Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Democratic Primary for Braddock District Supervisor is Getting Interesting

The Democratic primary for Braddock District Supervisor has become a very interesting to watch. There were rumors of several Democrats being interested in running for the seat, but it was Chris Wade who stepped up very early to challenge incumbent Republican John Cook. When it looked like none of the other rumored candidates were going to enter the race, Chris quickly received the support of some party insiders who wanted to make sure the Democrats had a good campaign infrastructure in place during the fall -- especially since Wade didn’t have very much name recognition (heck, even most folks who are extremely active in the community hadn’t heard of him because saying “he doesn’t have much civic engagement experience” is putting it nicely).

Concern about Wade’s candidacy really started being expressed by some Democratic activists when it became clear that he had been identifying himself as a strong supporter of the McCain/Palin ticket in 2008. Now as Lowell points out at Blue Virginia, switching parties is perfectly acceptable and one of the biggest successes for Virginia’s progressive blogs was when they helped draft Jim Webb (a former Republican) and gave him a big boast during his campaign for US Senate back in 2006. Jim Webb, however, had a history of standing up for populist ideas and speaking out against some of Bush’s military policies. Chris Wade, however, appears to be a very nice man but doesn’t bring a history of public service to the table and has failed to make it clear what Democratic values he holds dear.

So while Chris had gotten the early support of some activists, Janet Oleszek stepped up to the plate and decided that she would also be seeking the Democratic nomination. I got to know Janet during her time on the school board and her campaign for the state senate back in 2007. I went out canvassing and phone banking for her at least a dozen times as she was running against Ken Cuccinelli and was proud to do so because she has a history of standing up for the working class. As someone who has done a lot of organizing around education issues over the years, I also like the fact that she spent time on the school board and could therefore be an effective voice for the public school system if she was elected to the Board of Supervisors.

Based upon email threads and conversations I’ve had with folks about this race, a lot Democratic activists share these sentiments. Unfortunately for Janet, a lot of people had already committed to supporting Chris Wade's candidacy and are reluctant to go back on their word. Others like her political philosophy but have a lot of questions about tactics she used back in late 2009 when Democrats were deciding who would run to fill the seat Cuccinelli vacated when he became Attorney General. Those questions might not prevent them from voting for Janet on primary day, but they have unfortunately kept some people from volunteering for her (at least until after the primary is over).

Whatever you think about the motivations some people have for either continuing their early commitment to Chris Wade or deciding specifically to remain silent on the race, there’s no denying that this history means it’s worth paying attention when Janet Oleszek picks up a big endorsement like she did today from the Virginia Partisans.
Responding to the endorsement by the PAC Board, Terry Mansberger, LGBT Caucus Chair stated, "Janet has been a long time personal friend of mine and the LGBT community for many years and was a leading advocate for safe schools for all our kids as an At-Large County School Board Member. I'm thrilled to see the VA Partisans PAC return that support and look forward to Janet's strong progressive voice for full equality on the Board of Supervisors for Braddock District and our Fairfax area LGBT community!"

Mansberger went on to say, "While we are all focused on the State Senate this year, we must not forget the importance of these local races that also have a direct impact on the lives of our families. The fight for equality and protection from the extreme agenda of the Cuccinelli machine in Virginia begins here in Ken's back yard. It's time to take this seat back and send a message. . . the tea party is over in Fairfax."
It will be very interesting to see if this endorsement now gives some more party insiders and grassroots activists motivation to speak up in support of Janet’s campaign in the final two weeks before primary day. You can also see the full statement from the partisans blow “the fold.”


Fairfax, VA (Wednesday, August 10, 2011) - The Virginia Partisans, PAC of LGBT Democrats of Virginia, today announced the unanimous endorsement of Janet Oleszek for the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors to represent the Braddock Magisterial District. VA Partisans President Tiffany M. Joslyn praised Janet's commitment to equality, stating "Janet has consistently stood with the LGBT community, refusing to compromise her principles in favor of politics."


Responding to the endorsement by the PAC Board, Terry Mansberger, LGBT Caucus Chair stated, "Janet has been a long time personal friend of mine and the LGBT community for many years and was a leading advocate for safe schools for all our kids as an At-Large County School Board Member. I'm thrilled to see the VA Partisans PAC return that support and look forward to Janet's strong progressive voice for full equality on the Board of Supervisors for Braddock District and our Fairfax area LGBT community!"


Mansberger went on to say, "While we are all focused on the State Senate this year, we must not forget the importance of these local races that also have a direct impact on the lives of our families. The fight for equality and protection from the extreme agenda of the Cuccinelli machine in Virginia begins here in Ken's back yard. It's time to take this seat back and send a message . . . the tea party is over in Fairfax."


All candidates seeking the endorsement of the Virginia Partisans PAC are required to submit the PAC's 2011 Endorsement Questionnaire. Questionnaires of the above endorsed candidates, and all other candidates seeking endorsement, are available online at: www.lgbtvadem.org/virginia-partisans/endorsements. Endorsements by the Virginia Partisans PAC do not constitute endorsements from the LGBT Caucus of the Democratic Party of Virginia.


The Virginia Partisans was founded more than 20 years ago as a voice for gay Democrats, initially in Northern Virginia. Today, the Virginia Partisans PAC is a statewide Political Action Committee affiliated with LGBT Democrats of Virginia, a project created in partnership with the LGBT Caucus of the Democratic Party of Virginia, an affiliate of National Stonewall Democrats. In recent years, the Virginia Partisans has raised and spent more than $100,000 to support the election of pro-equality Democrats at the local, state and national levels from Virginia.


This is a critical election year for Virginia's LGBT community. Currently, Democrats hold a mere two seat advantage in the State Senate and the Republicans control both the Governor's mansion and the House of Delegates. With the entire Virginia general assembly up for election this November and the State Senate hanging in the balance, the Partisans are dedicated to raising 40 for 40-$40,000 for the 40 Virginia State Senate seats-to keep the Virginia Senate blue. The Partisans recently raised over $21,000 at its first of a series of fundraisers dedicated to this goal and will use funds raised to support pro-equality Democrats on the ballot this November. More information can be found at http://www.lgbtvadem.org/.

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