Virginia’s Election Day 2021 is four months away, but partisans’ intensity and enthusiasm is building.
That was plain in the Culpeper area this past weekend as Democrats gathered to hear from elected leaders and candidates during a three-county fundraiser for Annette Hyde, who is challenging Del. Nick Freitas, R-Culpeper, for his 30th District seat.
Valerie Smallwood, president of the Lake of the Woods Democrats, welcomed the 80-plus attendees inside the gated subdivision’s Community Center.
“We are united by our shared vision of a country that values all people, not just the rich and powerful, a vision based on science and facts,” Smallwood said. “The energy we are creating today will help us achieve our goal of turning the 30th District blue.”
U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger, who represents Central Virginia’s 7th Congressional District, acknowledged that Hyde will face an uphill climb—just as Spanberger did in 2018 when she became the 7th’s first Democrat legislator since 1968.
“It’s a hard district. So what? If people get out and vote for the things that matter, vote for someone who wants to govern, who knows she doesn’t know everything but is going to work hard every single day to learn about the issues, she can win,” Spanberger said. “... I know she can get there with your help.”
“Our communities need and deserve far more. They need someone who is going to work hard,” the two-term lawmaker said. “... Someone who will stand up for people who have needs, stand up for people who are fighting the challenges and demons that sometime plague individuals and bring hurt to families, someone who is going to ensure health care is available to everyone, someone who believes that tomorrow should be better than today, and the day after should be better than tomorrow. That’s Annette Hyde.
“Make sure all your friends know that voting isn’t just in November. Voting starts in September,” Spanberger added. “... Knock on doors. Ensure they know how to vote early. Get people to the polls, because our democracy demands that we have people who believe in it at the helm, at the state level and at the federal level.”
Hyde followed Spanberger with brief remarks summarizing why she’s running.
“I’m not in this for a career,” she said. “I’m in this to make the lives of the people of the 30th District better.”
Many major issues are at stake in this fall’s state races, Hyde said. Among them are Medicaid expansion, public school funding, improving broadband internet access, voting rights, protecting LGBT families and friends, the clean gun-safety legislation, ending capital punishment, and a person’s right to make decisions about their body, she said.
“One of the major reasons I’m running again is that I believe I can win,” Hyde said. “The demographics in House District 30 are trending blue, especially in Culpeper County. This seat is flippable.”
During the 2020-21 pandemic year, Hyde said she has volunteered with the Virginia Medical Reserve Corps;, distributed food to needy families with Empowering Culpeper;, raised more than $1,000 for the Madison Free Clinic, then her home county’s only primary-care provider; and joined the Virginia Career Works board.
“My opponent has shown no interest in anything but his radical-right podcast and absurd social-media comedy show on Instagram and TikTok,” she said. “During the 2021 session, none of his bills came out of committee. The worst ones he sponsored were defunding public schools, again, and repealing Virginia’s Clean Energy Act.
“How can we remove Nick Freitas from the House of Delegates? Three words—turnout, turnout, turnout,” Hyde continued. “... We need not only Democrats to turn out. We need independents and recovering Republicans to turn out; and they’re out there. We need people with young families to turn out. We need our youth to turn out.”
Attorney General Mark Herring thanked area Democrats for supporting him for many years, and expressed enthusiasm about being on the 2021 ticket with former Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Hala Ayala, the party’s nominee for lieutenant governor.
He described the excitement he felt Friday night attending a Northern Virginia event at which President Joe Biden endorsed McAuliffe.
“I feel like the energy is starting to build with this ticket,” Herring said. “... A key will be winning in the 30th District. ... We have to do everything we can to get behind her and make sure she wins.”
The attorney general called Hyde “a far superior alternative” to Freitas.
“I know that with your hard work, your energy and your support, Annette Hyde is going to win, we will grow our numbers in the House of Delegates, and we will sweep the statewide offices,” he said.
“It’s very clear that there will be a stark contrast, not only in my race but up and down the ticket. In my race, voters will have a very clear choice between my proven record of protecting Virginians and keeping them safe, defending their health care and fighting for equality, compared to my opponent, who is anti-health care, anti-LGBTQ, anti-choice, pro-NRA, a Cuccinelli-style conservative.”
Appearing via pre-recorded video, McAuliffe, House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn and state Del. Joshua Cole, D-Stafford, all endorsed Hyde and urged Democrats to help her win.
“Having Annette with us in the House would be indispensable to the caucus and to the commonwealth as a whole,” Filler-Corn said. “... We need her in the legislature to aid our cause and the commonwealth as a whole.”
Filler-Corn, the first woman to be House speaker in the state’s history, said Virginia Democrats “have been able to focus on what is most important to helping the most vulnerable among us. We have set the commonwealth on the path to even more success.”
The General Assembly has provided paid sick leave for health-care workers, and invested $200 million in distributing COID-19 vaccines as quickly as possible, $36 million in “G3” job training via community colleges, and millions more to combat opioid addiction, she said.
“If we lose the House this year, there will be a tremendous effort to roll back the historic changes we have accomplished together,” Filler-Corn said. “We need to increase our majority; I know we can do it.”