Saturday, June 28, 2008



If you don't live in Virginia's fifth congressional district there are probably two stories you know about its member of Congress, Virgil Goode, Jr. One is how integrally tied up he has been in the Republican Culture of Corruption, particularly in regard to congressional bribers Mitchell Wade and Brent Wilkes. They were both found guilty, but the man they paid the most bribes to is still a member of Congress! And their MZM fiasco is not just about corruption but also about a local tragedy that cost the taxpayers of the City of Martinsville and Henry County upwards of $775,000 after Goode's deal with them went bust. And if GOP corruption has faded from your memory, you may still remember Goode's moment on the national stage when he introduced anti-Muslim bigotry and old fashioned racism with a gratuitous and deranged attack on a newly elected congressman from Minneapolis, Keith Ellison. (Oh, and Goode isn't too good at math or working and playing well with others.)

When I met Virginia activist Tom Perriello for the first time he told me he is running for Congress to replace the culture of corruption in Washington with a culture of service. I liked how it sounded. As I got to know him better over the months, and to meet his friends and colleagues, I came to understand that that isn't a slogan; it's at the core of his life. Tom struck me as one of the most earnest guys I had ever met running for office. He comes from a faith based background-- in the finest and most admirable sense of the term-- which has community service front and center. He's spent years working on solutions to human rights issues in Africa and security issues in Afghanistan.
I'm not willing to cede on inch of my faith or my values to one side of the equation claiming to know God's will on earth. I believe this is a chance-- even bigger than our politics-- to reclaim the very debate about what it means to live in what Martin Luther King called "the beloved community." That's because loving your neighbor as yourself is not just a good idea, it's an actual Commandment.

Before we go on to ask Tom about his specific plans to bring a new perspective to Congress, I'd urge you to watch this little video he made for us that explains why he decided to run for Congress.

There's a chance Virginia Democrats could pick up as many as 4 seats in the House and almost a sure thing that they are picking up an open Republican Senate seat. If Obama wins one southern state this year it is likely to be Virginia. Tom's district has a PVI of R+6 and Bush won in 2004 with 56% of the vote. On the other hand, Mark Warner and Jim Webb are probably the most respected and best liked politicians in the area and local Democrats have been winning elections in VA-05 lately. In the last congressional race, Al Weed held Goode down to under 60%. Since then, the Republican agenda, which he has consistently rubber stamped, has turned toxic in the minds of most people. Tom is running neck and neck with Goode in the fundraising race; each has just over $600,000 on hand-- Goode from lobbyists, PACs and big industries whose interests he looks out for, and Tom from individuals looking for a new kind of political leader. We just added Tom to the Blue America candidate's list and I hope you'll be moved to make a donation to his campaign today after hearing what he has to say in the over at Firedoglake (comments section), where he'll be live blogging today from 2pm-4pm, EST.


You can hear Tom speaking about the issues driving the campaign in Virginia at Blog Talk Radio right here at their archive.

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At 5:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Howie, Virginia's 5th is actually my home-district, where I grew up and my family still lives. I'm so happy to see Perriello on Blue America. I heard about him some time last year, and he's the most exciting progressive candidate out there right now. I told my parents to help get the word out in Altavista (the town, not the old search engine). I would've never dreamed that the district of Jerry Falwell could possibly have such a great person representing us in Congress. I'm sorry I missed the liveblog, but I look forward to helping in any way I can.

Now, as for Virgil Goode, I would add a 3rd feather for the Congressman's hat: Don't forget he first made a big splash when he switched parties over the Clinton impeachment. Of all the ridiculous reasons!

And on a personal note, Goode was incredibly rude and really mean to me when I met him as an eager, politically involved high school student. How short-sighted, that he didn't realize I might be voting (and campaign-contributing) age one day.


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