Winners and Losers: Election 2011

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    Here are a few winners and losers (note: this list is FAR from comprehensive, and was put together on little sleep, so take it for what it’s worth – probably not much!) from last night that I think are worth highlighting. I’m starting with the “Losers” list this time, because frankly, everyone in Virginia today is a loser after the, uh, less-than-stellar results last night.

    Losers

    1. Brian Moran. Wow, where do we even start? How about Brian’s run for DPVA Chair, when he promised to recruit a Democratic candidate in every district around the state. Utter fail, with just 27 House of Delegates districts having a contested race between a Republican and a Democrat, and Democrats almost completely on the defensive in the State Senate due in part to lousy recruiting. Great job. Second, Brian’s messaging was essentially non-existent, with absolutely no reason articulated for why people should vote FOR Democrats, not just AGAINST Republicans. For instance, Brian sent out an email this past Saturday saying, “We are planning to leave it all on the field between now and November 8th to elect as many Democratic candidates [as???] we can.” Other than the typo, who the he** is Brian to talk about “leaving it all on the field” when it was his ultimate responsibility to have enough players on the field in the first place, and he failed to put those players out there?!? Third, Moran’s continued conflict of interest with his “day job” (ripping off minorities, veterans, and young people, all while suing the Obama Administration and running TV ads against it) sent out mixed messages (at best), took up a huge amount of his time, and further weakened (not to mention morally compromised) an already weak DPVA. Finally, Moran wasted precious time and resources that should have been put into candidate recruitment, GOTV, building a grassroots infrastructure, etc, instead playing the “inside DPVA” game where the same people basically talk to the same people, but doing precious little build up a serious farm system and a grassroots/netroots infrastructure. Utter fail. Uninspiring, incompetent, corrupt: Get this guy OUTTA HERE NOW!!!

    2. Dick Saslaw: I thought for a minute about putting Saslaw in the “mixed” category, as Senate Democrats didn’t lose as badly last night as some (e.g., Tim Hugo, Bob McDonnell) had predicted. In the end, though, they still lost. Which means, of course, that Dick Saslaw will no longer be Senate majority leader, a position he’s held since 2008. Perhaps it’s time for the almost 72-year-old Saslaw to retire at this point? As if that’s not bad enough, Saslaw lost the Senate majority in spite of the fact that he and his allies gerrymandered the district lines with the express intent of protecting the majority, all while throwing the House Democrats under the proverbial bus (although, one must admit, Saslaw’s gerrymandering came close to working as intended, while also being a disaster for Democracy). Third, Saslaw’s money allocations were questionable, particularly his decision to direct nearly $150k to Barbara Favola (who won the primary by a huge, 2:1 margin, and certainly didn’t need the cash from Saslaw, Whipple, et al) and also pouring money into former Republican-turned-independent Brandon Bell’s campaign (Bell lost by a wide margin last night).  Fourth, Saslaw’s messaging was uninspired and ineffective — nothing positive about why TO vote for Democrats, just negative about why NOT to vote for Republicans. Finally, Saslaw is simply NOT the guy you want firing up the troops. For instance, in the closing days of the campaign, Saslaw put out a pathetic YouTube video and a lame email appeal for money, in which he claimed that “things look good for keeping a Democratic majority on Tuesday” and “The only problem is we need more resources.” No, Dick, you had a heck of a lot more problems than that, and your failure to realize that fact is a microcosm of the many, many ways in which you’ve been out of touch for years. Bye bye!

    3. Virginia. In just about every way, our state lost last night. How on earth is giving the McDonnell/Cuccinelli crew unchecked power going to help make things better in Virginia? Got me. How on earth is adding utter lunatics like Dick Black going to add one more job or keep one more teacher in the classroom? It won’t. How will giving the denial-of-climate science (and denial-of-rationality/empiricism in general) party unchecked power help Virginia’s environment, economy, or anything else? Again, it won’t. And how will having a bunch of right-wing radicals waging war against immigrants (think Arizona and Alabama), poor people, working people, the middle class, a woman’s right to choose (think Mississippi-style “personhood” crap), GLBT people, etc, make Virginia a more attractive place to live or work? Obviously, it won’t. In sum, last night was terrible news for every Virginian, whether they realize it or not.

    4. Virginia voters: As one of my Blue Virginia colleagues puts it, “the biggest loser will be the Virginia electorate that had a choice in only a minority of races in districts so gerrymandered that the idea of regions of shared interests is absurdly impossible. Representative government in America is broken, so why should Virginia be different?”

    5. Loudoun County Democrats: Utterly demolished yesterday, divided from within (e.g., outgoing supervisor Stevens Miller endorsing an independent and a Republican for County Board), now with no Democrats on the County Board and with rabid Dick Black in the State Senate, this is a party in complete disarray. Who, if anyone, will step up to lead? (note: Loudoun County Republicans won in spite of its own committee’s antics, particularly the zombie-bullet-in-head-Obama image they sent out).

    6. Democrats in the House of Delegates. Their numbers utterly decimated (they apparently lost 7 seats), House of Delegates Democrats are now almost completely powerless, as well as leaderless. Who will step up to take Ward Armstrong’s place? Who else will rise to become leaders of this demolished, demoralized rump of a caucus and attempt to build something from the ashes? We’ll see soon enough, and I sure hope they’re strong, articulate, hard-working progressives. If not, why bother?

    7. Roscoe Reynolds, Edd Houck. The two long-time Senate incumbent Democrats lost by slim margins yesterday, and must be wondering what they could have done differently to pick up a few more votes and hang on.

    8. Ward Armstrong. Despite changing his residence (after being redistricted out of a job) and spending over $1 million — money that would have been FAR better spent helping promising Democratic House candidates like Pam Danner, Mike Kondratick, etc. — the former House Minority Leader lost anyway. Are Armstrong’s statewide ambitions in ruins? Given his loss last night, combined with his running away from the Democratic Party, combined with his terrible job recruiting Democratic House of Delegates candidates this year, I wouldn’t expect that Armstrong would have much, if any, support from Democratic and progressive grassroots/netroots activists, that’s for sure. We’ll see if anyone else supports him, although I can’t really see why they would.

    9. The Congressional Redistricting Map. With Republicans taking control of the General Assembly in early January 2012, the status of Virginia’s Congressional redistricting is more advantageous to the “red team” than ever. The risk is that we will see an 8-3 Republican majority locked into our purple, almost-evenly-divided state for the next decade (just 2 years after Democrats held a 6-5 edge). Let’s hope the Obama Justice Department saves us. But it should never have come to this, frankly.

    10. Any Last Vestige of Sanity in the Republican Party: The election of the bat**** crazy, virulent homophobe, sex-obsessed Dick Black says it all about today’s Republican Party. These people are bonkers.

    Mixed

    1. Terry McAuliffe. As a Blue Virginia colleague of mine says, T-Mac “may appear to lose based on all his efforts to elect Dems, but wins potentially big by becoming the most likely savior for Dems to focus on after this point.  (Is there anyone who can be considered leader of VA Dems at the present moment?).” I’d add that if I were T-Mac, I’d be seriously thinking whether or not I really wanted to run for governor in 2013, given that with Republican control of the General Assembly, including a “veto-proof majority” in the House, a Democratic governor is unlikely to accomplish much of anything. What’s the point, then?

    2. Barack Obama. To quote one of my Blue Virginia colleagues, “He is a loser to the extent that a loss in Virginia is seen as a sign of weakness for him, both as a read of where the electorate stands now and as an indication of how Virginia may go in 2012. But, Obama is a winner to the extent that if we do hold on to the Senate (and I am thinking/hoping Houck may yet hold on), or even if the overall vote count is fairly close notwithstanding a GOP victory, then it bodes well for Obama in the state in 2012, assuming the presidential year  will produce a more Democratic electorate.” I would also add the potential for a backlash against Republicans here in Virginia once they wildly overreach, as they are almost certain to do come January 2012. Think Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, etc.

    3. Tim Kaine. On the one hand, Kaine spent a great deal of time and energy campaigning for Democrats this cycle, and we got our butts kicked. On the other hand, Kaine got out there all around the state, not overtly campaigning for himself of course but still reminding people that he’s around and also racking up political “chits.” On yet ANOTHER hand, to the extent that Virginia continues to trend “red,” that’s bad news for Kaine’s chances in 2012. And on yet ANOTHER hand (I told you this was “mixed!”), likely Republican overreach next year could very well result in a backlash, among a much broader electorate than voted yesterday, come November 6, 2012.

    4. Ken Cuccinelli. There will now be more Cuccinelli-style, far-right-wing Republicans in the General Assembly — people like Tom Garrett, Dick Black, Bill Carrico, and Bryce Reeves — for Cuccinelli to ally with. On the other hand, Cuccinelli’s chief rival for governor, Bill Bolling, is now potentially a lot more prominent and relevant than previously.

    Winners

    1. Bill Bolling. I agree with Mason Conservative on this one: “He effectively controls the state senate so long as Tommy Norment can keep the boys (and girls) in line.” That makes him very powerful, and moves him from obscurity to sudden prominence.

    2. Bob McDonnell. I almost put McDonnell in the “mixed” category, under the “be careful what you wish for” theory (e.g., McD will now have to deal with a bunch of right-wing Republicans and Tea Partiers, complicating his life significantly as he attempts to position himself as a “reasonable,” relatively “moderate” governor of a swing state heading into the 2012 presidential cycle). I decided to put McDonnell firmly on the “winners” list, however, because his “team” won big yesterday (particularly in the House of Delegates, but also taking effective control of the State Senate); because he poured a great deal of money and exerted a great deal of effort in helping make this happen; and because, ultimately, dealing with overreach on your side is the kind of “problem” you want to have in politics!

    3. Sen. Jeff McWaters (R-8th). To quote one of my Blue Virginia colleagues: “Thanks to the DPVA he will be the next VA Lt Governor because he went unopposed in [Virginia Beach].”

    4. Corey Stewart. His crushing win yesterday sets him up nicely for whatever he wants to do politically in the future, whether a run for statewide office in 2013 or a run for Congress at some point. Blech.

    5. National conservative, Republican groups. Groups like the Middle Resolution PAC and the Republican State Legislative Committee poured huge amounts of money into Virginia to help Republicans pick up seats in the House of Delegates (which they most certainly did!) and take back the State Senate (which they did, albeit barely). Meanwhile, national Democrats and progressives (including the national blogosphere) largely ignored Virginia. Thanks, guys!

    6. Phil Puckett, John Edwards, John Miller, Chuck Colgan, Toddy Puller, Dave Marsden: These Democrats were all considered endangered prior to election day, but all won last night. Congratulations!

    7. Adam Ebbin and Barbara Favola: Both first-time Senate candidates won easily, albeit in heavily Democratic districts, after making it through rough-and-tumble, highly competitive primaries. Both can now put the word “Senator” in front of their names.

    8. John Cook. Winning in a district held by Democrat Sharon Bulova for many years, against a strong challenge by Janet Oleszek, is nothing to sneeze at. I agree with Mason Conservative that Cook “now has four years to cement himself in Braddock,” giving him the options to run for Chairman, Congress, statewide office, whatever. By the way, this is the second time Janet Oleszek barely lost to an up-and-coming Republican, the other being Ken Cuccinelli. Next time, how about we actually STOP one of these people in Braddock so they can’t make mischief on a wider playing field?!?

    9. Barbara Comstock. Speaking of stopping potentially dangerous, ambitious Republicans before they get too far, Comstock is almost certainly looking to run for Frank Wolf’s seat when he retires, or some other higher office. Her decisive win last night in a generally “moderate,” “swing” districts puts her one step closer on that path.

    10. Shannon Taylor/Henrico County: Good news from Henrico County, as “Shannon Taylor will be the next Henrico County Commonwealth’s Attorney and Tyrone Nelson will be putting Varina first as the Varina District’s next County Supervisor!”

    11. Bill Howell: I agree with Mason Conservative yet again (this is getting scary): “the House of Delegates is resembling something close to the Byrd days…Bill Howell might be the most powerful man in Richmond right now.”