Delegate from Virginia Alex askew gives interviews like a seasoned politician. “When I get re-elected,” says the 36-year-old Democrat from Virginia Beach, “one of my main goals will be to make sure that we increase teacher salaries and fully fund our education system.”
The son of a former educator, Askew describes his first term as “historic”. “We have made historic gains, particularly with regard to African-American issues. We spent the Virginia Voting Rights Act, the first in the south. We have spent Breonna’s law which does not prohibit strike warrants and we have also given historic funding to our HBCUs and Virginia, ”notes Askew.
The incumbent Virginia House of Delegates 85th District is fighting to retain the seat he was elected to just two years ago. In 2019, he narrowly won his race with 51.6% of the vote. This year promises to be a similar confrontation. All eyes are currently on Virginia because, while the sensationalism around this year’s political clashes is unlikely to reach 2020 levels, political analysts and party leaders believe the 2 November will be a barometer of the current political climate.
Askew has been here before, but this time he says things are different. “To have a record to run on, to have the ability to speak about what I have accomplished at the General Assembly. Being able to discuss the historical gains of the last two years is different, ”says Askew. While at Virginia’s House, Democratic-led organization made it a crime to call emergency services based on race, raised minimum wage, secured $ 5 million to establish health school common public between Old Dominion University and Norfolk State University, as well as focused on improving the Virginia education system for students and staff.
Another element different from Askew’s candidacy for re-election: Donald Trump is no longer in office. The former president was a driving force in getting many people to the polls last year. In 2021, candidates are doing their best to remind voters that it is still imperative that they participate in the electoral process. “It’s important that we have a Democratic governor and a Democratic legislature,” Askew reminds voters when he meets them at their doorstep. “We must continue our work to increase teachers’ salaries, ensuring that our children stay in school safely, that our economy recovers from this horrific pandemic. “
Although Trump is no longer in power, the fanatic campaign tactics he craved remain. Earlier this month, Askew was the subject of what many considered a racist attack. His face was shown on the front of a matchbox, surrounded by flames. Another shipper showed him as a puppet with a rope around his waist and hands. Both take inspiration from America’s well-known lynchings past.
“To be honest with you, I am disappointed,” admits the former campaign organizer. “I’m running on my record, what I’ve accomplished and what I’ll continue to do. I think that shows where the GOP is that they don’t have a plan to bring Virginia back from this pandemic, to make sure our kids are safe in school. This shows that the GOP is not ready to be a leader.
Dirty campaign tactics aside, the Hampton University graduate is feeling the support. Volunteers knocked on doors every day to ensure his victory. And he’s applying the effort on the ground with letters highlighting the work Democrats have been able to accomplish during his tenure. “What we have brought to the people of Virginia has moved us forward as a state,” says Askew. “It is important that we can continue this work.