by Paul Goldman
In politics, up is often down: the latest example being the decision by Senate Republicans to throw Democrat Chap Petersen off the Courts of Justice Committee. This is probably the best thing to ever happen to the Fairfax Senator since he started running for statewide office.
The hardest job of anyone who has lost for statewide office – Chap got beat in a primary – and wants to run again is the “new” Nixon thing named after the disgraced President whose rise from the political ashes would be legendary had he not lit himself on fire again with the Watergate scandal.
George Allen faces a similar situation, as will Terry if he runs again as expected, or anyone else: each has to fight the natural human inclination to return to your “comfort” zone which almost by definition is a place in the past prior to your loss.
Like I say, it’s human nature, and moreover, it is always hard to figure out how to the do the “new” Nixon thing, since by definition it requires, as they say, for the “old” dog to learn some “new” tricks.
Therefore: The GOP has done Chap a great favor, for he now has a “new” story line if he is politically savvy enough to take it. They gave it to him. Indeed, he couldn’t have done without them.
We will see of course, but he seems to be a quick study on such things.
Fair or unfair, every losing candidate has to fight the instinct to double down on the theory the process didn’t let he or she get the old image out, the one the people wanted. Sorry, whether true or not,
it is now irrelevant.
“New” is in: not a totally remake, but not just a reboot in a different uniform.
Now, the “new” Petersen, victim of the GOP power-play, has a story to tell, and a role to play in this Session of the GA.
He is first up in this department.
If he can parlay the “purge” into a new performing role that has a statewide “hook”, then he likewise could move to the head of the pack for a statewide run in 2013 for either AG or LG.
We see George Allen struggling with the “new” label, which is why he likes to talk about his days as Governor, when his popularity ratings were very high.
But voters are forwarded looking: the past is important only as it helps them understand what you are going to do in the future. Newt Gingrich is a bore when he talks about his past glories [exaggerated to boot.]
But when he says I have Plan XXX to do YYY and my experience shows that I can get it done, then it is a story which has an appeal to voters who agree with his platform. .
Chap has just earned a lot of Democratic friends he never had before, at least potentially.
Democrats around the state know he was “purged” due to his party, not his performance on the Committee which was fine. So they will identify with him in that regard.
Chap should thank the Senate Republicans for the boost to his statewide image.
This is the kind of stuff campaign money can’t buy.