Alexandria, VA

It’s been a hell of a morning Del. Mark Levine.

News broke this morning that Levine, a Democrat from Alexandria, is now one of 12 candidates who have thrown their name into the Lieutenant Governor race and one of eight Democrats. Since then, Levine says the morning has been one of non-stop phone calls.

“I’m excited,” Levine said. “It’s a firehose and I’m starting to drink the water.”

Levine said part of his goal is to transform the role into a full-time position rather than the part-time, back-up position it currently occupies.

Levine touted his history of working for Barney Frank, the fight to put his brother-in-law behind bars after his sister’s murder, and his history of pushing for LGBT rights. If elected, Levine would be the first openly gay statewide elected official. It’s a series of accomplishments that were at the forefront of Levine’s campaign for the House of Delegates in 2015, but this year some of the attention is shifting towards work done over the last year now that the Democrats control the legislature.

“I’ve introduced 47 bills; 23 became law: some in my name and some in colleagues’ names,” Levine said. “A number of my bills were incorporated into other bills.”

Levine’s website has a 20-page summary of progress made on bills during the 2020 legislative sessions and a few areas where Levine hit stumbling blocks. Of those, Levine said one of the ones he’s most proud of is the “most comprehensive LGBT rights bill in Virginia” that Levine said added sexual orientation and gender to non-discrimination statutes. Another required voter-verified paper ballots.

One of the bills that failed was one that would allow localities to fund law libraries — a longtime priority for Alexandria — and one that would make it easier for non-clergy to perform marriage ceremonies.

Levine has been an outspoken Democrat, particularly on gun control issues — though Levine said he prefers to call it gun violence prevention. Earlier this year, an armed protester stood outside Levine’s house to protest Levine’s position.

“The people who disagree with me are passionate, but they aren’t the majority of Virginia,” Levine said. “I’m not trying to ban guns. [Gun owners should] have background checks and should be trained. So I think some of my stances have been overstated, frankly, but I think reasonable people will support me, including reasonable gun owners, because I think reasonable gun owners don’t mind background checks.  The people who believe every child should have a bazooka, no, they’re not going to support my campaign.”

Levine said if he does not win the Lt. Governor race primary this summer, he intents to run for reelection as a Delegate later that year.

File photo

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Morning Notes

Beyer Says House Democrats Working to Protect Postal Service — “So many of you are writing, calling, and urging us to act to protect the US Postal Service. We share your anger and frustration about what Trump is doing and your alarm about what it could mean for the election. And we ARE working to stop him.” [Twitter]

Noah and Josephus Lyles Win First and Second in 200 Meter Race in Monaco — “Lyles raised a black, fingerless-gloved right fist before getting into the blocks to win a 200m in his first international race of the season, conjuring memories of the famous 1968 Olympic podium gesture. He clocked 19.76 seconds, leading a one-two with younger brother Josephus.” [NBC Sports]

ALIVE! Gives Food to 900+ Households — “916 households received food at today’s Truck to Trunk food distribution. Thanks to everyone who made this possible- donors, volunteers, Department of Community & Human Services, City of Alexandria, VA; Volunteer Alexandria; Alexandria Sheriff’s Office, City of Alexandria, Virginia; Police Department, City of Alexandria, Virginia; Transportation & Environmental Services, City of Alexandria, Virginia and ALIVE! Staff!” [Facebook]

Monte Durham’s Salon Opening at Waterfront Next Month — “The chic boutique salon, located next door to Hotel Indigo, will feature Durham, who got his start as a hair stylist before heading down the bridal path to a hit reality TV show, TLC’s ‘Say Yes to the Dress – Atlanta.'” [Alexandria Living]

Chris Daughtry of American Idol to Play Virtual Concert for Birchmere — “Next week, Chris Daughtry presents his virtual “Live from Home Tour” on Aug. 18 to benefit 19 venues across the country, including The Birchmere in Alexandria, Virginia.” [WTOP]

Today’s Weather — “Partly cloudy early. Scattered thunderstorms developing in the afternoon. High 83F. Winds SSW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 50%.” [Weather.com]

New Job: K-8 Teacher — “SchoolHouse is a new, innovative education startup that helps families to form Learning Pods, and matches excellent teachers with those Pods. A Pod is a group of approximately 4 – 8 students, of the same or similar grade level, who are learning, growing, and socializing together.” [Indeed]

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U.S. Senator Kamala Harris was named Joe Biden’s vice presidential candidate on Tuesday, and some in the deeply blue Alexandria are celebrating.

Alexandria Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA) said Harris is a powerful and historic choice.

“I congratulate Vice President Biden, who knows better than anyone the importance of this decision, on his excellent judgment, and I congratulate Senator Harris,” Beyer said in a statement. “This is a ticket that will get things done.”

Mayor Justin Wilson said he appreciated Harris’ background in local politics. The California Senator previously served as a district attorney in San Francisco and as Attorney General of California.

“I’m super excited,” Wilson said. “I was excited to endorse her a year ago for president. I thought she brought an important voice to the ticket. At a time where a clear vision for the future of the country is needed, she’s not only someone who can articulate that vision but she’s also really a fighter. She showed that in the Senate and in California.”

It’s one of the few traits she shares with her opponent, Vice President Mike Pence, who was a Congressman from 2001 to 2013 and then governor of Indiana from 2013 to 2017.

“I’m also particularly excited as someone privileged to lead a city,” Wilson said. “I’m excited to have someone who comes out of a city and has experience in city government. There is a lot of urban innovation and I’m hopeful the federal government will be back as a partner… as it relates to housing and economic and workforce development.”

Federal and local partnerships had been particularly vital over the last few months as the city utilized federal CARES Act funding to programs like rent assistance and small business grants.

Del. Charniele Herring was also an early supporter of Harris and shared her reaction on Twitter.

Other Alexandria Democratic leadership swiftly rallied around Harris.

“A winner of three statewide elections in America’s largest state and a smart, tough, effective leader, Harris lives and breathes our country’s progressive values,” Del. Mark Levine wrote in an email. “I’m confident she will give Biden good advice in the Oval Office and be an effective President, if necessary, in the event of tragedy.”

Biden-Harris 2020! Time to take back the White House!!!

Posted by John T. Chapman on Tuesday, August 11, 2020

“Amid a strong field of highly qualified women, Senator Harris stands out as a powerful and historic choice,” said Congressman Don Beyer. “Senator Harris’ leadership in America’s largest state, her commitment to progressive ideals, and her battle-tested record in the U.S. Senate all speak to her readiness to serve. If elected, she will break barriers as the first woman, the first Black American, the first Asian American, and the first HBCU graduate to hold the office. Kamala Harris will be a great Vice President.”

Harris has faced some criticism from Democrats further on the left who say she did little to prosecute cases of excessive force by police and has referred to herself as a “top cop,” according to the New York Times — is tone deaf in an era of widespread protest against police brutality and injustice.

Wilson said he recognized those concerns but said that Harris’ experience inside the judicial system will mean she has the experience to make changes.

“As we turn a very critical eye to the criminal justice system, I think having folks who have been on the inside and understand how the system works on a ground level is going to be vey important,” Wilson said. “Folks like me who don’t have a law degree or experiencing on the policing and judicial side, we can say things but having someone like her with her experience is going to be very helpful. Having someone on the federal side is going to be very important.”

During the campaign, neither Harris nor Biden visited Alexandria (which voted overwhelmingly for Biden in the primary). Wilson said he hopes the situation will be improved enough to have campaign rallies in Alexandria, but that currently the public health considerations come first.

“If we can’t welcome her as a vice presidential candidate this year,” Wilson said, “I hope we can welcome her as Vice President next year.”

James Cullum contributed to this story
Photo via Charniele Herring/Twitter

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Update at 2:15 p.m. — The event was held Friday morning. See our coverage here.

Earlier: Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg will be making a campaign appearance in Alexandria on Friday.

The morning campaign event is not open to the general public and the exact location has not been made available for public dissemination.

Bloomberg, the billionaire founder of Bloomberg LP and former New York City mayor, launched his campaign last month and has since blitzed the airwaves with $100 million worth of advertising.

Photo via Mike Bloomberg 2020

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