New survey lets voters compare N. Va. Congressional candidates

By Chris LeMenestrel and Francesca Costantino:

Virginia Democracy Forward (VADF), in partnership with a coalition of grassroots groups, has put together the Cross-Grassroots Survey of Virginia Congressional Candidates to identify Democratic primary candidates to support in the 2018 election cycle who will advance a progressive agenda.

Click here to view the survey.

The survey provides information on the personal story, motivation to serve, vision, campaign experience, strategy, leadership skills, and positions on key issues of the various candidates. Many candidates shared details of the policy and legislation they would advance if elected.

The survey is a resource to inform decisions on which candidates to vote for in the primary and which district to support in Adopt-A-District fundraising and canvassing efforts.

Sixteen candidates participated from Congressional Districts 1, 5, 6, 7 and 10. Most are running for office for the first time. Among them are people with background in the military, business, law, healthcare, public service; volunteers in civic organizations; environmental activists; a scientist, children of immigrants; and someone who overcame homelessness, reflecting the diversity of America and the grassroots power of the people.

Healthcare is the number one issue for candidates in 2018, as it was in 2017. Healthcare motivated nine of 16 candidates to run, and thirteen listed healthcare as their top two issues. Most candidates supported preserving and improving the Affordable Care Act’s progress in expanding insurance coverage through policy like Senator Kaine’s Medicare X proposal.  Some favored moving toward a single payer system.

On the economy, most candidates highlighted the need to address inequalities, and most supported a $15 minimum wage.  Many were passionate about addressing gun violence, with proposals to close loopholes for background checks and gun show sales, ban assault weapons, establish emergency risk protective orders, and restore funds for federal research on gun violence.

On energy and the environment, 12 of 16 candidates opposed construction of new fracked natural gas pipelines. Ten of 16 candidates have signed on to the Activate Virginia pledge to not accept campaign contributions from either Dominion Energy or Appalachian Power.

Candidates look to the grassroots groups to help amplify their messages among their networks and provide feedback on issues. One candidate committed to including representatives of the grassroots groups on her transition team if elected.

One candidate summed it up well:   “Americans are so distrustful of our broken political system, that they were willing to elect someone completely unfit for our highest office. It will take new leaders from outside the realm of  ‘traditional politics’ who are grounded in service and American values to reset our politics and restore our Democracy.”

The following groups, members of the Virginia Grassroots Coalition  helped with the survey:

  • 31st Street Swing Left
  • Herndon-Reston Indivisible
  • Hunter Mill Huddle
  • Indivisible Arlington VA
  • Indivisible Del Ray
  • Network NoVA
  • Postcards for VA
  • Together We Will Northern VA
  • VA Democracy Forward
  • We of Action VA

Working together showed that the grassroots coalition is united, and saved the candidates the time and energy of responding to many individual requests for information.

Chris LeMenestrel and Francesca Costantino are members of  VA Democracy Forward