The Democratic Primary that will select the candidates for Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General for the November general election is the day after tomorrow.
The broad field of those vying for these positions, includes five for governor (according to Balltopedia, “Three candidates—Jennifer Carroll Foy, Terry McAuliffe, and Jennifer McClellan—are leading in fundraising and noteworthy endorsements.” Lee Carter and Justin Fairfax are also running).
Six candidates are running in the Lieutenant Governor’s race (Hala Ayala, Mark Levine, Andria McClellan, Sean Perryman, Sam Rasoul, and Xavier Warren), and two for Attorney General (incumbent, Mark Herring, and challenger Jay Jones).
Democrats conducted no smoky backroom deals. These are genuine contenders from all over the commonwealth who offer a broad spectrum of personal and professional experiences and qualifications.
They all have websites and Facebook pages—check them out. You can also find them at www.culpeperdemocrats.org. There you can also listen to recordings of the three Central Virginia Town Halls that were held in April.
These Democratic candidates present themselves as people who recognize problems or inequities and offer paths to solutions. As Mary Washington University professor Steven Farnsworth said recently, “There is a great willingness on the Democratic side to look for more electable candidates rather than an ideological soulmate.”
What is remarkable about this week’s Democratic primary and November’s election is that both take place against the backdrop of regressive Republican initiatives in over 30 states to throw up roadblocks to the citizens’ rights to vote. The Texas legislation is the most egregious, but Georgia and Arizona are not far behind.
The Texas measures included a raft of hurdles to casting ballots by mail. The measure would ban drop boxes and drive-through voting, which were popular during the pandemic. The bill makes it easier to overturn an election by no longer requiring evidence that fraud actually that altered an outcome—the accusation is sufficient.
As the New York Times reports, “...alone among the states of the former Confederacy, Virginia has become a voting rights bastion, increasingly encouraging its citizens—especially people of color—to exercise their democratic rights. In the last 14 months, the state’s Democratic-controlled General Assembly repealed the Republican instituted photo ID requirement and enacted 45 days of no-excuse absentee voting. Virginia can look forward to Election Day being a state holiday and voter registration facilitated through DMV.”
It appears to me that Republicans would undo all this if they could. For instance, in last month’s tightly controlled Republican convention, only 98 Republican votes were allowed to be cast by selected delegates from Culpeper. In the 2020 Democratic presidential primary 2,864 votes were cast by all voters in Culpeper.
Where Republicans only allowed a few through the door, Democrats throw the doors open, because they know Democracy means a government, of the people, by the people, and for the people.
Turnout in Tuesday’s primary will be closely watched in Culpeper for trends. We have all heard the refrain, “I didn’t know there were Democrats in Culpeper.” In last November’s election U.S. Rep. Spanberger (D-7th) drew 10,714 votes in Culpeper County. To show that Democratic voters are here to stay, those voters need to show up on June 8.
Citizens should stand firm in their commitment to preserve our representative democracy. The greatest heroes in the battle to maintain our democratic heritage are the people who vote.
As President Biden said in his Memorial Day address, we honor our fallen “by sustaining the best of America, while honestly confronting all that we must do to make our nation fuller, freer and more just. For in remembrance lies not just our history, but our hope.”
If you haven’t voted already, do so on Tuesday.
David Reuther, a retired U.S. Foreign Service officer, is a past chair of the Culpeper Democratic Committee. These are his personal observations.