Rick Waugh Bows Out; Will Anyone Challenge Eric Cantor in 2012?

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    In 2010, Eric Cantor had two opponents, Democrat Rick Waugh and a Tea Party candidate named Floyd Bayne. Combined, Cantor’s two opponents received about 41% of the vote, to Cantor’s 59%. Unfortunately, the 7th CD is a solid “red” district, likely to become even more “red” after redistricting. Also, Eric Cantor has a huge amount of money at his disposal, plus the Richmond Times-Dispatch in his back pocket. All of which means, very simply, that it’s extremely difficult for Democrats to a) recruit strong candidates against Cantor; and b) to have a chance at winning, even if they succeed with part “a.”

    Last time around, Rick Waugh ran an energetic – but wildly underfunded – campaign, and until recently, he had given every indication that he’d take on Cantor again in 2012. Yesterday, however, Waugh announced that he would not be running after all. The reasoning is…well, let’s just say “unique.”

    Soon after I announced in December my hope to run again for 2012, my family was threatened and my home was burglarized.  The police don’t know who did it, and I don’t either.  It may have had nothing to do with politics.  But I was upset, and I was also angry and frustrated about a barrage of criticism of me from other Democrats. In that angry state, I made some ill-considered statements about some of the people who had worked on my campaign.  I particularly regret having made certain statements that called into question the honesty of Brian Umana, my campaign manager. I should not have stooped to the level of those who were impugning my own honesty.

    So let me be clear.  During the campaign, Brian Umana was not merely a campaign manager – he led the staff, he oversaw work in twelve counties and in the City of Richmond, he recruited donors and volunteers, he helped write some of my policy speeches and position papers — and he did this with only the small fraction of the budget we had aimed for.  Brian worked hard for my election, and he worked hard to advance the cause of Democratic politics in the Seventh Congressional District.  There is much work for all of us to do, and my statements did not help the cause – for that I apologize.  I am also sorry if my statements caused any pain to Brian.  I am writing this letter to make sure everyone knows where I stand regarding my staff -they worked hard for the Democratic cause in 2010, and they have my thanks (and, I hope, yours) for that work.

    Since the campaign ended, I have taken a new job to be able to feed and support my family.  The work I do now is beneficial to the community as well as the welfare of my family.  I do not have, nor will I have, the ability to financially support my family and run for Congress again in 2012.  Therefore, I will not be a candidate in 2012 as you and I had hoped.

    Make of that what you will. Meanwhile, the question is whether Democrats will be able to recruit a legitimate challenger – or any challenger, for that matter – against Eric Can’tor in 2012. True, the 7th CD is an extremely tough one for the “blue team,” but it seems to me that Democrats need to challenge Can’tor on principle if nothing else. Also, why not make Can’tor at least answer a few questions about his hideous record, hopefully get him to spend a bit of his corporate/Koch brothers money, and maybe chip away a bit at the time he has to campaign for other Republican’ts.

    • bcleal

      Can Tom Perriello be persuaded to move to Richmond and challenge Cantor?  

    • BrenBlue59

      lowkell- you made some excellent points. The matter of funding is the most important in my eyes. The 7th will never get a strong candidate to run against Cantor unless they know they have some real financial backing and support from the state and national party. I worked on Anita Hartke’s campaign in 2008 and she was forced to run her campaign on a shoestring. When she tried multiple times to schedule a debate with Cantor, she was blown off. I was on a call with one of his staff trying to arrange a debate or have him meet her at an event she had organized, and the response from the Cantor camp could only be characterized as though such an exercise was an utter waste of their precious time.

      I can only imagine that now in his position as House Majority leader that his sense of entitlement and disconnect from his constituents has magnified exponentially.

      However, given his position, this should be added incentive to the state and national party to find and adequately fund a candidate who can and should defeat him in 2012.

      Granted, he does have a big bat with the unyielding support of the RTD, but larger things have been accomplished by circumventing a biased media… and should, in this case.

    • Does anyone REALLY expect the DPVA to do anything to challenge a single Republican incumbent?

      Or maybe I should ask:  “Does anyone REALLY expect the DPVA to do anything????”

    • aznew

      There are some reasons to argue that he will be more vulnerable in 2012 that he has been previously, or will be for the foreseeable future:

      1. As minority leader, who is Cantor really representing – his district, or an extremist Tea Party minority that Cantor apparently sees as his ticket to overthrow Boehner and let him accumulate more personal power in Washington, DC?

      2. Cantor may be an astute politician, but he says plenty of stupid things, and some well-run oppo-research might yield some gold.

      3. As Minority Leader, will Cantor now be saddled with Rep. Ryan’s plan to privatize Medicare?

      4. At least as compared to 2010, Obama/Kaine will afford any candidate some coattails.

      5. Is GOP overreach across the country going to feed a potential Democratic wave?

      I would look at Perriello’s victory over Goode in 2008. Goode seemed invulnerable — a clownish, but seemingly secure congressman with a strong rural base.

      Perriello got into the race early, however, and attacked Goode right at his strength, by organizing in the Southside and right in Goode’s home area — not by pandering, but by making honest, populist Progressive arguments. Goode, meanwhile, figure he could just coast, at first ignoring Perriello,  refusing to debate and just going, unconcerned, on his merry way.

      But perhaps like Cantor, there were gathering factors that rendered Goode more vulnerable than he appeared at first blush.

      And, as Woody Allen says, 90% of success is showing up.

      By the time Goode realized he was in danger, it was too late. Momentum was on Perriello’s side, and with the help of Obama/Warner on the ticket, was just able to beat Goode.

      Look, Cantor is no Goode,I realize that. But he’s not Superman, either.

    • We, in the 7th CD, agree that Cantor should and must be opposed. We take our responsibility to continue to promote good Democratic values, which are Virginia values, very seriously. At this time, over a year and a half before the election, we have two potential candidates. We will work with both of these individuals to try and prepare them for the race and to ensure we can run the strongest campaign possible, even in this, unfortunately, very red district. We will continue to recruit and talk to other individuals who may be interested in running. Obviously, we can’t make any promises; we don’t know what the future will bring. But Blue Virginia and its readers can be assured that the 7th District Democratic committee is actively engaged in making certain that Eric Cantor is exposed for what he is and that voters have a real choice in 2012.

    • Rachel

      He’s the only one I’ve heard of so far. He’s never run for office before, so he’s got that going for him. He seems pretty progressive based on his website: powellforva.com