Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Farm Team

Mary Sue Terry broke the mold (in both senses of the word) of Virginia politics when she was elected attorney general in 1985. The first female to hold that post in Virginia, Mary Sue was an important force in Virginia and Democratic politics during the 1980s and early 1990s. In politics timing can be everything - in 1993 she lost the Governor's Mansion to George Allen during a time when Republicans and conservatives were surging in Virginia. After that loss (for her, for Democrats, and as it turned out, for the commonwealth), Mary Sue returned to her roots in rural Patrick County. She continued to make public appearances and spoke to many groups including a high school graduation here in the central Shenandoah Valley. But, her political involvement was very low key. The Roanoke Times has an interesting article on the political career and life of Mary Sue Terry.
Today, many Virginians would probably say "Mary Sue Who?" It has been 15 years since she left the bright lights of electoral politics. Virginia's population has dramatically changed, too. I don't have the numbers, but a significant portion of the voting age population is too young to remember her or they moved to Virginia in the years since Mary Sue was front page news.
Yes, timing is everything and lots has changed since 1993. Mary Sue Terry is today reemerging as a political force in Virginia. Many political observers thought her election in '85 signaled a new era of women in politics. Yes, some progress has been made as there are more women in local and state offices (see prior post). But, there have been limits - this year, for example, Virginia Democrats made gains in the House of Representatives and bumped off the one woman, Republican Thelma Drake, who had served there.
Mary Sue and a group of influential women have joined together to encourage and help aspiring Democratic women fulfill their political dreams. The Farm Team has a simple mission:
The goal of The Farm team is a simple one: recruit, develop and elect women to office. We hope this website will be a resource for women who aspire to hold elective office and for those who wish to support them.
Visit The Farm Team to learn about its origins, other women (and men) who are involved, upcoming regional meetings, and the resources they are bringing to the table. They are not just talk - as Mary Sue says:
This group is not in the business of tilting at windmills.
The Farm Team has picked one statewide candidate, Jody Wagner, as their first and most visible project. Wagner, a former Treasurer of Virginia and Secretary of Finance, is a candidate for Lt. Governor. Mary Sue might have cracked the glass ceiling in 1985, but Wagner would be just the second woman to hold statewide office. The Farm Team is also recruiting and nurturing candidates for school boards, boards of supervisors, and city councils. They are indeed serious about building a strong farm team that will change Virginia politics forever.


Adam Sharp said...

"Mary Sue might have cracked the glass ceiling in 1985, but Wagner is just the second woman to seek statewide office."

I think I know who this is, so there's really no excuse for forgetting our 2005 Lieutenant Governor nominee: Leslie Byrne.

In fact, since Mary Sue Terry ran in 1993, Leslie Byrne sought the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate in 1996 (lost to Mark Warner, not too shabby), and then narrowly lost to Bill Bolling in 2005.

How soon our memories fade!

Belle Rose said...

Thanks for pointing out my error, Adam.... I corrected it.

Anonymous said...

And Viola Baskerville. And Sylvia Clute.

Is it fair to ask what Jody did for Mary Sue, Leslie, Viola or Sylvia before everyone else works for her?

divalicias said...

The Farm Team has not made any endorsement in the Lt.Gov. race.

Please clarify this in your original post.

Adam Sharp said...

I think that's pretty clear they're supporting Jody.

divalicias said...

Adam -- The Farm Team welcomes women candidates to post their information on the website, but this should not be construed as an endorsement by the organization. While *some* individual Farm Teamers could be supporting Jody, there has been no endorsement for Lt. Gov by the Farm Team organization.

Adam Sharp said...

From The Roanoke Times (emphasis mine):

"On its Web site,, the Terry-formed group has identified former state Finance Secretary Jody Wagner, who is seeking the party's nomination for lieutenant governor, as its first statewide project."


I'm also tired of talking to someone who remains anonymous but claims to have inside information. If divalicias wants to have us take (I'm guessing "her") seriously, a name and a justification for how "she" knows the inner workings of the Farm Team would be helpful.

As it stands, I'm being asked to believe someone I don't know instead of my "lying eyes." I'll stick with my eyes until I have additional information.

divalicias said...

Adam -- I am one of the NoVa Region Farm Team coordinators. We discussed this matter at our meeting yesterday in Falls Church. The last word is that there has been no endorsement in the Lt. Gov. race made by the Farm Team as an organization. Democratic-minded women candidates are welcome to place their information on the website, but this should not be construed as an endorsement.

Nice to meet you,

Alicia Knight

Adam Sharp said...


I enjoyed (back when DND list-serv was more active) reading your e-mails. It looks like Flannery is the only one using it now.

I managed the first half of Karen Schultz's state Senate race, and am glad to see she is active on the Farm Team.

Thank you for the new information. Whoever is in charge of the website may want to clarify that.

divalicias said...

HI Adam -- Yes, I haven't checked into DND in quite a while. You have a good memory! DND is like the grandparent to a lot of Democratic online action.

Karen Shultz is heading up the "Valley" part of the the northern region for FT, and Leslie Byrne is leading the eastern part.

The Farm Team has caught on with such energy and excitement that it's a challenge to keep up with some of the administrative details, but we're working on it!