Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Some random thoughts on the 2009 elections

I haven't posted much lately, as I am struggling to get over a chest cold. I haven't had the energy to write about several related topics that have occurred to me as I watch the Virginia 2009 elections from a distance. Perhaps by posting a few "quick hits" in one post I can bring myself more up to date. So here are some random thoughts in no particular order.

1. Terry McAuliffe's Big Money "Myth" - Terry McAuliffe doesn't have the big money advantage that he claimed to have. When he got into the race, McAuliffe put all kinds of stories out about how he would raise a huge amounts of money, implying the other Democrats in the race would not be able to raise similar funds for the general election. The truth of the matter is that the Democratic Party's nominee will have a huge advantage in fundraising no matter who wins the Democratic primary in June. McAuliffe seems to have bluffed Moran's campaign into making a couple of false steps over the issue of fund raising, but nothing fatal so far. This is still anybody's race.

2. Bob McDonnell's Big Money "Myth" - Republican bloggers made much of Bob McDonnell's modest fundraising success. It is true that McDonnell has more money than any of his three Democratic opponents--but no one seems to have made the point that McDonnell does have three opponents. Democratic money is currently being split three ways: when Democrats select their nominee, all the fund raising power of the Democratic Party will align behind that nominee. For reasons I will talk about elsewhere, the fundraising power of the Democratic Party is greater than ever.

3. The Democratic "Flying Wedge" - Imagine for a moment that it is September 2009 in Virginia and the campaign for the Governor's Mansion is in full cry. Somewhere in Virginia, the Democratic nominee stands on a podium. He is flanked by Governor Tim Kaine, Senator Jim Webb, Senator Mark Warner, and--best of all--President Barack Obama. Each give brief, passionate stump speeches. Barack Obama tells the huge crowd that the Democratic nominee is exactly the kind of partner he needs to help him make the kinds of change he promised to make. The crowd goes wild.

Somewhere else in Virginia, the Republican nominee stands on another podium flanked by . . . who? George "Macaca" Allen? "Senator" Jim Gilmore? Jerry Kilgore? Maybe George W. Bush could be convinced to swing by. Will the Republicans deploy Virginia's newset Republican elder statesman? Will the RPV be bold enough to roll Dick Cheney out in his wheelchair to growl at the crowd? Perhaps McDonnell could have Sarah Palin come down and tell the people of Northern Virginians that they aren't really Virginians.

The momentum of the times belongs to the Democratic Party, in an almost unimaginably lopsided way.

4. The Democratic Money Edge - Part 1 Tim Kaine - Only two states have statewide elections this year: New Jersey and Virginia. Governor Tim Kaine is now chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Kaine has been handed the reins of an organization with tremendous fund raising potential. It is a matter of pride that Kaine pass on the Governor's Mansion to another Democrat. Kaine is going to pull out all the stops and will use all the influence the DNC chairmanship gives him to ensure a Democratic victory in Virginia this year. The Republican Party still doesn't have a chairman and has spent the past few weeks debating about what level of racism would be tolerable in the successful candidate.

5. The Democratic Money Edge - Part 2 Senators Mark Warner and Jim Webb - Virginia now has two active Democratic U.S. Senators. One of them, Mark Warner, has a very up to date donors list he can draw on to help the Democratic candidate. Jim Webb still has a strong network of grassroots volunteers, not least of all his army of bloggers. Former Senators John Warner and George Allen can't offer anything like this kind of support to Bob McDonnell.

6. The Democratic Money Edge - Part 3 - Barack Obama - Barack Obama changed the way political fund raising is done in the United States, and he retains the ability to communicate with his network of donors via e-mail. Obama is also located conveniently just across the Potomac River, just a few minutes by helicopter from most of Virginia. Oh, he also has a plane. Gotta love that plane. So Barack Obama should have no trouble attending several fund raising events in person this year for the Democratic candidate in Virginia.

7. Virginia Democrats and Virginia Republicans - Virginia Democrats are united and coming off several big victories last year. They have money in the bank and Bill Clinton is coming to town to help us raise even more. Things haven't been going quite so well in the Republican Party of Virginia. Many Republican activists openly despise their chairman, Delegate Jeff Frederick. The RPV's fund raising chief just walked out on the party--spilling a lot of the party's beans on his way out the door. The Democratic Party has a clear edge this year, but it must not get cocky.

The near-run election of Charniele Herring in the 46th House District is the perfect example. This special election should not have been even remotely close. Some hard work and good organizing by Republicans almost delivered an upset victory for the GOP. Local Democrats in the 46th took this election too much for granted and nearly handed the GOP control of what should be a heavily Democratic seat. Democrats in Virginia have huge advantages, but must not take them for granted. Now is the time to work and organize harder than ever.

Well, that seems like a good start. I'll follow up later this week with some more thoughts.


Riley Murray said...

Must be the cough/cold meds -- I love the way your thinking on this cold icy Jan day in VA! Warms my heart!

bdevine said...

the flying wedge sounds a little too much like the mighty ducks' flying wedge to me - haha. also the 46th election might mean more than you're saying