I have had the pleasure and honor of representing this community in local and state government for more than 20 years. During this time, I have learned a lot about what it means to listen and what it means to lead. I have fully supported and fought for the values that our region feels are important — equality, justice, fairness, opportunity, honesty. They have found form in initiatives as diverse as advocating for an increase in the minimum wage to supporting the transition to an energy economy based on renewable resources.
I have successfully fought for increases in education spending and raises for teachers, law enforcement, and public employees. I have been part of the brick wall protecting women’s reproductive rights. I have fought again and again for Medicaid expansion. As the Democratic Leader, I have been there every day, fighting for the progressive values we cherish. I am running for reelection and I need your help.
I have an opponent in this year’s Democratic Primary, and understand that, during campaigns, positions may be distorted and sometimes misrepresented. Consequently, I would like you to understand my positions and votes in case you read or hear something that does not seem correct to you.
- Minimum Wage: I introduced my first bill to increase the minimum wage in 2006 and have either introduced or supported every such bill during the 12 years I have been in the General Assembly. Building a New Virginia Economy where people earn a living wage has been at the center of the House Democratic platform since I have been the Democratic Leader. I have championed bills to increase wages for teachers, police and the general public for years; do not let anyone suggest otherwise.
- Environmental Record: I am proud of my environmental record, which is as strong as anyone in the General Assembly. Fighting for these issues has led the Sierra Club Virginia Chapter to endorse me, and I have been named a Legislative Hero by the environmental organization, the Virginia League of Conservation Voters, for ten consecutive years, having a 100 percent voting record for that period.
- Offshore Drilling: I have opposed offshore drilling for years, and voted against a series of bills proposed by former Governor McDonnell to do this in 2010 and 2011; all you need do is to check my record. The only energy source Virginia should explore offshore is wind power.
- Dominion Power: My opponent constantly implies that Dominion can buy my vote through campaign contributions. The truth is quite different. I led the successful fight against the coal tax credit that previously sent millions of taxpayer dollars to utilities, like Dominion, and coal companies. And I just asked for, and obtained, an Attorney General’s opinion that will allow more stringent regulation of fossil fuels and greenhouse gas emissions at the state level than ever before. I have sponsored countless bills to promote renewables that Dominion has actively opposed. The majority of my financial support comes from people just like you.
- Death Penalty: My opponent suggests that I do not oppose the death penalty; again, even a cursory review of my record shows just the opposite. I oppose the death penalty and have voted against every single death penalty expansion bill in the last 12 years.
Those of you who know me well understand that I take nothing for granted, and that I will fight to preserve what we have done together — as Democrats—to build a better Commonwealth. That starts by countering misrepresentations that substitute for facts, and by making a strong statement that while candidates may disagree, voters should not allow anyone to create narratives not supported by the record and the facts.
The primary is less than 30 days away, and it is time to step into action. You can help in several ways.
First, if you see a misrepresentation in the media or on social media, please label it as such. If you just leave it unchallenged in the public domain, some will come to accept it. Post or comments on Facebook, Twitter, or write a letter to the paper.
Second, volunteer to help my campaign. Take a yard sign, drop literature in your neighborhood, call your friends and help us call my supporters to remind them to vote. You can volunteer to help by signing up online here.
Third, pay attention to social media; if you like my posts, share them and “Like” them. With this simple act, you can help spread the word.
I thank you for your previous support and would appreciate your support and vote in the Democratic primary on June 13.