Recent endorsements in Virginia have sent the chattering class to doing that which they do best-chatter. Sheila Johnson, co-founder of BET and supporter of Mark Warner and Tim Kaine endorsed GOP nominee Bob McDonnell, while Creigh Deeds got the endorsement of former GOP legislators Russ Potts, John Chichester, Marty Williams, Brandon Bell, Katherine Waddell, Warren Barry, Jim Dillard, and Panny Rhodes…which leads to the discussion of which endorsement is of more value.
As a general matter, I don’t know how much ooomph endorsments have-sometimes it just seems like so muchinside baseball. I do think an endorsment that brings something new to the table, that brings someone new to your side, clearly has more power to it. To have someone like Ms. Johnson, someone who supported the two previous democratic gubernatorial candidates and is also a member of demographics that have not been GOP friendly recently, has to be counted as a big gain for Mr. McDonnell.
Senator Deeds on the other hand gets the endorsements of the sour grapes crowd, who serve the same purpose now as Linwood Holton did in the 1980’s. These are men and women elected on the GOP ticket who, when they don’t get all they wanted, bail. It is an eclectic bunch, but all have an axe to grind. Their endorsements really are far more personal than they are political. Potts and Chichester could have worked for change in the legislature, but instead chose to demand things be done their way and without compromise…and when they didn’t get their way bailed. Waddell won a house seat on a plurality, then got whomped the next time around. Williams and Bell lost reelection primaries and want their ton of flesh. Barry’s son is a Democrat and Sheriff of Fairfax County. Dillard stepped down and was succeeded by his chief aide, who was elected to the House as a Democrat. Panny Rhodes is the one I get most-she was targeted by Jim Gilmore in 1999, beat back the primary effort against her, then got gerrymandered out of her seat due to ideology and grudge from Gilmore. Yep, seeing a lot of real surprise independent support here.
But the oddest choice is Brandon Bell. He is from one of the stronger GOP sections of the Commonwealth, and in backing Deeds certainly has forfeited whatever party pull he had. Yet somehow he thinks folks believe him when he says he is backing Bill Bolling and Ken Cuccinelli.