Yesterday RK and NLS were in a high state of excitement because Leslie Byrne, former state delegate, state senator, US Representative, candidate for US Senate, candidate for Virginia Lt. Governor, announced the formation of an exploratory committee as a prelude to a candidacy for the US House seat in Va-11.
I must applaud Ms. Byrne for her bold and brilliant move. In one stroke she has taken the initiative in the Va 11 nomination process, and will force an early resolution to who will be running for what in Virginia in 2008.
Ms. Byrne is a die-hard Democrat, and has proven her loyalty time and again. She was one of the first in line to back Jim Webb for his underdog candidacy in 2006, and she ran a surprisingly strong race for Lt. Governor in 2005. Ms. Byrne has an enthusiastic gaggle of supporters who will back her to the bridge…although in fairness her strong willed tactics and personality apparently have created a significant number of folks who might want to throw her off that bridge.
While Mark Warner has announced for the US Senate seat of the retiring John Warner, much of the rest of the field is murky. On the GOP side, former Governor Jim Gilmore and US Representative Tom Davis (Va-11) have voiced an interest in a senate run but are delaying announcements until after the Statehouse and local elections in November 2007. Fairfax County BOS Chairman Gerry Connolly is running for reelection this year, and while he has long harbored an interest in running for the Va-11 seat it is thought he would wait until Tom Davis cleared out…but right now Davis is deeply invested in getting his wife JMDD reelected to the Virginia Senate.
It’s not just a family thing, but her success would enhance his chances of getting the statewide nomination in 2008.
Then there is a horde of GOP types including former PWCo BOS Chairman and current US Maritime administrator Sean Connaughton, state Senator Jay O’Brien, state Delegate Tim Hugo, current PWCo BOS Chairman Corey Stewart who may or may not have an interest in the 11th district seat depending on what Davis does and how the November elections turn out.
As you can see, lots of scenarios with lots of folks with lots of potential results…but all waiting for a defining moment.
Leslie Byrne, Bold and Brilliant, has created that moment.
By announcing, she sends word to Gerry Connolly she is in for 2008 regardless of what he does. It puts pressure on him to make a decision early on running next year for fear that she locks up too much support
She tells Tom Davis he has a tough race to run whether he runs for the Senate or for reelection next year. It also puts pressure on Tom Davis to make a decision, not only so the Senate race can begin in earnest but so the list of Congressional Wannabes can make their own decisions to run if he aims for the Senate.
Byrne’s decision is bold one. I predict it will cause the 2008 field to more quickly crystallize. That does not mean it makes everyone happy.
Gerry Connolly, in the midst of a reelection campaign, now has to be ready to make a decision soon after election day whether he wants to run for Congress in 2008. Byrne’s decision also exposes him to questions about will he serve the full term, and allows GOP opponent Gary Baise to point out that he is running for one office and not simply marking time. No, Gerry C cannot be happy about being forced to make a play based on the tune Byrne is calling.
I will bet that other potential Democratic congressional candidates may be a bit unhappy, too.
If Va-11 is recognized as the marquee race, the potentially winnable turn it blue seat, then this is the big dollar race (outside the US Senate race) and could well pull money away from other races.
Byrne’s entry into the race means it will be the marquee congressional race in Virginia next year. This seat has shown high numbers for democratic candidates in recent years. While I don’t think it is a True Blue seat, it is certainly a competive one. If Tom Davis does run for the senate (and more about that later), then this seat becomes imminently winnable for a democratic candidate…and even if he doesn’t, a strong candidate will make this a tough run for him. Either way, large dollar amounts will be poured into this district…possibly to the detriment of other candidates.
Tom Davis, while by necessity ready to make a decision after election day, now has life made more difficult for him. Not only does he have to decide quickly, but I bet between now and November there will be pressure on him to not run for the US Senate in a difficult run against Warner and instead stay in the house, keep Va-11 GOP, and wait for a shot at Jim Webb in 2012.
For Leslie Byrne, a marvelous move. It puts her in the drivers seat and the limelight and causes confusion and discord to her enemies. If only for today, she truly deserves the accolade Bold and Brilliant.