Former Vice President Joe Biden has endorsed Danica Roem, the woman seeking to become the first transgender person elected to office in the commonwealth, in her campaign for the Virginia House of Delegates.
“As someone who spent decades riding the train to work, I’m proud today to endorse Danica Roem’s historic candidacy because I know her emphasis on improving transportation infrastructure is critical to improving the quality of life for thousands of Virginians,” Biden said in a statement. “I know she’d make people of her lifelong home of Prince William County proud by working to improve their commutes and strengthen the middle class while serving them with compassion in Richmond and Manassas.”
Biden’s endorsement is significant because of his status as one of the major figures within the Democratic Party, which could help shore up Democratic base voters in the Manassas area whom Roem will need to show up at the polls in large numbers on Nov. 7. Generally, voter turnout is extremely low in odd-numbered, off-year elections, which is when Virginia holds its elections for statewide office and General Assembly.
Biden has been using his platform as a fairly popular former vice president to campaign for Democrats, including Ralph Northam in the Virginia governor’s race. During a campaign event for Northam in Reston on Saturday, Biden urged Democrats to focus on taking back power at the state and local level, saying they would have to “step up” on issues where the federal government is not taking action, according to The Hill.
“The only hope for leadership we have here is at the state level,” Biden said.
Biden’s endorsement, and his specific reference to transportation, also helps underscore the central message of Roem’s campaign: that she is focused on issues that would affect her constituents’ daily lives, like fixing Virginia’s Route 28, economic development, and education. While Roem has focused on those issues since she first announced in January, she has found herself the target of attacks by her Republican opponent, incumbent Del. Bob Marshall (R-Manassas) and the Virginia GOP, who have attempted to diminish her candidacy by highlighting her gender identity and (in almost Freudian fashion) accusing her of focusing on divisive social issues.
The Washington Post recently reported that voters in the district, which covers parts of Manassas, Manassas Park, and Prince William County, have been receiving robocalls with “push-polls” designed to drive up Roem’s negatives by linking her status as a member of the LGBTQ community to a host of myths related to controversial social issues, including same-sex adoption, the alleged teaching of LGBTQ issues in schools, and requiring hospitals to perform gender confirmation surgeries. The robocalls are being run by the American Principles Project, a conservative anti-gay think tank in Washington.
In the face of those attacks, Roem points to her consistency in messaging and her emphasis on “kitchen table” issues since January as evidence that she, not Marshall, is the candidate speaking to voters’ most important concerns.
“I’m humbled to earn the endorsement of Joe Biden, who spent 44 years in office fighting for mass transit and a more inclusive America,” Roem told Metro Weekly.
“The fact of the matter is that Joe’s reputation is that of someone who took Amtrak from Wilmington into D.C. every day, and spent decades commuting on mass transit,” Roem added. “When he was vice president, his wife, Jill Biden, was working as a community college professor for Northern Virginia Community College. So the Biden family has direct ties to Northern Virginia.”