by Brandon Jarvis

“No one owns these seats,” said Matt Rogers in an interview with Virginia Scope in mid-July. As all of the members in the Virginia House of Delegates are up for re-election in 2021, Rogers is primarying Delegate Patrick Hope (D-Arlington), who represents the 47th district in Northern Virginia.

In addition to owning a political consulting firm, Rogers has worked in the General Assembly as Chief of Staff to state senator Dave Marsden (D-Burke) since 2017. “I have been able to really get some great things done through my role with him,” said Rogers. He also pointed to that experience as a benefit for a potential legislator: “I understand the committee and subcommittee process and sometimes even how to get things done without a bill.”

Prior to working in Richmond, Rogers began working at the bottom in the nation’s Capital. “I was working on Capitol Hill for $20 bucks a day and at night I worked at Buffalo Wild Wings about four blocks from where I now live on Glebe Road,” said Rogers. “At a certain point, I started moving up and getting actually paid commensurate with anyone’s time on Capitol Hill. I started getting very involved in the efforts of Eleanor Holmes Norton, Sheila Jackson Lee, Peter Welch, Steve Cohen, Danny Davis, and others.”

Rogers told the Scope that the mission to restore voters’ rights while Governor McAuliffe was Governor led him back to Virginia politics. “I felt I had to do more, so I decided I wanted to go and work for New Virginia Majority because they were on the forefront of the progressive movement pushing for restoration of rights for people who’ve served their sentences.”

In addition to his day job, registering voters and recruiting candidates to run in tough races has become a focal point for Rogers this year. “I really believe in the philosophy of running candidates everywhere,” he said.

Rogers says he was also part of the effort to convince the Florida Democratic party to give every candidate access to their NGP VAN network. NGP VAN is a mobile canvassing application that allows for campaigns and organizations to contact voters or supporters, collect data, and sync the information. 

The incumbent for the seat that Rogers is seeking, Delegate Patrick Hope, has been serving as the delegate for the 47th district since 2010. Hope has never had a primary opponent and has faced only two general election opponents since first winning the seat. Hope beat both of those challengers handily – receiving more than 75% of the vote in both races. “My campaign is about the voters of this district having an election for the first time in over a decade,” said Rogers. “I’ve voted for Patrick before. In fact, I have voted for him three times. He was absolutely the best option on the ballot; he was also the only option on the ballot.”

While Rogers is adamant that one of the main reasons he is running is to provide the voters with a choice, he noted that an endorsement from Hope during the 2019 Arlington Commonwealth’s Attorney race was another factor in his decision. “There are many reasons why I’m running,” said Rogers. “One of them was an endorsement in the race for the Commonwealth’s Attorney last year that did not speak to my values as a constituent. It shows a sense of values who you align yourself with and who you endorse.”

Hope endorsed the incumbent, Theo Stamos, in the Democratic primary last year. “In Theo we have a public servant of 31 years whose reforms have helped make Arlington a public safety success story,” Hope said in a statement that was released by the Stamos campaign in 2019. “Her opponent, by contrast, has never tried a case in Arlington and wants to pick and choose which laws she wants to enforce. This is very concerning and sets a dangerous precedent.”

Stamos ran and eventually lost to progressive challenger Parisa Dehghani-Tafti. “The political landscape has moved, the calculation for what passes for a progressive in Arlington, Virginia has shifted,” said Rogers. 

While Rogers does not believe that Hope completely represents the progressive values that are being pushed to the front lines of the political landscape today, he says that his campaign is about more than him. “My campaign will not be about any one person,” he said. “It is about a vision and about bringing the kind of generational and representational change that many in our movement are looking for.”

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By vascope

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