You Beto Watch Out, GOP
By Davis Burroughs
April 19, 2019

The first announced presidential candidate to come to the Commonwealth brought a clear message for Virginians: Republican’s power is waning in the once ruby-red state.

On the first of nine stops over two days, Beto O’Rourke kicked off his Virginia tour with a humble admission. Speaking at Charlie’s American Cafe in Norfolk, he said his chances of winning the Democratic presidential nomination were about as good as the odds of besting “Charlie’s Challenge,” to eat a dozen egg omelets, eight pancakes and habanero salsa in one sitting. But the outlook, he implied, was more sunny-side-up for Virginia Democrats.

“You have a historic election this year in your commonwealth,” O’Rourke exclaimed, “You will decide the future of Virginia and by extension the future of this country on so many important issues.”

“If we pick up a couple of Senate seats, then not only can we guarantee the gains that have been made recently — expanding Medicaid in the Commonwealth — we can pass common sense gun reform, universal background checks,” O’Rourke said. “We can ensure public school educators are paid their worth and won’t have to work a second or third job. We can invest in broadband internet in rural Virginia which is missing today.”

“Everything that people want in their lives, for themselves, for the future, is dependent on this 2019 election”

Rachel Prosinki, a 17-year-old of Norfolk, who comes of age just in time to vote in the 2019 state elections, was happy to see O’Rourke repeatedly reference Virginia delegates, senators, and Democratic candidates. Though she didn’t get to see Beto ride his skateboard (as he is known to do at campaign events) Rachel said it was “very exciting” to watch the former U.S. congressman ride the “blue wave” by appearing with Virginia Democrats like Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.)

“Everything that people want in their lives, for themselves, for the future, is dependent on this 2019 election,” O’Rourke told the Dogwood, following a Q-and-A session with Virginia voters in Fredericksburg on Wednesday. All 140 members of the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates are up for re-election this year.

Standing on little wooden platforms (no tables this time) in bars, conference rooms, restaurants, and backyards across Virginia, O’Rourke repeatedly referenced candidates like Joshua Cole, who lost his bid for a House seat by just 73 votes in 2017, to illustrate his point that Democrats have a unique opportunity to win control of Virginia’s bicameral legislature for the first time in decades. Currently, Democrats are two seats short of control in both chambers.

On day two of his Virginia trek, as he departed the conspicuously-named El Paso Mexican Grill in Dumfries, his campaign team packed into a grey Dodge Caravan that was covered in dust that looked more fitting to the plains of the Chihuahuan Desert instead of the grassy pastures of rural Virginia. Beto took the wheel.

In Norfolk, he drew attention to Missy Cotter Smasal, a candidate in Virginia Beach, and spoke to her leadership on issues of gun safety. In Dumfries, he lifted up Dels. Hala Ayala and Danica Roem. At each of his stops, he recognized and threw his support behind multiple Democratic leaders. Beto said supporters at the events came “not just to greet a stranger from El Paso,” but also to “participate in [their] democracy.”

O’Rourke said his campaign met with delegates, senators and candidates in an effort to “bring attention to their races, support their campaigns and to help them do the great things that the Commonwealth is depending on.”

“That’s one of the things that I love about what he’s doing,” said Jane Materna of Bailey’s Crossroads, following O’Rourke’s remarks at a house in Alexandria. He’s elevating several candidates’ campaigns, “and I love that, because we have an election every year in Virginia, and this one is critical,” Materna said.

Norfolk Resident Dianne Allen was also pleased with O’Rourke’s visit, calling him “bright” and “brilliant.” She brought a tambourine to one of O’Rourke’s events to express her support, which the candidate said was a first.

Related Stories
Share This