Friday, June 20, 2014

Democrat Trammell Has a Shot in Cantor's Former 7th District

Jack Trammell

One of the aspects of Eric Cantor's defeat last week in the GOP primary for the Virginia 7th Congressional District is that suddenly the Democrat challenger, Jack Trammell, may have a shot at winning the general election in November.  If that happens, it would provide another instance where Tea Party insurgents have handed victory to an otherwise long shot candidate.  Sometimes ideological purity demanded by the Kool-Aid drinking Tea Party and Christofascist activists of the GOP base comes with a high price.  A piece in the Richmond Times Dispatch looks at the new landscape of the race for the 7th District.   Here are some excerpts:

Jack Trammell entered the race for the 7th District’s congressional seat fully expecting to mount the traditional quixotic challenge to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

But fellow Randolph-Macon College professor Dave Brat’s stunning, tea party-fueled upset of Cantor last week has changed the dynamics of the race, arguably giving Trammell and eager fellow Democrats a better chance to compete for a seat that has been in Republican hands since 1971.
“I was expecting to face Cantor, and I knew what the realistic prospects of what kind of campaign it was going to be and what it was going to take to make it a competitive race, if it could be that,” Trammell recalled in an interview at a Starbucks on the edge of the district.  Then Brat won.

“At that point my iPhone, literally within 30 minutes, melted in a pile of plastic and rubber,” Trammell said. “I think I had 644 emails in the first hour or two.”

[T]he 50-year-old author, associate professor and farmer from Louisa County is running as a Democrat in a district with a voting history that is more “red” than a vampire novel. That, by the way, is what Trammell was writing before the political fates plucked him from obscurity and thrust him front and center into a nationally watched race. 

[N]ow, attention is turning to Trammell, whose decision to seek the seat sprang from the encouragement of friends, after existing most of his life as a notion of public service he might pursue someday.

A week after the race was set, Trammell is in the midst of crafting policy positions on major issues sure to be debated over the next four months. He shared a few of them during his first sit-down interview.

On education: Trammell, an associate professor of sociology who also directs Randolph-Macon’s disability support services, wants reforms to student loan debt.

On health care: He favors expanded health care and expanded Medicaid, but with a caveat. “I realize that any program that’s that large is going to have the danger of waste, fraud and mismanagement and red tape,” he said.

On immigration: Trammell said his ancestor Thomas Trammell came to Virginia from England through the Port of Alexandria in 1671 after indenturing himself to pay for the voyage.  The issue, he said, should be evaluated as a cost-benefit analysis balancing the advantages of what he describes as immigrants’ “human capital, diversity, innovation and energy,” versus the strain that unregulated immigration can place on basic human services, local communities and homeland security.

On the minimum wage: “I do generally support the minimum wage, and I think increasing it is fairly logical based on inflation rates and cost-of-living increases.” He’s open to letting localities make their own decisions on the wage, saying it could be used as an economic development tool.

Only time will tell whether such common sense positions can carry the day in a GOP leaning district.

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