AG Herring and VA’s marriage equality plaintiffs open Hillary Campaign office in Southside
Virginia’s Attorney General and the two women he represented to defeat the state’s ban on same sex marriage stumped for Hillary Clinton in Southside Richmond today.
AG Mark Herring and the two plaintiffs, Carol Schall and Mary Townley, (pictured above) were in the Circle Plaza shopping center at 451 East Belt Blvd. to open HRC’s newest campaign office. All three were there to encourage volunteers and help open the new location.
Townley and Schall were even taping up HRC posters as I arrived to the event.
“We’re happy to help in any way,” Schall said with a laugh.
Townley introduced Herring to the crowd of about 20 or so folks in attendance in the dimly lit office – the electricity hadn’t even been turned on yet. Volunteers were making phone calls by battery powered bulb until Herring arrived.
“Working on the marriage equality cases will be the highlight of my professional career and… my life really,” Herring said as he embraced the two plaintiffs. “I had a great opportunity to get to know Carol and Mary and their daughter, Emily…. all three did it with dignity and poise and they stood up for what was right. And I’m so glad Virginia was ultimately on the right side of history.”
Herring went on to call the current Presidential race similar to past races in that they both highlight starkly contrasting beliefs. “But this time even more so,” he said, stressing Trump’s poor temperament and lack of government experience would be disastrous for the US.
“He says he wants to make America great again,” he said. “but I don’t think he will ever understand what makes America Great period.”
Meanwhile, the AG praised Clinton for the work Hillary has done as a lawyer and for the work she’s done to help children in poor communities.
“Hillary has fought for families and for children her whole life,” he said. “She’s someone who understands that everyone in America should be treated equally and fairly.”
Herring also opened up about VP candidate Tim Kaine, who he said he’d known for more than 25 years – and also taught him ethics in law school.
“That was way before either of us were in politics,” he joked. “He’s incredibly smart and talented. His heart’s in the right place, and as we in Virginia have seen, he’s a great leader and I know he’s going to make a great vice president.”
Kaine, a former Richmond mayor and current state Senator, has been considered HRC’s secret weapon in the traditional battleground state of Virginia. After the Democratic National Convention, and for a number of weeks since, that appeared to be the case. But recent polling shows Hillary and Trump closer to neck and neck for the Commonwealth’s crucial 13 electoral votes.
“I remember coming down the final stretch at gatherings like this saying ‘it’s going to be really close,’” Herring said, remembering his own 2013 race which came down to just over 1000 votes in his favor. ”There is no substitute in elections for that person-to-person, voter-to-voter contact, to tell people out at doors and on the phones how important it is to vote.”
Townley and Schall shared Herring’s sense of urgency.
“We have a lot at steak this election,” Townley said. “We need someone who will champion equality and fairness and create an America where everyone is protected under the same rights guaranteed under our constitution no matter their background, where they come from or who they love.”
In an interview after Herring’s speech, Schall spoke some about how she ended up in politics in the first place.
Long before she was the face of marriage equality in the Commonwealth, she was voting in the 2004 election. That was the same year George W. Bush was on the ballot and Virginia’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage was up to popular vote.
“I remember voting and thinking ‘well, I’ve voted, I’ve done all that I could,’” Schall said. “But when it came time for the next election in 2008, I realized there’s more I could have done.”
Though she was worried she’s be starting fights with neighbors or badgering people over the phone, she soon found out volunteering on a campaign is more about calling registered democrats and making sure they vote than trying to convert those on the right.
“If a voter disagrees with you, you are very polite and say ‘thank you so much, have a good day,’” she said. “You’re looking for people who agree with you and it feels so good. You now have people you’ve encouraged to vote and it makes all the difference.”
That’s the attitude Regina Robinson, a local Woodstock neighborhood resident, had as she happened upon the Hillary office on the way back from picking up dinner at Queen’s Jamaican restaurant just a few doors down.
Robinson (pictured below), a retiree who’s lived in the area for seven years, said she’d been politically active since helping Obama three days a week in 2012 in a similar office near by.
“I felt like he had done a good job the first four years,” she said. “So, I supported him the second four years.”
She didn’t know Hillary was opening an office so close to her house, but now that she does she said she’s hoping to get back to volunteering again.
“This Election is going to be history here,” she said, noting she’s backing Hillary because of her expereince over Trumps ability to offend.
“With the way the world is now, with the economy and the wars going on, I feel [Hillary] would do a very good job,” she said. Meanwhile, with Trump, “one thing he’ll say something good and the next he’ll put his foot in his mouth.”
While she wouldn’t say if her anti-Trump sentiment was stronger than her pro-Hillary sentiment, she said she was please to see the Democratic Party return to her neighborhood.
“We need it because, if you go down further, its an indigent area,” she said pointing east towards a rougher part of Hull St. “We need to have the votes. Anyone that doesn’t have a felony or has paid restitution, they need to participate. Anyone who’s eligible to vote, I don’t give a dern if you’re green, you need to vote.”
Interested to help out in HRC’s Southside office? Head over to their website or just walk up to the door, they’re very excited to have a place to work of Hull, even if electricity and AC are a luxury at the moment.
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