Welcome to this week's Flip-A-District. While we have been focusing on the list of our great Congressional candidates in the upcoming federal mid-terms, we interrupt that list and return to the VIRGINIA HOUSE OF DELEGATES! Today we feature the Eighth District of Virginia, which unexpectedly opened up following the recent resignation of Delegate Greg Habeeb. Democrat Carter Turner will face off against Republican Joe McNamara in a race that represents an exciting opportunity for Democrats to get to 50, potentially tying the Chamber and dramatically shifting the balance of power in the House of Delegates.
Carter's win would make history and dramatically change the state of play in Virginia for the 2019 General Assembly session and beyond.
Meet the candidate: Carter Turner
Carter was born in Culpeper, Virginia, moving to Salem with his family at age 7. A 1987 graduate of Salem High School, he was a member of the 1986 Regional Championship football team and co-captain of the tennis team. After graduating from Virginia Tech with a B.A. in History where he served as an executive officer in the German Club, he earned an M.A. from the Iliff School of Theology, and a Ph.D. in Religious and Theological Studies from the University of Denver.
Spending most of his career in academia, he was an Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Radford University for nearly a decade and now serves as Radford's Associate Director of Advancement. He has been married for 22 years to Karen, who serves as Chief Administrative Officer at Community Housing Partners. Their daughter Callaway is a sophomore at Penn State University.
Represented by Republican Delegate Greg Habeeb since 2011, the 8th District is just west of Roanoke City, encompassing parts of Roanoke County and Montgomery County, and all of Salem City and Craig County.
This will not be an easy district to win. The closest Democrats have come to winning in the 8th was in the 2013 Lieutenant Governor race, when Ralph Northam received 44 percent of the vote compared to E.W. Jackson's 56 percent.
BUT: the special election for the 8th House of Delegates District will take place concurrently with this November's federal election. Excitement is high. Turnout will be up. In a year when we see a gathering "blue wave" across the country, we have a great shot at flipping a traditionally red district and shifting the balance of power in the House of Delegates.
Just one example of why Joe McNamara cannot win:
McNamara's speech declaring his candidacy immediately staked out a far-right position that boasts about just how conservative a Delegate he plans to be. You can watch the video of him here.
"There are 51 of us, and 49 of them," he said, followed with the claim that a Democrat in the seat would "expand government" and increase "hand outs...funded by hard working Virginians." McNamara then shouted, "Do we want to give Ralph Northam the vote he needs? No!"
McNamara makes clear that he is determined to oppose compromise at every turn, and brags that he has successfully defeated even the most moderate of Democratic ideas. He opposes Medicaid expansion, for example, which never would have passed if a handful of Republicans hadn't finally acknowledged the benefits of this program for their own constituents and sided with the Democrats on what was a common sense "yes" vote.
McNamara also declared that he is a "proven conservative who will cast conservative votes," including by "protecting our Second Amendment rights" and "protecting the unborn." Right off the bat, McNamara doubled down on hyper conservative stances that are unpopular in Virginia. This is a man who flatly rejects working across the aisle for common sense gun safety reform. This is a man who strongly opposes a woman's right to choose. This is a man who does not reflect Virginia values.
In this extremely important race, Carter Turner is going to need all the help he can get so we can reach 50 Democrats the House of Delegates. Please help however you can.
Volunteer with the campaign by clicking here.