I’ve been involved in progressive politics since 1998 and over the course of that time I’ve seen what makes a good candidate and what doesn’t. I’ve also experienced being the on outsider campaign and working for the preferred candidate of the state caucuses and national committees. I’ve been a part of races where the national committees have endorsed and my candidate beat them and I’ve been on the other end of it too.
When I interned on my first race, the Monica Lewinski scandal was in full gear. The DNC hadn’t developed much of a grassroots fundraising strategy and where pretty much addicted to the big money major donors. This is where my mixed feelings about Terry McAliffe come in. While he did a lot of things to lay the foundation for the Democratic National Committee to compete on a level playing field with the RNC, he also led a party that didn’t adjust quickly enough to the changes in FEC (Federal Election Commission) fundraising rules that made federal candidates focus more of their fundraising on grassroots money. I also had the misfortune of working with a person on a campaign that talked a big game but didn’t produce as advertised, and touted their connection to the new DNC Chair at the time, Terry McAliffe. So, I did not have a favorable view of McAliffe and his entrance into the Governor’s race. His candidacy has shaken up the Democratic nomination contest.
As I arrived and got out of my car, I saw Elaine Owen. I’ve gotten to know her over the last few years, since the last Governor’s race. We have supported different candidates more times than we have agreed, as it relates to nomination contest. But, in the end we have agreed to disagree on candidates and when the primary was over, gotten to work in our own capacities to elect the party nominee. I also saw Roanoke Vice-Mayor Sherman Lee and his son there. I have gotten to know Councilman Lee over the years since the 2004 Presidential and through my community organizing work. It was also good to see my friend Jonte Jones attend the event. We got to know each other over the last few years since a 2005 Roanoke City Council Candidate Forum and my work on circulating petitions to increase the state minimum wage. It was good to reconnect with these folks. Also in attendance was one of the rebuked/disavowed Liberty University Democratic Club members and Marie Childress the club advisor. We spoke for a few minute about the situation and what kind of effect this could have on the House District 23 race. The picture is still a little murky but I am sure this will play into the race.
All in all, once the candidate arrived (I haven’t known any candidate to be on time), it was a good event. Terry did his stump and assessment of where this race is with 18 days out from the June 9th Primary. He took questions and I asked him about holding corporate polluters accountable (Dominion Power and the Fly Ash contamination issue in Chesapeake). Sometimes it’s hard for a candidate to answer the question asked and not pivot to the rehearsed response on energy independence, but he answered it eventually. The thing that I have been impressed with is that he is running a tactically sound race and being in the places that make the most sense. I am warming up, but it is likely that I will just wait until this contest is over and rally behind our nominee. Here are some more pics of the BBQ.