Connecting the Dots: The Virginia Way on Full Display in the Race for Lieutenant Governor

Dominion Energy puts its dirty dollars behind the effort to stop progressive anti-Dominion crusader Sam Rasoul from winning the Democratic primary.

There are two constants in Virginia politics.

Number one: Dominion Energy is always behind the scenes trying to control the outcome. It is referred to as the Virginia Way, as described so well by author Jeff Thomas in his book of the same name. Its roots are buried deep in Virginia history.

Number two: Dominion and the politicians who do their dirty work are so shameless about Number One that they leave the trail in plain view for all to see.

Take this trail for example:

1) Sam Rasoul is a progressive four-term delegate from Roanoke and a recognized leader in the fight against the fracked gas Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines. During his eight years in the General Assembly, Rasoul has proven to be a consistent opponent of Dominion’s ongoing fleecing of Virginia ratepayers. He is running for Lieutenant Governor.

2) Rasoul has raised far more money than any other candidate in the crowded Lieutenant Governor field. He had close to $1 million cash on hand as of the end of the first quarter of 2021. And the most recent poll has him far ahead of all the other candidates, at 12% support, with no other remaining candidate getting more than 2% and most voters undecided. In addition, Rasoul has won every straw poll held by local Democratic Party committees.

3) The Wason Center poll , which confirms Rasoul’s status as the frontrunner in the LG race, came out last week.

4) Enter Dominion Energy, which last week gave $50,000 to Governor Ralph Northam.

5) Today, five days after Dominion made that donation, Governor Northam endorsed Delegate Hala Ayala for Lieutenant Governor. Ayala was first elected as delegate in 2017. Northam was joined by the Speaker of the House of Delegates, Eileen Filler-Corn, and House Majority Leader Charniele Herring. Dominion Energy is Herring’s top donor, having given almost four times more to her than any other donor. Dominion also donates to Speaker Filler-Corn.

6) Ayala was at a paltry 2% support in the Wason Center poll from last week. And she had raised less than $600,000 through March 31. In contrast, Rasoul had raised almost $1.3 million. All of Rasoul’s donations are from individuals. Because Rasoul doesn’t take money from Dominion. Or any political action committees. With these new high profile establishment endorsements, however, Ayala likely will get a huge infusion of cash to rescue her thus far weak campaign. And much of it will come from PACs. At least some of that money will easily trace back to Dominion.

7) Speaking of Dominion, among Ayala’s donors is one Eva Teig Hardy. Hardy was a longtime lobbyist for Dominion Energy. Dominion described Hardy’s role as follows: “Hardy is responsible for state and federal affairs, corporate communications, advertising, media relations, community affairs, corporate philanthropy and economic development for Dominion and its subsidiaries throughout the 22 states where the company has customers or operations.”

8) Last year, Northam appointed Hardy to the board of the Port of Virginia, noting as her first qualification, that “Ms. Hardy retired after 20 years as Executive Vice President of Dominion Energy for Public Policy and Communications for nine states where Dominion Energy had assets.”

Today, Northam endorsed Hardy’s chosen candidate.

Sometimes politics operates in the shadows. That’s especially true in Virginia, where campaign finance laws are so lax that it has been referred to as the wild, wild west.

But as the saying goes sunlight is the best disinfectant.

Speaking of the sun, the progressive youth powerhouse Sunrise Movement, both in Virginia and nationally, has endorsed Sam Rasoul for Lieutenant Governor. Rasoul recognized this important endorsement with this:

“Since I was first elected in 2014, I have stood with the growing movement of concerned residents in Virginia who defeated the Atlantic Coast Pipeline that threatened our water, our health and our planet, and who will soon defeat the Mountain Valley Pipeline, too. And since 2018 I have seen the Green New Deal grow from a righteous idea into a national movement that connects climate justice to racial justice, and economic justice, and health care justice. Along with Sunrise, we are going to ensure this is the decade of the Green New Deal in Virginia — the decade we avert climate catastrophe, create many thousands of good-paying jobs in clean infrastructure, and uplift impacted communities in every part of our Commonwealth.”

Sam Rasoul clearly is a change candidate. In fact, as the leading candidate for Lieutenant Governor, one could argue that Rasoul is the only viable change candidate.

No wonder Dominion is putting its thumb on the scale to stop Rasoul.

No wonder it has found Dominion friendly politicians to do its bidding.

The Virginia Way on full display.

But here is the good news: Dominion doesn’t get a vote. We do.

Early voting has started in Virginia. You can vote any day this week — in fact any day up until the June 8 primary. Tell Richmond you have had it with the Virginia Way!

If you want an end to politics as usual in Virginia, we have one shot in the race for Lieutenant Governor. We should use the power of our vote — wisely.

Vote for Sam Rasoul for Lieutenant Governor.

Attorney, writer and activist living in Northern Virginia