Va. Dem Delegate: ‘I Identify as Socialist in Many Ways’

Del. VanValkenburg said 'socialists need liberals' to enact change

Schuyler VanValkenburg / Facebook

Virginia delegate Schuyler VanValkenburg expressed his identification as a socialist in a string of 2016 Facebook comments.

In response to a 2016 Jacobin Magazine Facebook post, VanValkenburg wrote that he identifies as a socialist "in many ways," adding that "socialists need liberals" to win elections because a socialist candidate "isn't getting elected president anytime soon."

"Look, the reality is that socialists need liberals and vice versa," wrote VanValkenburg. "I identify as a socialist in many ways but the reality is that identification isn't getting elected president."

The original Jacobin post cited a Politico piece critical of Hillary Clinton's choice of Sen. Tim Kaine (D., Va.) to be her running mate. VanValkenburg added that "liberals are not a perfect vessel for change…But socialist change doesn't come from right wing officeholders."

But VanValkenburg appeared to contradict himself when he challenged many of the socialist magazine's commenters for criticizing Kaine, writing, "This is some left wing bullshit."

"Tim Kaine is a liberal who will better this country," he wrote. "Get over yourself Jacobin."

VanValkenburg, a Democrat, is serving his first term in the House of Delegates after narrowly defeating Republican challenger Edward Whitlock in 2017. VanValkenburg represents Virginia's 72nd district, a historically conservative district held by Republicans for more than two decades.

Given his status as a swing district representative, VanValkenburg has refrained from discussing President Trump on the campaign trail.

"It's actually very rare that I hear about Donald Trump, which I actually think is nice," said VanValkenburg in a 2017 interview. "You know, I think that speaks to voters' sense of, you know, that's not what it’s about."

VanValkenburg often campaigns with self-described moderate Abigail Spanberger, calling the freshman representative his "favorite congresswoman." Spanberger associates with a "gang" of Democratic lawmakers described as the "Anti-Squad" due to their opposition of socialist policies. According to Politico, members of Spanberger's gang "privately grouse" that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., NY) and other progressive members are "hampering their efforts to seek bipartisan remedies."

VanValkenburg is seeking re-election in November against Republican GayDonna Vandergriff.

Virginia House Speaker Kirk Cox included VanValkenburg in a list of targeted blue seats.