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.
— Charniele Herring (@C_Herring) August 11, 2020
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!!!
“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.
We are in the midst of the largest protest movement in American history, the subject of which is excessive policing, and the Democratic Party chose a “top cop” and the author of the Joe Biden crime bill to save us from Trump.
The contempt for the base is, wow.
— Briahna Joy Gray (@briebriejoy) August 11, 2020
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
Former Vice President Joe Biden had a strong showing on Super Tuesday in Virginia and in Alexandria — where he won every precinct and 54% of the vote — but Alexandria’s second choice was not as clear cut and broke down along geographic lines.
Both senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders were neck-and-neck with 18% of the vote, with Bloomberg trailing in fourth with 10% of the city’s vote, according to the Virginia Department of Elections.
Throughout Old Town, Biden won over 50% of the vote, but for the precincts at City Hall and North Old Town, Bloomberg came in second with around 15% of the vote.
Those were Bloomberg’s only second-place finishes in Alexandria. Across the rest of Alexandria, Warren and Sanders duked it out for second.
Warren won second in a stretch of Alexandria from Del Ray and Parkfairfax in the north. Those second place wins for Warren stopped at Quaker Lane, however. Seminary Hill, the West End, and Landmark areas all voted Biden in first and Sanders in second.
While Biden lost one precinct in Arlington to Sanders, he never dipped below 43% of the vote in Alexandria. The closest race was Precinct 302 at the Patrick Henry Recreation Center, where Biden was still 127 votes above Sanders.
There was also still some support for candidates who’d already dropped out. Counting the non-absentee votes, 64 people still showed up to the polls for Pete Buttigieg and 86 for Sen. Amy Klobuchar. Both got more total votes than still-in-the-race Tulsi Gabbard.
Absentee voting, largely reflecting a more crowded field prior to Biden’s big South Carolina primary win and endorsements from Buttigieg and Klobuchar, narrowly favored Warren. The Massachusetts senator received 21.3% of the absentee vote to 21.0% for Biden, 17.0% for Bloomberg, 16.4% for Buttigieg, 14.8% for Sanders, 8.1% for Klobuchar.
Staff photo by James Cullum
Alexandria voters resoundingly chose former Vice President Joe Biden as their Democratic nominee for president on Super Tuesday.
Biden took Virginia with 54.22% of the 1.3 million votes cast across the state, and also won half of the city’s votes, which nearly doubled in participation since the last presidential primary in 2016. Virginia is one of 14 states that participated in Tuesday’s primary contest.
The unofficial Super Tuesday results in Alexandria:
- Joe Biden: 49.95% (20,782 votes)
- Elizabeth Warren: 18.33% (7,628 votes)
- Bernie Sanders: 18.23% (7,586 votes)
- Michael Bloomberg: 10.20% (4,243 votes)
Biden also received the most absentee votes with 667 votes, or 21.04%.
The mood for Joe Biden tonight at a campaign watch party in Alexandria, Virginia pic.twitter.com/FB3HLDgenO
— Courtney Weaver (@courtney_ft) March 4, 2020
In a packed victory party in Old Town, Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) was flanked by his Democratic House colleagues. Speaking over shouts of “Let’s go, Joe,” he said that Biden’s victory in last Saturday’s South Carolina primary was pivotal to Tuesday’s win.
“Right after South Carolina they invented a new word — ‘Joementum!'” Scott exclaimed. “Joe Biden is the strongest candidate and I think all the polls show him beating Donald Trump usually by about 10 points, and he has broad support across Virginia. Even former Republican Senator John Warner endorsed Biden on Sunday, so he’s got good support from virtually the entire spectrum, from moderate Republicans all the way to liberal Democrats.”
CNN called the Virginia primary almost immediately after polls closed at 7 p.m. — an indication of a blow-out win.
“Well, that was quick,” said Janet Myhre of Mount Vernon, “I think [Biden will] fare fine in November. I think what’s critical is the right VP candidate. If he brings in a very strong ticket, that will coalesce a lot of individuals who would have voted for Trump. My favorite is Kamala Harris, and I would like to see that happen.”
Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.) did not mince words when describing the stakes of the general election in November.
“We are in a battle for the soul of America,” Wexton said. “And I know that Joe has the experience, he has the heart, he has the drive, he has the grit, the courage not only to bring the Democratic party together, but to bring our whole nation together.”
Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) said that Biden’s victorious path in Virginia was paved by both Sen. Amy Klobuchar and former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who dropped out of the race and endorsed the former vice president before Super Tuesday.
“It was really clear on Saturday that Joe had what it takes not just to win the primary, but to beat Donald Trump,” Beyer said.
Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Va.) said that her mother-in-law recently passed away unexpectedly, and that she returned home from the funeral to find a handwritten note from Biden in her mailbox.
“He’s out there running to save the future of our country,” Luria said. “And he took the time to sit down and write my husband and me a note of condolence. So, I can tell you that Joe Biden has the heart that we need.”
Dorothy McAuliffe, the former first lady of Virginia, has supported Biden since her husband, former Governor Terry McAuliffe, announced last year that he would not be running for president.
“I am so proud of Virginia. I am so proud of everyone in this room,” McAuliffe said. “Joe has really exceeded expectations in Virginia, which has really shown the country what he can do and what he’s all about.”
Clarence Tong, the chair of the Alexandria Democratic Committee, said that the turnout demonstrates how much voters in the city want to beat Trump in November.
“We’re getting plenty of volunteers,” Tong said. “In one precinct today, the precinct captain got more than two dozen volunteers to help with his polling station, so there is a lot of enthusiasm.”
Biden Wins Virginia — “Virginia voters have overwhelmingly given former Vice President Joe Biden a sizable win over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in Tuesday’s primary election. According to unofficial state election returns, Biden has been called the winner of the state with 53.3 percent of what was a record primary turnout, and will capture the largest share of its 99 delegates.” [Patch, Washington Post]
City Holding Coronavirus Info Session — “The City of Alexandria, the Alexandria Health Department, Inova Health System, and the Alexandria City Public Schools will hold an online virtual information session on Thursday, March 12, from 8 to 9 p.m., to provide information and answer questions about the COVID-19 coronavirus. The session will be accessible at alexandriava.gov/Health.” [City of Alexandria, Alexandria Living]
North Old Town Quickly Developing — “Old Town North has been witnessing metamorphic change evolving before our eyes over the last two decades. Residential and mixed-use developments, including rental apartments, townhouses, condos, and retail spaces scattered throughout. Among notable additions are the Harris Teeter at The Kingsley, the Gables Old Town North with apartments, restaurants and retail built on the old Giant/ABC Store site. Redevelopment of the abandoned Bus Barn site has just commenced.” [Zebra]
Nearby: Redevelopment Floated for Shopping Center — “One developer is proposing putting 900 apartments where the Belle View Shopping Center — recently ravaged by a fire — now stands.” [Alexandria Living, Covering the Corridor]
The event, which was attended by more than 100 people at Lost Boy Cider, is the first indicator of how Alexandria might turn out in the run up to Tuesday’s primary. Virginia is one of 15 states participating in Super Tuesday primary on March 3.
Biden, whose campaign was re-energized after winning the South Carolina primary on Saturday night, won the straw poll with 48 votes, or 38.7%. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren took second place with 39 votes, or 31.5%; former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg took third place with 14 votes, or 11.29 percent; Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders took fourth place with 13 votes, or 10.4%; and Sen. Amy Klobuchar received 8 votes, or 6.4%.
Former Florida Sen. Bill Nelson spoke as a Biden surrogate, and said that the former vice president can beat Donald Trump this November.
“We are so divided. There is so much political hate out there,” Nelson said. “This presidential race in November is going to be decided on the swing states. You take a state like Pennsylvania, you take a state like mine, Florida, which is the swingingest of the swing states, and it’s always close. Joe Biden can beat Donald Trump in those swing states.”
In addition to the unofficial win, Biden’s campaign picked up the endorsement of Alexandria’s Rep. Don Beyer (D), who previously backed Pete Buttigieg, the former South Bend, Indiana mayor who announced earlier in the day that he had suspended his campaign.
Among attendees, local Democrat Gail Gordon Donegan was split between voting for Biden and Bloomberg.
“I’m strongly leaning Biden,” she said. “I really respect Bloomberg and what he has done for the gun violence prevention community and all that he has done to help elect Democrats with his money. I think at this point, though, that Biden might be our best chance to beat Trump and Bloomberg might be a good fit for a cabinet position down the road.”
At the event, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey spoke as a surrogate for Klobuchar, Councilman Mo Seifeldein spoke for Sanders, Councilman John Taylor Chapman spoke for Warren, and former Alexandria Mayor Allison Silberberg spoke for Bloomberg.
Sen. Tim Kaine, meanwhile, is scheduled to help the Biden campaign phone bank at its Eisenhower Avenue office this afternoon.
ADC Chair Clarence Tong said that the committee needs volunteers between now and November.
“The straw poll is an indicator, but we know that lots of Democrats will be turning out on Super Tuesday,” he said. “We’re trying to reach voters and recruit as many volunteers as possible to help us for the November election.”
Schools Preparing for Coronavirus — “ACPS has partnered with the Alexandria City Health Department and local first responders to form a COVID-19 Task Force Planning Committee to work closely to monitor this evolving situation. We plan to provide updates as we progress with this planning and work.” [ACPS]
Reminder: Primary Day is Tomorrow — “On Tuesday, March 3, there will be a Democratic Party presidential primary election in the City of Alexandria. Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.” [City of Alexandria]
Business Robbed in Old Town on Sunday — “The Alexandria Police Department is investigating a commercial robbery in the 800 block of South Washington Street. Expect police activity in the area.” [Twitter]
Resident: Parking Is Too Sparse in Old Town — “Personally, I have consciously put off or cancelled Old Town plans several times because the parking crisis made visiting a business or meeting up with friends impossible with my own vehicle. I believe our city planners should consider building a public parking deck or similar facility somewhere in the neighborhood in order to alleviate the impossibly high demand on our limited parking situation.” [Gazette Packet]
TV Show for Monte Durham’s New Salon? — “There is a possibility that Durham’s salon will be the premise of a new show. ‘I am very proud to say that I have been tapped on the shoulder by a production company out of L.A. that has signed a contract to do a sizzle reel on the hair salon, hopefully to take that to a network and sell it so we’ll have a show on that,’ Durham announced at a Visit Alexandria meeting last month.” [Alexandria Times]
Alexandria BBQ Restaurant on Local TV — “Tommy McFly visit[ed] Myron Mixon’s Pitmaster in Old Town Alexandria to see what it takes to cook award-winning barbecue.” [NBC 4]
Beyer Campaigning for Mayor Pete — “As Pete Buttigieg struggles for momentum going into the South Carolina Democratic primary and Super Tuesday, two members of Congress from the Washington region are traveling the country to promote his presidential campaign. Reps. Don Beyer (D-Va.) and Anthony G. Brown (D-Md.) were early endorsers of the 38-year-old former mayor of South Bend, Ind., who they say has the personal story and calm demeanor to unite a nation divided by Donald Trump’s presidency.” [Washington Post]
New Bubble Tea Spot in Old Town North — “Ya-Gút St. Coffee & Treats ‘is the place for all things sweet,’ said Dustin Ngo from behind the counter of one of Old Town North’s newest businesses. The specialty shop opened in January at 682 N. St. Asaph St. next to its partner restaurant, Sunday in Saigon… The shop serves coffee drinks, unique pastries, bubble tea and gelato.” [Alexandria Living]
Hours before Democratic presidential hopefuls took to the debate stage in Las Vegas on Wednesday night, the campaign offices for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden opened in Alexandria.
Virginia is one of 15 states participating in the Super Tuesday primary on March 3, and the contest has the world wondering who will come out on top.
Delegate Elizabeth Guzman (D-31), a co-chair for Sanders’ campaign in Virginia, spoke at the packed opening of the new field office at 1314 King Street.
“I decided to run for office inspired by Sen. Sanders,” Guzman, the first Hispanic immigrant elected to the General Assembly, told the audience, which included Alexandria City Councilman Mo Seifeldein. “Within the last few days, I’ve been asked by many reporters about the electability of Bernie Sanders, and that’s the question of the hour.”
Guzman said that Sanders’s base has grown since 2016, and that the campaign is focusing on not only primary voters, but engaging with voters who have felt disenfranchised by the Democratic Party. The campaign is also opening a field office in Richmond and will have campus staging locations spread across every congressional district.
The Biden field office opened Wednesday at 2121 Eisenhower Ave, and featured Ambassador Cathy Russell, a vice chair for the campaign. Russell is the former U.S. Ambassador for Global Women’s Issues and was Second Lady Jill Biden’s chief of staff during the Obama Administration.
The candidates have made mixed inroads into Virginia. Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, plans on speaking in Northern Virginia on Sunday — his latest visit since speaking in Alexandria in June — although the location of the event has yet to be determined. Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg spoke in Richmond last weekend, his second trip since speaking in Alexandria in December. Bloomberg has also opened a campaign office in Arlington.
Neither Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who held a town hall event in Arlington last week, nor Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who spoke in Dale City in October, have scheduled events in Virginia leading up to Super Tuesday.
The Alexandria Democratic Committee plans to be out in full force at the polls on Super Tuesday to talk to voters and recruit volunteers, according to ADC Chair Clarence Tong.
“The ADC has been working to increase awareness and visibility of the Super Tuesday presidential primary, including holding our almost annual ADC Straw Poll on Sunday, March 1, at Lost Boy Cider,” Tong told ALXnow. “At that event, participants can hear from surrogates from each of the presidential campaigns.”
Boyd Walker has never done this before. On the night of Jan. 29, the Alexandria resident will travel nearly 1,000 miles with 18 others in a four car caravan from Alexandria to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to volunteer with Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign.
“It’s fun. It’s an adventure. It’s a road trip with a bunch of people who share your values and goals,” Walker told ALXnow. “Whoever the candidate is, there should be tremendous enthusiasm, because Donald Trump is the most corrupt, dangerous president we’ve ever had and will be very damaging to our democracy and our planet if he spends another four years in office.”
The Iowa caucus, which is the first nominating battle between the Democratic candidates vying to run against President Trump this fall, is on Feb. 3. The presidential primary process has yielded a historic number of Democratic candidates, fundraising figures and engagement among grassroots activists and volunteers.
The contest has galvanized many Alexandrians to action, including 19-year-old Barrett Fife (above), who took a year off from the College of William & Mary and moved to Urbandale, Iowa, last August to work on the presidential campaign of Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana. She’s now a field organizer for the campaign, managing up to a dozen volunteers who are knocking on at least 100 doors a day in the run up to the primary.
“I’m taking a break. My school was really amenable and said to take as much time off as I need and to give them a ring,” Fife said. “No matter who wins, our nation is going to be more broken and divided than ever before, and I think Mayor Pete will help heal those divisions.”
Fife interned in years past with Del. Mark Levine (D-45), but it was the kind of work that an assistant would do.
“It’s been crazy to now be leading 40-to-70-year-old Iowans. Sometimes they look at me like, ‘Who is this kid?’ but it’s been fun flexing those leadership muscles,” she said. “It’s been absolutely amazing. It’s been crazy because I’ve lived in Virginia my entire life and go to school in Virginia, so this is the longest I’ve spent away from home.”
Clarence Tong, chair of the Alexandria Democratic Committee, said that Democrats are “laser-focused” on defeating Trump.
“It is exciting to have the Iowa Caucus finally here in just a few weeks and Alexandrians will have the opportunity to vote in the Virginia Primary on Super Tuesday (March 3),” Tong said. “Absentee voting has already started, so please make sure to make arrangements to vote if you cannot make it in person.”
Kurt Peterson of Charlottesville will lead the caravan of local Sanders supporters in four cars to Cedar Rapids. His group will stay in Airbnb rentals and do as directed by field organizers on the ground. In 2016, he knocked on more than 1,300 doors in seven states for Sanders.
“We’ll do whatever is most beneficial to the campaign,” Peterson said. “We’ll see how things go. I’m probably not going to New Hampshire or South Carolina because I think the effort is needed here. But after Super Tuesday we’ll see how we do and what’s next.”
(Updated at 2:25 p.m.) Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg unveiled a new plan to cut carbon emissions at a campaign event in Alexandria this morning.
The billionaire owner of Bloomberg LP and former New York City mayor addressed a crowd of supporters and members of the media at Blackwall Hitch on the waterfront. Bloomberg was originally supposed to hold the event outside the gates of the GenOn power plant, but that plan was scuttled due to rain.
Bloomberg, who has blitzed the airwaves with $100 million worth of advertising since entering the crowded Democratic field in November, called for replacing the 251 existing coal-fired power plants in the U.S. He said he would work to move the U.S. to a 100% clean-energy future “as fast as humanly possible,” while slashing emissions in the U.S. by 50% by 2030.
During his speech, Bloomberg said he was focused on defeating President Donald Trump, and was concerned that the other Democratic candidates were not well-positioned to do so.
After the event, Bloomberg posted for photos with supporters and took a bus over to view the power plant. He also visited at least one local business.