While last night's results were not what we wanted, I hope you'll join me in congratulating our new statewide Democratic ticket: Terry McAuliffe, Hala Ayala, and Mark Herring. Today’s Republican party poses a threat to our democracy, voting rights, the right to choose, LGBTQ equality, labor rights, and our efforts towards racial, economic, and environmental justice. We must help our Democratic candidates defeat them in November.
We knew from the start of this campaign that we were facing an uphill battle. I am a young, first-time candidate of color in an off-year, down-ballot race. We started with only a small volunteer team and grew that into a formidable statewide organization. We put out a message of progressive change that centered bold ideas for equity, fairness, and justice for all Virginians. A message that challenged other candidates to go bigger and rethink their “safe” politics. We earned the endorsement of over 200 elected officials and community leaders from communities in literally every corner of this Commonwealth. We stuck to our values by running a grassroots-powered campaign that always put people over profits. For all of this, I am extremely proud.
I want to thank everyone who got involved in this movement because they believed in bold change for Virginia’s future. My staff dedicated countless hours and helped us always punch above our weight class. Our campaign interns and fellows brought excitement and energy to the movement and did crucial work to keep our campaign running every day. Our volunteers combined spent thousands of hours knocking doors, making calls, handing out literature, and building our movement locally. Our grassroots donors contributed whatever they could, often only a few bucks at a time, so we could have the resources we needed to run a statewide campaign. Our endorsers made a courageous choice to back an upstart campaign and commit to the values we shared. I thank all of these wonderful people for the past months we were able to spend together.
This primary highlighted structural problems with our political system in Virginia that have to be tackled. While I am ready to assist in the fight to beat the GOP in November, we can’t continue the never-ending cycle where we refuse to reckon with our very real issues for the sake of party unity. The biggest of those issues is campaign finance. Campaign finance rules in Virginia are an embarrassment that rig elections against candidates who run people-powered campaigns. Corporations, publicly-regulated utilities, wealthy individual donors, and those with immense personal wealth are able to buy election results without any limits on their contributions. Democrats have been in control in Richmond for more than two-years now. It’s past time they end Virginia’s status as the Wild West of campaign finance and create a system where working class Virginians can run to represent their communities without having to rely on the donor class.
While this campaign is ending, our movement for transformational change is not. We put forward some ideas that may seem unconventional now, but I am confident will be mainstream in the not-so-distant future. Years ago, I was one of the few voices in Virginia calling for complete legalization of marijuana. That policy is now law. I was told I would never succeed when I led the advocacy effort to rename Robert E. Lee high school. That high school is now named for the great John Lewis.
So to my supporters who may be disappointed today, this is what I say: Do not give up. Do not give in to the embrace of inaction, which only benefits the privileged and powerful. Change is possible, even if it takes time. I’m more committed than ever to building that change from the ground-up and creating a government and economy that works for all of us and not just the powerful few. Virginia’s progressive movement can and will succeed against the Virginia Way, but we have serious work to do. We must continue to fight for the agenda that we know can lift up ALL Virginians: repealing ‘Right to Work’, guaranteeing paid leave for all, creating a compassionate criminal justice system, expanding healthcare to universal coverage, ending racist police violence, passing ambitious climate legislation, and much much more. I look forward to being part of that movement and organizing with change-makers across this Commonwealth to further the fight for justice.
Paid and Authorized by Sean Perryman For Virginia
PO Box 222542, Chantilly, VA 20153
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