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Video: At Women’s Summit, Jennifer Lewis, Anthony Flaccavento, Freeda Cathcart, Red...

Great job by everyone speaking out against the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and Mountain Valley Pipeline. Check out the video, below, and more importantly, joint...

Cathcart Latest DFA-Endorsed Candidate

Freeda Cathcart of Roanoke is the latest Democratic candidate for the House of Delegates to be endorsed by Democracy for America, the PAC that grew out of Howard Dean's presidential run in 2004. Earlier this year, Dean announced a multi-year campaign, Purple to Blue, which will focus on electing Democrats to state legislatures and building grassroots support networks for the candidates. DFA has pledged at least $750,000 to support candidates endorsed in Virginia, as well as a "data-driven campaign" working with grassroots activists and investing in direct mail and media.

In a conference call reported earlier on Blue Virginia, Dean explained an expansion of the initial DFA effort in Virginia, stating, "Now that Republicans have put three anti-woman, anti-working family, right-wing candidates at the top of their ticket, now is the time for Democrats to expand the battleground in Virginia. Democracy for America's Purple to Blue Next Wave program will help seize this opportunity and ensure that smart, people-powered progressive campaigns are making Republicans sweat in every corner of the Old Dominion in November."

Purple to Blue starts this year in Virginia. In 2014 the campaign will focus on legislative candidates in Iowa, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. The efforts will return to Virginia in 2015, when voters will elect both delegates and state senators.

Freeda Cathcart is the Democratic candidate running against Chris Head (R-17). Head supported both the TRAP regulation of abortion clinics intended to drive them out of business and the mandatory ultrasound law passed in Virginia. Cathcart was instrumental in the fight to get approval for midwives to practice in the Commonwealth, as well as working with Sen. John Edwards on the bill to make practitioners notify women with dense breast tissue of options to ordinary mammograms which often miss cancer in those women. She is also the founder of Mothers United against Uranium Mining and has worked with a bi-partisan coalition to keep the ban on uranium mining in Virginia.

A recap of other candidates endorsed by DFA 's "Purple to Blue" campaign is below:

Cathcart Makes Run for 17th HD Seat

Freeda Cathcart of Roanoke has announced her candidacy for the 17th House of Delegates seat, currently held by Republican Chris Head of Botetourt County. Redistricting of the 17th made it even more Republican than it had been. It is gerrymandered to such an extent that the map of it resembles some sort of two-headed, humpbacked monster. However, Cathcart, who made her first run for public office as a Democratic candidate in the open-seat 17th in 2011, is ready to give it another strong shot.

Chris Head, who owns and operates a home health care business serving seniors, is a typical, far-right Republican, as shown by his being a co-sponsor of HB 462, the original transvaginal ultrasound bill that passed in the 2012 General Assembly.

Cathcart was public school teacher and then worked for Shenandoah Life Insurance Co., leaving that job to raise her four sons. Cathcart was the founder of Mothers United for Midwifery, the group that successfully lobbied the General Assembly to allow certified midwives to participate in births. This year she was active in the bipartisan coalition that fought to maintain the ban on uranium mining in Virginia.

At the press conference to announce her candidacy, Cathcart said her main issues would be education, which has suffered state cutbacks in funding, a new arbitrary school grading plan, and ever-increasing, unfunded mandates from Richmond that burden localities. Cathcart also promised to fight to make sure that southwest Virginia gets its fair share of transportation money and to assist Sen. John Edwards (D-Roanoke) in his attempt to get Amtrak rail extended to the Roanoke Valley.

Head spent the last General Assembly session accomplishing little, except for a bill benefiting his own business that clarified liability insurance requirements for home health care companies. Several other bad bills of his failed, including one that would have eliminated the requirement that applicants for licenses to operate assisted living centers, day care centers, etc., submit evidence of financial viability to the proper state agency.

Nutter Faces Uphill Battle

Not Larry Sabato has a very good take on the 21st Senate District race, where the GOP had hoped to pick up one of the three Senate seats they need for control. John Edwards, a Democrat who is highly regarded by the independent voters in the district, is facing Del. Dave Nutter (R-Christiansburg).  The district now includes Blacksburg, which may make it a bit more Democratic than it was previously.

The results of the recent Republican primary, where Nutter faced a Tea Party clone named Tripp Godsey, showed just how weak Nutter is in the Roanoke Valley. While Nutter easily won a primary that had an extremely low turnout of less than 3% of registered voters, his numbers in the Roanoke area - John Edwards' base - were dismal. Nutter barely won the Roanoke Valley (52%-48%). Not only that, but Nutter's performance in Roanoke City was beyond pathetic.

The population center of the 21st is the Roanoke area. If Democratic voters turn out in the Roanoke City and County, then Edwards will have a relatively easy victory. Making it even easier for Edwards is the addition of Freeda Cathcart, an experienced grassroots organizer and president of her Roanoke neighborhood civic league, as the Democratic candidate in the 17th House District. That district became open with the retirement of Republican Bill Cleaveland. Every Democratic vote that Cathcart turns out in Roanoke City and Roanoke County helps Edwards hold this district for the Democrats.

I've known John Edwards for many years. He is a man of impeccable integrity and an excellent campaigner. The toughest obstacle for him will be the money that Bob McDonnell and the state GOP will throw into the race. Don't underestimate John Edwards in the money race, though. Plus, he has a secret weapon - his high school government teacher who became a locally famous TV star in one of his previous campaigns when she told people why she always knew Edwards would rise far in life.