A smoky room. Loud voices. It is filled with Democratic convention delegates, choosing the next Congressman for Virginia’s Eighth Congressional District. The candidates take turns speaking, all pledging their ideological purity.
When the smoke clears, a winner is chosen — a well-regarded State Senator.
Of course, I’m talking about the 1920 convention in Fairfax Courthouse which nominated R. Walton Moore as a “sound conservative” to hold the rural Democratic seat. The district then stretched from Alexandria to Gordonsville and took in the dusty courthouse towns of Fairfax, Manassas, Warrenton, Front Royal, Orange, Stafford, Luray and Leesburg. The main industry was dairy farming.
Moore went on to serve six terms in Congress, then another eight years as FDR’s assistant secretary of state. He prided himself as an “independent” outside the Byrd Organization, which was beginning to control Virginia in the 1920′s and would for nearly a half-century. He also was better known as “Uncle Walton” to a flock of children who lived next-door to his stately home on Chain Bridge Road in Fairfax. Among them was my grandmother Mary Walton (McCandlish) Livingston.
Fast forward to today …
There are a number of Democrats running for the 8th District seat, recently vacated by the retiring Jim Moran. I know most of them and they are all friends and very good people. Quite frankly, there is not a lot to distinguish them in terms of their politics, which runs the gamut from “proud liberal” to “ardent progressive.”
However, I’m pleased to support Adam Ebbin. I’ve known Adam for over twenty years. We first met at the state Democratic convention in 1991 and served on the Alexandria City Committee in the mid-1990s. We then served together in the House of Delegates and, of course, the Senate.
Adam and I don’t agree on every issue. But I’ve come to respect him as someone who works with people and respects differing opinions. He avoids the predictable name-calling or sloganeering of partisan hacks, without compromising his own principles.
What separates Adam? In my opinion, it is his ability to put aside the nefarious effect of money on public policy. My biggest complaint about Richmond is that high-dollar contributors have too much influence. Capitol Hill is even worse.
Adam is not that way. He’s not afraid to vote against the large interests, even if it means foregoing a large check in his next race. Nor is he afraid to “rock the boat” of the establishment, when it needs a good shake.
A month ago, we considered the “ethics reform” bill on the State Senate floor. Faced with a weak solution, Adam stood up and offered substantive amendments to limit gifts to lawmakers and require stronger disclosures. His amendments were defeated but he was not afraid to try, even if he could only get a half-dozen votes on his attempts. That took guts.
Adam is one of many Democratic candidates. He’s not the loudest, the tallest or the wealthiest. But he’s a hard worker and he sticks to his principles. I know he will do a great job as a United States Congressman.