The dust begins to settle and the 2007 elections begin to recede. Thinking about political Life Its Ownself this weekend while collecting the 857 cubic tons of leaves that seem to have fallen into my yard, a few fleeting thoughts coalesced about some long term lessons and effects from this election.
You may have Ken Cuccinelli to kick around for along time
In the wake of the likely victory by the Cooch over the Hoot, many are writing off the Cooch as being in his last term in the Virginia Senate and as such a likely candidate for Attorney General in 2009. But after looking at some census data and kicking around the idea with folks who are more knowledgeable such things, I think the large population growth increase in Prince William County may be creating a different opportunity for the Cooch’s survival.
Since Va 27 already reaches into much of Fauquier (map), and since it is highly unlikely that Colgan will run for another term in 2011, I can see a scenario where Western PW is divided. Cuccinelli lives in a precinct that abuts Prince William County, so there is the possibility of lumping him and the stronger GOP districts in the 37th and the 39th, plus part of Gainesville to make a really sold GOP senate district, but then making the surrounding democratic seats that much stronger.
As for the rest of PWC, you end up with a Senate district that runs from Manassas to the Potomac, plus a slice that goes into Va 27. Two GOP senators are made stronger, but the 27th is going to stay GOP for a while, and the resulting senate district in PWC will be competitive-something that I doubt the 29th would be, or else successive governors would not have begged Chuck Colgan to keep on running long past the time he wanted to retire.
Besides, there is something to be said for seeing that Fairfax County has at least one State Senator in both parties…and if the Senate redistricting follows the idea that it is better to create bulletproof districts as opposed to several that are strong but not locks, then the Cooch redistricting idea may well come full circle.
Do Not Play Prevent Defense
Every year you see NFL football teams get a big lead, and then try to kill the clock by going into a Prevent Defense. Almost inevitably the pressure goes away and the opposing QB gets some breathing room-and suddenly it is a game and the other guy has the momentum. In this campaign, the Hoot showed us the dangers of playing it safe. Her entire campaign seemed to be geared toward getting out the base. She and her staff seemed to be sure that all they had was to get out the base, and they win easily…so all they had to do was harp on base issues without fully defining Hoot or her positions.
Common sense says that the base within a district varies depending on what kind of election is on tap, and the base vote for President in county x may not be the same as the base vote in the same are for a statehouse campaign. You have to assume you will need non-base voters. Hoot did not, and played the entire campaign as if they thought that if she could just avoid saying something of substance that might bother folks, victory was hers.
Hoot apparently did say things of substance, but only in front of highly partisan audiences commited to her victory. When she entered into open forums, she did not offer substance. She instead uttered verbal gaffes that Cooch exploited. You see, if someone is not qualified to be a senator, then their issue positions will likely be discounted by voters who are not ideologically tied to a candidate.
Lesson: Define yourself before your opponent does, and run full out until election day without assuming the support of a certain group of voters means the election is a lock.
Secure a Majority, Buy Insurance Policies
The Virginia Senate is 21-19, and the GOP needs one more seat to get the totals to level and create through the vote of Lt. Gov Bowling a controlling GOP contingent. Since the next Virginia Senate election is not until 2011, there are only rare possibilities that the GOP can get control of the Senate back prior to the next election…and that will cost M-O-N-E-Y…so I would start buying life insurance.
As Ben Tribbett noted, there are 23 seats that voted Bush/Kilgore/Bolling/McDonnell/Allen/Yes. Four of them are held by democrats. At the risk of sounding morbid, I think the RPV and the Va Dem’s should buy a life insurance policy of some large sum on each of those men (Houck, Reynolds, Colgan, and Miller). Then, if they do pass away while in office, you have a ready made campaign war-chest.
Oh, as a Public Service Announcement…
Kline’s Drive-In, south of Manassas, will be open only for another 57 hours or so…and then it is history.
As you may have guessed, I am already sitting shiva…