Accomack County & Northampton County Democratic Committees
The April ACDC meeting was lightly attended but spirited. We had the opportunity to meet James Rich who is running for the District 5 Accomack County Board of Supervisors seat in November. Mr. Rich is an Eastern Shore native and seeks to represent the best interests of his district.
Reneta Major, current BOS Vice-Chair from District 9, updated us on the lastest news from the supervisors meeting and gave us some very interesting insights.
The regular May ACDC Meeting will be at 6 pm on May 1st at the Eastern Shore Chamber of Commerce Building, 19056 Parkway Road, Melfa, VA 23410. Click here for map to meeting address. The committee normally meets on the First Wednesday of each Month @ 6 pm. Check out the ACDC website and the Facebook Page.
Join your friends and neighbors at one of these intimate meet-and-greet sessions. You can expect an up-close and personal discussion with Phil Hernandez, our next Delegate in VA-100. Here is a schedule of Phil's appearances. If you would like to attend, please contact Lisa LaMontagne at firstname.lastname@example.org to register and for information about exact locations and times. Attendence will be limited so make your plans early!
NextGen, a national progressive organization that works on voter outreach and registration, said in an analysis of the recently released voter file it registered more than 20,000 young voters last year on 25 college campuses. NextGen’s efforts in 2017 prompted a change to state law in 2018 to protect college students’ contact information.
“It speaks a lot to what happened across the country,” said Carter Black, state director for NextGen Virginia. “Young people are really fired up and participating in elections in a way they really haven’t before.”
The national organization is funded by billionaire Tom Steyer and is not shy about turning out voters in support of Democratic candidates. Young and minority voters are key to that, NextGen said in its report, so the group also focused its efforts at historically black campuses in the state and community colleges with large minority populations.
At Hampton University, 64 percent of students registered by NextGen turned out to vote in the tight race between Democrat Elaine Luria, Republican Scott Taylor and independent Shaun Brown.
At Virginia Union University, 46 percent of people registered by NextGen showed up in the less competitive race between Democratic incumbent Donald McEachin, Republican challenger Ryan Adams and independent Pete Wells.
Black said the organization plans to continue its work in 2019 and has a goal of registering 12,000 young voters before General Assembly elections in November.
On April 12th Congresswoman Elaine Luria (VA-02) marked 100 days in Congress, highlighting nearly 3 ½ months of outstanding constituent service to Virginians, prolific outreach in the Hampton Roads region, and significant legislative action. “I’m proud of what we’ve already achieved in the first 100 days and we’re just getting started,” Congresswoman Luria said. “From introducing legislation to protect and preserve the Chesapeake Bay to ensuring our veterans get the benefits they’ve earned, I’m working hard to deliver results for the Virginians I have the honor of representing in Washington.”
In 100 days, Congresswoman Luria and her staff have hosted or attended 416 meetings with Virginians, recovered $128,201 for constituents, and sent 4,100 response letters to Virginians on legislative issues. (Please see below for a by-the-numbers guide to Congresswoman Luria’s first 100 days in office.)
On the legislative front, Congresswoman Luria has introduced five bills, including legislation to help veterans, fund efforts to clean the Chesapeake Bay, and bring financial relief to federal employees in the event of a government shutdown. She has cosponsored 88 bills – 70 percent of which are bipartisan – such as legislation to prohibit offshore drilling on the Mid-Atlantic Coastline, improve military housing, strengthen civil rights laws, and pay Coast Guard members during a shutdown.
On multiple occasions, Congresswoman Luria has pushed House Democrats to work across the aisle. For example, she led a letter signed by 29 of her colleagues urging Speaker Nancy Pelosi to engage with Republicans and end the government shutdown.
A 20-year Navy veteran who retired at the rank of Commander, Congresswoman Luria has proven to be an active member of the House Armed Services Committee and House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, assuming leadership roles on both panels.
In congressional hearings, she has challenged top officials on a range of topics, including the proposed and premature decommissioning of the USS Harry S. Truman, veterans’ benefits, and long-range strategic planning in the military.
In her first 100 days in office, Congresswoman Luria helped the House of Representatives pass the following legislation:
H.R. 1 – For The People Act
H.R. 7 – Paycheck Fairness Act
H.R. 8 – Bipartisan Background Checks Act
H.R. 676 – NATO Support Act
H.R. 840 – Veterans Access to Child Care Act
H.R. 1585 – Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act
H.R. 1644 – Save The Internet Act
Congresswoman Elaine Luria represents Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District. She serves on the House Armed Services Committee, where she is the Vice Chair of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, and the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, where she serves as Chair of the Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs Subcommittee.
While the General Assembly adjourned Sine Die in February, we returned to Richmond last week as we do every April for Veto Session. During this Session, the Senate and the House vote on any legislative Amendments handed down from the Governor and to uphold or override vetoes. We also take action on any Amendments to the Budget the Governor has offered in the interim.
There was little fanfare around the Governor’s seventeen vetoes and all of them were upheld. However, we remained in Session until late in the evening handling Amendments to Bills and to the Budget. Many of these carried significant policy implications across the Commonwealth: a landmark transportation funding deal to fix I-81, hands-free driving legislation to make our roads less dangerous, the restoration of Census funding and a bipartisan effort to end the practice of suspending drivers licenses for unpaid fines.
Ending the practice of suspending drivers licenses for unpaid court fines has been a bipartisan legislative priority for several years. This is not an attempt to undermine the rule of law; on the contrary, it is a response to what has proven to be a largely ineffective policy with far-reaching economic consequences. It amounts to criminalizing poverty. Individuals who can’t afford to pay their fines are faced with the choice of driving on a suspended license or losing their job. Without a job, the likelihood of their court debt being paid is low. This is especially problematic in areas without major systems of public transportation – mostly rural areas throughout the Commonwealth. Legislation to reform this practice usually passes the Senate on a strong bipartisan vote only to meet a quiet death in a 7AM House Subcommittee. This Session was no different, as Senator Bill Stanley’s (R – Franklin) Bill easily passed the Senate Floor and was killed in a House Subcommittee. The Governor sent down a Budget Amendment this Veto Session in line with the legislation’s intent. It passed easily in both Chambers with bipartisan support – including in the House, where it passed 70-29 despite never making it out of Subcommittee during Session. Now, 627,000 Virginians will have their licenses restored, along with their ability to drive to work and pay their fines. Moving forward, we will have to maintain this line item in the Budget each year or pass legislation that reforms the code.
This progress was accompanied by approved additional funding for affordable housing and a transportation funding deal that will send millions to interstates across the Commonwealth while also making critical improvements to I-81 and freeing up over $930 million in state dollars for other priority Smart Scale projects throughout Virginia. Unfortunately, however, we were not able to restore the $1.5 million in Census Complete Count funding that was removed from the Governor’s proposed Budget during Budget negotiations in February. This came as a surprise to many of us in the Senate, as the House passed the Governor’s Budget Amendment. So much hinges on an accurate Census count – including the allocation of federal and state dollars for public education – that it was unexpected for the Amendment to fail on a party-line vote in the Senate. Rural and urban areas are disproportionately affected by an incomplete Census count. This is further complicated by the fact that these are also the most challenging areas to count accurately. I will continue to work with my colleagues in Richmond to ensure that the Eastern Shore has the resources we need to ensure a complete 2020 Census count.
We adjourned Sine Die late Wednesday evening and now we move into the 2019 campaign season, as all 140 seats in the Senate and the House of Delegates are on the Ballot in November. Primary elections are June 11. It is sure to be a busy and interesting year.
As always, I will be holding Town Halls and public meetings throughout the District to discuss the final outcomes of the 2019 General Assembly Session as well as ongoing Legislative work. My office will publicize event details as they become available. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or concerns. I can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com and by phone at 757-787-1094.
As the General Assembly reconvened in Richmond on Wednesday, April 3rd, Democrats reaffirmed their commitment to protect Virginians’ access to affordable and comprehensive healthcare.
One set of Republican-backed bills, SB 1240 and SB 1674, would have established “short-term limited duration plans” (STLDs) that are not compliant with the ACA. Not only would STLDs allow insurers to charge higher premiums to people based on their gender, they would not be subject to the prohibitions on pre-existing condition exclusions. STLDs would draw young, healthy people out of the ACA marketplace, leading to higher premiums for everyone else, and leaving the consumers of STLDs with inadequate coverage should they need care.
Another Republican-backed proposal, HB 2260 and its companion bill SB 1027, aimed to expand “catastrophic health plans” to the general population. Under catastrophic health plans, a family of three would only be allowed up to three primary care visits per year – for all other care, they would have to first pay up to $15,800 before receiving coverage.
Both STLDs and catastrophic health plans leave Virginians vulnerable to exponentially higher medical bills should they need anything more than basic care, and while Virginia Republicans passed them under the auspices of lowering premiums, these inadequate plans would increase premiums on the marketplace and spend more taxpayer money on emergency room care.
"Just last year, we were able to enact a historic bipartisan expansion of healthcare coverage that made up to 400,000 Virginians eligible for the state's Medicaid program for the first time. One year later, Virginia Republicans are looking for ways to undercut the health insurance market by advocating for faulty plans that would increase premiums and exclude coverage of essential health benefits,” said Senate Democratic co-whip Janet Howell (D-Fairfax). “The difference has never been more clear: Virginia Democrats are fighting for increased access to quality, affordable healthcare while Republicans are trying to skirt the ACA to deprive Virginians of the care they deserve."
"Virginia Republicans are taking a page out of President Trump's playbook, trying to pass misleading 'skinny' health plans that deprive Virginia families of essential benefits at deceitful rates designed to undercut the entire health insurance market,” said Senate Democratic co-whip Scott Surovell (D-Mount Vernon). “While our Republican colleagues push broken solutions to one of our greatest challenges, Democrats will continue to protect the progress we've made by expanding Medicaid and fight to increase access to quality, affordable healthcare for all Virginians."
Democrats also fought to overcome Republicans’ attempts to block women in Virginia from accessing quality reproductive healthcare. This year, Republicans in the House of Delegates stoked a social media firestorm to prevent women from being able to make medically informed decisions about their reproductive care in consultation with their doctors. Republicans continued their assault on reproductive care by trying to limit the reach of Virginia’s pilot program that provides long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) to underprivileged women.
“Denying women access to contraceptives would take us back several decades,” said House Democratic co-whip Mike Mullin (D-Newport News). “It’s time that Republicans acknowledge women’s reproductive care for what it is: healthcare.”
Republicans also passed a budget amendment that would strip all funding for healthcare providers that offer abortion services, such as Planned Parenthood.
“Republicans’ war on choice not only threatens reproductive healthcare access, but if their budget amendment were to pass, it would also disadvantage the many Virginians who receive pre-natal care, STD testing, contraception, and more essential health services from providers like Planned Parenthood,” said House Democratic co-whip Alfonso Lopez (D-Arlington).
Perhaps the most telling poll of the Democratic primary season hasn’t been about the Democratic primary at all — but about the fallout from a 35-year-old racist photo on a yearbook page. Gov. Ralph Northam of Virginia was pummeled on social media after the revelation, and virtually every Democratic presidential candidate demanded his resignation.
Yet the majority of ordinary Democrats in Virginia said Mr. Northam should remain in office, according to a Washington Post/Schar School poll a week later. And black Democrats were likelier than white ones to say Mr. Northam should remain.
Today’s Democratic Party is increasingly perceived as dominated by its “woke” left wing. But the views of Democrats on social media often bear little resemblance to those of the wider Democratic electorate.
The outspoken group of Democratic-leaning voters on social media is outnumbered, roughly 2 to 1, by the more moderate, more diverse and less educated group of Democrats who typically don’t post political content online, according to data from the Hidden Tribes Project. This latter group has the numbers to decide the Democratic presidential nomination in favor of a relatively moderate establishment favorite, as it has often done in the past.
The relative moderation of Democrats who are not sharing their political thoughts on social media, and therefore of Democrats as a whole, makes it less surprising that Virginia Democrats tolerated Mr. Northam’s yearbook page. It makes it easier to imagine how Joe Biden might not merely survive questions about whether he touched women in ways that made them feel uncomfortable, but might even emerge essentially unscathed.
It also helps explain why recent polls show that a majority of Democrats would rather see the party become more moderate than move leftward, even as progressives clamor for a Green New Deal or Medicare for all.
The candidates of the progressive left, whether Bernie Sanders or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, speak with moral clarity. The strongest traditional liberal candidates, despite their pragmatic streak, speak with hopeful idealism, stemming from their relatively optimistic view of the country’s capacity to compromise, reform and change. Barack Obama took that tack in 2008, and Beto O’Rourke and Cory Booker might hope to in 2020. In recent decades, most of the candidates who have found their core strength among the party’s ideologically consistent, left-liberal activist base have lost.
The rest of the party is easy to miss. Not only is it less active on social media, but it is also under-represented in the well-educated, urban enclaves where journalists roam. It is under-represented in the Northern blue states and districts where most Democratic politicians win elections.
Many in this group are party stalwarts: people who are Democrats because of identity and self-interest — a union worker, an African-American — more than their policy views. Their votes are concentrated in the South, where Democratic politicians rarely win.