While the 2018 Congressional election is still over a year away, Virginia holds its state elections off-cycle, and the next election is just two months away, on November 7th, 2017. Through the Sister District Project, BMore Indivisible, Indivisible Towson, and Indivisible Howard County has been connected with Virginia’s District 32, a swing district in Loudon County that went solidly for Clinton in 2016, but has a longtime Republican incumbent state delegate, up for re-election in November. We canvassed for District 32’s Democratic challenger, David Reid, as well as for Ralph Northam’s campaign for Virginia’s governor. We carpooled to Ashburn, VA (a 90-minute drive from Baltimore), met with David Reid at his house, and then knocked on doors in District 32 throughout the afternoon.
BMore Indivisible member Alexandra Neuhaus-Follini helps coordinate Sister District’s efforts in Maryland, and has canvassed in District 32: “We met David Reid and talked to him for about 15 minutes about his life, the district, and the state of the race. He’s a very personable guy and every time I’ve gone to canvass, he’s stopped by the house to chat with volunteers.”
Alexandra noted that two things distinguish canvassing for a state delegate candidate from canvassing for a high-profile presidential candidate: First, there is low name recognition and awareness of the race, which means that we have the opportunity to introduce the candidate to voters and to shape the way they see the race. Second, the district is small enough that if we talk to voters who flag particular issues as especially important to them, the candidate can follow up with them personally.
District 32 is racially diverse and home to large immigrant and minority populations – African American, Hispanic, South Asian, Middle Eastern. We spoke with many voters who were categorized as ‘Lean Democrat’, many of whom did not realize that Virginia’s state election was only a few weeks away.
Although these are state races, Trump is ever-present and unavoidable. Indivisible member Bobbie Monahan recounted a conversation with a Muslim woman who told her that she found Loudon County to be welcoming to Muslims and immigrants and that she’s fearful that may no longer be the case. Another BMore Indivisible member, Dave Rodwin, spoke with a Hispanic voter about their shared disgust over Trump’s pardon of ex-Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
Dave explained his rationale for canvassing in VA: “In the midst of daily outrages, we now have a chance to make voices heard, and to make our anger matter, by keeping the Virginia governor a democrat and flipping a Virginia state house district from red to blue. Governors are important — they control Medicaid policy, sign and veto bills on abortion and voting rights, etc. Virginia’s state house affects us, too — the VA legislature’s GOP gerrymandering has left Dems with 3 fewer Congresspeople than Republicans even though we routinely win state-wide elections there, and the GOP will get a chance to stack the deck again when the state house reshapes congressional districts following the 2020 census. Let’s stop them.”
Every weekend until the election on November 7th, members from BMore Indivisible, Indivisible Towson, Indivisible Howard County, and other groups will be driving down to Loudon County to take part in canvassing efforts. Our next canvassing trip is this weekend – September 9th and 10th. If you’d like to join us please sign up here or email us!