Monday, June 11, 2007

Vote for McEachin in Virginia’s 9th Senate District

This Tuesday, June 12th, there will be Democratic and Republican Primaries around Virginia for a number of state legislative seats. One of the more closely watched will the contest for the Democratic nod in the 9th Virginia Senate District that covers all or portions of the City of Richmond, Henrico County and Charles City County.

A. Donald McEachin, 46, is challenging five-term-incumbent Benjamin J. Lambert, III, 70. McEachin is currently serving as a Delegate representing Virginia’s 74th House District. (For the sake of transparency I should state that Don McEachin is a friend whom I have known for years.)

Don was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in 1996 where he served until 2001. That year he gave up his seat to represent Virginia Democrats as their candidate for Attorney General. He lost that race to Jerry Kilgore. In 2005 he again ran for public office, this time for his old House seat representing the 74th District.

This past session of the Virginia General Assembly, Don sponsored and promoted a resolution regarding an apology for Virginia’s part in the enslavement of Africans. According to Don, “Virginia had nothing to do with the end of slavery. It had everything to do with the beginning of slavery," but by expressing contrition, Virginia would help play a leading role in healing the wounds caused by this nation's embrace of slavery and its ugly aftermath. The bill passed despite a controversy raised by conservative die-hards who did not want to apologize for anything and has served as a model for similar apologies by the state legislatures of Alabama, North Carolina, and Maryland with consideration by Arkansas. It was a gutsy thing to do and quite an accomplishment for a member of the minority party in the legislature.

Consideration of the race cannot escape the events of last fall’s U.S. Senate in Virginia pitting Democratic challenger Jim Webb against incumbent Republican George Allen. Earlier last year Allen’s re-election was considered a sure bet and Allen was even mentioned as a possible presidential candidate representing the right-wing forces friendly to the Bush White House against the anticipated Republican anti-Bush candidate, John McCain. However, Allen’s campaign collapsed around racially tinged issues that he kept bringing upon himself.

The significance of that race on this one is that McEachin and Lambert went off in different directions. McEachin was an early supporter of Webb while Lambert had endorsed the Republican Allen in exchange for a promise to support historically black colleges and universities with federal dollars – a pet cause for Lambert. However commendable that cause may have been, support for Allen regardless of his promises was not. Allen represented forces that have done real harm to this country. And Lambert’s endorsement was no momentary bad judgment. Allen’s shady history was well known well before the endorsement and while admittedly withdrawing an endorsement would have been awkward, it was not out of the question and he had ample opportunity to do so. He did not. Nor has he expressed any regret.

Senator Webb is working hard for McEachin in this race.

There is a lot to be said for experience but there is also a lot to be said for fresh leadership and new ideas. Senator Lambert has had the opportunity to serve his community in the Virginia Senate and previously in the Virginia House of Delegates. But times change, communities change and after 30 years it’s time for a change in leadership. If you live in the 9th District, vote for Donald McEachin for State Senate on June 12th. You can volunteer for Tuesday’s GOTV effort by calling 804-288-3381 and make a financial contribution here regardless if you live in the district or not.

No comments: