LORTON, VIRGINIA (February 2, 2019) — On very short notice, an estimated 750 to 1,000 Pro-Life citizens turned out to protest the legislative “town hall” scheduled by Virginia State Delegate Kathy Tran (D-VA-42). A large Catholic turn-out was joined by Northern Virginia Republicans determined to win back Tran’s seat later this year.
Tran is the freshman Delegate who sponsored a bill in the Virginia General Assembly to allow the killing of an unborn baby up to the moment of birth. Tran’s halting, defensive explanation of the bill she sponsored before the Virginia state House of Delegates committee went viral and has created a firestorm nationally in the wake of New York passing a similar bill into law.
Governor Ralph Northam (D-Virginia) created a second, bigger firestorm when he tried to explain away Tran’s bill, but instead suggested that it would allow the murder of a baby even after the moment of birth, as well as justifying abortions shortly before birth. Tran’s uncertain explanation of her own bill suggested to this author that Tran may have been talked into sponsoring the bill.
Delegate Tran’s district is mostly within Fairfax County, Virginia. She scheduled a “town hall” to meet with constituents at 1:00 PM today at the South County High School in Lorton, Virginia. But in the last 24 to 48 hours, word spread rapidly that opponents of abortion would show up at Tran’s town hall. The Susan B. Anthony List sponsored the protest, and a series of conservative leaders spoke, including Penny Nance, head of Concerned Women for America and Alison Centofante of Live Action.
In January, as in late December, all or nearly all members of the Virginia General Assembly are sponsoring “legislative town halls” across their districts to meet with their voters, listen to ideas about legislation voters want to see worked on, listen to support or opposition to pending bills, and hear what priorities their constituents have.
However, as word spread, Tran cancelled her townhall. The purpose of the event of course was to hear from her Northern Virginia constituents. Tran ducked them instead. Tran was also scheduled to hold a joint town hall with Senator Scott Surovell (D-VA-36) at the “Workhouse Arts Center” on the Lorton border with Woodbridge. Tran went ahead with the second town hall, but getting the counter-demonstrating crowd to relocate was too difficult to attempt.
[Update: The writer is reminded by many Virginia conservatives who had planned to attend that when Delegate Tran’s townhall meeting was cancelled, most conservatives thought the entire event was cancelled. The event was originally billed as going to confront Delegate Tran as she met with voters. Moving the event out to the sidewalk required organizers to get out the word late Friday afternoon and evening that their event was still happening. Turn-out might have been in the thousands without the confusion.]
Because the townhall was cancelled, the protestors were not allowed into the school auditorium. The event spilled over onto the nearby intersection of major streets. Attendees filled all four corners of the intersection as well as the median strips in between.
The school parking lot was open and chock-filled with cars. Of the numbered parking spaces numbering up to 510, apparently not a single space was empty by the time the protest was getting underway. Others parked on side-streets. The” lead organizer” of the Northern Virginia Tea Party estimated the crowd at around 750, analyzing each section individually, based on his two decades of leading conservative activism and organizing many tea party events and demonstrations since 2009. The filled parking spaces — recognizing that some cars contained 2, 3, or 4 people each — suggest that Wilcox’s estimate is either accurate or perhaps low.
[Update: Ron Wilcox responds that he thinks the attendance was easily 800+ if considering people arriving and leaving at different times during the event. Many others are estimating the crowd size as around 1,000. ]
Speakers and attendees were concerned that Kathy Tran was not by any means acting alone. They stressed that although her extreme abortion bill was voted down in committee on a party-line vote, the Democrats are only just getting started and the issue will be coming back again and again until the Democrats make it the law of Virginia. The focus was on all of the Democrats responsible, not merely Tran.
Virginia holds State and local elections on off-years, which means the entire Virginia House of Delegates is up for re-election this November.
In 2017, Asian-American Delegate Kathy Tran won the seat previously held for 24 years by Republican Dave Albo — who chose not to seek re-election — by defeating Republican Latina Lolita Mancheno-Smoak. Some Virginia Republicans have grumbled to this writer that — like most Republican leaders — Albo did not help the party prepare for a successor but abruptly pulled out. The GOP then lost the seat to a little-known Democrat (Tran).
The Fairfax Republican National Committee led by Chairman Tim Hannigan put up its events tent by the side of the road alongside those with explicitly Catholic and other Christian denomination signs and beliefs.
The FCRC team reported that they signed up 100 new volunteers from the event because of the outrage and furor over the Democrats’ extreme agenda on abortion this year. Most asked about the cross-over felt that it is time for people who care about these issues to stop standing on the sideline.
The time for just watching is past. They must be part of the process and directly involved from now on. A hundred of them not previously in touch with the Fairfax County Republican Committee decided today was the day to take the plunge and get political about it.
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