Vangie Williams and Elaine Luria, winners of the Democratic Congressional primary election in the 1st and 2nd districts, joined area representatives and Williamsburg-James City County Democrats at a Post-Primary Pep Rally & Call to Action Thursday evening.
The event was hosted by WJCC Democrats and included local progressive organizations such as Williamsburg JCC Indivisible and the Peninsula Voices for Change manning booths and signing up volunteers. Some 150 area residents were there to hear from Williams and Luria, who both beat out competitors in their respective districts earlier this month to challenge their Republican Congressional counterparts in November’s general election.
Williams beat two challengers in the June 12 primary with an unofficial total of 40 percent of the vote, and will challenge Rob Wittman for his 1st Congressional District seat in November. She said she gained the support of a traditionally Republican-leaning district by connecting with all voters, regardless of party lines.
“I want us all to come together as Americans,” Williams said. “I’m not running to be a liberal Congresswoman, I’m not running to be a conservative Congresswoman, I’m running to be the people’s Congresswoman because we are tired of being sick and tired. Rob Wittman will retire this year, and I need your help to do that.”
Luria, who won 62 percent of the vote in the primary and will challenge Scott Taylor in the 2nd District, says she’s running to stop what she sees as threats to American democracy, such as the Trump administration’s policy of separating families at the United States-Mexico border.
“I am running because we are better than this,” Luria said. “We are better than ripping children out of their mother’s breasts at the border. We are better than the bigotry and the racism and the anti-semitism that we saw last year in Charlottesville. We are better than sending our children to school with the fear of them being slaughtered by senseless gun violence.”
Both candidates called on attendees to join their campaigns as volunteers, citing a need for people to man phone banks and run door-to-door campaigns.
Local politicians representing the area also rallied support for the candidates. Del. Mike Mullin, D-Newport News, and Sen. Monty Mason, D-Williamsburg, said it was imperative to elect Williams and Luria to the House of Representatives and re-elect Tim Kaine to his seat in the U.S. Senate.
“I cannot think of a time where our values were more at stake, what is important to our democracy was more threatened, than we have at this moment in history,” Mullin said.
Mullin also discussed the issue of gun violence, telling the room of supporters a personal story about him and his family witnessing a man being shot in the leg while leaving a restaurant.
“My 7-year-old was all right, my 3-year-old didn’t know what was happening and my 5-year-old started screaming that he didn’t want to die,” he said. “That’s gun violence 6 miles from where we’re standing right now. That’s not far off, that’s not some esoteric thought.”
Williams and Luria asked voters to continue the momentum that put 15 new Democrats in the state House of Delegates in last November’s election and led to the recent passage of Medicaid expansion.
“Together, we can flip the House of Representatives, starting right here in Virginia,” Luria said. “American democracy started right up the street from here in Jamestown, and the threats to American democracy that we’re seeing today, we’re going to stop them right here with the people in this room.”
Arriaza can be reached at 757-790-9313 or on Twitter @rodrigoarriaza0.