public education and mental health, and more money will be put back into the hands of hard working Virginians, including our veterans. Had the Republicans had their way, the tax breaks would have gone to corporations and wealthy Virginians.
The budget drama shined a spotlight on yet another crucial issue in this election: what will our budget priorities be going forward? It is the Democrats who made this happen, and if we don’t hold the Senate and gain back the majority in the House of Delegates the Republicans have shown us what they will do. Vote for the Democrats, like the ones featured in this series, to ensure Virginians’ budget priorities remain focused on improving life for ALL Virginians and their families.
We have tried something new this week: we are featuring candidates running for the Senate in must-win districts. These races are crucial to holding the Senate majority and maintaining that brick wall. I hope you will contribute to these highly competitive races.
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.
Senate District 30
Meet the candidate: Delegate Danica Roem
Virginia state Delegate Danica Roem is a lifelong resident of the Manassas part of Prince William County. She represents her lifelong home of western Prince William County and the City of Manassas Park in her third term as a member of the Virginia General Assembly.
Prior to being elected to the Virginia General Assembly, Danica worked for 10.5 years as a newspaper reporter, authoring more than 2,500 news stories and earning seven Virginia Press Association awards during her more than nine years with the Gainesville Times / Prince William Times from 2006 – 2015.
In 2017, Danica unseated the self-described “chief homophobe” of Virginia to become the first out-and-seated transgender state legislator in American history. Through 2023, 41 of her bills have been signed into law, including 10 to feed hungry kids and three to protect LGBTQ Virginians. She serves on three committees and is a leading voice in the House of Delegates on transportation policy and government transparency. Her vote on May 30, 2018, to expand Medicaid has now provided health care coverage to more than 682,000 Virginians.
In February of 2022, Danica took over as the executive director of Emerge Virginia, where she trains Democratic women to run for office. Her memoir, published April 26, 2022, through Viking Books, is titled “Burn the Page: True Stories of Torching Doubts, Blazing Trails, and Igniting Change.”
Who Delegate Roem is up against:
Danica is also now running to represent the newly drawn 30th District of the Virginia State Senate in 2023. Her opponent, Bill Woolf, is a MAGA extremist who has defended and praised the Trump administration’s policies as a fellow for the America First Policy Institute. He is a self-serving and untrustworthy cop who stole from the taxpayers during his time in the Fairfax County Police Department by “double-dipping.” Woolf has described himself as “pro-life” and is supported by Republicans such as Glenn Youngkin who want to instill a total abortion ban in Virginia. In order to defeat Woolf, we need funds in order to communicate to our voters that Danica has delivered for her constituents for her entire tenure in the General Assembly, and will continue to do that work in the state Senate.
Contact the campaign: Here
Senate District 27
Meet the candidate: Joel Griffin
Joel is a Marine, small business owner, and community advocate. After 20 years of serving his country and opening a number of small businesses, he founded a company dedicated to supporting veteran entrepreneurs. After his oldest daughter passed away from a cardiac event at school, Joel and his wife cofounded Gwyneth’s Gift Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to educating people about CPR and the use of Automated External Defibrillators. He spent countless hours advocating and lobbying the state government to pass Gwyneth’s Law, mandating CPR training in Virginia schools. Now, Joel is running for State Senate to protect reproductive rights, defend our public schools, and maintain a strong regional economy.
About Senate District 27:
District 27 is an open seat and the district was won by Biden, Youngkin, and Abigail Spanberger. It has been rated as one of the four most competitive senate districts in Virginia by VPAP. District 27 includes Fredericksburg, Stafford County, and part of Spotsylvania County.
Who Joel is up against:
Joel is running against Tara Durant, a current Delegate who is unapologetically 100% [anti-choice]. The Governor and national Republicans are funneling money into Tara’s campaign because they know her extreme position on banning abortions is unpopular.
Contact the campaign: Here
Senate District 22
Meet the candidate: Senator Aaron R. Rouse
Senator Rouse currently represents State Senate District 7, which includes parts of the cities of Virginia Beach and Norfolk. Aaron was born and raised in Virginia Beach. He attended First Colonial High School and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Rouse was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the 2007 NFL Draft and also played for the New York Giants and Arizona Cardinals. After retiring from the National Football League, Rouse returned home to Virginia Beach to begin his career in public service. He served as a coach and a mentor before founding Rouse’s House, a nonprofit organization that serves to establish education as the foundation for today’s youth, with a primary goal of exposing youth and families in the community to a broader world of learning. On November 6, 2018, Rouse was elected to the Virginia Council as an at-large member. On January 10, 2023, Rouse was elected to the Virginia State Senate. He enjoys outdoor activities and currently resides in the heart of Virginia Beach with his wife, Virginia Beach Councilwoman Jennifer Valentine-Rouse, and his son and daughter.
Why Senator Rouse is running:
Senator Rouse watched his mom raise four kids as a single mother in Virginia Beach. He saw how she cared for her mother in her final months before his grandmother died of breast cancer at age 49. She worked multiple jobs to keep them afloat. And she did it all with unparalleled strength. He remembers his mother taking his grandfather across the water to the V.A. Hospital in Hampton. His grandfather was a tough man – a U.S. Army veteran. He taught him three things that have stuck with him every day of his life: Keep God first, Work for everything that you want, and Your word is your bond. We are at a pivotal point in Virginia Beach and our Commonwealth, and now more than ever, leadership matters. He is running for re-election to the State Senate because he understands the challenges families across Virginia Beach are facing and seeks to bring a new generation of leadership to the State Senate. Whether it’s continuing our efforts to amplify a woman’s right to choose by fighting for access to contraceptive and abortion care or ensuring that every child has access to the highest quality public education, so much is at stake and it’s critical we keep our Democratic majority in the State Senate.
About Senate District 22:
Senator Rouse is running in the newly formed Senate District 22. This new district makes up about 70% of the old District 7 that Senator Rouse currently represents and won in the special election. It encompasses the eastern part of the city of Virginia Beach, which is always a battleground for Democrats in our area. It includes three House districts (95, 96, and 97) in the Senate District.
Why Senator Rouse must win:
Senator Rouse set the stage for the 2023 election year with his win in the special election in January of this year. This seat is critical to keeping our majority in the Virginia Senate.
Who Senator Rouse is up against:
Kevin Adams is running again against Senator Rouse, after losing in the special election. Kevin is a danger to Virginians’ health and rights. With Governor Youngkin pursuing an abortion ban, we cannot afford to have Kevin Adams, who said he would support this ban, in the Senate. Kevin Adams’ dangerous views are wildly out of touch with what the vast majority of Virginians want: the ability to make their own medical decisions without political interference. Additionally, Kevin Adams supports efforts to take money from our public schools and send it to private schools at a time when our public schools need more support.
Contact the campaign: Here
Senate District 16
Meet the candidate: Delegate Schuyler VanValkenburg
Schuyler VanValkenburg is a father, teacher, Delegate, and candidate for State Senate. As a History and US Government teacher at Glen Allen High, he teaches his students about the importance of understanding our nation’s history and using that knowledge to strengthen our communities.
In 2017, he wanted to further his career of public service: so he ran for Delegate to serve Virginia and Henrico County. Now, after six years in the House, he’s ready to take his service to the State Senate’s 16th District.
Schuyler’s career in the classroom and his experiences as a father of three gave him a firsthand look at the issues facing everyday families in his district. As the foremost education expert in the House of Delegates, Schuyler has worked tirelessly to ensure that Virginia remains a leader in public education. He also is proud of his work to pass common-sense gun safety legislation, protect a woman’s reproductive freedom, expand access to affordable, high-quality healthcare, and increase access to the ballot box.
In the Senate, he is ready to continue to advocate for meaningful investments to improve our public schools, introduce legislation that will attack the gun violence epidemic in our communities head-on, and work harder than ever to open economic opportunities for all Virginians.
About Senate District 16:
SD-16 is a newly formed district outside of the city of Richmond in western Henrico County. Redistricting made SD-16 slightly more favorable to Democrats with the removal of Hanover County, making this seat the top-flip opportunity in the General Assembly. The current Republican Senator is the most vulnerable incumbent in the Senate caucus, and her re-election will be a top priority of Governor Youngkin and the Virginia GOP. Out of 40 seats, this is the 20th most Democratic-leaning, making it a must-win seat to keep a Democratic majority in the 2023 general election.
Who Schuyler is up against:
Schuyler is running against an anti-choice OB/GYN who will be the deciding vote on future laws surrounding abortion access. Virginia is the last southern state that has not imposed a new abortion ban since the Dobbs decision, making this seat vital in the fight for reproductive freedom.
Contact the campaign: Here
That’s it for Volume XII 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.