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Hung Cao proved his true colors as an elitist against rural Virginians

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I grew up on a dirt road on my family’s sheep and cattle farm in Highland County. It was a close-knit community where everyone looked out for one another. A real “it takes a village” kind of place. One Christmas Eve, when I was a little girl, our neighbors’ house burned down. My parents moved us into our grandparents’ house across the meadow, and our neighbors moved into ours until theirs was rebuilt.

My parents didn’t think twice about making this move; and so I didn’t either. This is the earliest example of “love thy neighbor” that I can remember and looking back, it set a standard that I have tried to live up to. It’s the foundation that our Commonwealth and country were built on and rest on.

When I heard that GOP Senate candidate Hung Cao called the Staunton News Leader and the community it serves “podunk,” I thought of all those people who shaped me into the person I am today; good and decent people who worked hard every day to raise a family and put food on the table.

I want to ask Hung Cao why he thinks he is above these hard-working people? I want to ask him why he looks down on rural folks like me. I want to ask Hung Cao if elected, would he fairly represent these communities that he apparently thinks are insignificant?

I challenge Hung Cao to actually come to Staunton or anywhere in the Sixth Congressional District and say it to our faces. But apparently, he thinks showing up in rural areas isn’t worth the drive.

Plain and simple, Cao showed his true colors as an elitist by calling the News Leader “podunk” for publishing a story about the scam he ran through his PAC. It’s an offensive and insulting term that elitists like Hung Cao use to describe “a small, unimportant, and isolated town.”

When I entered the political arena as the Highland County Democratic Chair at age 22, my Daddy sat me down and said, “You better know what you’re talking about, and you better have tough skin.” I want to take this as an opportunity for Hung Cao to know what he’s talking about when he visits – and not skip out on forums like the one he skipped in Augusta County.

There are around 126,000 Virginians who live in Staunton, Waynesboro, Augusta County and Highland County – the areas the News Leader covers. Many of those Virginians contribute to our agriculture industry – the entire Shenandoah Valley produces more than $1.3 billion annually in commodities sold. Manufacturing is also a booming industry in the Shenandoah Valleythe SmartAsset report ranked the Staunton-Waynesboro Metro Area as #10 in the country for best places to work in manufacturing.

Staunton is home to the American Shakespeare Center/Blackfriars Playhouse, the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library, Mary Baldwin University, the Frontier Culture Museum (a state agency) and the home of the Statler Brothers.That hardly sounds “podunk” to me.

If he bothered to visit, he would find a vibrant community that is on the move. My question is: will Hung Cao represent all of us or just the people who live in Northern Virginia, where he resides?

We need a senator who represents the entire Commonwealth. Tim Kaine has done that since 2012. He has consistently delivered for rural communities, including the expansion of health care, support of small businesses, and creation of affordable housing.

I want a senator in Washington who will not only deliver results to my community, but actually respect me. There’s a clear choice.

Susan Swecker is the chair of the Democratic Party of Virginia.