Elephant Ears recently opinedthat the GOP 2009 Dream Ticket is McDonnell/Bolling/Cooch. It is not an unreasonable combination, but really begs the question-since we are as much as a year away from folks announcing their 2009 intentions-what comprises a dream ticket?
This question comes to mind as one that I have seen both parties in Virginia wrangle with for the last 30+ years. What are the elements of a balanced ticket, much less a dream ticket?
I don’t think I have a final idea, and wonder what factors will impact that composition…
Ears focuses on geopraphy, saying:
A ticket of Bob McDonnell-Bill Bolling-Ken Cuccinelli would be a slam dunk for the regional perspective. We would have all 3 major metro areas of the state, and have candidates from the more conservative parts of those three. This would (if you believe in this theory) drive turnout in the conservative areas that have high population. This coupled with the naturally conservative areas like the Valley and SWVA, would seemingly deliver a big victory to the GOP on election night 2009.
Ears deals with a geographic issue with an assumption. This analysis suggests there are four parts of the state-NoVa, Tidewater/Hampton Roads, Richmond, and Western Virginia…except that frequently the interests of those in the Piedmont and the eastern foothills those in the Valley and the Mountain Empire do not align. This difference in opinion attitude reaches back to the days when Virginia was settled, and has been known to show up at the ballot box.
There is a logic to this, but there is an illogic, also. There is an assumption that the western part of the state will come in for the GOP regardless. While this is likely, I remember the 1981 and 1985 GOP tickets. In 1981, the GOP had Coleman/Miller/Durrette (Staunton/Bridgewater/Fairfax), and got swept when GOP numbers in Richmond and Tidewater were cut. In 1985, the GOP ran Durrette/Chichester/O’Brien (Fairfax & Richmond/Stafford/Va Beach), and the GOP numbers were cut massively in the western part of the state…and the western numbers drop was exacerbated by flood waters in the Valley and the SW was so great that some seats democratic for the only time in the last forty years.
My favorite example was Harrisonburg, where Phoebe Orebaugh, incumbent GOP delegate, lost to Paul Cline…and then took the seat back in 1987. That seat had been in GOP hands since forever, and that was the only year the Dems took that seat (probably) in my lifetime.
Geographic balance leads to the question of residence. I believe that once a candidate wins statewide office they become a citizen of the state, and are less looked to as representatives of a particular part of the state. In fact, some might say this is true if you run and lose a statewide contest. This was the argument put forth by the Miller camp to answer geographic balance questions, and I see some legitimacy to it.
Whatever they run for in 2009, McDonnell and Bowling will be four years removed from their time in the General Assembly. They will be running as incumbent statewide elected officials with a record in office. While it is true that some candidates will always be perceived as being from a certain part of the state (Jerry Kilgore leaps to mind, and perhaps even Creigh Deeds), once you have won a statewide contest and have a record in office, I think voters tend to see you as less than a regional candidate, diminishing how deep their impact as geographic balancers go.
So I don’t know. The ticket suggested potentially ignores or takes for granted Western Virginia. We did that with Northern Virginia in 2005, and you remember how that turned out. On the other hand, this ticket may be the best out there…and may have the stuff to bring the West on board. We are so far out, it is hard to say.
However, ultimately this stuff is eyewash if certain things don’t happen in the next two years. If the GOP in the General Assembly continue to head down this path of grabbing for power instead of principle, searching for appropriations and not positions, failing to create and articulate a vision for the state…if we stay on that road, then I do not know that any ticket is going to be able to fare well.
So I hope the folks in the General Assembly lay the foundation over the next two years, and show the Commonwealth where the GOP wants to go and how we intend to get there. Because if they don’t, then the Dream Ticket is going to face a nightmare come November 2009.