On April 24th, early voting will begin in the Democratic primary for statewide offices in Virginia, and the ballot for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor now includes a slate of eight (!) candidates. Only ONE of those is from western Virginia: Sam Rasoul of Roanoke, who is currently serving in the House of Delegates. This primary (the last day to vote is June 8th) is a big moment: if we Democrats choose well in the primary we have a good chance to succeed in the November election — one of the country’s most important elections in 2021.
Our region of Virginia is often forgotten in state politics. We see that in educational affairs, equity funding, and almost every other category. Republicans have actually isolated us further: our current representatives in Richmond (and Washington) are bought and paid for by old coal money and big power companies, so their economic “policy” is mostly one stale promise: bring back coal. An example: Bills were recently brought before the General Assembly that would have increased efficiency in our utilities and buildings, and therefore protected us from having to build more power plants, thus keeping electricity rates low. Our representatives from Southwest Virginia voted no.
Now we have a chance to have someone with vision from Southwest Virginia in a statewide office. Imagine an elected leader from Southwest Virginia working with elected representatives from other parts of Virginia instead of stonewalling and bowing to the biggest corporate donors. As lieutenant governor, Sam Rasoul could bring significant economic resources to our region. As a progressive Democrat, he could raise our position relative to the “blue” parts of Virginia, and press for a greater sharing of revenues in our direction. Democrats should support Sam Rasoul in the primary — to get the spotlight on Southwest Virginia after years of neglect.