Tag: Aneesh Chopra
Had enough of the brain-dead "debate" over government in Washington? Well, Aneesh Chopra -- President Obama's former Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and a 2013 candidate for Virginia Lieutenant Governor -- has some actual new ideas to offer.
In his new book, Innovative State, Chopra paints a picture of government on the model of a sleek, high tech startup, engaging citizens and solving problems by opening access to information and finding innovative new ways to meet our highest goals.
Progressives recognize the need for government to help citizens build and maintain a civilized society. But to be effective, we have to push our governments to keep up with the speed, efficiency and challenges of the Internet Era. As Chopra puts it:
Americans have always understood that government is not some sacred entity with which the people should not tamper. It is a tool. Like other tools, it needs to be revised and upgraded to remain useful.
As he notes, America's founders junked their first attempt at self-government -- the Articles of Confederation -- after only 8 years when it proved inadequate. Why cling to outdated and inadequate government models today?
In the contest for attorney general, I clearly thought from the start that Mark Herring was the stronger candidate. I still believe he is. Justin Fairfax might be a fine candidate under different circumstances, and he has a bright future ahead of him if he continues in politics. (I certainly hope he does.) However, we need to choose the candidate right now who can clearly beat Mark Obenshain and put an end to the reign of right-wing lunacy that began in the attorney general's office with the election of Ken Cuccinelli. That's Mark Herring. He's capable of running a campaign that will win in November.
The race for lieutenant governor took me far longer to decide. Ralph Northam brings a couple of important strengths to the fall ticket. He's from eastern Virginia and can draw votes from that area, as well as having a powerful appeal to women voters tired of the Republican "war on women" in Virginia. Northam is also the "establishment" candidate of the party. His threat to bolt the party years ago evidently has been forgiven and forgotten by the powers that be since it hasn't played much of a role in the primary campaign.
In contrast, Aneesh Chopra has brought fresh, new ideas to the campaign and also would add diversity to a ticket that otherwise would have none. I have been most impressed by Chopra's understanding of how Virginia can use technology, renewable energy, etc., to grow the state's economy and produce well-paying, middle-class jobs. From what I've heard, Chopra has not only held his own in debates with Northam, but he has changed minds and garnered votes from those who were undecided. I guess the thing that finally helped me decide was NLS reporting that in Arlington Northam "actually stood up and said that he was unfamiliar with the issues around Interstate 66 and 'would need to do more homework' on that." That just won't fly in NoVA, where transportation issues are of great importance and I-66 is something every politician seeking votes there should be knowledgeable about. So, Aneesh Chopra will get my vote. His energy and enthusiasm, as well as his appeal to younger voters, will add real strength to the November ticket.
Mark me down for Herring and Chopra.
That said, it's the responsibility of every Virginia Democrat -- every one of whom better be planning to vote in our primary June 11th -- to choose the BEST candidate to beat him, the one who will beat him by the largest margin and thereby send the strongest message against extremism.
I've decided that choice would be Aneesh Chopra.
Just look at what the two men stand for, and it quickly becomes clear that this is in many ways the perfect matchup for Democrats:
- The future (tapping the power of innovation) -- vs. the past (tapping the power of fear and hatred);
- America, land of immigrants -- vs. America, land of xenophobic immigrant-bashers;
- A message of inclusion -- vs. a message of stereotyping and shutting out perceived "outsiders," including gays;
- A future of clean energy-- vs. a retreat into the past out of fear of crazy anti-environmental, anti-science conspiracy theories;
"As the Democratic ticket's developing, it appears to be a Northern Virginia ticket, and so they were suggesting that maybe the ticket needs some geographic balance to it," Bowers said.
I've known David for a long time. He served on Roanoke City Council a couple of terms, was elected mayor for two terms, then lost the office, regaining it eight years later by running as an independent against Nelson Harris, a fellow Democrat. He was re-elected last year as a Democrat. His only foray out of city politics was in 1998 against Bob Goodlatte for the 6th District congressional seat, a race he lost resoundingly, not carrying a single locality.
The party will choose its candidates for state-wide office next year in a primary. My advice to David is very concise: "Don't run. You'll lose" There are good reasons that Democratic tickets aren't likely to have candidates from central or southwest Virginia. First, there are few elected Democrats left from Lynchburg and west to vie for higher office. Plus, the votes in the area can't come close to those from northern Virginia or Hampton Roads, almost guaranteeing that candidates like Bowers will lose in a primary. And, let's not forget rural candidate Creigh Deeds' disastrous run for statewide office.
Right now, the only Democrat seeking the lieutenant governor nomination is Aneesh Chopra, secretary of technology under Tim Kaine and later federal chief technology officer in the Obama administration. Chopra is wisely visiting Roanoke today to meet with Democratic party leaders since he is a complete unknown here.
Perhaps someone else can think of a viable Democratic candidate from the western half of the state. The only name I come up with is Tom Perriello.