Strong Democratic Candidate Announces for 22nd Senate

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    Bert Dodson, president of Dodson Bros. Exterminating Co., announced in Lynchburg today that he is a candidate for the Democratic nomination in the newly-created 22nd State Senate seat. Dodson is a former member of Lynchburg City Council for 12 years and served as vice-mayor for 6 years. The new district includes Louisa, Goochland, Fluvanna, Cumberland, Prince Edward, Buckingham, Appomattox and Amherst counties, plus the bulk of the precincts in Lynchburg.

    While the 22nd effectively replaces the old district of Ralph Smith, mega-conservative GOP senator from Botetourt County, it is still a Republican-leaning district. In 2009 the counties included in the new 22nd went for Bob McDonnell by 60%.(Disclosure: I am thrilled that the Senate gerrymandered Smith out of his district. At least, he won’t be my “representative” any more.) However, Dodson, a respected business leader, has built-in name recognition because he heads a company that operates in five states and the District of Columbia. As Dick Saslaw jokingly told the Washington Post last week, “His signs are all over that district already. We’re going to win that seat.”

    Well, that remains to be seen, but it certainly doesn’t hurt that the Democrats have a strong candidate who has won elections, has access to plenty of money, and probably has past clients all over the area.

    After Dodson announced his candidacy in Lynchburg, John Lawrence, chair of the Lynchburg Democratic Committee, noted that Dodson has been visiting other Democratic committees in the new district. Lawrence said he would talk with party leaders in the other localities to find out whether any other candidates are lining up and then a decision will be made on how the nomination will be handled.

    “That will decide what we do, if anybody else wants to run,” Lawrence said.  The party’s options are to hold either a primary election or a district-wide convention to nominate its candidate.

    This is one Senate district where Democrats have a chance for a pickup in November.

    • Tom

      From what I have read in the Nominating Procedures memo from the DPVA, it is my understanding that the deadline for selection of the nomination method was this past Friday, and that the deadline for selection of a primary has now past. So, according to the DPVA-published memo, is it not correct that the nominating committee in each jurisdiction had to decide by COB last Friday whether it will be a caucus or a convention ? From what has been mentioned here, it does appear that the Jurisdictional Dem. committee chair or his/her appointed representative (i.e., the nominating committee chair) may have already chosen a convention rather than a caucus. Once the local committee has notified the SBE of the method they have chosen, so far as I can determine from the Nomination Procedures memo from the DPVA, that decision is not reversible, although that’s probably not important, it just means that the attendance of voters at a convention is a little bit more restrictive and controlled than would be the case in a caucus. Plus if a caucus had been chosen then the nominating committee chair could choose either an assembled or an unassembled caucus (sometimes referred to as a Firehouse Primary, which is a bit less organized than an assembled caucus), whereas a convention is very structured with much less opportunity for republicans to claim to be democrats because in a convention it is much easier to challenge the credentials of those who want to vote in a convention.

      Sorry for the too-lengthy dissertation on the nomination method of choice and the differences between a caucus and a convention. This is a fascinating subject to me, and one that most activists rarely delve into, but the nomination procedures memo is available for anyone to read (even including republicans, I suspect, if they want to try to skew nomination results in the direction of the weakest Dem. candidate).

      The more we know about the actual nomination rules the better prepared we can be to work toward nominating the best and strongest candidate. And as we know, the “best” and the “strongest” may not always be the same candidate, but we need to end up with a nominee who actually has a good chance to WIN. And Dodson certainly does appear to be a candidate who is both a good candidate and a strong candidate. The opportunity to pick up a new seat in the state senate with this candidate running justifies applying all the help we can provide.

                               T.C.

    • Tom

      The new 13th senate district in NoVa that was created when the two republican districts in Chesapeake were merged into one (the 14th) created an open seat that we never had before. And we have two Dems. who are vying for this new 13th senate district, with the nominee determined by caucus.

      I read that one of the three republicans who had been considering running (Black) dropped out, apparently because he couldn’t get enough petition signatures before the deadline becuase the GOP (I think oddly) decided on a primary rather than a caucus or convention. So that leaves the GOP with two very conservative candidates, John Stirrup who chose not to run for re-election as BOCS Gainesville district supervisor so he could run for the new senate seat and Bob FitzSimmonds who lost to Colgan in the 29th Senate district four year ago by about 8% points who claims to be “moderate” but is just as conservative as Stirrup.

      I think there is a real possibility that the Dems. could pick up at least one of these two new senate seats, and if we work hard enough for the dem. nominees we could very well pick up both. And with Colgan so far having no announced GOP opposition and Marsh and Reynolds in pretty good shape against their GOP opponents, we have a good shot at improving upon the slim Dem. majority in the state senate.

      I have not been this hopeful about our prospects for better state senate control for a long time, and maybe a couple of new Dem. faces in the senate could mean a new Senate majority leader. One can hope, at least, and even if we only win three of the four races I’ve mentioned without losing any that are closely contested, we can still expect an improvement in bills that get passed next year.

                               T.C.

    • G_Man2011

      The nominating process for Bert Dodson, candidate for 22nd District Senate seat, was properly completed and submitted to the State Board of Elections by the Chair, John Lawrence, of the nominating committee. There is not need to contact John as this process is complete. Elaine, great article! Is there a way that I can get in touch with you?