Home 2012 races What Have Virginia Dems Become?

What Have Virginia Dems Become?


(Let whoever wants to run throw their hat in the ring, then have a primary election? Where does Aimee get these crazy ideas? – promoted by TheGreenMiles)

I understand that running for Senate is a huge deal, and a decision not to be made lightly. That said, it's been speculated for months that Webb might not run, and while insiders may have said otherwise, his bank account and silence reflected as much. The idea of running for Senate in 2012 had to cross a few minds before last week. Beyond that, though, George Allen has made his intentions clear more recently, he's been pretty obviously running since well before election day 2010. We've got some catching up to do.

So I wonder why there's been such a silence on the Democratic side–why the party collectively has allowed to let the message (other than the awful DNC logo redesign/branding) become that we're coaxing Kaine out of retirement–that we have no bench, that Virginia must take from the past rather than move towards the future. I will disclose here that I'm not a fan of Tim Kaine, and haven't been for years. I guess that will necessarily enter into the equation (see above), but that's not really what I mean for this diary to be about.

I guess my question is, have things gotten so bad in the state of Virginia Democratic politics that instead of seeing candidates come forward and boldly announce their intentions to run, everyone's either waiting for an ex-governor who seemingly has a right of first refusal, or for a formal invitation by the Democratic party elites? Have Virginia Democrats really become so spineless that we have to constantly ask for permission before we act?

Despite my rhetoric, I completely understand the political implications of announcing this early given the current situation. That said, it would be amazing to see just one candidate willing to go out there and say that they want to run, outline their vision for the state, and not wait for Kaine (substitute other names for other years…). And this has implications beyond someone announcing or not announcing early on in a Senate race. Yes, getting out in front of the rest of the field and being bold about a decision to run would show some spine that seems to have been missing in Virginia Democratic politics of late. But beyond that, I'm worried that there's no one fighting as a voice for the voters.  

I would love to see a candidate not only say they will accept a primary system, but for them to pledge that they will FIGHT for one. At this point, I'd even take them saying they'd accept a primary. This is how bad things have gotten.

 The party should exist to help Democrats run and get elected. It shouldn't be something they're afraid of, or have to constantly ask permission from. I understand the desire of those in DPVA (as well as their candidate favorites) to avoid the primary system. I understand what might be entirely honest fears about what happened in 2009. And maybe if the party had anointed someone via convention, things would have been different in 2009. But then again, probably not. And the more they do this, the more it just looks like smoky backroom deals and anointed candidates.  

Here's the problem. I've been hearing chatter about the idea of a convention not only in 2012 but also in 2013. Who will stand up for the voters? Who will fight for a primary? There is a real leadership void to be filled here.

  • Peter 2010

    Kudos To Aimmee and Miles for speaking out against the “mother may I” culture that others in Virginia Democratic politics have tolerated (or fostered) for too long. DPVA should be incubating and encouraging a new generation of leaders who are ready to speak out and speak up.

  • Goldmanusa

       In 1981, I brought the first action in the country, a seminal case, challenging the move by the DPVA to go from a convention to a primary for Governor. It broke new ground under the Voting Rights Act.

       The case was settled by the DPVA with the Justice Department. I used the terms of the settlement 4 years later to help Doug Wilder make his history by challening the party leadership then fearful of running an African-American on the statewide ticket for the first time ever.

    There is a book written on it by Dwayne Yancey, the political guru for the Roanoke Times.

       Should the DPVA try it again, the basis of my suit would still be valid. Moreover, with Senator Donald McEachin now in office, I don’t see any way the DPVA can win the fight to violate the Voting Rights Act the way it did 30 years ago with the Reagan Justice Department.

       SO: End of story, there will be no convention unless the poster et. al, just cave in.

       The Party leadership can’t change the law unless you let them.

       But at the same time, don’t blame the party leadership for any lack of people willing to challenge the system.

       Back in 1981 and then in 1985, some of us weren’t afraid and we were successful. I didn’t choose to become the only white person willing to run Wilder’s campaign.

       I just happened to be the only white person willing to do it.

       If you want to run for the Senate, run. If you have good ideas, you will get some votes.

       But if you want to win the general election, you will need to raise a ton of money.

       Kaine can do that, whomever the poster has in mind probably knows they can’t.

       So it is not a case of people being timid.

       Wilder had little money but managed to pull it off.

    It was a matter of timing and luck to a large degree.

       It is a lot harder today.

       But the party leadership doesn’t give someone the courage of their convictions. That’s the person’s job.

       If the poster wants to know why more such people don’t exist today, she is looking in the wrong place to find the answers.  

  • FreeDem

    Some thoughts.

    – Despite being a northern and metropolitan state, our politicians are still caught up in a Byrd machine mentality that embraces a more southern view of deference and respect to “elders” and “authorities.”

    – It’s hard to find someone who the press would call up for a quote/opinion who isn’t in the Warner orbit in one way or another. Warner, for whatever reason, wants Kaine to run and his friends and followers are pushing the message to the media. No one else has the power and influence at the state level to get people to talk to reporters and tell them they are wrong. You can see this when you look at national political outlets, like National Journal, who downplay the status of Kaine as the dominating front runner and give more attention to other potential candidates.

    – It’s hard to find advisers, operatives, and the like in Virginia who aren’t in the Warner orbit and would be willing to advise a potential candidate to jump in now.

    – There are no competing factions in the DPVA right now. Deeds was a disaster and no one wants to touch him with a ten foot pole. Moran and Terry have ironed out a truce to avoid confrontation. And all of them are under the thumb of Warner. Think of other big name Democrats in recent years. Aside from Mo working in 2009, I don’t think anyone who worked for Robb’s 2000 reelection is still active in state politics to any real degree. And if you look at Webb’s 2006 campaign the most active elements are those who were behind the Draft Webb campaign.

    – Unlike other states, we don’t seem to have a lot of businessmen and self-funders interested in running. Despite Northern Virginia we seem to have an hard time getting business experience that doesn’t also mean Mark Warner.

  • The Richmonder

    The diarist has failed to properly analyze the scenario at hand. No one is preventing anyone from running and if there are two or more credible candidates, then there will be a primary.

    What the diarist ignores is that politicians run to win.  Most politicians will shy away from races they perceive to be unwinnable.  Unwinnable races are a waste of time and money, and if a politician loses too many races they may become labeled as a “loser,” which could adversely affect their ability to run for office successfully in the future.

    When politicians decide whether or not to enter a race one of the factors they examine is the field of other candidates.  They ask themselves “can I beat these other candidates?”

    Now, let’s consider some facts about the current scenario:

    1. Tim Kaine probably has the support of upwards of 90% of DPVA Central Committee;

    2. Tim Kaine has been endorsed by Mark Warner, the most popular Democratic politician statewide;

    3. Tim Kaine is probably the second most popular Democratic politician statewide;

    4. Time Kaine is currently the Chairman of the DNC, which means he has access to every potential Democratic donor in the United States (and if you include expatriates, the world) giving him a tremendous fundraising advantage;

    5. If Barack Obama tells Kaine that it is okay for him to run for senate or that he actually wants Kaine to run for senate, the Kaine will effectively have the blessing/endorsement of a President of the United States who is very popular with Virginia Democrats;

    Now add all those factors together and show me the Virginia Democrat willing to take Kaine on in a primary.  There is isn’t one.  If you asked any Virginia Democrat with the stature to run for this seat, they’d probably tell you they are already supporting Tim Kaine.

    In order to have a primary, you have to have two candidates.  In 2005, when Kaine ran for governor, no one challenged him to a primary.  Back then, when this site was called “Raising Kaine” no one complained about the lack of a primary opponent for Kaine.  Kaine received the nomination by acclamation in 2005–I suspect them same will be true with Kaine and this nomination, if he wants it.

    Blue Virginia’s coverage of this issue has been irresponsible, portraying Kaine’s overwhelming dominance as the product of some kind of plot, and not what it is: the product of a highly successful career in politics.

  • blueice6102

    especially in VB. in VB, the dems are the republican lite party. where are the true progressives? we need heated primaries, not the big money guys picking the VA democrat candidates. i’d love to see kaine run for senate. If not kaine, then boucher. save periello for governor in 2013. glenn nye needs to go crawl under a rock & never return.

  • The Richmonder

    Perriello, McEachin, Petersen, McClellan . . .

    What some people fail to recognize is that politicians don’t just randomly gamble with their careers.  They study the race, they poll, they look at potential rivals.  The DPVA bench knows who the stars of the party are: Warner and Kaine.  Warner already has a senate seat.

    If Kaine were some kind of monster, you could make a case that he needs to be challenged.  Some of you have already slithered down that path, manufacturing false attacks on Kaine.  Shame on the people who are doing that.

    Kaine is well liked by the vast majority of Virginia Democrats.  For that, and for all the other reasons in my comment above, Kaine would be almost impossible to beat in a primary.

    No wonder the DPVA recoils in horror from NoVa bloggers.  Some apparently want to stage a replay of 2009, complete with negative, destructive phony attacks on people they perceive to be their enemies.

    There is no purpose to what Blue Virginia is doing with this issue.  It is an exercise in negativity and divisiveness for negativity and divisiveness’ sake.

  • The Richmonder

    I don’t think it’s worth debating any further.  If Kaine decides to run, and if a credible primary opponent to Kaine then appears, we’ll have plenty of time to debate their relative merits.  Until then, this discussion has become kind of pointless.

  • pontoon
  • The Richmonder
    • Peter 2010

      You are arguing that participants on a community blog should not take a position about a prospective candidate (Kaine) until they have someone else who has actually declared she or he is running. Your position doesn’t stand scrutiny. BV front pagers and other commenters have the right to take a position for Kaine (Goldman) or against Kaine(Fausser) regardless of whether anyone else has formally declared or not. In addition, BV and its contributors also have a perfect right to criticize (or defend) what Mark Warner, Dick Saslaw, Ward Armstrong, DPVA, or anyone else is trying to do–with or without a competing declared candidate. This blog exists to talk about any issue–unconstrained by artificial “guidelines” suggested by Democratic Party Poo Bahs. And, just for the record, I was a strong backer of Tim Kaine in 2005, and will strongly support him again if he is our Senate nominee in 2012.  

  • leedynamo

    It is disgusting to see the insiders throwing their weight around.  That may explain why they like the Confederacy so much.  Why they keep DPVA running in idle. Why the Four Virginias continues to live.  That keeps the Warners, Connollys etc in power.  It is stunning to live in the United States in 2012 and see such an incestuous, anti-Democratic,

    back-slapping-behind-doors political culture.

    To all the crappy politicians I say get out of our lives.

    Don’t you idiots get it?  YOU are why so many people hate government.  You’ve greased the wheels, got things working for you, not for us.  Mark Warner is a patrician.  I don’t think he cares that coal is killing children or sticking them with asthma.

    It makes me sick too.  It is not about ideology.  It is about taking on the Mister. Bigs.  I KNOW Perriello will take on Mister Big.

  • leedynamo

    ……… By this fake democracy.  Or, do you forget why it is all here?  Are you here just to enjoy the show?