Elizabeth Guzman Reacts to Election Results

With the presidential election being called over the weekend, Virginia’s leaders have been expressing their support of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice-president-elect Kamala Harris. While I highlighted some of the statements folks had already been making, I also wanted to highlight the video Elizabeth Guzman posted on twitter.

While the sentiment Del. Guzman expressed has been shared by many other elected officials, I wanted to highlight her remarks as a reminder of how Virginia has an active race for statewide offices coming up in 2021. On the Democratic side, we’ve already seen strong candidates like Guzman, Hala Ayla, and Sean Perryman enter the Lt. Governor race and providing a diverse field of folks running for statewide office. Women of color such as Jennifer McClellan and Jennifer Carroll Foy have also entered the gubernatorial race.

If you’re actively following the social media accounts of leading figures in Virginia politics, however, you probably noticed that there are some Republicans trying to completely dismiss the statewide campaigns of people of color and women. In a thread that ran dozens of tweets long, Rachel Bitcofer, a GOP consultant, completely ignored the people of color who’ve entered the race for statewide offices and claimed the only hope for Democrats is Terry McAuliffe.

As if that weren’t bad enough, she went on to suggest progressives shouldn’t criticize her because she was involved with the Lincoln Project. Understandably, there was significant backlash from active Virginia politicos after her long winded rant that wasn’t based on actual facts.

“If you can’t tweet about VA politics without erasing black women, getting gov candidates wrong, [and] claiming to be saving America, then maybe you shouldn’t be tweeting about VA politics,” David Broder of SEIU said.

Ben Tribbett added “I’ve been blocked by Rachel Bitcofer for awhile now, but glad to see everyone else is finally getting to see her idiocy showing.”

Even after Bitcofer finally admitted she didn’t even know what office Mark Herring was running for, she claimed he “snuck” his decision in without her being aware of it. She went on to insist this meant another white man was going to win the nomination and never even mention several prominent women of color running for governor. On top of that, she proceeded to block anybody who called her out on this.

While one Republican operative’s lengthy rant on social media isn’t the end all be all, it does help to illustrate the tremendous work that still needs to be done. If someone who claims to be in the know and makes a living in the world of politics doesn’t even know who’s running for statewide office, after all, then it’s very likely many voters aren’t familiar with the candidates. It also emphasizes the battle to end the assumption that only straight white male politicians should be discussed as leading contenders for elected office.

Dominion Energy Cancels Atlantic Coast Pipeline

In a statement released over the weekend, Dominion Energy “announced the cancellation of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (“ACP”) due to ongoing delays and increasing cost uncertainty which threaten the economic viability of the project.” They added that “recent developments have created an unacceptable layer of uncertainty and anticipated delays for ACP.”

For those who are wondering what the “recent developments” are, it’s the prolonged campaign against the pipeline by people who were outraged over the environmental impact the unnecessary project would have and the resulting economic consequences that would largely impact on communities that are predominately made up of people of color.

As the news came out, there were several elected officials expressed support for the grassroots activists who secured the victory. Delegate Elizabeth Guzman said we shouldn’t “discount the magic of activism” while adding it’s time to “invest in more clean energy and green union jobs,” for instance, and Danica Roem pointed out that “all y’all who helped change the House of Delegates made a *huge* difference” and gave “our veteran colleagues [in the General Assembly] the reinforcements they needed to successfully fight.”

Perhaps one of the best comments about the announcement came from a “translation” Prince William County Supervisor Kenny Boddye posted on twitter. Kenny suggested Dominion’s press release essentially said “we would’ve gotten away with our money-making, planet-killing gas export scheme if it wasn’t for those meddling kids!” Kenny’s remarks not only hit the nail on the head, but also helped to highlight just how many people representing Prince William County really stepped up on this issue.

In addition to the obvious environmental victory this decision represents, it’s also a huge deal because it shows how Dominion’s power in slowly fading. The state regulated monopoly has long gotten its way as it poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into the campaign coffers of politicians on both sides of the aisle. This has meant any real progress was going to difficult because even elected officials who were supposedly environmentally friendly owed their election in part to receiving funds from Dominion.

As Del. Roem hinted at in her comments, however, the recent changes in the House of Delegates helped to address this. Not only were there more people in the General Assembly advocating for environmental justice, but many folks had pledged not to take campaign donations from Dominion and therefore had stronger footing to truly take a stance against some of the utility company’s horrible policies.

While there is obviously still more work to be done to ensure the natural resources Virginia has to offer are protected, this is indeed a great reminder of how grassroots activists standing up for what’s right can have a positive impact on the community.