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Politics | Hard-left Democrat Ebbin faces rookie Republican McGhee in Senate 30th
by Eric Burk
Posted 9/27/11, 03:23 pm

The three candidates in the Democratic primary for Virginia's 30th district senate seat together spent $746,268 on the race, more than any other Virginia primary. Strongly liberal Del. Adam Ebbin, the only openly gay member of the General Assembly, knocked off members of Alexandria City Council and Arlington School Board to win. Ebbin alone raised over $278,000, according to the Virginia Public Access Project. Although he had as of Aug. 31 only about $6,000 left, he may not need much more.

The Republican nominee is Tim McGhee, a political novice who ran unopposed in the primary and whose campaign has raised $4,534, including $2,500 in loans. As of Aug. 31 he had about $1,600 left.

Conventional wisdom holds that the district is so heavily Democratic that Ebbin won the November election when he won the August primary. An Ebbin campaign advisor told, "This is another step forward for all Virginians. And next year the anti gay forces like AG Ken Cuccinelli will have to answer to Senator Adam Ebbin."

The 30th is not one of the districts the GOP leadership was counting on in its drive to retake the Senate in November, where Democrats currently hold a 22-18 lead. The race isn't likely to be close, but it does bear watching because the turnout and the results could be instructive for the 2012 elections if McGhee makes a surprisingly strong showing in a Democratic stronghold. Further, should the Democrats hold onto the Senate, the agenda of senators like Ebbin likely will be increasingly influential.

A "recalibration of the issues"

McGhee, a proud Christian, holds a bachelor's degree in computer science from Bryan College, and has experience in management and administration. From 2003-2005 he managed several RadioShack stores, and has worked in administration at two churches. He currently runs his own web design business.

McGhee says he is optimistic, plus he's distributed over 50,000 campaign pamphlets. "Democrats are frustrated with the results of their party in local leadership positions. Independents are eager to have a candidate who will listen. Republicans are motivated to send a message to those in authority across the river," he said.

"We are seeing a generational passing of the baton at all levels of leadership in the United States," said McGhee. "I think we're seeing a recalibration of the set of issues that motivate voters. This campaign may be one of the earlier presentations for that kind of option."

McGhee makes one promise. "To uphold the Constitutions of the United States, and of Virginia as revised in 1971. After that, everything else emanates from fundamental principles like life, liberty and justice," declares his campaign website.

McGhee's website indicates that he is pro-life and opposed to gay marriage. McGhee's site also expresses interest in changes to Virginia's pension system for civil service workers, in education reforms, and welfare reforms, but it is short on specifics. McGhee is dissatisfied with the current immigration problem, and he wants to "welcome people into this country and get them paying into our system."

Hard left

Ebbin, who did not respond to an interview request, hopes to fill the shoes of retiring Patsy Ticer, who held the seat from 1996 until this year.

Ebbin was a co-founder of the Virginia Partisans Gay and Lesbian Democratic Club, and now serves on the state central Democratic committee. He has been a Northern Virginia delegate in the Virginia House for the past 8 years. Ebbin is a marketing consultant by occupation.

In the House Ebbin has proposed a bill imposing taxes on grocery bags and filed a state version of the Dream Act (a federal proposal that would grant status to illegal immigrants who arrived as minors). He has voted against capital punishment eligibility for accomplices to crimes, against a bill allowing prayer at public schools, and against a bill allowing state police to select a volunteer chaplain. Among other issues, he voted in favor the HPV school vaccination requirements, a bill allowing parents to decline medical treatment for children with potentially fatal conditions, and in favor of new and increased taxes to fund transportation. Under Democratic governors he helped secure executive orders against discrimination based on sexual orientation in state employment and led attempts to expand life insurance benefits to domestic partners.

His endorsers include NARAL, the Sierra Club, Virginia Partisans Gay & Lesbian Democratic Club, the Virginia Chapter of the National Organization for Women, Virginia AFL-CIO, and the Arlington Association of Professional Firefighters and Paramedics.