One of the good guys

By Andria McClellan

I’ve known Ralph Northam for ten years now — since he first ran for the state senate. You can’t say this about every politician, but the longer I’ve known Ralph, the more I’ve grown to admire and respect him. Not just because he’s a quality human being — you don’t volunteer for nearly two decades at a children’s hospice if you’re not — but because of what he stands for. Ralph is one of the good guys (or gals!).

There are certain values that make me proud to be a Virginian, and we’ve seen those principles grow stronger over the years as more people are included in Thomas Jefferson’s more perfect union. Things like personal liberty, equality, and adherence to the Virginia Way. Those are the values that guide so many Virginians, including Ralph. They’ve shown themselves time and time again in his life.

As an Army doctor who cared for wounded soldiers during Desert Storm, a pediatric neurologist practicing down the street from my home in Norfolk, and a volunteer medical supervisor of a children’s hospice in Portsmouth, Ralph’s improved the lives of those who need help the most.

Frustrated by a healthcare system that didn’t put patients first, angered by the demise of the Chesapeake Bay, and worried about the growing dangers of drilling off Virginia’s coast, Ralph ran for the state senate in 2007. No one thought he had a chance, but he knocked on thousands of doors and shook the hands of countless Virginians to defeat a two-term Republican incumbent. In fact, Ralph’s persistence and commitment inspired me to run for office, too!

During his first month in the senate, Ralph met with survivors and family members of the Virginia Tech shooting less than one year after the tragedy. He’s still close with many survivors, and their admiration for him has only grown. Since January 2008, his NRA voting record has been a “D.” He voted to close the gun show loophole, keep guns out of bars, and maintain a limit on the number of guns a person can buy in a month. Today, he’s still fighting for commonsense gun safety measures like an assault weapons ban and universal background checks.

In 2011, Ralph was re-elected to the senate, and the next year, Richmond Republicans went straight to work limiting women’s access to reproductive healthcare. When Republicans pushed an invasive transvaginal ultrasound mandate to make decisions on behalf of women and their doctors, Ralph used his expertise and credibility as a physician to take a stand. He brought attention to the offensive procedure, protested at the capital, and Virginia became the national focus of the Republican war on women. And even though Republicans had the votes to pass the bill, Ralph led the defeat of the transvaginal ultrasound mandate. Thank you, Ralph!

As lieutenant governor, Ralph’s helped the McAuliffe administration keep Virginia’s women’s health clinics open in the face of TRAP laws, and he’s also proposed a cutting edge pilot program to provide the most effective forms of birth control to all Virginia women, regardless of income.

As a doctor, Ralph believes every Virginian should have access to quality, affordable healthcare. That’s why he led the effort to implement Obamacare in Virginia by sponsoring legislation to create a state exchange and expand Medicaid. Today, good old-fashioned Republican political obstructionism is standing in the way of 400,000 hardworking Virginians getting access to healthcare — but one thing’s for sure: It’s not for lack of trying by Ralph and other Democrats.

Here’s what I know: Ralph is a rare commodity. He’s one of the good guys, willing to fight for what he believes in, to run for office, and put his career on hold to help others. A candidate like Ralph Northam doesn’t come around often — and when he does, we’ve got to do everything we can to put him in office.

And, now more than ever, when we’re facing down the likes of President Trump and the values he’s supported, Ralph needs our help. It’s going to take all of us working together to stand up for our Virginia values. I know Ralph will be on the front lines of the fight. The only question is, will you join him?

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Andria McClellan is currently a Norfolk City Councilwoman and a former candidate for the 6th District Virginia Senate seat. Andria lives in Norfolk with her three sons, all of whom attend Norfolk Public Schools, and her husband.