How A Socialist Beat One Of Virginia’s Most Powerful Republicans

Is Lee Carter’s shocking victory a sign of things to come across America?


Published:

Within minutes of NBC News’ calling Virginia’s gubernatorial election for Ralph Northam on Tuesday night, Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez phoned into MSNBC to celebrate. “I’m feeling incredibly optimistic,” he said when host Chris Hayes asked about Democratic gains in the state’s House of Delegates. “The author of the anti-transgender bathroom bill just got defeated by a woman named Danica Roem—a transgender woman who is a spectacular candidate.”

Perez proceeded to name-check Elizabeth Guzman and Hala Ayala, the first Latinas ever elected to the House, but then Hayes asked him about another candidate—one who’d barely received any national attention throughout the campaign. “There’s also, I believe, a Marine veteran who identifies as a democratic socialist who, if I’m not mistaken, is running competitively with someone in the House GOP leadership,” he said. “The House GOP whip might lose to a socialist Marine veteran? Is that actually happening?”

It was indeed. Democrat Lee Carter, a red-haired, 30-year-old Marine veteran from Manassas, won a remarkable nine-point victory to oust Delegate Jackson Miller, a deep-pocketed Republican incumbent who serves as House Majority Whip. Carter ran openly as a socialist—he and his supporters crooned the union anthem “Solidarity Forever” after their victory—and he won with almost no institutional support from the state Democratic Party. The Richmond Times-Dispatch’s Patrick Wilson reported last month that party leaders “abandoned” Carter after he declined to report campaign metrics like the number of doors he’d knocked and the amount of money he’d raised. Carter told Wilson he “ceased reporting to the House caucus after multiple information security lapses in which confidential information that we reported to the House caucus was leaked outside of the party infrastructure.” But he also said the party leaders “wanted a bit more editorial control over my messaging than I was comfortable with.” Wilson wrote that “Democratic Party leaders were not eager to discuss Carter, preferring to promote other candidates.” In fact, Wilson called Carter “the kind of rogue candidate that gives an apparatus like the Democratic Party of Virginia a fit.”

 

 

Carter did receive funding from Democratic-aligned groups as well as support from WinVA, a PAC supporting Democratic House candidates run by former congressman and gubernatorial primary candidate Tom Perriello, according to a campaign finance report uploaded by The Intercept’s Lee Fang. But Carter’s victory is a testament to his own campaign and the work of outside groups, including the D.C. chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, which caught the rising Democratic wave that swept even unlikely candidates into office on Tuesday.

It’s fitting that Carter’s campaign ended with a shocking result, because it was inspired by a literal shock two summers ago. I was installing lighting control systems and I got shocked because the lighting control panel I was working on was miswired by an electrician,” he told me in Manassas last month. “I got a 245-volt shockin one hand, out the otherright across the chest.” He blew out his back in the incident. He could barely walk for months. His frustrating battle with the state to get workers’ compensation for his injury inspired him to enter politics. “When I was able to walk again,” he told me, “I decided I’m not just going to walk. I’m going to run for something because nobody should have to go through this.”

Carter came to his political ideology recently—as in, just last year. “I was actually already running by the time I considered socialism as an economic philosophy,” he told me. “My introduction to it actually came through the presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders. He went out there and said, ‘I’m a democratic socialist. Here’s what that means: It means I believe in strong unions, health care for everybody, and an end to discrimination.’ Well, that’s what I believe in, too. I dug a little more into it, and I realized a lot of the problems we have in today’s society reflected in electoral politics are symptoms of economic problems.”

Carter said he’s “always been a bit to the left of where the Democratic Party was, and a little dissatisfied with what they were doing on a large scale, and never knew why. It wasn’t until Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign that I put two and two together. I looked up to guys like FDR and Democrats of that era who were really rooted in working class politics. They had these mass movements of union workers who stood up and said ‘we’re not going to be mistreated by corporate interests anymore,’ and they were able to achieve 50 year of stability and prosperity for this country. I always wondered why Democrats couldn’t act like that again.”

Miller, the Republican candidate, naturally didn’t see Carter’s socialism as part of a proud American tradition. After largely ignoring him for most of the campaign, he sent out mailers comparing Carter to Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong. But Carter told me his own campaigning focused on the issues, including single-payer health care and getting money out of politics, which resonated with voters. “What we do when we get out there and talk to voters is get past the label entirely,” he said. “My literature and all my paid communications are just about what I want to do when I go down to Richmond. In fact, my mail consultant had to add the word ‘Democrat’ to my walk cards at the last minute before he sent them to the printer.”

At the same time, Carter was happy to talk about socialism when asked. “If you’re to the left of Barry Goldwater, Republicans are going to call you a socialist anyway, so you may as well just own the label,” he said. “The issues that I care about and the issues that the Democratic Socialists of America are working on are the issues that the Democratic Party’s voter base cares about.”

Carter worked well with his local Democratic Party throughout the campaign, but acknowledged the state party was a different story. “On the state level, it is a bit more strained,” he said. “The corporations I’m actively attacking fund the state party. It’s obviously going to create some tension.” Yet despite this dynamic, he and his team were confident they could win based on a simple numbers game. They knew Miller had never received more than 9,500 votes in the district, and they believed they’d found enough voters to exceed that. As it turned out, Miller won 9,510 votes on Tuesday, but Carter won 11,360.

Plenty of the credit for this race belongs to a cadre of idealistic young people, since much of the ground organizing came from local members of the Democratic Socialists of America. The group’s D.C. chapter endorsed Carter, and one of the chapter’s leaders, 22-year-old American University graduate Jacquelyn Smith, managed his campaign. On Tuesday night, she tweeted that Carter’s election is a bellwether of future success.

 

 

 

 

Long before he knew the results, Carter believed something similar about his campaign—that it could demonstrate how bold ideas are the pathway to rebuilding the Democratic Party. “Honestly, there are a lot of candidates who are playing it safe, but playing it safe is not the safe bet anymore,” he told me last month. “That’s the big takeaway I got from all of 2016. The center doesn’t hold. We had Bernie Sanders on the left. We had Donald Trump on the right. Things are completely different. The parties are due for a realignment, and who knows how that’s going to shake out.”

Those weren’t quite the tea leaves Tom Perez was reading on MSNBC. He didn’t say much about Carter, even after Hayes brought him up. But on a night of surprising success for his party, the chairman did say this much: “There are a lot of remarkable things going on tonight in the House of Delegates races.”

Update: According to Carter, he did not receive $13,000 from the Democratic Party of Virginia. That was the amount he paid the party for campaign mailers.

Graham Vyse is a staff writer at The New Republic.

This article was republished from The New Republic.

See also:
“Carpe Diem Politics”: How to Do More Than Just Resist
Van Jones’ “Messy Truth”: We’re All A Little Right, And We’re All A Little Wrong

Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Daily Astrology

November 16, 2018

This is a busy day, filled with notable planetary changes. Newly arrived in Pisces, the Moon and Mars join up a mere two minutes after midnight. Creative juices are stimulated. Some emotions may overheat. Shortly before dawn Venus resumes forward motion…
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Alternative Health Directory

Browse all listings »

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

November 2018

Learn Reiki to awaken your healing hands to help yourself, your loved ones and pets be healthier and happier. Facilitated by Lou Orsan, Reiki Shihan (master teacher) This one-day...

Cost: $150

Where:
Northeast Reiki Center
61 Nicholas Road, Suite B2
Framingham, MA  01701
View map »


Sponsor: Northeast Reiki Center
Telephone: 508-808-5696
Contact Name: Lou Orsan
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
No Events

Discover the power of your inner queen  Are you experiencing life transitions causing you to wonder “Who am I? Where am I going? What do I do now?” Metaphysical meets modern to...

Cost: $20

Where:
Circles of Wisdom
386 Merrimack Street
Suite 1-A
Methuen, MA  01844
View map »


Sponsor: Circles of Wisdom
Telephone: 978-474-8010
Contact Name: Cathy Kneeland
Website »

More information

Join us the second Tuesday evening of the month for a Reiki Share in the Usui Reiki system of natural healing. We are a gathering of Reiki practitioners who share experiences, practice...

Cost: Free

Where:
Northeast Reiki Center
61 Nicholas Road, Suite B2
Framingham, MA  01701
View map »


Sponsor: Northeast Reiki Center
Telephone: 508-808-5696
Contact Name: Lou Orsan
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The Fertility Awareness Meetup provides women with an opportunity to learn about and discuss natural birth control options and fertility. This is a space where women can connect with peers, access...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Women's Center
46 Pleasant Street
Cambridge, MA  02139
View map »


Sponsor: AC Fertility Awareness
Telephone: 617-899-7624
Contact Name: Anna Churchill

More information

The class is a combination of qi gong, yoga, meditation, and relaxation followed by a cup of healing tea. The class, developed by Korean enlightened master Ilchi Lee, is based on Sundo, a...

Cost: $10

Where:
Divine Paradigm
58b Macy St
Amesbury, MA  01913
View map »


Contact Name: Brad Fanger

More information

Please join us at our monthly meetings, second Wednesday each month September - June in Westboro, MA. A welcoming community working for the greater health and wellbeing of all. Contact...

Where:
Sohum Yoga and Meditation Studio
30 Lyman St
#108B
Westborough, MA
View map »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

In more recent years, as the dreams of progress continue to falter, our confidence in the future is shaking. What it means to be human; what education and morality mean; what corporations stand...

Cost: $10

Where:
Scottish Rite Museum
33 Marrett Road
Lexington, MA  02420
View map »


Sponsor: Lexington Community Education
Telephone: 781-862-8043
Contact Name: Craig Hall
Website »

More information

In this talk, Joan will help you realize how much you are already communicating with your animals. She will show you how your animal companions respond to energy. You will learn how to set the pH...

Cost: $10

Where:
Circles of Wisdom
386 Merrimack Street
Suite 1-A
Methuen, MA  01844
View map »


Sponsor: Circles of Wisdom
Telephone: 978-474-8010
Contact Name: Cathy Kneeland
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

November 16 - 18 12.5 PDAs! Taijiquan is usually taught from the outside in: you learn the choreography, practice for years, and gradually come to understand what’s going on inside. In...

Cost: Please see our website

Where:
Eastover Estate & Eco Village
430 East Street
Lenox, MA  01240
View map »


Telephone: 866-264-5139
Contact Name: Yingxing Wang
Website »

More information

This is a “Mediumship Gallery” with June Edward, the “Massachusetts Medium”! Have you ever wanted to talk to someone on the other side? Is there someone you know who’s...

Cost: $50

Where:
VFW
109 Robbins Rd
Walpole, MA  02081
View map »


Sponsor: June Edward "The Massachusetts Medium"
Telephone: 508-259-1231
Contact Name: June edward
Website »

More information

Want to know more about the Women of Wisdom Schools of Wisdom Personal and Spiritual, and Professional Development Programs? This is your opportunity to meet the amazing instructors, hear...

Cost: Free

Where:
Women of Wisdom
118 Washington Street
North Easton, MA  02356
View map »


Sponsor: Women of Wisdom
Telephone: 508-230-3680
Contact Name: Women of Wisdom
Website »

More information

The class is a combination of qi gong, yoga, meditation, and relaxation followed by a cup of healing tea. The class, developed by Korean enlightened master Ilchi Lee, is based on Sundo, a...

Cost: $10

Where:
Divine Paradigm
58b Macy St
Amesbury, MA  01913
View map »


Contact Name: Brad Fanger

More information

“For breath is life, and if you breathe well you will live long on earth.” — Sanskrit Proverb Join us for an evening of deep exploration and transformation using the healing...

Cost: $40 (limited hardship rates available)

Where:
Museum of Modern Renaissance
115 College Avenue
Somerville, MA  02144
View map »


Sponsor: HolotropicMA
Contact Name: Allen Howell M.Ed. LMHC
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Instructors: James Ashton & Beth Masterman Adult level A half-day, workshop for anyone curious to learn about the chakra energy system and the timeless wisdom it provides for living a...

Cost: $80

Where:
Creative Spirit
80 Washington Street
Marblehead, MA  01945
View map »


Sponsor: Creative Spirit
Telephone: 781-797-0389
Website »

More information

This transformational workshop for singles and couples will equip you with the awareness, tools and skills to create the connection and intimacy you desire. Discern the 3 keys to unlock true...

Cost: $147/person; $294/couple

Where:
Watertown Center for Healing Arts
22 Mount Auburn Street
Watertown, MA  02472
View map »


Sponsor: Conscious Intimacy
Contact Name: Brynn Bishop
Website »

More information

Join us for an afternoon filled with fun! We’ll have your favorites: psychics, mediums, animal communicators, and spirit art! Holistic practitioners offering Holy Fire II Reiki, chair...

Cost: Varies per service

Where:
Women of Wisdom
118 Washington Street
North Easton, MA  02356
View map »


Sponsor: Women of Wisdom
Telephone: 508-230-3680
Contact Name: Women of Wisdom
Website »

More information

“Our World needs us—the sensitives/the empaths! We are the helpers, healers, the artists, and the holders of sacred space so that others may open. But first, we must accept our...

Cost: $65

Where:
private office
North Andover, MA  01845


Sponsor: Sacred Spiral Dance
Telephone: 978-973-6637
Contact Name: Diana Harris
Website »

More information

Hello brothers and sisters, Better World Meditation will be hosting a guided meditation and a solo flute concert with Steve Tapper Event Schedule: 7:30PM Doors open 7:45PM Guided...

Cost: $10

Where:
Saint John's Episcopal Church
74 Pleasant Street
(Rear left side of church door on Lombard Road-2nd floor)
Arlington, MA  024746
View map »


Sponsor: Better World Meditation
Telephone: 617-699-0636
Contact Name: Steven Kriger
Website »

More information

November 17–18 Note: Class runs 10am to 5:30pm on Saturday, 11/17 and 11am to 4pm on Sunday, 11/18 Students will learn to communicate with animals and to enhance human/animal...

Cost: $190

Where:
Circles of Wisdom
386 Merrimack Street
Suite 1-A
Methuen, MA  01844
View map »


Sponsor: Circles of Wisdom
Telephone: 978-474-8010
Contact Name: Cathy Kneeland
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags