Winners and Losers: Election 2011


    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.


    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.


    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.


    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.”

    • commentator1

      Isn’t there some way Northern Virginia can separate itself from the southern part of the state? I’m tired of living in a state that’s still fighting the Civil War.

    • commentator1

      I agree that Brian Moran didn’t do his job. I mean the job of leading Democrats in Virginia.

    • mosborn

      Yup…not a good day for Dems in Loudoun. The perception that the County Committee is divided and in disarray isn’t accurate from where I sit though. A lot of really dedicated people put a lot of hard work into this cycle. Stevens Miller actively campaigning against two Dem candidates is tough to hang on the committee, or the committed Dems in the county.

    • Bwana

      Although I am sort of outside the tent looking in, it occurs to me there are two potential additions to your winners list.

      1. Scott Surovell.  Won reelection, and his GOTV apparatus was as far back as the summer being credited as the Tenth legion that would assure Toddy Puller would win against whatever numbers Frederick put up in PW/Stafford.

      2. Long term win-Tenth District Democrats.  When Frank Wolf eventually leaves office, there will be a long line of folks on both sides of the aisle wanting to take a shot at a seat he has held since 1981.  By winning a state Senate seat Dick Black will be right at the front of the GOP line (regardless of whether he wins reelection in 2015)…which means there will be a special element of discord injected in that nominating contest, which can only benefit the Democrats.

    • totallynext

      “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?”

      Could we see someone with the skill and political accumen from the East Side of Fairfax County???  Someone that is not afraid to engage the opposition, roll up there sleeves and freakin fight for Democratics?   (44th HOD?)….

      Here is the “But” it will definately be a rebuilding year – cycle.  Was before my time – but I believe (don’t have the nos) 2001 looked pretty much the same for Democrats.  The next decade we came back to quite a few gains and had the executive branch for 8 years.

      #1 DON’T ENTRENCH – (that is what we did this year and it was stupid/bad strategy and as you can see – doesn’t not pan out well in the voting booth)

      #2 100 / 40 STRATEGY.  

      Look – you didn’t have to like Howard Dean-personally.  But his strategy and management of the DNC (guess what years we made the most gains in VA?) was the empitomy of how to play OFFENSE!


      Enough already – spend some damn money on messaging….

      ($600k from DPVA to Barker – just a portion of that money on some damn messaging would have paid off state wide)

    • Dan Sullivan

      Adding insult to injury.

    • Clemgo3165

      With the State Board of Elections website?  I wanted to check Houck’s race – had heard there were less than 100 votes between the two candidates – but the site pulls up no Senate races.  

    • Will Radle


      Yesterday, thousands of voters, including Democrats, Independents and Republicans, voted for an obscure candidate committed to uniting our community around our shared best interests, our highest values and investing in our greatest priorities.  How do we know?  They told us.  

      More voters would support our campaign if they knew of our cause and if they knew we can win and create a culture of listening.  We will organize and advocate the best future for families and our community.

      Sadly, we expect the incumbent chairman will roll over for the whims of Richmond rather than uniting local government leaders throughout Virginia for community priorities.

      Thank you for your consideration.

      A. Will Radle, Jr.

      Community Voice

    • Cool_Arrow

      Lowell I agree with your ratings for the most part but have a “mixed” as far as the Senate Gerrymander is concerned. The good is that it is pretty obvious that without that gerrymander there would be no tie at all. The gerrymander really tried to shore up Reynolds, Houck, Barker, Miller and Colgan’s seats in a big way. It also didn’t matter with Favola-Merrick as that was a blowout. Reynolds and Houck look to be very, very narrow losers and all of the others looks like they benefited tremendously from it. Take out the Alexandria precincts and we have Senator elect Baker for example. Colgan while he is a long-time Senator his seat was won by 10 points so it looks to be a toss-up at worst case with his retirement during the decade. Looking back you wonder why they couldn’t have given Houck more precincts in Albermarle County or even Charlottesville as Deeds has a very blue district next door. Hindsight is always 20/20 but given expectations I think we did “okay” here. Sucks to have a tie in this case with the GOP having the tie-breaker. Things were so close that 50 votes the other way in Houck-Reeves and we are all happy campers for the most part.  

    • Mallsus2
    • I would add that I think that it’s hard to know what to do with McDonnell.  Obviously, being the Republican governor with a Republican legislature is a big win.  But as other Republican governors have learned (ie, John Kasich of OH in particular) it’s not as easy as it looks.  And given that I have to think that McDonnell has VP aspirations, this doesn’t make his personal ambitions any easier.  If you start getting some really weird stuff (and I think with the Dick Blacks of the world, you sort of have to expect that) it could make his life on the national stage a big headache.  Is someone like a Mitt Romney going to take a chance on him if we’re talking about plastic fetuses?  I think that got a little less likely last night.

    • sonofkenny

      ANd when they inevitably overreach Democrats will be in a position to exploit that. The only question is will they take advantage of it?

      How does the power sharing work in  the Senate? Does Bolling have a vote on organizational matter as well? Will dems get an even split on committees for example allowing them to bottle up some of the more heinous bills these neanderthals (my apologies to neanderthals) try to ram through?

      My guess is McDonnell hopes so…keep him from having to sign bills that would be very unpalatable to indies in next years Presidential race (I’m assuming he will be the GOP Veep candidate)…

    • sonofkenny

      Fairfax County Democrats who did a nice job last night, retaining all incumbents and electing all endorsed candidates to the school board!

    • Mike1987

      by republicans and the reactions of a) Virginia voters, and b) the less than competent DPVA.

      Anti-gay, extreme anti-immigration, life begins before conception. In other words, all social agenda and no real substance.  I suspect what we will see are repeats of other conservative states in furthering restriction of voting, more anti-gay laws, anti-science, guns for fetuses, cut Medicaid, defund planned parenthood, and pee tests anyone and everyone.

    • hrprogressive

      Needs to take the hint and get the FUCK out of the DPVA.

      Do you know the number of times I saw Pat Mullins running bullshit attack ads with Obama’s visage in them against Democrats Robin Abbott and Bill Barlow? I lost count.

      Do you know how many times I saw Brian Moran or the DPVA standing up against such ridiculous attack lines?

      I don’t even need one finger to count that answer, because it was ZERO.

      At least John Miller had the wherewithal to fight back (I LOVED his ads against Chohany’s health department record) and Ralph Northam had not only a clueless opponent, but was able to run ads that were 100% positive and he didn’t need to resort to attack ads, cause Loyola never ran one TV ad here (though, the RPV did send my house a dozen or so mailers).

      Seriously, I have absolutely 0% experience in official elected politics, and I could have run the DPVA better than Brian Moran has done.

      That there were so many uncontested races, and the majority of those were on the side of no Democrat (or even an Independent!!) to take on a Republican…is an utter, and abject failure of “leadership” in the DPVA. There is no positive way to spin it, at all.

      Someone get me a campaign staff, cause I’ll step up and take on a Republican with or without the help of the DPVA. That’s how pathetic the leadership is. It’s gonna take an almost purely grassroots movement to, you know, find people to run for office!

      At least, unless and until the DPVA house is swept clean and they start anew.

      Also, what the hell is Tim Kaine’s problem? Really, Governor? You thought that was an appropriate response to last night? You’re either an idiot or naive or both. Get your head on straight, Mr. Kaine. We need real leadership and frank assessments of electoral results, not DC-Inspired spin jobs.

    • DanielK

      I was on a local campaign in Fairfax County as you all know with Sheriff Stan Barry who won re-election last night with a fairly comfortable margin considering his opponent has been running for nearly 9 months and through a Republican primary against a non-existent opponent.  In my opinion, the Fairfax Democrats needs to be on the top of that list of winners.  They outworked and out performed their Republican counterparts so much it was incredible.  

      The organization and motivation was clearly there ensuring that all important polling places were covered and had signs where needed.  I know up where I worked in McNair they Republicans didn’t have anyone there until the afternoon.  The results demonstrated how well they did as well to include some races where it was supposed to be uncomfortably close.  At the local level all Democrats performed extremely well.

      A loser of this election:  Anthony Bedell.  His Republicans in Fairfax got outworked by their counterparts and the results were very evident.  I wonder if that is the reason why he is not seeking another term??  He and the FCRC put a lot of resources into their “DROP Stan Barry” campaign only to have it backfire and turn the Sheriff’s race into what many voters called “such a negative race.”  My opinion, their money could have been better spent on Senate races to sure up their control of the State Senate in those “tight races” but I’m not complaining.

      After living out in the Winchester area coming back to help out in Fairfax was a breath of fresh air given the massive GOP control there is out in this area!