Well, we survived another election, and as the smoke settles and the dust clears, I offer my immediate post-election observations. Something more coherent will emerge in the weeks ahead.
But before all that, congratulations and thanks to all who had their names on the ballot. It takes a genuine sense of commitment and courage to put your name in front of the people and accept the brickbats and criticism of public life. You folks, and your desire to serve, make democracy function. Whatever your party or result yesterday, you have my thanks for having the desire to serve and the courage to run.
I will note that I hit (pending recount, etc.) 8 of my 9 senate predictions, and came oh-so-close on my upset pick in Roanoke. Not perfection but, as a great farmer once said, “It’ll do, Pig, it’ll do”.
Meanwhile, back in the trenches…
The GOP got lucky last night. I had them holding the House and losing the Senate, with the Democrats getting 22 seats. But the GOP had close wins with Stuart in Va. 28, a closer than it should have been with Vogel-Holtzman in Va. 27, a mind-numbingly close win in Va 22-a seat that in other years is one of the first to be called for the GOP…a 400 vote shift in any of these districts and the result is reversed. Add to these a tentative win heading for a recount in Va 37 (Cuccinelli is the leader in the clubhouse with a 91 vote edge out of 37,100 cast between the he and Hoot), and you see how close the GOP came to a major league butt kicking. If you don’t primary incumbents Bell and Williams, you have a bigger win in Va 22 and retain the seat in Va 1, and the GOP is in the catbird seat for redistricting.
The fact that is ignored or unnoticed to the moment is that the GOP does not appear to have come close to taking out an incumbent democratic senator. Yes, Colgan “only” got 54% of the vote in Va 29, but come on!…Fitz had his third shot at the seat in as many cycles. This was not a close loss…but this election was close to being a big wave.
By the same token, this is about as good a result as the Democrats could have hoped for. They take control of the Virginia Senate, but not overwhelming control. They do not control the House of Delegates, although they did pick up seats. While this means that the Democrats will actually have to sponsor real legislation in the State Senate, as opposed to simply opposing what the GOP offers, they will still be able to blame the GOP House of Delegates if their legislation is blocked or otherwise hindered.
I have not had time to do so yet, but I will be interested in seeing the the final total statewide vote for the GOP/Dem in the House and in the Senate.
I will also note now, and likely not for the last, the lingering problems that can be caused by mass meetings, especially when they are poorly run . Faisal Gill won the GOP nomination for the Va-51 district in what can charitably be called “controversial” fashion. Strange things happened at the hands of Tom Kopko, GOP chair and someone who was being paid for services rendered to the campaign by Faisal Gill. Gill narrowly wins the nod, animosity is caused, and Gill not only loses a GOP seat to the Democrats but may well have knocked Jay O’Brien out of the Senate by cutting his numbers in PW Co.
Compare that to the mass meeting held last year for a special election to replace the late Delegate Harry Parrish. A hard fought campaign between Jackson Miller and Carrol Weimer led to an equally narrow nomination win by Miller, but that race was cleanly fought, hands were shaken in the aftermath because there was nothing to be bitter about, and Miller goes on to not only defeat Jeanette Rishell in the 2006 special election, but crushed her yesterday…although apparently he is still waiting for her concession phone call.
Meanwhile, my first go round at winners and losers (this is not a reference per se to getting more votes at the ballot box):
All those willing to put your name on the ballot yesterday…you are all winners in my book.
Virginia Democrats-Won the State Senate, but can still blame the GOP House for everything
The Guv-See above
Va Senate Republicans-It could have been a lot worse
Anti-Tax organizations-The only thing better than having their candidates win election (Smith, Vogel), is to have them lose (Stall) and set up a democrat who will vote for higher taxes in the open as opposed to a GOP senator they think is a squish. You can raise money wailing about the Democrats…it is harder for an anti-tax group to raise $$ railing on the GOP.
Ken Cuccinelli-Still will likely have to endure a recount ( I doubt the official canvas today will push the margin above the 1/2 of 1 percent threshold that automatically triggers a recount), but the fact that the most conservative member of the Virginia Senate is still standing the day after the election while running in Fairfax County…that in itself is an accomplishment to be recognized.
Ben Tribbett-still da man for calling elections. Called Va 27 for Vogel waaaaaay early in the evening while Schultz was still leading, and was right.
Bruce Roemmelt-Yes, he lost a second time to Bob Marshall. But compare his activity with the other half of “Romy and Richelle”, and you see where he deserves some kudos for dignity and conduct.
Paul Jost-Candidate for Va-1 GOP nomination for congress. Outrageous spending in legislative races will underscore needs for candidate with large financial backing, and will be a plus for him in nominating contest.
Speaker Bill Howell-Despite holding onto a majority in the House, the GOP continues to lose seats. Look for pointed suggestions that perhaps, to paraphrase Sonny Corleone, “the GOP needs a war-time Speaker”. Failing that, some lessons in campaign tactics and candidate recruitment from the old master, Vance Wilkins.
Tom Kopko-the PWCo GOP Chairman should be basking in a night of almost unbroken victory. Instead, he will come under harsh scrutiny for mass meeting manipulations that may have cost the GOP a seat in both the House and the Senate. Doesn’t help that after Julie Lucas, who was deprived of the Va-51 nomination, went on to crushingly win reelection to her school board seat, Kopko refused to recognize along with all other GOP winners.
Jay O’Brien-Loses a Senate seat that he likely could have held had not things gone south for the GOP in Va-51, and in doing so likely whacks any real chances of any type of 11th district run if it comes open.
Jeanette Rishell-It is one thing to lose a race. It is yet another thing to lose after firing off such unsubstantiated charges at your opponent that the local newspaper calls you on it. But what squarely lodges her in the loser category is after taking a 3-2 whipping she had not conceded as of early this AM.
Republican Party of Virginia-Party chair prepped to party with the Prez while polls still open, McDonnell and Bolling out of state on election day, lost its senate majority, has no sense of identity, no vision, and a potential US Senate candidate for 2008 who comes with immense baggage. Peter Pace, where are you?
Tom Davis-Not only did his wife lose badly to Chap!, she lost despite huge contributions from his congressional committee. His election day brush with Chap!’s mom cannot play well wtih demo activitists, who will come after with both guns blazing next year regardless of Democratic nominee (and I have come to suspect it will be Leslie Byrne). He has already passed up a run for the Senate next year-will he cowboy up or out for the 11th district seat in the wake of this result?
Gerry Connolly-Solid win, but not so huge as to allow him to easily acquire the 11th District democratic nomination next year.
Eric Ferguson-Second shot at a seat, now an open one, and still lost.
Bob FitzSimmonds-Lost to Colgan in 1999 and 2007, couldn’t get the GOP nod in 2003…might be time to find another line of political activity.
Dick Black-Loss by Staton in Loudoun supervisor race further underlines his political weaknesses and undermines whatever miniscule chances he may have on saturday at the Va-1 contest.
Thelma Drake-Narrow winner in 2006 in Va-2, the Democratic successes in Tidewater will have them chomping at the bit for another shot at her in 2008.
Well, that’s it for now…time to sit back, mull the results, and do a little ruminating.
Rest up Virginia, you deserve it…it has been a stressful election year!