LORTON, VIRGINIA (February 3, 2019) — Already, Northern Virginia Republicans are lining up to run against Delegate Kathy Tran (D-VA-42). Tran is the freshman Delegate who notoriously sponsored a bill in the Virginia House of Delegates to allow the killing of an unborn baby up to the moment of birth.
The re-election of the entire Virginia House is happening this year, in November 2019. In 2017, Asian-American Tran won the 42nd district previously held for 24 years by Republican Dave Albo — who retired — by defeating Republican Latina Lolita Mancheno-Smoak.
Republican Steve Adragna immediately began campaigning at Saturday’s pro-life protest at Delegate Tran’s legislative town hall at South County High School in Lorton, Virginia. While others are joining the race, Adragna jumped right in at the rally. (Rally organizers did not let him speak, presumably due to legal concerns when some of the groups are 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations.)
In an incredible development, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY)’s chief strategist, Doug Stafford, offered a “free campaign” to any Republican who would run against Delegate Tran.
While Virginia Republicans did not seem to need the encouragement to want to win back Tran’s district, the offer of assistance may open up the range of possible candidates to those who are not wealthy but qualified in other ways besides self-funding a campaign.
Doug Stafford tweeted on January 31, 2019,
“Anyone in Springfield Va area HD 42 want to run against this infanticide promoter and liar – DM me, I’ll run your race for free.”
While ‘free’ presumably means Stafford will not charge a salary for acting as campaign manager, this would still be a vast advantage — including because of the connections and instant credibility in fund-raising — for a candidate not already sitting on a massive warchest.
Tran cancelled her town hall at South County High School Saturday, but the Pro-Life protest still went forward anyway. It was transformed from speaking directly to Delegate Tran in her town hall into a rally out on the very extensive front lawn of the high school and sidewalks.
Although many planning to attend believed the entire event was cancelled on both sides, and did not come out of that confusion, at least 750 to 1,000 Pro-Life Virginia voters gathered to share their concerns. In addition, hundreds of cars driving past (seemingly searching for parking) honked and waved approval.
Tran’s presentation of her pro-abortion bill in committee exploded across news, talk radio, and the internet nationwide. Such a presentation in committee is a routine part of moving any bill forward in the Virginia General Assembly. Delegate Todd Gilbert (R-VA-15) asked Delegate Tran about her proposal. Tran admitted that her sponsored legislation would allow an abortion up to the very moment of birth. Gilbert had suggested a mother is in the throes of delivery — “she is dilating” (i.e., in the delivery room in the hospital) — and asked if the bill would allow an abortion even then. Tran’s somewhat confused, hesitant response finally admitted that, yes, her bill would allow an abortion even during the process of a baby being born. That video (General Assembly proceedings are televised routinely) created a national firestorm.
A complete video of the rally has been posted by the lead sponsor of the #ResistInfanticide rally, The Susan B. Anthony List. Though they kicked off the effort, many Virginia organizations and national organizations with a strong local presence in Virginia quickly joined the effort. Speakers included Students for Life, the Diocese of Arlington, Olivia Gans Turner, president of the Virginia Society for Human Life, and Chaney Mullins, of Divine Mercy Care. Concerned Women For America joined and was represented by Penny Nance. At least one speaker warned people not to forget all of the other Democrats who co-sponsored and voted for Tran’s bill, rather than focusing only on Delegate Tran alone.
Will Steve Adragna be the best candidate to win back the seat? Northern Virginia Republicans are just beginning to grapple with a game plan. Businessman Adragna appears to describe himself as a Republican centrist. With few details yet clear, it is possible that Adragna will appeal to some, while others might want more of a fighter, as the candidates present themselves in more detail. However, a candidate with the diligence and foresight to seize the moment and act quickly has much going for him.
Famous conservative (now former) Delegate Bob Marshall explained to Big League Politics that he and his wife Cathy are promoting a different candidate. The Marshalls also explained that Ken Cuccinelli, former Virginia Attorney General, is promoting yet another candidate. They reported hearing of several other candidates considering a challenge to now infamous Delegate Tran. However, none of this appears to be in response to any of the other candidates, but rather a spontaneous explosion of interest among other candidates. Most of these Republicans seem to be unaware as of yet that others are also running.
Bob Marshall explained that after decades in elected politics he is not interested in running again himself. However, Marshall told this writer that he would consider being a campaign manager or advisor for other, younger conservative candidates. Alongside Doug Stafford, Bob Marshall has intricate and intimate experience and knowledge of the local region, down to knocking on individual doors throughout most of the neighborhoods.
Big League Politics asked Tim Hannigan, Chairman of the Fairfax County Republican Committee, about a previous example when half-a-dozen conservatives were running against Sen. Joe May, perceived to be a “Republican In Name Only” (RINO). The conservatives met together and chose one of them as the best positioned candidate rather than dividing the vote. Hannigan responded that he would consider informally asking all of the candidates to meet privately together just to understand who all is running and to think about what is best for winning the seat back from the Democrats.
But such a discussion would be purely voluntary and purely for informational purposes. A party Chairman does not have authority to decide who wants to run. But events are happening so fast that most candidates are jumping in the race without knowing that other people are running. Therefore, many candidates may be running only because they don’t know who else is running, too. Hannigan does not have a position on any of the potential candidates. He just wants to see all Republicans energized to participate and for some Republican to win the district this November.
The Fairfax County Republican Committee set up a big events tent to one side, and received an enthusiastic response. Volunteers at the table told Big League Politics that they signed up roughly 100 new volunteers at the rally. The mood among many attendees was that they could no longer stand by and watch. It is time to join the fight and take action.
One retired man in his 70s told this writer that he felt guilty for not getting involved sooner, and failing to join in the struggle in the past helped create the current crisis. He vowed to stay involved and not make the mistake of sitting on the sidelines any more.
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