2017 November Election Outcome is Big Win for the Environment, Resistance Movement



By Glen Besa, Political Chair


If you attended the Women’s March the day after the Trump Inaugural or the People’s Climate March last April, you knew revolution was in the air.  Indivisible Groups popped up across Virginia and the country, and spontaneous demonstrations turned out huge crowds to stop Trump’s immigration ban and repeal of ObamaCare.  Sierra Club’s membership surged.


The open question was what this massive engagement would mean on Election Day.  .Betting on Virginia’s growing resistance movement following the 2016 presidential election and incredible grassroots political energy rapidly organizing on social media under banners including Indivisible, we launched the largest Sierra Club team of political organizers ever in a state election to directly aid House of Delegates campaigns in suburban districts. While other groups narrowed their endorsements to races everyone acknowledged were in play and invested in known Democratic strongholds, we endorsed and worked for numerous candidates who were thought not to have a chance of unseating powerful incumbents.  


In addition to victories at the top of the ticket by Ralph Northam, Justin Fairfax and Mark Herring, all of whom we endorsed, 40 of the 57 candidates we endorsed for the House of Delegates won their elections. Of these, 27 were incumbents and 13 were challengers.


It was a historic day for the House of Delegates. Several endorsed challengers who were personally targeted with racist or homophobic attack ads, including Roem, Guzman and Ayala, won their contests. Until yesterday, only 17 of the 100 members of the Virginia House of Delegates were women. Now, the number will surge to 28– the highest level in history. The Democrats’ new strength in the Virginia legislature — moving up from 34 seats to at least 49 — was build on a strikingly diverse range of candidates, including Guzman, a woman who immigrated from Peru, Tran, a female refugee from Vietnam, Adams, an openly gay woman and Roem, a transgender woman. Many of the ousted Republicans were white men who had held office for years. Two of victors (Guzman and Ayala) will be the first Hispanic women to serve in the House of Delegates. Tran is the first Asian-American woman to join Virginia’s House of Delegates. Carter is a democratic socialist.


Electric utility Dominion Energy has deservedly earned bad publicity around their coal ash pollution, proposed construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, and over-reach in the General Assembly curtailing the authority of state’s regulators to adjust the monopoly’s electric rates. In a break from precedent of both Democrats and Republicans alike, many candidates for office joined partner organization ActivateVA’s pledge to not accept cash political contributions from Dominion. Thirteen candidates who took the pledge won their election, and will be joining Virginia’s legislative body this January.  Sierra Club will be working with these candidates and others to limit Dominion’s influence and to advance clean energy and climate policy in the 2018 General Assembly Session. See page X for a preview of the Chapter’s legislative priorities this upcoming Session.


It is important to note that Sierra Club is non-partisan. Sadly, the Republican Party has abandoned its roots in the conservation movement dating from President Teddy Roosevelt, and so it is hard to find Republicans we can endorse today. One was Delegate Randy Minchew although he and another Republican, Ron Villanueva, who fought for climate protection both lost in the Democratic wave.   


Thanks to everyone who voted and special thanks to all of you who volunteered and contributed financially to the successful results of this election.  Congratulations to these candidates we endorsed who now join the Virginia General Assembly (* denotes candidate pledging to not take Dominion money):


Newly Elected

2 Jennifer Foy*

12 Chris Hurst

13 Danica Roem*

31 Elizabeth Guzman*

32 David Reid

42 Kathy Tran*

50 Lee Carter*

51 Hala Ayala*

67 Karrie Delaney

68 Dawn Adams*   

72 Schuyler VanValkenburg*

73 Debra Rodman*

85 Cheryl Turpin*


Returning Incumbents


11 Sam Rasoul

34 Kathleen Murphy

35 Mark Keam

36 Ken Plum

37 David Bulova

38 Kaye Kory

39 Vivian Watts

41 Eileen Filler-Corn

43 Mark Sickles

44 Paul Krizek

45 Mark Levine

46 Charniele Herring

47 Patrick Hope

48 Rip Sullivan

49 Alfonso Lopez

53 Marcus Simon

57 David Toscano

63 Lashrecse Aird

69 Betsy Carr

71 Jeff Bourne

74 Lamont Bagby

75 Roslyn Tyler

86 Jennifer Boysko

87 John Bell WIN

92 Jeion Ward

93 Mike Mullin

95 Cia Price


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