Countering Cynicism with Optimism, For Virginia’s 8th District and Beyond

Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of joining Congressman Jim Moran for the launch of TandemNSI, a new public/private partnership to seed new industries in national security right here in Arlington, VA. He regaled the crowd with inspiring tales of yesteryear and of the promise such a venture holds for the future. We will miss his voice in Congress.

News of his retirement certainly sent shockwaves through our community, with much of the chatter focused on the growing cynicism on the capacity of our Congress to get much of anything done. It is a similar sentiment expressed by Jon Stewart in his interview last week with former Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

After re-hashing the problems of and the VA benefits backlog, he asked her, “Do we we have a foundational problem? Is there a corruption in the system that needs to be addressed, that gives us the confidence that moving forward, we can execute these programs better?”

Though I am not a candidate seeking to replace Congressman Moran, I do believe this cynicism and such questions require equally thoughtful answers. In my view, the situation is neither hopeless, nor are we helpless.

My race for Lt. Governor was premised on the idea that we can solve problems if we focused more on handshakes and handoffs. Handshakes between those inside the government, from both sides of the aisle and across all levels and branches, to create the conditions for progress. And handoffs to a new crop of entrepreneurs from all sorts of backgrounds (non-profit, startups, major corporations) focused on building things that better society as a whole.

I believe in this vision as I’ve seen such collaborations work to address problems from energy to education to health care.   

Take the Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative, which aims to make solar as cheap as coal by 2020. While scientists have been hard at work to design more efficient technical systems, a stubborn issue has remained: the estimated $1 billion hidden tax on solar on account of “soft-costs,” including permitting processes. Those processes can be streamlined with today’s technologies. And now, a SunShot initiative is underway, one that has already cut processing times 40 percent for nearly 50 million Americans. Its related “Race to the Rooftops” prize competition will award $10 million to the installation team that can achieve the low-cost target across thousands of homes. And when they succeed, we will one step closer to a clean energy future.

To close the achievement gap, the Department of Education’s Investing in Innovation Fund is focused on testing, validating and scaling the best new ideas surfaced from the American people. To achieve transparency, every idea is visible to anyone seeking inspiration and, through the Foundation Registry i3, a collaboration featuring dozens of philanthropic organizations, the best ideas are attracting the necessary funding resources to produce results. Through the Department’s leadership in opening up more data through Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), we will see a new crop of personalized learning tools that will ensure that the right learning object is presented to the right child at the right time, and with timely feedback loops.

The Department of Health & Human Services is pulling every lever to make people healthier, from expanding access to insurance (and thus, encouraging preventive services), to gathering new evidence on what works and what doesn’t in the delivery system, to reforming the way we pay for care to reward better value at lower cost. At the very fulcrum of this transition? The National Coordinator for Health IT. That agency is focused on information access — from the efforts to digitize the nation’s medical records to the opening up of large troves of government-held data on the health sector — and the means by which patients can access it, as promised a decade ago by President Bush and carried forward with greater vigor under President Obama.

I will keep championing these causes and look for ways to move our Commonwealth forward. As always, I welcome your input as we continue to advance this important mission.

Thank you, Del. Surovell

Special thanks to my friend Del. Scott Surovell for sending out this note with his endorsement of my candidacy:

On Tuesday, June 11, 2013, Virginians will go to the polls to select their Democratic nominees for Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General.  I want to make sure you not only vote, but that you vote for my friend Aneesh Chopra.

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A Creative Innovator 
Aneesh served as Secretary of Technology for then Governor Tim Kaine.  President Obama appointed him to be the nation’s first Chief Technology Officer.  He is one of the brightest and creative minds in Virginia when it comes to technology, innovation and new approaches to solving problems. 

He is also the one candidate who understands that the hybrid tax enacted this year not only punishes people for doing the right thing, but actually taxes innovation.  He has pledged to work with me towards repealing it. 

A Democratic Team Player
Aneesh and I first met in 2005 when we set up a Political Action Committee to elect other Democratic Delegates all around Virginia.  That year, six of the eight delegates we invested in won their races including three delegates running in open seats (Chuck Caputo, David Bulova & David Marsden) and one challenging a Republican incumbent (David Poisson).

In the last six months, Aneesh has also helped our Caucus grow our numbers by taking time to headline fundraisers for our Democratic challengers all around Virginia even during his own race.  We need a Lieutenant Governor who is going to help grow our team.

Virginia’s Future
In 2007, silicon chips passed coal and tobacco as Virginia’s largest exports.  In 2008, Virginia voted for a Democratic presidential candidate for the first time since 1964.  This state is changing and Aneesh Chopra represents our future.

Virginia’s Democratic Party is at its strongest when young people, women, minorities, new Americans get to the polls.  Aneesh is the candidate that will inspire them them to get out to vote in November and will present a clear choice for voters over the extremist Tea Party candidate E.W. Jackson. 

If you want to read more about Aneesh you can go to his website here.

Make sure you vote Tuesday and please vote for Aneesh Chopra.

Delegate Scott A. Surovell 
Delegate Scott A. Surovell
44th District

Show off your support for #TeamChopra with one of these Facebook timeline covers.

I ask for your support on June 11th

I believe Virginia’s best days are still ahead. With better leadership, we can build an economy that works for everyone, respects everyone, and strengthens the middle class. I ask for your vote on June 11th to allow me the opportunity to work tirelessly in the months and years ahead to deliver on this vision.

Over the past 50 years, no other state has advanced further in providing opportunity for all than Virginia. Through smarter investments in human capital and fairer rules of the road, later dubbed the "Virginia model"we transitioned from a low-skills, low-income state to a high-skills, high-income one.

Under Governors Warner and Kaine, Virginia earned a string of accolades - Best Managed StateBest State for Business, and the Best Place to Raise a Child.

That legacy is now at risk after three years in which Virginia limited access to women’s healthcare, made it harder for folks to vote, and weakened important anti-discrimination protections. 

As Virginia’s next Lt. Governor, I will play two important roles - as Presiding officer of the evenly-divided State Senate, I will have the tie-breaking vote; in the Executive Branch, where I will serve on the Council on Virginia’s Future and Economic Development Partnership, I will inject an entrepreneurial spirit to both grow the jobs and industries of the future, and deliver a smarter government that ensures our workers have the skills they need to fill them.

In the State Senate, I will establish a firewall to prevent any further erosion in access to women’s healthcare, voting rights, and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. I will proactively seek common-sense ideas to promote gun safety, protect our environment, and strengthen our economy through paycheck fairness.

In the Executive Branch, I will lead efforts to improve how our government delivers serves through innovation, like the PlugGEDInVa program that dramatically compressed the time for adults lacking a high school diploma in Southwest Virginia to earn the skills they need to connect with good paying jobs. I will work to strengthen Virginia’s entrepreneurial climate, building on President Obama’s Startup America initiative and its related Virginia chapter to lift us up to a top 5 state from our current bottom third performance in the Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity.

More than 400 years ago, Virginia gave birth to American Democracy in Jamestown, and decades ago, we initiated the Virginia model that meant a better life for the next generation. Today, we are poised to write a new chapter in Virginia of a Commonwealth that values openness and innovation, that meets our challenges in health, energy and education by tapping into all of our talents. 

If you share this vision, and wish to lend your creativity and ingenuity to make it happen, please commit to vote for me on June 11th and join us at

We remember

Today is Memorial Day, a day where we take pause to remember all of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our country.

It is a day of reflection and commemoration. It is also a day to give thanks. I want to personally offer my deepest and most heartfelt thank you to those who gave everything to their country.

As we give thanks and remember those who did not come home, we must also commit ourselves to doing everything we can to best serve all who have worn the uniform of our military. There’s a lot of work left to do to ensure those who do return home have every possible opportunity available to them.

But today, this Memorial Day, we honor all who have perished defending our nation. If you’re looking for a way to help the families and loved ones of the fallen, please consider supporting T.A.P.S. (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors). You can learn more at

Photo credit: David Burns

Commit to Vote with Twitter

Today, we’re excited to announce the launch of our innovative new Twitter Commit to Vote program. This program allows Virginia voters on Twitter to easily commit to vote by tweeting the hashtag #VoteJune11. Those who tweet the hashtag will receive a reminder from a volunteer via Twitter to vote in the June 11th primary.

The system consists of two components — the hashtag #VoteJune11 and then a volunteer interface for people to join a Twitter “tweet bank.”

When volunteers sign up, they authorize our Commit To Vote app to access their Twitter account. The volunteers are then shown a list of their top followers in Virginia and are prompted to send them a message about the June 11th primary.

As Election Day approaches, volunteers will receive a list of people who have committed to vote. The volunteers will then tweet a reminder to each of these voters urging them to make it out to the polls. This Twitter “tweet bank” is a unique way to remind people of the election while also leveraging the effective strategy of social pressure to get out to vote.

The goal of this program is to encourage everyone to make it out to the polls on June 11th to vote for Aneesh Chopra for Lt. Governor.

Commit to vote today by tweeting #VoteJune11.

Join our Twitter volunteer team:

The Twitter Commit to Vote program is the latest piece of a broader get-out-the-vote program. Voters can also commit to vote via Facebook, SMS, or a web form.

Introducing Women for Chopra

I wanted to share this announcement that was sent out by my friend Kate Hanley, former Chair of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and former Secretary of the Commonwealth:

Dear Friends,

This year, so much is at stake for the women of Virginia. Over the past four years, we’ve seen attack after attack on women’s rights. It’s absolutely critical that this year we elect leaders who will stand with us and fight for equality and opportunity. That’s why I am supporting Aneesh Chopra for Lt. Governor, and that’s why I’m so excited to announce the launch of Women for Chopra.

Join Women for Chopra today.

My time spent in Virginia politics as Chair of the Fairfax Board of Supervisors and as Secretary of the Commonwealth, has shown me what leadership looks like. Aneesh Chopra has delivered results for Virginia, and he will stand with us in Richmond. He understands that the fight for women is more than just pushing back against the extreme policies of Bob McDonnell and Ken Cuccinelli. He knows that the fight is also about a positive vision for the women of Virginia, where we are all respected and empowered.

When you join, you’ll be part of a group that includes elected and grassroots leaders from across the Commonwealth. Just a few of our Women for Chopra leaders include:

  • Kim Adkins, Mayor, Martinsville 
  • Kristin Cabral, Grassroots Leader, McLean 
  • Victoria Cochran, Grassroots Leader, Blacksburg 
  • Rohini Chopra, Women for Chopra Chair, Arlington 
  • Kerry Devine, City Councilmember, Fredericksburg 
  • Linda DiYorio, Grassroots Leader, Wytheville 
  • Eileen Filler-Corn, Delegate, Springfield 
  • Libby Garvey, County Board Member, Arlington 
  • Dr. Joyce Glaise, Former Councilmember, Danville 
  • Penny Gross, Supervisor, Fairfax County Board 
  • Patty Haling, Grassroots Leader, Charlottesville 
  • Kate Hanley, Former Chair, Fairfax County Board, Reston 
  • Eucharia Jackson, Grassroots Leader, Henrico 
  • Andrea Jackson, Grassroots Leader, Waynesboro 
  • Ernestine Jenkins, Grassroots Leader, Woodbridge 
  • Barbara Kanninen, Grassroots Leader, Arlington 
  • Lovely Lall, Grassroots Leader, Leesburg 
  • Sue Langley, Grassroots Leader, Vienna 
  • Abby Raphael, School Board Member, Arlington 
  • Dr. Amelia Ross-Hammond, Councilmember, Va. Beach   
  • Molly Snyder, Grassroots Leader, Front Royal 
  • Kristin Szakos, Vice Mayor, Charlottesville 
  • Shannon Taylor, Commonwealth’s Attorney, Henrico 
  • Patsy Ticer, Former State Senator, Alexandria 
  • Margi Vanderhye, Former Delegate, McLean 
  • Kristen Umstattd, Mayor, Leesburg 
  • Trish White-Boyd, Grassroots Leader, Roanoke

Take a moment today and read Aneesh’s plan for empowering the women of Virginia. Aneesh has worked hard for us throughout his career and has a clear, positive vision for the future. And as he says, at the heart this fight is about what it means to be a Virginian: “I’m fighting for women not because they are our mothers, grandmothers, sisters, wives, and daughters, but because they are Virginians and we believe in equality and opportunity for all.”

Thank you,

Kate Hanley
Former Chair, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors
Former Secretary of the Commonwealth

Join Women for Chopra today.

Enough is enough

In today’s Washington Post, we learn Governor McDonnell and his family took a lake house vacation courtesy of Star Scientific C.E.O. Jonnie Williams. Not only that, but the governor drove in style — taking Williams’ Range Rover out to Smith Mountain Lake, then taking this  $190,000 Ferrari for the three-hour drive back to Richmond. Don’t worry though, we’re told that those slick rides weren’t being used for fun. In fact, the Governor was actually just helping his friend out by shuffling the cars back and forth, so no need to report the excursions as a gift.


Governor McDonnell, working for the people.

Virginia is tired of this sort of politics. Our Commonwealth has a proud history of folks stepping up to serve without seeking personal gain or luxury. We have a proud history of public service, going back to Jamestown. Enough is enough: It’s time to turn the page and get back to the important work of moving Virginia forward.