Monday, August 29, 2011

Va. Sen. John Edwards kicks off re-election campaign in Roanoke

Virginia U.S. Sen. Mark Warner and Virginia State Sen. John Edwards

Control of the Commonwealth’s Senate hangs in the balance in the 2011 November elections. Republicans have their sights set on capturing it. Since redistricting and reshuffling the political deck in efforts to secure party seats and maybe take a few the campaigns are hitting their stride.

The Democratic held Senate is the prize Republicans seek. “If the Senate of Virginia goes Republican that would be a bridge too far … we cannot let that happen,” said incumbent Democrat Senator John Edwards.

If you travel through downtown Roanoke the 21st Senate district incumbent’s headquarters won’t be hard to see. Friday he officially opened his Roanoke campaign headquarters on the corner of Campbell Avenue and Williamson Road.

Democratic leaders, officials, friends and supporters filled the room to capacity. The headquarters campaign kickoff was followed by a fundraising luncheon at the Shenandoah Club with U.S. Senator Mark Warner as guest speaker.

Education and transportation are two of Sen. Edwards’ prized topics. Edwards said the goal is to “ensure children starting as early as age four get an appropriate education.”

Edwards recognized Cabell Brand at the fundraiser as “one of his heroes.” Brand is chairman of the non-profit Cabell Brand Center that focuses on the environment, alleviating poverty and enhancing quality of life through education.

Population shift to the north has reduced Senate seats and “we’ll just have to work harder for Western Virginia,” said Edwards.

Sen. Edwards at his campaign headquarters Friday.

Edwards followed on U.S. Senator Warner’s theme that “you just can’t get things done unless you’re willing to compromise.” He said there use to be a time in the Virginia Senate when Democrats were in the minority and the moderate Republicans would work together “to get things done.”

Edwards took the opportunity to deride his opponent Republican Delegate Dave Nutter. Nutter was quoted as saying “there is no panacea fix” for transportation. “There is no panacea unless you’re willing to bite the bullet,” said Edwards. He said his opponent has “no plan whatsoever” to fund transportation.

Construction money is going to road maintenance and 38 percent of bridges are deficient complained Edwards. “My opponents answer is that there is no answer,” he said.

In a tight budget Edwards was able to get $150,000 for the SmartWay bus that travels from Roanoke to Lynchburg that carries people to the Amtrak train northward.

“You can’t cut your way to prosperity … the Republican’s want to cut, cut, cut,” said Edwards at the fundraiser. He said if it had not been for the Democratic controlled Senate public education would have been slashed even more by his opponent in the House of Delegates. He estimated that the Senate saved 12,000 teacher’s jobs in 2010 according to the Virginia Education Association.

Edwards also credited the Senate for holding the line in Medicaid cuts that would have cut reimbursements to doctors and hospitals and hurt the frail and elderly.

He said that they also saved the Commission for the Arts and killed ten out of twelve of the immigration bills that were unreasonable. He chided his opponent for wanting to abolish embryonic stem cell research. Edwards called that “a 19th century mentality.”

Creating jobs comes from investing in education and infrastructure. Public/private partnerships will stimulate the economy he said. In a list of Roanoke examples was the Roanoke Higher Education Center. The Higher Education Center was a hallmark of success for Edwards.

Sen. Edwards has a private law practice in downtown Roanoke. He was first elected in 1995 and for several election cycles he has been unopposed. He will face Republican Delegate Dave Nutter in November.

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Election 2011, Elections, Politics, State Politics

Tags: , , , , ,

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