In 2007, Margaret “Margi” Vanderhye won the election for State Delegate in Virginia’s 34th district. Two years later, she lost to Republican challenger Barbara Comstock. The margin of victory was just 422 votes.
In 2011, Margi decided not to challenge Comstock for her old seat back. Instead, she encouraged long-time community leader Pamela Danner to run.
Pamela Danner is no stranger to political campaigns or public service. Always a fiscal conservative and a social moderate, she had originally run for state senate back in the 1990s as a Republican. But when the Christian Coalition targeted her heavily in her second campaign, she switched political parties. As she put it, “the Republican Party abandoned me.”
Danner became a favorite punching bag of the Right due to her support for women’s reproductive health. In one of the starkest differences between the two candidates this cycle, Pamela is now and has always been pro-choice. Barbara Comstock, on the other hand, has a staunchly anti-choice voting record. Fem2.0 blogger Christina Black wrote last month that it won’t matter if the Supreme Court revokes the decision in Roe v. Wade to protect a woman’s right to choose. Why? Because the states are already doing it.
Barbara Comstock is just one example of this extreme agenda being played out at the state level. As pointed out by NARAL Pro-Choice, Comstock has a consistent track record of extreme views regarding women’s reproductive health, including voting to prevent a woman from using her own money in the free market to purchase private insurance that would cover abortion care, and pumping money into abstinence-only education programs for Virginia’s youth. Perhaps Comstock is just unaware that abstinence-only education does not prevent kids from having sex. Instead, it prevents kids from having safe sex. And we know how well that always works out.
But as we all know, women’s issues doesn’t just mean reproductive health. Because women are people, too, all issues that affect the general population affect women. And so we know what’s on everyone’s mind this election cycle: the economy.
Pamela is pushing for job creation in Northern Virginia, particularly for young people. When I spoke with her this week, she emphasized creating jobs in the renewable energy area. As she notes, “George Mason and Virginia Tech, UVA grad schools – all reside in Northern Virginia. This is an amazing brain trust. There are a lot of very talented young people here, and growing renewable energy jobs is one way we can keep them here.” Since nearly 50% of young adults in America aren’t working in their chosen career field, this sounds like a proposal worth considering.
That’s also because as a mother and a former teacher, Pamela Danner believes in investing in education. While Comstock voted to cut $620 million from state education, Pamela wants to increase funding for state universities. All three of Pamela’s daughters attended K-12 in Virginia’s public schools – some of the best in the country. As Pamela noted to me, “it’s important to maintain high quality education – not cut it. Good schools hire teachers, bring jobs to the community. Businesses want to relocate because their employees want to send their kids to good schools.”
As a small-business owner, Pamela is also well aware of the challenges facing this group of marginalized voters. She wants to look at tax incentives for small businesses so they can grow and expand. She also recently held several sessions with the McLean Chamber of Commerce about the unique challenges faced by women business owners and offering resource-sharing advice for nonprofits.
And so, knowing about Barbara Comstock’s record – from voting to allow guns in bars (because combining gin and guns makes a good cocktail?) to denying state funding for stem cell research – Pamela Danner decided to run again this cycle because the people of Northern Virginia “deserve a voice of reason.”
So far, Pamela has knocked on well over 6,000 doors, spoken to thousands of voters, and is gearing up her intensive Get Out the Vote campaign. College students from all over the Northern Virginia area are spilling into the 34th district this weekend to help spread the word and remind voters of what is at stake. Not just a women’s right to choose, but education, economy, job creation, taxes, and many other issues – all of which will affect women.
As someone who has always supported women running for office at all levels, from all political parties, it’s encouraging to see another competitive race between two women. But at the end of the day, being a woman isn’t enough to get my support. You also have to support women’s issues and promote policies that are in our general interest. And so this weekend, I’ll be heading to Virginia to knock on doors and make some calls in support of Pamela Danner’s campaign. When a politician is as out of touch with constituents as Barbara Comstock is, it’s time to bring in that voice of reason.
Pamela Danner is the owner of a small business, successful attorney and a mother of three daughters. For over 25 years Danner has been active in the community, and was honored by The Lord and Lady Fairfax Awards Program for her volunteer leadership and outstanding service. To find out more about Pamela’s campaign, to volunteer, or to donate, please visit www.dannerfordelegate.com.