The Bulletin

Human rights lawyer announces plan to challenge Sen. Dick Saslaw in a primary

By: - September 20, 2018 2:27 pm
Virginia Mercury

The first Muslim woman elected to the Democratic National Committee will mount a primary challenge to Virginia’s most senior Democratic senator.

Yasmine Taeb called herself a “real progressive” in a video announcing her candidacy. She took veiled shots at her opponent, Sen. Dick Saslaw, who has served 42 years in the General Assembly.

“Unfortunately right now in Virginia, and all across the country,  some elected officials are more interested in siding with powerful corporations than the people they represent,” Taeb said in her video. “The old Virginia way of pay-to-play politics is failing countless working families.”

Saslaw has been criticized by members of his own party for being too cozy with Dominion Energy. The utility company has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to him over the years, and Saslaw often carries bills in the legislature that help Dominion.

Democrats across the state took pledges to not take money from the energy monolith, and it’s become just one issue where the split between old-school Democrats and a more progressive crop comes up in the party.

Taeb was a refugee from Iran, who came to the United States through the southern border when she was six years old. Her family eventually settled in Parkland, Fla., and she attended Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School — where 17 students were killed earlier this year in a school shooting.

She attended school with Aaron Feis, a coach who was killed in the shooting.

Taeb is now a human rights lawyer specializing in cases with refugees and asylum-seekers.

All members of the Senate are up for re-election next year.

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Mechelle Hankerson
Mechelle Hankerson

Mechelle, born and raised in Virginia Beach, is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University with a degree in mass communications and a concentration in print journalism. She covered the General Assembly for the university’s Capital News Service and was among 12 student journalists in swing states selected by the Washington Post to cover the 2012 presidential election. For the past five years, she has covered local government, crime, housing, infrastructure and other issues at the Raleigh News & Observer and The Virginian-Pilot, where she most recently covered the state’s biggest city, Virginia Beach. Mechelle was with the Virginia Mercury until January 3rd, 2019.