This is the article which appeared in the Page Valley News

Page Valley News By Randy Arrington

Kaine_PCDC_VFW_03_09_24About 75 Democrats and independents gathered at the Luray VFW on Saturday to hear from U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) and two candidates in the sixth congressional district race on key issues leading up to this fall’s general election. Not only will the Oval Office be up for grabs, but Kaine’s Senate seat and a slate of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives will appear on the Nov. 5 ballot as well.

“We need to build momentum and awareness in this very important election year,” stated Page County Democratic Committee Chairman Miles Morimoto. The newly elected chairman told the crowd gathered at Post No. 621 about the various programs and organizations that local Democrats are engaging with all across the community in order to “stop the demonization of the Democratic Party on a local level.”

“We sometimes make life more complicated than it needs to be,” Sen. Kaine said during his address to the crowd. “Just work hard and stand up for others … work hard and stand up for others … and if you do that, things will take care of themselves.”

As a candidate this fall himself, Sen. Kaine talked about his background, from starting at age 29 as a candidate for the Richmond City Council in 1994, to his 12 years in the U.S. Senate and as a Vice Presidential candidate in 2016. In between, he was elected Lt. Governor in 2002, and the 70th Governor of Virginia in 2006. He currently has eight potential Republican opponents, after one dropped from the GOP primary race on Friday. The deadline to enter the race is April 4.

In addition to promoting his own re-election bid, Sen. Kaine also took the opportunity to weigh-in on the current presidential race building toward November.

“I never thought I would see the authoritarian thing here,” Kaine said, comparing authoritarian governments he had seen around the world to the Trump Administration. “When we lost [the 2016 presidential race], I was disappointed, but I never thought to overthrow the government…But to be there on Jan. 6 and see a Donald Trump encourage people to storm the capitol…This is the election that is going to decide if we are going to revitalize our democracy.”

Sen. Kaine praised President Biden’s recent State of the Union address, emphasizing the success of the Inflation Reduction Act and the American Rescue Plan, which he noted both passed by just one vote in the Senate.

“Sometimes all it takes is one vote,” Sen. Kaine said. “In August 2017…John McCain got out of the hospital and saved the health insurance of 30 million people…sometimes all it takes is one person willing to stand up.”

The three-term Senator spoke several times during his address about the divisiveness spreading across the country. He labeled it a division between “those who will stand up, and those who will tear down.” Sen. Kaine used the current debate in Washington over immigration as an example.

“We put forward a far-reaching, bi-partisan immigration bill,” he said. “Donald Trump said don’t solve this issue…we just want to raise hell about it…Do you want to solve something, or do you just want to tear something down?”

Rod Grandon, a candidate for the 6th District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, also referenced overcoming the divisiveness of the electorate in order to unseat Congressman Ben Cline (R-VA) in November.

“Ben Cline must be defeated. We must come together for the sake of our democracy and common sense solutions for our district,” Grandon said on Saturday. “I believe in service above self … well not so for Ben Cline … He has put party above service, party above country … he has violated his oath…he’s unfit to be a congressman. I will represent all the people of this district. We, as Democrats, can’t win this…we must engage and expand … include Independents and Republicans … get organized and energized and get people out to vote. Our democracy is at stake.”

Both Grandon and fellow sixth congressional district candidate Ken Mitchell have a background in the military, as well as success in the civilian world. Mitchell, a retired military officer, seemed ready to go to battle.

“I will take the fight to Ben Cline like he has never had it before,” Mitchell stated, going as far as to say he would take the fight to the Congressman in person. “We understand the difference in Winchester and Harrisonburg, and Roanoke … this is a big district. I will give complete loyalty to my oath, I will give complete loyalty to my country … I am running to improve the lives of people of the 6th District … join me, and together, we will leave no one behind.”

Overall, the event was aimed at re-charging the blue base in advance of the next seven months of political chaos sure to follow a Presidential election cycle.

“It’s quite hard to be the only elected Democrat in this county,” Treasurer Penny Gray said, “but I am not the only Democrat in Page County.”

Chairman Morimoto informed the group that the local Democratic Committee would be setting up a new headquarters along Main Street in Luray soon, working on a letter writing campaign, establishing a marketing campaign in local media, coordinating with nearby democratic committees, and establishing working relationships with several non-profit organizations.

“I’ve never lost a race, but I am not undefeated,” Sen Kaine said on Saturday. “I’ve never lost the popular vote, or the Virginia vote. I call myself an Electoral College drop out.”

The Senator stopped in Luray on Saturday afternoon after first making an appearance in Harrisonburg earlier, and then heading off for another event in Spotsylvania that evening. He last visited the Luray VFW hall in 2018 with then-candidate Jennifer Lewis.

After each presented their own brief stump speech, Sen. Kaine sat down with Mitchell and Grandon and took questions from the audience for another hour.

“Wouldn’t it be great for Virginia to go blue a fifth time in a row?” Kaine asked to rally the crowd. “The outcome of victory for these candidates is a victory for democracy. All we have to do is step up.”