(Cross-posted at my Substack, Saving the Future – Kindler)
In the Virginia election culminating November 7th, it’s essential for Democrats to hold onto a two-seat Senate majority – the check on Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s power that has prevented him from becoming the next Ron DeSantis. If there is one swing seat that is truly essential to hold, it is that of Senator Monty Mason, in Senate District 24 (SD-24).
This Hampton Roads district (comprising mainly Newport News and York County) has been trending Democratic for years – but is one of those that tilted to Youngkin for governor in the 2021 election, by 3.4 points – and then swung back to the Dems in 2022 elections by 1 point. So, it’s a swinger that we better keep a grip on.
Luckily, Monty Mason is a likeable and admirable guy – one of the most productive members of the State Senate, with over 90 bills passed in his 7 years in office. This cute ad does a nice job of showing what he’s all about.
If anything, Mason might be accused of nerdiness – but only in the dogged defense of doing what’s best for his constituents and Commonwealth.
Swing district or not, he has not shied away from standing up for Democratic values, including:
- Environment: With a 97% score from the Virginia League of Conservation Voters and endorsements from the Sierra Club and Climate Cabinet, his achievements include having sponsored “legislation that expanded the state’s offshore wind industry, introduced biodegradable rings for crab pots to protect the Bay, identified conservation sites, implemented coastal resiliency measures. Additionally, he sponsored Virginia’s Fleet Optimization bill…pushing the state’s fleet managers to replace their fleet over time with electric vehicles.”
- Women’s health: Endorsed by Roe Your Vote and REPRO Rising, about which he tweeted “Thank you @REPRORising_VA for your support of my campaign! If the razor thin margins tip in Republicans’ favor, it will be open season on reproductive rights—and I’m fighting in SD-24 to make sure that doesn’t happen. Let’s elect pro-choice champions up and down the ballot!”
- Gun safety: Supported by Moms Demand Action, Giffords PAC and Brady PAC, he made this ad to emphasize his commitment to commonsense gun safety solutions like better background checks and gun storage requirements.
- LGBTQ rights: Endorsed by Equality Virginia, Sen. Mason tweeted: “I will continue fighting to protect the civil rights of all Virginians, regardless of who they love #HateWontWin”
- Schools: He has shredded Gov. Youngkin’s phony “parents’ rights” agenda, which is actually about overruling the majority of Virginia parents who want schools to focus on educating their children, in favor of MAGA malcontents whose priorities are attacking teachers & banning books.
- In this thread, he approvingly quotes a Richmond Times-Dispatch op-ed along those lines, with statements like “We can do better than the politics of division that benefits ambitious office-seekers but detracts from families and schools working together to meet the needs of students” and “there isn’t much precedent for how the relationship between schools and families is being exploited for political advantage.” To which Sen. Mason adds, in his own words, “Stop the culture wars and let’s work together to make our schools better!”
Monty Mason, in short, is an elected official that Democrats can be proud to support.
And as for his challenger, local sheriff Danny Diggs? His website alternates between right-wing dog whistles (“I oppose efforts to criminalize law abiding gun owners”) and statements too vague to tell voters anything (like “We need commonsense, conservative reforms to cut health care costs”). That said, he is quite clear about the fact that he supports Youngkin’s proposal to ban and criminalize abortion after 15 weeks.
In an area of the country suffering some of the worst flooding and sea level rise, he not only refuses to mention the climate crisis but even weirdly avoids the word “environment”, instead headlining his section on flooding issues “Protecting Our Landscape”!
Not surprisingly, considering his decades working as a law enforcement officer, he expresses the most passion in his section “Backing the Blue”, e.g., stating: “People across the commonwealth are dealing with the consequences of politicians in Richmond who don’t respect and support law enforcement.” Now, speaking on my own account, let me be clear: I do respect and support all the good, honest police officers out there who do their jobs and work collaboratively with the communities they protect.
But the clear message of Diggs’ statements on these matters is that he is offended by efforts to hold law enforcement officers accountable for their actions. He says nothing about the need for better training or procedures to avoid abuses. Rather, his statements on the matter are all strictly one-sided.
Simply put, the choice for Senator in Virginia’s 24th District is an easy one. But in such an unpredictable swing district, Democrats will need to pound the pavement, burn up the phone lines and stampede to the voting booths to make sure that Democrats retain the hard-working public servant that his constituents deserve – and that Virginia Republicans are not suddenly empowered to go on the kind of rampage we’ve seen them undertake in every state where they feel free to do so.