It was standing-room-only at Blue Bee Cider in Scott’s Addition, Richmond, on Sunday afternoon.
A crowd of approximately 150 people had gathered for a campaign rally on behalf of the gubernatorial democratic ticket.
Guest speakers included state Delegate Jennifer McClellan, Delegate candidate Jeff Bourne, state Attorney General candidate Mark Herring, Lieutenant Governor candidate Justin Fairfax, former US Attorney General Eric Holder and current California Senator Kamala Harris.
The main theme of the event was getting out to vote and encouraging attendees to resist against hatred and bigotry in the nation.
After Senator McClellan opened the event at 1:30 p.m., she gave the floor to Bourne who emphasized that “we cannot govern through hate, bigotry, and division” and spoke about the use of fear mongering in politics.
“Fear is a mind killer,” Bourne said. “It’s an evil that disintegrates us from within.”
After endorsing the other candidates, Bourne introduced Fairfax, who thanked the crowd for coming and mentioned the Washington Post’s recent endorsement of his ticket, saying that it was a large step in gaining public support for the election.
Fairfax's biggest talking point was voter turnout, where he urged for 540,000 democrats to come to the polls on Nov. 7.
Herring spoke next, discussing his victories as attorney general in the past regarding issues such as marriage equality, DREAMers and the Affordable Care Act. He then told the story of his previous election and how it came down to only a few hundred votes and a recount.
“Every single vote counts,” Herring said. “Vote for an attorney general that will continue to fight for you and will fight on the side of the people. Get out and vote.”
Finally, guest speakers Harris and Holder addressed the crowd. Senator Harris spoke first, emphasizing how this gubernatorial election will be the temperature reader for the rest of the nation.
“What you all do is the first step to get on that path to fighting for, and living to, the ideals of who we are,” Senator Harris said.
She went on to explain that those ideals “were present when we wrote the Constitution” and that it was “time to fight for those ideals."
“A true patriot fights for the ideals of our country,” Senator Harris finished, a nod to the current nationwide discourse over what defines a patriot.
Holder then offered his thoughts to the crowd. Holder was energized and engaging, and joked about using every method available to get friends, family and peers out to vote, including social media platforms such as Snapchat. Holder then grew serious, and spoke about reasons why people choose not to vote or are not able to.
“For those of you who think your vote does not count, too many people sacrificed too much to give you the right to vote,” Holder said. “If we’re going to repay the debt of those who got you the right to vote, you all will come out.”
After Holder finished speaking, the group of politicians slowly left, stopping with supporters and the press to take pictures and provide statements. One of those supporters was Monica Hutchinson, 37, from the East End of Henrico County. Hutchinson, who is also a field organizer for the New Virginia Majority, went to hear what Harris and Holder had to say and was pleased by their speeches.
“I’m glad they mentioned gerrymandering and the importance of voting,” Hutchinson said. “This election is very important with Virginia being the test of the country, so to speak. We are rejecting the hate that is coming out of Washington and we will beat that hate.”
Benedict Roemer, junior, was one of few University of Richmond students in attendance. Roemer was hoping to hear Harris and Holder’s potential pitch for a 2020 presidential run. While that did not happen, Roemer was still impressed by what they had to say.
“I liked how Holder talked about how the impact the state has on the federal government and how flows of influence go both ways between the state and federal levels,” Roemer said. “The federal government is important but the state government is important too.”
After the last of the candidates left, the crowd dispersed into the rainy streets of Scott's Addition.
Contact news writer Julia Raimondi at firstname.lastname@example.org.