Chap! v. JMD

Part two of the various WaPo offerings today considers a potential battle royale in northern Virginia…

I now feel sorry for Chap! (btw, in recognition of his bumpersticker, Chap Petersen will be referred to as “Chap!” hereafter…

Why do I feel sorry for him? Because he is being lured into a race that could torpedo him.

As laid out in the article, the VaDems think a strong candidate can take Jean Marie Devolites (JMD). ..and they think that candidate is Chap!. They base this on the following:

a) Chap!’s apparent ability to raise money (as demonstrated in his candidacy for the Democrats Lt.Gov nod in 2005),
b) JMD won her Senate seat in 2003, and was running in a district specifically cut for a GOP candidate, but only got ~53% of the vote.
c) Chap!’s well known energetic campaigning-which contrasts with JMD’s sometimes lackadaisical approach
d) Chap! first won election to the Virginia House of Delgates in 2001 by beating incumbent Jack Rust and…
e) Voila!! A a dream candidate to challenge a sitting opposition state senator.

I will say up front that I like Chap!. My wife went to HS with him, my Mother in Law thinks he walks on water, and I thought that had he stayed in the HOD for two more terms he was a lock for the Democratic ticket in 2009…hence perhaps the reason this push toward a candidacy bothers me.

The problem? History shows that every candidate can afford one loss, but generally two losses makes them damaged goods.

Chap! made a fast leap into statewide politics, and ran third in a field of four in the 2005 primar . That kind of loss can be forgiven and examined in light of the good things that happened-like his strong fundraising. However, if he runs against JMD and loses…remember, this is not a sure thing for him…then he becomes damaged goods and faces a longer stay on the bench than he does now.

There is no indication this is Chap!’s dream race…I tend to think he would rather run for the 11th district seat in 2008 if Tom Davis goes for the Senate, or to take another shot at a statewide nomination in 2009. It seems if he really wanted to make this race, there would be little to no need for these folks to urge him to run.

Sure, Governor Kaine and others are beating a path to his door urging Chap! to run, but where will they be if he loses?

Don’t forget Dick Davis and the squeeze he got back in 1982…

Dick Davis was a former Mayor of Portsmoth and State Democratic Chairman when we was elected Lt. Governor in 1981. His clear ambition was to run for Governor in 1985, which promised to be a knock down dragout between him and AG Gerald Baliles. He had no plans on running for any federal office, much less the US Senate. But that was not a concern, as all VaDems were behind Delegate Owen Pickett of Va. Beach as the Democratic nominee to run for the seat that Harry Byrd, Jr. would vacate in 1982.

Then Pickett offered public comments praising the old Byrd Machine, and Doug Wilder got his back up. Doug reminded folks of the Massive Resistance anti-integration policies of the Byrd Machine and the Machines other various crimes against liberalism. Doug raised enough of a fuss that Pickett w/drew from the race.

The VaDems now had a problem…it was an open seat, and they had to run someone. Several people were considered and rejected or were approached and rejected. Robb, Baliles, current and past VaDem congressman, etc. They settled on Dick Davis. Davis demurred, saying he wanted to run for Governor. He was told not to worry! Do this for the party, take one for the team, and if you do not win we will be there for you in 1985!

All this sounds great, except he did run, he did lose-narrowly-to Paul Trible, and then in 1985 “they” were not there for him, and he lost the nod to Baliles…in part because he had lost in 1982 and was considered by many to be damaged goods.

It seems that Chap! faces the same problem…and more so if the party faithful are trying to pull him in. Run and win, take out yet again an incumbent, and he is golden and is ready to go in 2008 or 2009. Run and lose, and his political career may be prematurely circumscribed.

It will be interesting to see what happens…but speaking as a fan and not a potential senate district constitutent I hope he takes a pass on this one…


2 thoughts on “Chap! v. JMD

  1. I really don’t see Chap! getting involved in federal politics… he’d much prefer a statewide office IMO.

    I am not so sure about the “damaged goods” thing… I mean, look at how many offices Leslie Byrne has run for!

  2. Yep…and see how many she has lost…were it not for her devoted labor, etc., base in the party, she would have been brushed aside long ago.

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