Atheist Candidate Wynne LeGrow Loses Congressional Race November 2, 2010

Atheist Candidate Wynne LeGrow Loses Congressional Race

Wynne LeGrow was the openly atheist doctor running for a House seat in Virginia’s fourth congressional district.

The results are in and he has lost to Republican incumbent Randy Forbes.

LeGrow, 65, is a retired physician from Emporia who said during the campaign he disagreed with Forbes on “just about everything” -– including religion. He is an acknowledged atheist, a rarity in American politics.

Forbes has pledged to work to repeal the health care overhaul or to withhold funding for key parts of the initiative. He also favors keeping the Bush-era tax cuts intact and supports a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget.

One of many disappointments tonight, but at least the Senate looks to be safe…


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  • It’s a shame that voters still discriminate on the basis of religion – even though there is supposed to be no religious test for political office.

  • Dustin

    water wet. sky blue. ( 🙁 )

  • Danny Wuvs Kittens

    He’s conservative…and he lost…I don’t know what to feel about this. If he believed in God, he would have won, no doubt. Since he lost, that’s one less guy who would of kept the bush tax cuts, but its also clear discrimination that we can’t really do anything about…

    Stay strong guys, and try to fight them with education and kindness. Kill the stereotypes wherever you can.

  • Brice Gilbert

    @ Danny Wuvs

    He was a Democrat.

  • ckitching

    So, how does Forbes plan on getting a balanced budget with tax cuts? Is he going to cut defence spending? Kill Medicare/Medicaid? End Social Security? The only other alternative would be to raise taxes.

    I seriously don’t understand these conservatives/tea partiers. Many of these same people will complain loudly about kids having a “sense of entitlement”, while they happily benefit from Medicaid, accept government subsidies, or other government wealth transfers.

  • Johann

    Check it again, Danny. The second paragraph is about his opponent.

  • Richard Wade

    One of many disappointments tonight, but at least the Senate looks to be safe…

    The Senate has been a black hole into which all sorts of legislation falls, but is never seen again. Because of the stupidest practice ever, the filibuster, that will remain the same.

    Now the Republicans will be able to turn the House into a black hole as well. We’ll be seeing nothing coming out of either legislature except idiotic “resolutions” about how this is a Christian nation, or how no American should have to give up their rocket launchers, or how Angelina Jolie is still hot.

    Be it resolved…

  • @Brice Gilbert: Democrat and conservative are not mutually exclusive.

  • Miko

    One of many disappointments tonight, but at least the Senate looks to be safe…

    On the contrary, I’m fairly certain there won’t be an atheist majority there either.

    The Skeptical Scribe:

    It’s a shame that voters still discriminate on the basis of religion – even though there is supposed to be no religious test for political office.

    What makes you think they did? Plenty of religious Democrats lost tonight also. If an atheistic incumbent Republican had lost, I’d be a bit suspicious. But a challenger Democrat? They all knew this was their race to lose.

    Richard Wade:

    The Senate has been a black hole into which all sorts of legislation falls, but is never seen again. Because of the stupidest practice ever, the filibuster, that will remain the same.

    From the perspective of someone opposed to the idea of majoritarian democracy, I disagree. The filibuster is the greatest thing about our system of government. The majority of proposed laws are bad laws. If 40% of the people (as poorly approximated by 40% of their “representatives”) are opposed to a bill, it shouldn’t become law. The notion that any idea with 51% support should become a binding law for 100% of the people is absurd, especially when you consider that this 51% represents only those who: 1) were allowed to vote, 2) chose to vote, and 3) voted for a candidate that they wanted to make binding decisions for them, as opposed to having cast a strategic vote “against” someone. The problem is that the majority always views the filibuster as an obstacle to overcome instead of as a sign that their ideas are bad and should either be seriously re-evaluated or scrapped outright. If we set the level required for passage of bills to a more sensible level (personally, I think 99% is too low, but I’m willing to compromise and say 80% or even 75%), the filibuster wouldn’t be necessary. But with a simple-majority able to pass laws, it’s essential.

    When the Right comes to implement theocracy, stone gays, ban abortions, ban contraceptives, ban stem-cell research and procedures, establish churches, reinstate the draft, launch more holy wars, etc., all true Leftists will be glad that the filibuster is there. Or, they would be except that the Democrats are sure to be clamoring to sign on as co-sponsors instead of filibustering like they’re supposed to do.

  • Miko,

    Is there a place in this world where 75% of people (never mind 99%) would agree to pass any sort of meaningful legislation?

    While I agree that a simple majority can be dangerous in speaking too strongly for too small a portion of the population, I have a difficulty imagining a political situation where you’re going to have a significant majority agreeing on anything that would actually make a difference.

    Just look at California: the state passed its budget a whopping 100 days late due to a 2/3rds majority requirement, and that budget is arguably unsatisfactory all around. And because of that requirement, neither party can be held accountable for failings in the budget. (Californians voted tonight to make future budgets dependent on a simple majority.)

    Finally, I think the concept of the filibuster as a critique of poor legislation is only valid if you assume intellectual honesty on the part of those conducting the filibuster. While Democrats might be able to use it to a liberal advantage over the next couple years, the Republicans thoroughly convinced me over the past two that the filibuster is to be used unthinkingly to undermine the opposing side. They filibustered legislation that including things they specifically asked for, for crying out loud.

  • It really didn’t matter what positions the Democratic candidate held (or the voting record for the Democratic incumbents), the populous is restless for change and the Democrats were in power so most just pushed the buttons with the “R” by the name. In two years if the populous is still restless, they might vote for change again (and push the “D’s”). Odds are very slim that anything will get passed for the next two years.

  • Remember, Barack Obama wasn’t the first black man to run for president.

    Baby steps.

  • Stephan

    Check LeGrow’s stances on the issues on his website. He’s no conservative. I’ve also talked to him in on the phone, quite a cool guy, and exactly the kind of guy we need running for office as an open atheist.

    Shame he lost, but his opponent wouldn’t even dare be seen in public with him…not surprising since his opponent started with such a huge edge in the polls…so that should tell us something.

  • bernerbits

    Remember, Barack Obama wasn’t the first black man to run for president.

    Baby steps.

    However:

    * James Madison
    * James Monroe
    * Martin Van Buren
    * William Henry Harrison
    * John Tyler
    * Zachary Taylor
    * Andrew Johnson
    * Ulysses S. Grant
    * Rutherford B. Hayes
    * Chester A. Arthur

    Sometimes we take eighteen billion baby steps in the wrong direction.

  • I just knew Dr. LeGrow’s “Baby BBQ” fundraiser was a bad idea. C’mon, atheists, show a little restraint until AFTER the election.

  • muggle

    The running was important. We didn’t think he stood a chance and I doubt he had did either. But this was a good start and got us out there as a sane ordinary politician. Something other than Jesse Ventura, who was as bad, frankly, as fundie Christians using his office to mock beleivers.

    The article says Forbes won 2-1. So an out Atheist got a third of the vote? In Virginia? C’mon, people, the glass is not two-thirds empty; it’s a third full. And he was going up against the Forbes name no less.

  • I don’t think this is all bad – lots of Religious Dems got handed their walking papers as well. I don’t think it would have mattered if he had sacrificed a chicken to the invisible sky man to prove his fealty – he was a Dem, running against an incumbent Rep, he was destined to lose no matter his religious affiliation.

    Come to think of it, did ANY incumbent Repubs lose?

  • Darwin’s Dagger

    This guy didn’t lose because he was an atheist, he lost because he was a Democrat running in a conservative district against a popular Republican incumbent. The atheist thing probably didn’t help, but the margins would have been about the same if the guy had been an Evangelical Christian.

  • Anonymous

    I would like to thank Dr LeGrow from the bottom of my heart, both for running, and for having the courage to take swings at his opponent’s faith-based political pursuits. *big applause*

  • Hemant,

    Thanks for trying. I know you said your visit confirmed he didn’t have name recognition, so expecting real support was obviously a problem.

    From what I saw, his local media offered fair discussions of his candidacy, even the local FoxNews mentioned his lack of religion without offering a negative statement.

    Unfortunately, the nation is affected by this loss. Randy Forbes needs to be voted out.

    Watch him here… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dpQOCvthw-o&feature=player_embedded

    http://www.atheistrev.com/2010/08/hconres-274-threatens-to-put-god-in.html

    And…

    http://www.atheistrev.com/2010/06/family-worse-than-christian-extremism.html

    And, it looks like Bill Brady must move on….

  • Rollingforest

    I think LeGrow’s atheism would have been a bigger issue if anyone thought he had a shot at winning. But I do think that the reaction against him is less than it would have been even 10 years ago nonetheless

  • Nordog

    As a Catholic and a political conservative, I would vote (in a heartbeat) for an atheist libertarian and/conservative over, say, Catholic Nancy Pelosi.

    Seems like most atheists here are politically liberal.

    I wonder how many politically liberal atheists would vote for a reliably liberal Christian instead of a far right tea partier that also happened to be atheist.

    I suspect (but have no way of knowing) that most would vote for the Christian.

    Side Queston: Isn’t former Gov. Jesse Ventura an atheist?

  • I wonder how many politically liberal atheists would vote for a reliably liberal Christian instead of a far right tea partier that also happened to be atheist.

    Given the dearth of atheist candidates, theists are pretty much our only choice at the moment. 😉

    I suspect (but have no way of knowing) that most would vote for the Christian.

    I think most would. Politics trumps religion for me. I don’t really care about a candidate’s personal faith, but I would never vote for a social conservative. If an atheist was on the far right, he or she certainly would not be getting my vote.