Winners and Losers from Connolly's St. Patrick's Day Party

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

As with any political event, there were winners and losers coming out of Gerry Connolly's St. Patrick's Day party/straw poll last night. Here are a few.

1. Terry McAuliffe, big time, with a huge win over Brian Moran (58%-38%) just hours after the Moran campaign announced endorsements by many Fairfax Democratic elected's. So much for THAT strategy!

1a. Terry McAuliffe's campaign team, which demonstrated the tremendous organizational capabilities that have impressed me for months now. The bottom line is that they got hundreds of their supporters out there on a work night, in far greater numbers than their opponents. In politics, the ability to do that counts for a lot.

2. Mike Signer, who finished a strong second to Jody Wagner in the LG straw poll. Is Signer gaining momentum and - as he believes - turning this into a 2-person race for LG? I'm not sure about that, but we'll see in coming weeks...

3. Gerry Connolly, who has been holding these events for 15 years and may have had his largest turnout ever last night. At $40 a person, Connolly raised over $40,000 for his reelection.

4. Everyone who turned out to support their candidate of choice, but particularly the supporters of Terry McAuliffe, who turned out in droves.

I'm not completely sure if this was a win or a loss for Jody Wagner (she won, but with under 50% of the vote when she was expected to win in a landslide). So, I'll give Jody's performance a "neutral" rating, basically a wash, while noting the strong finish of Mike Signer.

1. Brian Moran, who finished a stunning 28 points behind Terry McAuliffe in the gubernatorial straw poll, right in his own backyard (just a few miles west of his base in western Alexandria and just hours after endorsements by numerous Fairfax elected Dem's). If this poll is at all accurate, as Connolly's straw polls have been in the past, Brian Moran is in big trouble.

1a. Brian Moran's campaign, which completely failed last night to get its supporters out to the event. More evidence of the poorly run campaign Brian Moran and Company have been running, and why more and more people are impressed with the McAuliffe campaign.

2. Creigh Deeds, who got crushed (just 12% of the vote) in the Commonwealth's most populous county. No matter how this is spun - and I'm sure it will be - this is not good news for Creigh Deeds, who doesn't have a large enough base in his largely rural Senate district to win on June 9. Not good news for Creigh, who I like a lot personally.

3. Jon Bowerbank, who is a great guy and someone I consider a friend. I'm not sure what happened last night, but after nearly a year of effort - and a great deal of his own money spent on the race - I'm not sure I see any traction. Last night, Jon finished tied with Pat Edmonson at just 12% of the vote. As with Creigh Deeds, Jon Bowerbank doesn't have enough votes in his rural, southwest Virginia base to win on June 9. If he's going to have a shot, he's going to have to figure out - and soon - how to win in places like Fairfax County. If not, he'll still be a great guy and a friend, but he won't be LG.

4. Brian Moran's lame campaign spin, including the line I was given that Brian's supporters are mainly in Arlington and Alexandria and don't like coming out to Fairfax. Tell that to Mike Signer, of ARLINGTON, whose supporters somehow managed to make it out last night. Also, tell that to all of us who drove out from Arlington and Alexandria to vote for Jim Webb at Connolly's straw poll in 2006, propelling Webb to a stunning, upset victory over Harris Miller. Also, how big a crybaby can you be, whining about another candidate - GASP! - buying tickets for supporters to a FUNDRAISING EVENT! Uh, hello, but this is what's DONE at fundraising events, what Brian Moran himself has done at past events, and what he was simply unable to do effectively last night. Quick, someone call a waaaaaaaaaambulance, because I can already here the whining noises emanating from Moran HQ.