I was one of about 40 people who showed up to support Justin Fairfax at an event in Leesburg last night. If you follow Justin on Facebook or Twitter, you’ve probably noticed that he’s been all over the Commonwealth. But in case you don’t, in the few minutes we spoke Justin pointed out how he was in Richmond yesterday morning, Charlottesville the night before, and has traveled 10,000 miles this year alone all over Virginia (25,000 miles over the last few years). All of these events are because he wants to reach out to as many individuals as possible.
You might think just talking to relatively small crowds won’t do much good after having a presidential election where the candidates were speaking to crowds that filled arenas. But, as Justin pointed out during his speech, there was just 3% turnout during the 2013 Democratic primary. That means only about 150,000 people decided who the statewide nominees would be and it’s inspiring these small crowds of potential volunteers that will make the difference.
It was also very telling to me that even in a relatively small crowd, it was a diverse group of people who showed up. Throughout the evening I spent time speaking with people who have been involved in the Democratic Party for years such as Marty Martinez (chair of the Loudoun County Democratic Party) and others who showed up only after being invited by a friend who knew she was interested in fighting discrimination and oppression.
In addition to all those grassroots activists who came out to support Justin, there were several elected officials there including Delegate John Bell, Supervisor Kristen Umstattd, newly elected Leesburg Town Council Member Ron Campbell, and former Delegate Michael Futrell.
Anyone who’s been to an event like this knows that most elected officials get a few minutes to touch on why they’re there supporting the guest of honor. With so many electeds there, I had a feeling the speeches would get a little repetitive but I was pleasantly surprised when everyone was sharing different antidotes about why they were supporting Justin. It was actually energizing to here such a wide variety of reasons to support the campaign.
To give a brief flavor of what the speeches were like, the campaign put up video of Kristen Umstattd’s speech.