Just back from a weekend trip to the Shenandoah Valley visiting my sister and along the way seeing my beloved Bridgewater College Eagles blow out Ferrum 41-16, seeing SWMBO’s alma mater JMU blow out VMI 45-17 (both results being worse than they look, with margin diminished by liberal late game substitutions. Most important, we got to see the JMU Marching Royal Dukes (SWMBO is a bando) in their first year after the retirement of Dr. Rooney. But more about that in another post.
The many hours on the road down and back gave me a chance to consider the 2008 Senate Race, and some things come to mind that prompt me to post the contrarian view of the deluge of “Warner Will Win” posts that have come out since former governor Mark Warner announced he will be a candidate for the US Senate in 2008.
While I agree Warner enters the race as a favorite, some things occur to me that suggest Davis will run and that he has better chances than some have attributed to him.
Will Davis run? Yep, he is. I have seen frequent comments that he wants to go to the Senate, that it is a long time ambition. He has not sought the path to party leadership in the House (which he could have following his sterling leadership of the GOP Congressional Committee), instead choosing committees that allowed him to focus on local matters…yet he continues to raise money. Another consideration is security. If he stays in the House, then he is looking at an ever bluer district and the increasing chance that he will have to take on the Conolly or Byrne or some other well funded opponent. If he wins the Senate seat, he likely has it for a couple of terms or more given his northern virginia presence plus downstate GOP edge. Most successful politicians have to throw the dice a couple of times in their career. Davis’s first was when he challenged Byrne in 1994. This will be the second.
Might he lose? Yep…but I bet he considers the benefits of winning to outweigh the risks of losing. And I do not consider the race to be a lost cause.
Now, all of this assumes he can get the nomination without any more bloodshed then necessary…
Many are pointing to a recent Rasmussen poll that has Warner ahead of Davis 57-30 as proof that Warner will wipe the floor with Davis. Saw that poll, and so what? If Warner, who has run statewide and won, who probably gets more than few people thinking they are talking about John Warner, is only at 57% at this point, then either his name ID is not what it should be OR maybe he is topped out. If that is the case, Davis has adequate room to grow to win.
The GOP is going to have to send money into a Davis candidacy to try to hold this seat. Davis might not outspend Warner, but he will be more than competitive in fundraising… and by election day folks will know that John Warner is not on the ballot, that the Warner who is on the ballot raised taxes while governor, that some analysts suggest a tax increase was not needed to keep the state in the black, and that by the time Mark Warner left office his folks had fired off a $137 million dollar accounting error in keeping track of state funds when asking for tax increases. The Mark Warner folks look at on the ballot in November 2008 will be very different than the Mark Warner who just announced and got that 57%. Throw in a likely Davis difference in Northern Virginia, and suddenly you have a real race.
Now someone out there is going to say the Davis Difference in NOVA will be offset by the “Warner Way” in ROVA, and point to his NASCAR sponsorships in and good numbers downstate.
This is real consideration. Which brings me back to my weekend trip…
In NOVA almost no one has a party id on their posters. Gerry Connolly, democratic boss of Fairfax County and wannabe congressman, does not have party ID on posters. Chap!, who so many are giving the Va-34 seat of JMDD, does not have part ID on his poster. As far as I have seen, here in blueing Fairfax County, only The Cooch and The Hoot as far as I can tell.
But in the Valley, I saw that Republicans-especially new candidates-put their party ID on their posters. Guys like Emmit Hanger and Mark Obenshain don’t, but their name ID as GOP candidates is so high it is redundant. It may be so even more as we go south.
It occurs to me that when these heavily GOP areas that produced a larger Democratic vote than normal in 2001 get ready to vote in 2008, they may remember NASCAR Mark. They may also remember Tax Hike Mark and Can’t Keep the Numbers Straight Mark, and they may decide “fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me”.
BTW, if you think the above terms are harsh, don’t fool yourself. By the time the negative adverts roll next year, those will seem like love taps.
Does this all mean Davis is a shoe-in? Not at all. It does mean that this race is far from over, and that a Warner-Davis race will be one for the ages…so don’t count your ballots before they are cast.
But what about Gilmore? Sorry, you have to check St. Jude’s blog for a post on his current chances.