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Democrats take to the phones
State party chairman joins candidates to appeal to voters
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Del. Charniele Herring (center), D-Alexandria, chairman of the Democratic Party of Virginia, stands with Gary Miller, 14th District House of Delegates candidate, and Elizabeth Jones, 16th District candidate. The candidates opened a phone bank here Thursday. (Bulletin photo)

Friday, October 4, 2013

By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin Staff Writer

The two local Democratic House of Delegates candidates’ enthusiasm for meeting voters could lead them to victory in the Nov. 5 election, according to the head of the state party.

Gary Miller, the 14th District candidate, and Elizabeth Jones, who is running in the 16th District, said they have been actively knocking on local doors to reach out to voters, and they think they have garnered a lot of support.

The fact that they are “putting that investment into” the race makes them strong contenders, said Del. Charniele Herring, D-Alexandria. She joined them on a visit to the local party headquarters in uptown Martinsville on Thursday for the kickoff of a phone bank — party volunteers calling local voters to urge them to vote and cast to their votes for Democrats.

Being “constantly in the community,” where people can meet them and find out their ideas, will help Miller and Jones on Election Day, said Herring, who is in her second full term in the House and heads the Democratic Party of Virginia.

She has represented the 46th House District since 2009 and is the first black woman from Northern Virginia to have been elected to the General Assembly, according to her website.

Miller and Jones are state political newcomers. Herring admitted it is hard to say how that will affect them in the election. Some voters prefer experienced candidates while others are willing to give newcomers a chance, she said.

But she believes they have what it takes to effectively serve Southside.

They are “people who really care,” Herring said.

She and the candidates encouraged local Democrats at the headquarters to help staff the phone bank as much as they can.

The trio indicated they think Republican lawmakers are arrogant and out of touch with voters.

Local Republican contenders are incumbent Del. Danny Marshall of Danville, who is running in the 14th District, and Les Adams, a Chatham lawyer vying for the 16th District seat. Mary Martin of Henry County is seeking the 14th District seat as an independent.

“I’m tired of fighting legislators who care more about what’s happening in the doctor’s office” than making sure students receive a good education or helping attract jobs for people out of work, Herring said. She was referring to the new Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — often called Obamacare.

Christian doctrine dictates that “we must watch out for our brothers and sisters,” she noted.

Jones, a retired New York City educator now living in Chatham, said people “need to celebrate getting up in the morning and being happy,” yet many cannot because they do not have jobs to support themselves.

She perceives that Democratic voters are energized this election season.

“We have to be energized,” Jones said, to overcome “obstructions” — the federal government shutdown, for instance — created by Republicans.

Without party volunteers persuading their fellow Democrats to vote, “we don’t have a chance” at winning, said Miller, a Danville cardiologist.

“Republicans are counting on people not voting” as their key to victory, he said.

Miller said political analyst and University of Virginia professor Larry Sabato has predicted that races in the upcoming election are “going to be close.”

Based on Democratic enthusiasm he has seen, though, Miller said “I think we’re going to surprise people” and achieve victories.

“We’re going to show this year that the tide has shifted” and lawmakers will be elected who put divisive politics aside and work to remedy people’s needs, Herring said.


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