Aneesh Chopra faces a primary June 11 for Virginia’s Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor. He says his focus will be on taking full advantage of all the federal government has to offer. “That requires a leader,” he told a gathering of 65 at a meet and greet on Friday.
Not mentioning his Democratic opponent by name Chopra contrasted himself with Senator Ralph Northam saying he could make a difference on the executive side where his opponent “is focused on the legislative side of the equation and how to work the legislature.”
Chopra has not held elective office but has served as the Secretary of Technology under Governor Tim Kaine and was appointed Chief Technology Officer by President Obama.
Chopra pointed to the Recovery Act funds the McDonnell administration left on the table. “They made a conscious decision not to participate.” He said he would take advantage of all the opportunities for federal resources.
Those funds could have been used for modernization of the electrical grid, the healthcare records system and schools he said. “We are behind the eight ball.”
Southwest Virginia Democrats have struggled getting to know their candidates who except for Senator Northam of Norfolk all come from Northern Virginia. “I feel a lot better now after hearing you,” said a woman who questioned his flyer in her mailbox.
The flyer featured Northam’s gun safety voting record. Chopra mentioned several bills Northam voted for including auctioning guns back to the public that had been purchased through a gun buyback program. “It was a stupid bill … that’s the silliest idea in the world.”
He also said Northam voted against giving localities the option to fingerprint citizens seeking a concealed weapon’s permit. “That’s common sense,” said Chopra.
At a sit-down interview Chopra said that though one function of lieutenant governor is to break ties in the Senate when evenly split he is anxious to take an active role in helping new startup companies. Having a board seat on the Council on Virginia’s Future and the Virginia Economic Development Partnership will help him to do that.
“The fastest growing green jobs in America are in solar panel installation. We’re not doing that in Virginia,” he said. He wants those jobs in Virginia. Chopra supports Terry McAuliffe’s emphasis on community colleges. Not all jobs require a four-year degree he said.
Chopra lamented over Gov. Robert F. McDonnell pulling Virginia out of President Obama’s Race to the Top school reform contest after the state’s application came in 31st out of 41 state applications. This left a potential $500 million on the table. “I will work with community college systems to put together better applications,” he said.
He supports using technology for 24/7 learning saying the lines between where school begins and ends is becoming a bit porous. Everybody will have the opportunity to learn at their own pace and to be successful.
When questioned on what some are calling negative campaigning he said, “I’m proud of my public record – I presume my opponent is proud of his.” Chopra said, “he has simply pointed out that in this campaign we agree on 90 percent of the issues. I see a strong difference of opinion on a half a dozen areas and gun safety just happens to be one of those areas.” He said people need to know that there is a difference between he and his opponent.
Chopra said too that the main difference in this race is that he has unique qualifications and experience to deliver on his vision. As an information technology officer under Governor Kaine and President Obama he said he has built programs designed to grow middle class jobs and to make sure workers have the skills to fill those jobs.
Posted By Valerie Garner
Categories: Election 2013, Elections, Politics, State Politics
Tags: Chopra, democrat, election 2013, Elections