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Commentary: Dean Supports Beyer

I’ve always stood for the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party. When I started my presidential campaign in 2003, I was against the Iraq War, and had worked hard as Governor of Vermont to create marriage equality and universal health care in my home state. Those positions weren’t totally popular at the time. But I believe candidates should pay attention not only to their prospective constituents, but also to their internal compass.

That’s one of the reasons why I’ve thrown my support behind my friend Don Beyer in his bid to become your next Congressman. I urge you to do the same.

I’ve known and respected Don for years. He and I first met in 1990 when we were both Lieutenant Governors, and immediately struck up a friendship. He and his wife, Megan were two of the earliest supporters of my presidential campaign. Don drove to Burlington, Vt., in the spring of 2003 to volunteer. I was struck by his convictions and by his dedication to core issues of the Democratic Party — equality, justice, reproductive rights, and environmental protection. In addition to his work ethic and generosity — being willing to drive 500 miles to volunteer on what was then a little-known campaign — Don has vision and he has spine. And we could use a little of that in the House of Representatives.

It’s not like Don needs to do more for his ideals or his fellow citizens. He served two terms in the 1990s as Lieutenant Governor, after running the 1985 campaign of Governor Gerald Baliles. Some of Don’s signature efforts include reforms for persons with disabilities — part of his work on what became known as Virginia’s “Beyer Commission” — as well as initiatives to help people living in poverty, which were the product of the poverty commission he chaired in the mid-1990s.

When he lost his own bid for governor, rather than let it diminish his passion for public service and for progress, he worked tirelessly for Democratic candidates, including Mark Warner, John Kerry and Barack Obama. Then he ably represented President Obama and American citizens abroad during his tenure as an ambassador, becoming the first appointed State Department officer to win the Thomas Jefferson Award.

This track record is not enough for Don. As he has said many times during this campaign, he believes we are each put on this earth to build something larger than ourselves and to serve others. Don is asking you, the voter, to give him that chance to do more.

In many ways, Washington is broken and Congress is full of folks who are happy to accomplish nothing. In the face of that reality, the voters of Virginia’s 8th district have the remarkable opportunity to elect a man of principle and progressive values, who has a tremendous work ethic. I urge you to hire him to work for you. I hope you will vote for Don Beyer in the June 10 Democratic Primary.