It is reasonable to believe that the state senator in our part of Virginia is being groomed to do for Virginia—or I should say do to Virginia—what Scott Walker has been doing to Wisconsin. This state senator’s name is Mark Obenshain. In the election of 2013 he came within a hair of winning statewide office as Virginia’s Attorney General. Now there is much expectation that in 2017 he will try to become governor.
Here is an important clue regarding what it would mean for him to succeed in fulfilling that ambition: in his Attorney General race, Mr. Obenshain was helped by a $60,000 donation from the Koch Brothers.
Whatever else one might want to say about the Koch Brothers — and there is plenty worth saying — one has to acknowledge that when it comes to buying the government, the Koch Brothers know what they are doing. If anyone in the history of the United States has been so adept at they in parlaying private wealth into political power, I don’t know about it.
We can conclude, therefore, that they knew that Mark Obenshain would serve their agenda if he manages to gain the governorship of the Old Dominion. Another of the Koch Brothers’ boys — Scott Walker in Wisconsin — has already shown clearly what that agenda looks like: taking power and wealth from average citizens to give to the wealthy and to the corporate system, dividing groups of citizens against each other, undermining the basic structures of fairness and decency and enlightenment of which that once-great state was proud.
All this is to say that there are good reasons why people who care about the future not only of Virginia, but also of America, might take an interest in the decision my intrepid wife, April Moore, has made to challenge Mark Obenshain in his bid to be re-elected to the state senate.
April has never run for public office, and she does so now for all the right reasons: not out of political ambition for herself but because she cares. She cares about preserving our democracy from the ongoing takeover by Big Money, and she cares about our acting responsibly to protect our children and grandchildren from potential disaster if we keep destabilizing the climate of the only planet we’ve got.
Below is the speech – in text and in video – with which she has launched her campaign this week at a press conference in Harrisonburg, Virginia.
Not at all long ago, I’d have been astonished to think I’d be here announcing my candidacy for public office. But here I am.
The story behind this surprising development begins last year, when I became a grandmother for the first time. And then again for the second time.
I was already concerned about what the scientists have been telling us about climate change-that it is real and that it is urgent that we act now to address it.
But now I’ve got these two adorable little ones in my life, and it feels especially urgent. Because the scientists tell us that — if we don’t act responsibly — the consequences for them, and for all our children and grandchildren, could be terrible.
I can’t bear the thought of these innocents suffering because we were too blind, or too busy, or too corrupt to care.
I decided to look more closely at how our state of Virginia is dealing with this challenge. I was appalled by what I found. And what I found goes a lot deeper than our state’s failure to respond to the challenge of climate change. That failure is part of a larger picture: too many of our elected representatives are sacrificing the people to serve big powerful interests.
Did you know that the nonpartisan Center for Public Integrity ranks Virginia 47th among the 50 states when it comes to government integrity! And in its corruption risk report card, issued to each state, Virginia earned a grade of F!
And our present state senator, Mark Obenshain, is right at the heart of that problem. And that’s why I’m running to replace him in the Virginia state Senate.
On many issues that impact average Virginians, too many of our legislators are doing the bidding of Dominion Power, not serving us, the people.
Dominion Power is, by far, the largest corporate donor to our legislators. Do you think that has anything to do with what just happened in the General Assembly: In this just-concluded session Mark Obenshain and others passed a bill — that had been drafted by Dominion itself — to exempt Dominion Power from rate regulation for the next five years.
Now, Dominion and the smooth-talking politicians who helped it say that this is to protect Dominion’s customers from rate hikes. But as an editorial in the Virginia Pilot said just this past Sunday, that claim just doesn’t pass the “smell test.” And the investment world on Wall Street knows who is served by this bill: they say it will beef up Dominion’s bottom line.
And guess at whose expense-millions of Virginians, including more than 37,000 households right here in our District, the citizens that Mr. Obenshain is supposed to be serving!
Now, let’s remember, Dominion Power is no ordinary company. It’s a monopoly that sells us a necessity. That’s the kind of company that everybody has known for generations needs to be regulated to protect the public from the company’s abusing their monopoly power out of unrestrained greed.
But this new legislation shows that justice has been turned on its head. Instead of having our representatives supervising this monopoly to protect the public interest, Dominion is able to tell our supposed representatives what it wants and it gets it.
Mr. Obenshain has shown us who it is that he’s representing – and it’s not the citizens whom this bill will hit in their pocketbooks. (Oh, and if the version of the bill that Mark Obenshain pushed had become law, things would be even worse.)
Government of the people but by and for the Big Money.
Is it any wonder, then, that Dominion also gets our legislators also to block responsible action to respond to the gathering problem of climate change?
Despite the fact that a majority of both Republicans and Democrats now believe that our government has a moral duty to confront the challenge of climate change, Mr. Obenshain voted against a measure that would have given the mighty fossil fuel companies, like Dominion, incentives to stop spewing out the gases that are destabilizing our climate.
Yes, Dominion Power seems to have achieved an extraordinary amount of dominion over the Old Dominion. Including over the Senate seat here in the 26th district.
But it doesn’t have to stay that way!
This isn’t a liberal issue or a conservative issue. It’s an issue of basic American values: Should our representatives represent US, the people, or the powerful special interests?
47th out of 50 states in government integrity! That is not acceptable to me. And I doubt it’s acceptable to the citizens of this District.
This District deserves to be represented by someone who is part of the solution to this problem, not someone who is committed to perpetuating the problem, as Mr. Obenshain has proved himself to be just in this last session.
With former Gov. McDonnell sentenced to prison, the problem of corruption was in the spotlight, giving Virginia an important opportunity to enact real reform to this corrupt system. A panel proposed some real reforms.
Instead, Mr. Obenshain and his allies passed a bill that was more of a gesture than a solution. They prefer to keep our corrupt status quo intact than to help give the people back the power over their own government.
Well, I think Virginians deserve better. We need a legislature
• that puts the people before big money,
• that functions honestly and openly, free of corruption,
• and that enacts real solutions to the climate crisis.
It is how we deal with these three issues that will do most to determine what kind of Virginia, what kind of America, and what kind of planet our grandchildren will inherit from us. On these three issues, I believe that the liberals and conservatives of our District can unite.
And Mark Obenshain is on the wrong side on all three of these issues.
That’s why I’m running for the state senate seat from this District.
If I’m elected,
• I will serve the people, not sacrifice them to serve big money.
• I will work for real ethics reform, so powerful interests can’t buy the people’s government.
• And I will work to ensure that we act responsibly, so that the heritage we pass onto our grandchildren includes a healthy, livable climate.
I understand that Mark Obenshain is a personable politician. But being personable is no substitute for being trustworthy. I believe that if the people of this district see the ways he has betrayed their trust, they will decide, as I have, that they deserve better.
So I offer myself to the people of this district, not just despite, but because, unlike Mark Obenshain, I don’t have political ambitions, and I am not plugged into big money.
I am running as the candidate who will look out for the people, for our democracy, and for the kind of healthy future we all want our grandchildren to have.