In 2005, with 6 Democratic candidates for an open seat in the House of Delegates, I was slow in deciding whom to support. As I explained at the time, 1) ours is a very Democratic district so our nominee will almost certainly be elected; 2) once elected the first time, our Democratic incumbent is unlikely to ever face serious primary challenges; and 3) unless he (only men were running at the time) messes up badly, whoever is elected will be our Delegate until he decides he no longer wants to be our Delegate. Given those realities, that 2005 open-seat primary became a very important election – the once-in-a-decade (or longer) opportunity to have an actual impact on who would be my representative.
I eventually concluded that David Englin was the best choice and I worked for his nomination and election – a decision I have never regretted. But now David Englin has stepped down, and we again have an open-seat primary. All of the principles that applied in 2005 apply to this primary: even though we’ll vote every 2 years, it’s the one opportunity we have in the foreseeable future to actually “pick” our Delegate. Those of us who plan to be living in the 45th District for the coming decade need to take this opportunity seriously. There are excellent candidates running – just as there were 7 years ago – and we need to pick the one we feel will be best for the long haul, not necessarily the one someone else tells us we should support.
I consider myself a friend and political ally of both announced candidates for the seat. But I would urge David and Shayna Englin to graciously bow out of this campaign and let Karen Gautney’s candidacy stand or fall on her own merits. The perks of incumbency should not and do not extend to the right to select your successor, especially if you’re not planning to continue living in the District.