Local Democrats gather for 6th annual crab fest

By Heather Michon

Around 200 people gathered at Pleasant Grove Park on Saturday (Oct. 8) to eat Chesapeake Bay Blue Crab and talk Democratic politics at the 6th Annual Justice Jamboree Crab Fest. 

“This may be the most progressives that have ever been together in Fluvanna County,” joked Lefty Lunch Ladies founder Susan Wolff. 

Organized and hosted by the Lefty Lunch Ladies, the Fluvanna Democrats, and Fluvanna Leaders for Race and Diversity, Crab Fest is an opportunity for local Democrats to meet the candidates ahead of upcoming elections.

This year, there is only one race on the ballot in Fluvanna: incumbent Congressman Bob Good (R-5th District) and his Democratic opponent, Josh Throneburg.

Throneburg, an ordained minister and small business owner living in Charlottesville, won the nomination by default in April after two opponents failed to collect enough signatures to qualify for the June primary. 

He has been campaigning aggressively across the district since the spring, hoping to become the 5th District’s first Democrat in Congress since Tom Perriello served a single term from 2008 to 2010.

With redistricting completed earlier this year, the 5th District looks very different that it did when Representative Good defeated Democratic candidate Cameron Webb in 2020. 

The new map is anchored in Central Virginia, gaining the City of Lynchburg, and the counties of Louisa, Amherst, Powhatan, Goochland, Nottaway, Amelia, and part of Hanover, while losing the counties of Brunswick, Fauquier, Franklin, Greene, Henry, Madison, and Rappahannock.

State Senator Jennifer McClellan (D-9th District) told the crowd she is as tired as everyone else over having to fight to hold on to rights that had seemed secure, but urged them to dig in to “turn Fluvanna blue” for Throneburg.

“We need a congressman who understands that investing in expanding broadband is not socialism, it is economic development, it is investing in our children,” she said. “We need a congressman who will say yes to helping his community and his country. We need a congressman who is compassionate and has common sense. I mean, that’s the bare minimum we deserve, right? And with your help, we can get it.”

In introducing Throneburg, Fluvanna Democrats co-chair James Schoenster said “every time you have a conversation with him, you feel like you’re part of the family. He brings comfort and understanding to every single conversation.”

Throneburg spoke for about ten minutes, focusing primarily on the importance of getting out the vote. “It is, in most of our municipalities, just ‘Josh versus Bob.’ That’s it. There is no president to drive people out to vote for him. There is no senator to drive people out to vote for him. He has to drive people out to vote for him.”

He praised Fluvanna for a high rate of early voting and encouraged more to do the same. “Once you have voted, you got nothing to worry about regarding this election except getting other people to vote.”

Another reason to vote early? “If you vote on Monday, and you die on Tuesday,” he quipped, “your vote counts. You could be long buried and still make a difference in this county.”

“I started this because I have young daughters. I looked at their future and I thought: we got to do something different,” he said. “Whether it’s this planet, whether it’s this democracy, whether it’s being a woman or a woman of color, we have to move things into a new trajectory if my kids and kids like them are going to have a fair shot at a future.”

Bob Good, he said, has become “a threat” to people in his district, including women, veterans, members of the LBGTQ community, even farmers who needed a stable climate for their crops.

“He has become a threat and he has accomplished nothing.” 

At an event in Louisa County earlier in the day, Throneburg said he had a conversation with a Republican voter who had first not wanted to talk with him because they would never vote for him. “I said that’s fine. And we started chatting and we got going and by the end, the woman looked at me and said, ‘If you do win, just unite us. Someone just bring us together, because we’re so tired of it.’”

The audience also heard from candidates Kellen Squire and Amy Laufer, who will be running for office in 2023, and from former congressional candidate Cameron Webb, who is currently serving in the Biden Administration as a senior advisor on the COVID-19 Response Team.

Lefty Lunch Lady member Kathy Swenson Miller said the event takes a large group of volunteers about two months to plan and prepare. This was the first time Crab Fest has been held in-person since 2019, with 2020 and 2021 combining meal pickup at Pleasant Grove followed by a virtual meeting via Zoom.

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