by Paul Goldman
Chap Petersen and Terry McAuliffe seem to have two different theories on how Democrats make a comeback in Virginia next year. This isn’t to say they are going to run against each other for Governor, but it is an intriguing difference for those who enjoy thinking about strategy.
Chap has a much more “in your face” approach, perhaps because he is in the State Senate, perhaps because he believes in this approach, perhaps a combo of the two and other things.
Whatever the reason, the result is this: Chap saw ultrasound, etc. as an opening to exploit politically. You can disagree or agree with the strategy, but you can’t deny it.
It played out further on the Capitol Police effort over the weekend, with Chap making a strong speech on the Senate floor yesterday. In Formula One racing, it is known as taking the more aggressive line through the turn.
Then comes Terry MAC. His strategy is far different in terms of the raw politics. In this case, he stayed away from the hot spot, traveling instead to events in different parts of the state. He kept his comments mostly to Twitter, some TV and newspaper interviews perhaps, but basically an “out of sight, out of mind” kind of thing.
So if Chap is Mr. Out Front, then Terry is Mr. Laid Back.
The question is: What’s the best strategy in anticipation of 2013?
As a general rule, underdogs have to take the fight to the overdog. On the other hand, Terry is the front runner and so that suggests playing it cool.
My take: At this point, it is all opportunistic, you need run the play the other side gives you.
Terry’s strategy make sense in general. But the ultrasound issue sparked a real moment of opportunity with little downside. Emulating Chap would have been the wise play net/net.
In Virginia, the women’s vote is super key for DEMS. That’s generally true all over, but especially in the South.
Terry would have been benefited by calling an audible and getting to the head of the line.
In general, Chap could use a little more “laid backness.” But he played the ultrasound issue just right.
Terry is no wallflower for sure, in terms of general personality. So getting out front is not a foreign thought. But he obviously decided not to do so in this case.
Bottom line: Even Bill Walsh, the legendary coach of the San Francisco 49’ers, famed for calling the first 24 or so plays in the locker room before the game, learned the necessity of calling an audible every so often. It is lesson worth remembering in politics as well.