Monday night, I schlepped through the rain and some awe-inspiring Beltway traffic to attend a fundraiser in McLean for Phil Kellam, Democratic candidate for Congress in Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District. The Second District takes in Virginia Beach, the north side of Norfolk, a sliver of Hampton and the Eastern Shore. Phil hails from the Beach.
For the unaware, Virginia Beach is, culturally and geographically, a large river removed from most of Virginia. It has a rhythm all its own. Sunshine, sandy beaches, easy access to golf courses. All the amenities we don’t have in Northern Virginia. Phil Kellam knows the area and knows it well.
I got to know Phil Kellamn when I first began speaking around Virginia in 2004. He organized a get-together for me that June at his house near the historic Princess Anne Courthouse. We had a lot of things in common and he was there to support me.
As the Commissioner of the Revenue at the Beach, Phil was a leader in the fight to deliver state services more cheaply and efficiently through local constitutional officers — perhaps my favorite cause as a State Delegate. In fact, Phil was first elected Commissioner in 1997 on a promise to eliminate the local car sticker, thereby saving time and aggravation for taxpayers. You might remember that promise as the one from the 1997 election cycle that actually was kept.
During my own race, Phil became someone whose advice I relied upon, both for making connections and pushing new ideas in the legislature. The descendant of a legendary political family in Hampton Roads, he was the only elected Democrat in Virginia Beach. He also genuinely enjoyed representing people, which is a vanishing skill amongst a lot of people that seek public office.
The Second Congressional District is changing fast. The BRAC Commission is threatening the traditional job base by closing local military bases. Meanwhile, the port of Hampton Roads grows in size and international scope. There are major transportation hurdles in a region dominated by local waterways. Voters are looking for new faces.
Phil is an easy-going guy but he’s also about solutions. He’d make a great Virginia Congressman. His website is www.philkellam.com. Send him a couple bucks if you can.