The big thing to remember about
state-level politics in particular is there there are tons of people that have
just checked out of the process entirely. So, you know, I’ve got 85,000 residents in
my district about 45,000 of whom are registered voters and he [my opponent] had been
winning with 9,000 – 10,000 votes for his entire career. And that is
it’s just a minuscule percentage of people that were going to vote for him.
So, you know, not only did that not scare people away, you know, the big scary ‘S’ word that, you know, everybody for decades has thought “here be dragons” you
know, “you don’t go there”. But we were able to go out and knock on doors and get
people to go out and vote in this state level election who had never voted in a
state election before.
So you basically got a new electorate, in a sense, to come
out for you and that proved to be more than he could do with the traditional political approach.
Yeah exactly. Was there a disparity between the
money he had to run his campaign and yours? Oh a tremendous one. Virginia has no limits on campaign contributions whatsoever. The only restriction is you
can’t take money from foreign residents or foreign corporations.
But you know, you’ve got a longtime member of Republican Party
leadership in a state with no campaign contribution limits. I knew I wasn’t
gonna spend more money than him. I never even tried. I knew if I raised a million
dollars he would find a way to raise two. So I just went out there and took my
message directly to people on their doorstep. What did you emphasize beside
single-payer medical insurance for everybody. Were there other two or three
major things that you think you emphasized and that reached your voters?
Yeah. The biggest thing that I emphasized
was that I don’t take a single dime from for-profit corporations or from industry
interest groups. And because of that I was able to tie every single issue back
to that. I said “you know I’m gonna fight to make sure that you can see a doctor
and you know I will because I’m not taking money from the health insurance
companies. I’m gonna fight to make sure that you can afford your rent and you
know I will because I’m not taking money from your landlord.”
And, you know, so on and so forth, on down the line. Every single issue I tied it
back to that, that “follow the money” question. And I said, you know, you want
someone who’s gonna fight for you. In order to get that you need somebody
who’s not paid.
Are you part of a wave do you think? Is that is this happening-
I guess I’ll put it differently. Is it a special, unique situation that you had in
your little corner of Virginia, or are you part of a larger problem? How do you
It’s definitely part of something larger. You know, obviously
everybody, you know, when you see something out of the ordinary in
politics all the commentators want to say ‘oh, you know this happened because
this one particular place is weird, or it was a fluke. It was an accident. The
voters didn’t know enough…” But the fact of the matter is, you know, you’ve got
people who have checked out of the political process entirely, everywhere in
America, by the millions. And if you go out there and you say I’m gonna fight
for you and you know “I’m gonna fight for you because I’m walking the walk, you
know I’m not taking that money from the people who are making your life
miserable” then, what do you know, people who have never voted before will show up
and they’ll actually vote to make their lives better.