Saturday, January 01, 2011
Don't count Jamie Radtke out
The other day I read this post by Lowell Feld over at Blue Virginia and I just wanted to share an experience I had last year and give my readers a slightly different perspective. Part of Lowell's post predicted that George Allen would easily defeat Bob Marshall and Jamie Radtke in a Republican primary race. I'm not so sure anyone should count Jamie Radtke out so easily.
I base this on my own personal experience. I went to the Virginia Tea Party back in October of last year and I saw George Allen and Jamie Radtke there. I even shot a little shaky video footage of Radtke asking Allen questions during a panel discussion. Before the panel discussion, Allen had made himself available on the floor of the convention hall, but hardly anyone walked up to him and said hello. I had some pictures of that but unfortunately I seem to have deleted them at some point in the last few months. During the introductions of the panel, which included Ken Cuccinelli, Allen received a level of applause that I would characterize as polite. When Cuccinelli was introduced, he was given a thunderous standing ovation. What to make of this? I don't think George F. Allen is particularly well thought of by the Virginia Tea Party movement as a whole.
Jamie Radtke, on the other hand, seems to be very well respected among Virginia's Tea Party groups. She organized the Tea Party convention here in Richmond that I attended and as events go, this one seemed well-organized and well run. What I take away from that is that Radtke is capable of organizing and implementing complex plans. I think that her skills would make her a formidable opponent from an organizational standpoint. Jamie Radtke isn't a ditz, a la Christine O'Donnell. You may disagree with her politics--and believe me I do--but there's no denying her organizational skill.
Primaries for statewide offices draw very small turnout. A quick glance at the State Board of Elections' website reveals that only 155,784 out of 4,515,275 registered voters bothered to show up to vote in the hotly contested Democratic primary of June 2006 in which Jim Webb defeated Harris Miller. In these elections, a small group of very determined people can make a big difference. It is a scenario that the Tea Party movement is ideally situated to exploit.
The Republican primary of June 2012 is still a long way away, and a lot could happen between then and now, but I wouldn't count Jamie Radtke out. In fact, I think I'd have to consider her a strong candidate to face George F. Allen, especially if she can raise some Tea Party money to offset Allen's oil lobby money. I think Bob Marshall's long list of gaffes and lack of a national fundraising machine make him least likely to succeed and most likely to drop out before election day.