GOP 2008-Cantor for Senate, Gilmore and Davis for Congress

The other day I was looking at precinct reports for the last few elections, and I had a blinding revelation.  I found the GOP weak spot, and what the party has to do in 2008 to put forth their ticket with the best chance of winning.

In 2008, the GOP needs to run:

**Eric Cantor for the US Senate
**Jim Gilmore for Congress in Va 7
**Tom Davis for Congress in Va 11

I understand this is not going to happen, but if the party wants to win and if it wants to make a statement on the party platform while winning, this is the path to follow. Why? Because the GOP has a problem.

Here is the GOP problem…the 3rd and 8th congressional districts.

If you look at the last two years worth of elections, the combined votes of the Third and Eighth districts guarantee at minimum approximately a 114,000 vote edge for the Democratic candidate (Deeds). Byrne enjoyed a cushion of 118,000 votes, The Gov 136,000, Jim Webb 150,000, and John Kerry 164,000.

Simply put, there are no two congressional districts combined that offer a counterweight for the GOP. When the GOP wins it has consistent majorities in the other congressional districts, or at least runs close. Under current composition I imagine the GOP base is going to be around 33% in those districts.

This means that while it would be nice for the GOP to score a chunk of votes in either of the two, is it not likely to happen.

This is an obstacle for a Tom Davis candidacy. Davis is a Northern Virginia congressman, and has precious few ties downstate. His big argument is that he can cut the democratic numbers in NOVA enough for him to win in 2008. But his impact in Fairfax may be limited, especially when it is realized that Webb beat Allen by 50,000+ votes, but 60% of that came from the 8th district portion. In addition, Davis is more moderate than your downstate GOP voter. Even if Congressman Davis score more moderate voters in NOVA, is he may be unable to draw as well downstate among conservative voters…and by that I mean the Reagan conservatives and Byrd Democrats, conservatives whose primary concerns are foreign policy, defense, economics, and spending-and not social issue.

H’mmm, you say…interesting, then the GOP has to run Gilmore.

Well, not so fast…

Gilmore is loved by conservative Virginia GOP folks downstate, but the incomplete rollback of the car tax, the budget deficit he left, his ham handed attempt to intervene in the Hugh Finn situation, and other acts hurt him in Northern Virginia and Tidewater.  In other words, the very thing that make him popular to the base and downstate hurt him in the very areas he needs to be able to expand the GOP vote.

Then who should the GOP run?

McDonnell or Bolling? Nope, they want to butt heads in 2009
Mills Godwin? Can’t-he’s dead
George Allen? Can’t-he’s dead politically, although he is planning to resurrect his career…
Virgil Goode? Not hardly
Eric Cantor?-Now you are onto something

Cantor brings the fund-raising chops and connections to the race to be competitive with Warner. He has the conservative appeal of Gilmore without the baggage or gaggage, and can keep the base in place in Northern Virginia.

As an aside, Virginia has had only one downstate/eastern Senator in the last sixty years. Robertson and the Bryds were Valley folks, Scott, Robb, Warner, and Webb (with family roots in SWVa) from Northern Virginia. Allen was (politically) from Charlottesville, although by the time he went to the Senate he had served as governor, so he was kind of above geographic connection by that time. Since 1946 the only US Senator elected from Virginia who lived in the Tidewater/Richmond/Southside area is Bill Spong.

That kind of pitch might make the difference with moderates downstate. Beyond this Cantor is a demonstrated conservative who by running can start the GOP back on the path to being a party of principles and positions, and not simply posturing and lusting for power.

But if Cantor goes to the Senate, then what of Davis and Gilmore?

Davis waits for Webb in 2012 and runs for reelection in Va 11, giving the GOP a strong candidate in Va-11 against what will be a strong democratic opponent…and helping Cantor indirectly. Gilmore? Gilmore runs for the Va-7 seat Cantor currently holds, running in a very strong GOP district that is simpatico with Gilmore.

There are numerous reasons this play won’t happen. Cantor is deeply entrenched in the House leadership, and he may prefer holding his seat and looking toward being Speaker of the House rather than giving it up for an uncertain shot at the Senate. Davis has long wanted to go to the Senate, and he may simply decide this is the year he wants to go. Gilmore? I kind of doubt his ego will allow him to run for anything other than a statewide campaign. Besides, Gilmore has something of the Don Quixote in him…and he would rather lose the campaign he wants to run than win a lesser one. He will see his campaign as one based in principle, and prefer a more difficult campaign even against high odds-somewhat like Horatius Cocles in BC 507 against the Etruscan army (as recounted by Thomas Macaulay):

Then out spoke brave Horatius,
The Captain of the Gate,
‘To every man upon this earth
Death cometh soon or late;
And how can man die better
Than facing fearful odds,
For the ashes of his fathers,
And the temples of his gods?”

So Cantor will run for reelection, and Gilmore and Davis and their respective delegates will likely meet next June in parliamentary combat to choose the GOP nominee for 2008. However, I do not expect it to be quick and clean, like a Renaissance duel or High Noon in the main street at Dodge City.

No, I expect it to be the emotional equivalent of an Old Mississippi knife fight, where each combatant held a knife in their right hand while their left arms were tied together…someone always died, and the survivor often did not live too long-and if they did they suffered sever trauma.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. There doesn’t have to a donnybrook next June. Factions can be assuaged, ambition  served, ego massaged, careers advanced, all through a simple reordering of candidates can make all the difference in Virginia in 2008.

The prescription?

**Eric Cantor for the US Senate
**Jim Gilmore for Congress in Va 7
**Tom Davis for Congress in Va 11

You heard it here first…


UPDATE: 8.31.2008-This idea doesn’t look so bad now, does it?


5 thoughts on “GOP 2008-Cantor for Senate, Gilmore and Davis for Congress

  1. Bwana:
    Interesting analysis, and would be a good alternative to what we have facing us. The only Republican I believe that can deliver IS Tom Davis. You are correct that Gilmore’s past and record as Governor will come back to haunt him here in the more “moderate” Northern part of the Commonwealth. But both of us have participated and followed and wathed the RPV over the years and we know one basic flaw is this “We eat our Young!” So we will have a donneybrook and we will have an battered candidate to face another former Governor, who while popular does have a record and his share of negatives. As you know, I have already chosen which side I am on and I believe our friend in Emporia has done the same. I encourage other similiar minded Virginians to get behind the only candidate RUNNING that is capable of winning the US Senate seat in 2008, TOM DAVIS. Thank you again Bwana,

    Bwana Fan In Vienna

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