If you’re reading this blog, you probably also read the newspapers, watch morning news, and are plugged into politics. So, you probably know that Leslie Byrne did not win yesterday’s primary.
First, let me congratulate Gerry Connolly for his victory. It was a hard fought race on both sides.
I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t admit I am disappointed, sad, and hurt at the outcome. I’ve known Leslie and Larry Byrne for over 15 years and think they are two of the finest people around. For all the reasons I’ve written over the past weeks, I proudly supported Leslie’s candidacy. And I’m still proud of her.
I have no regrets that I supported her. Absolutely none. Instead, all I feel is pride that Leslie stood up for working people, women, consumers, and stood up against the war in Iraq as one of its earliest opponents. So, I would support her all over again.
Last night, in her concession speech, Leslie put to rest any question that she was a sore loser. Far from it. In conceding to Gerry Connolly, she pointed out the values they – and we all share as Democrats. She told her audience that it was important in November to elect Barack Obama, Mark Warner – and yes, also Gerry Connolly. She reminded us of how important this election will be. As somebody in the audience called out, Leslie, you are a class act.
Meanwhile, it is important to note that Gerry Connolly did not win this by running on his record as a proud pro developer centrist moderate. He won by running more to the left than he has in a long time. He claimed that he was an early opponent of the war in Iraq. He also stressed his environmentalist credentials and his support for the Cool Counties Initiative. And he certainly didn’t run as anti-union.
Although Leslie got more union endorsements and has a more pro-labor record, Connolly had the support of some of the largest unions, including the United Food and Commercial Workers, the Laborers and the Firefighters.
It is likely that Connolly will go on to win the general election against an unknown candidate who is too conservative for the 11th CD. So for now, I will give him every opportunity to prove he is true to the values he just espoused to win. If he continues to hew to the progressive line that he took during the primary, I will give him my unqualified support. If he wavers while in office, there will be other elections and other primaries. Progressives will live to fight for our values another day.
Meanwhile, I want to thank Leslie Byrne for a race well run. And repeat: Leslie, you are a class act and always have been.