The McLean Community Association held a forum last night for the candidates running for the House of Delegates from the 34th District, which stretches from the McLean area all the way out to some portions of Loudoun county. Delegate Kathleen Murphy has represented the district ever since she won a special election when Barbara Comstock vacated the seat after first being elected to Congress back in 2014. Before Comstock held the seat, it was represented by Democrat Margi Vanderhye for one term after Republican Vince Callahan held the seat for forty years (1968 to 2008).
Since the School Board and Board of Supervisors from the Dranesville District were also participating in the forum and folks were anxious to get home to watch Game 7 of the World Series, the candidates didn’t have time to answer a whole lot of questions. That being said, it’s definitely worth taking a look at how Kathleen and her challenger Gary Pan approached the debate.
During the half hour or so they were on stage, Pan often spoke in vague generalities while discussing his own vision and spent a lot of time launching attacks against Kathleen. Delegate Murphy, on the other hand, rarely even mentioned her opponent and usually answered questions by laying out some of the work she’s already done and providing a glimpse into ways she believes the General Assembly can move forward on the issue.
This difference in approach can be seen clearly in the opening state both candidates delivered. During his opening statement, Gary Pan claimed that even though nobody knows Del. Murphy’s name, she’s a “life long political operative who has consistently voted with her party” who promotes an “extreme socialist agenda.” Perhaps thinking he needed even more attacks to actually fill a three minute statement, he talked about how she supposedly “voted against tolls, but she didn’t fight them.” In other words, he’s so desperate to launch attacks that he had to make up a reason to complain even when she voted the way he liked.
In contrast to Pan, Delegate Murphy used her opening statement as an opportunity to lay out her record. She highlighted things like giving teachers a five percent pay raise, her history of working with VDOT to make progress on transportation projects in the district, providing almost 400,000 Virginians access to affordable health care through Medicaid expansion, her efforts to help address gun violence, and her endorsements from both labor unions and local Chambers of Commerce.
While the Fairfax County Republican Party and its candidates have been trying to bring Trump style politics into our state and local government, most Virginians want leaders who will work on issues that actually matter instead of bringing divisiveness into our communities. It’s clear Kathleen Murphy has a record and temperament that proves she’s the better candidate in this race.