A Long Cold Winter Ahead for Virginia Democrats?

Friday, October 28, 2011

by Dan Sullivan

This first winter storm may be a harbinger of Democratic fortunes if Terry McAuliffe's last ditch efforts can't yield immediate and dramatic results. The RPV is on air with repetitive spots aimed at vulnerabilities created within the DPVA. Many forces are at work, but abandoning the President was most significant.This sign from Occupy Norfolk actually reflects the mindset of many Virginians. The DPVA hasn't dealt well with this. There are only three notable Virginia Democrats, one former, one current, and one future statewide officeholder, who have not been Obama Judases. That has been a strategic mistake. Unfortunately, the DPVA leadership jumped ship in 2009, led by the standard bearer who reached out to Obama too late in the campaign confusing every voter. Then the Party, left without success, leadership, or a message drifted for two years. During that time, Obama supporters have not been without purpose. The purpose of the DPVA has been to protect incumbents in the legislature. Clearly not complementary efforts.
There are so many forces at work against the Virginia Senate Democratic majority (forget the House of Delegates) that it may be wiser to preserve the funds McAuliffe is generating tonight for another day. Senator Saslaw and friends allowed a redistricting environment that the Republicans used to their advantage. Meanwhile the Republicans filled the DPVA message vacuum with themes that have not been challenged. Any notion of fiscal responsibility has been turned on its head so that any past suggestion by any Democrat that transportation improvements might have to be paid for are featured as proposals for job killing taxes in some very slick and effective attack ads. Health care is a wedge issue. Anyone who has seen the wisdom of reform is left twisting in the wind. Phil Puckett has found it necessary to completely abandon President Obama rather than simply disagree with him on coal. There is so much smoke that Republican redistricting carpetbaggers have full concealment.
Dan Sullivan :: A Long Cold Winter Ahead for Virginia Democrats?
The oddly gerrymandered House districts have had another effect that may create the unusual situation where House races suffer down-ballot drop off. The odds that voters know what district they live in and who the candidates are is confused by the intersection of so many House districts crossing into and adjacent to single, yet new, Senate districts. There is a location on US 29 south of Charlottesville where there are signs for seven House candidates representing 5 district races. A couple of those names are familiar to many driving by who will go into the booth on 8 November and not a one will be on their ballot running for delegate in their district. Since it is more likely that they will be Republican message affected, that "R" will draw their mark, if they choose to make one.This evening on WDBJ TV out of Roanoke there were so many political commercials it was as though the regular programming was interrupting them. Without a doubt the RPV is focused on Senator Edwards, who apparently loves taxes. Between Edwards' opponent's spots, Ward Armstrong was present speaking on behalf of himself and Phil Puckett followed on behalf of coal. Last night during World Series game six, Hampton Roads was treated to cartoonish attacks by Mickey Chohany featuring Senator John Miller in an animated car getting whiplashed for proposing taxes. And Ben Loyola is all over Hampton Roads radio with spots complaining about Senator Northam's positions on health care reform. None of these attacks would be so effective if the DPVA had leaned forward early and often during these past three years.
But they didn't. Apparently they never realized that the President is their President no matter how shy they are about that fact. They also failed to realize that the President's supporters were their greatest source of potential energy. So here we are at the just days away from at least two years during which Republicans will be free to pursue any wild whim.
That is, unless somehow McAuliffe's last ditch efforts can staunch the tide by fueling the critical Senate campaigns. But money is probably not enough. The Republicans have stolen the march. There have not been enough Democratic boots on the ground. They are Obama's reserve, unwilling to come to a fight on behalf of fickle allies. And that the result of the DPVA leadership vacuum.