Home 2013 races Chap Petersen vs. Terry McAuliffe on Women’s Rights Protest Crackdown

Chap Petersen vs. Terry McAuliffe on Women’s Rights Protest Crackdown


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.

  • Teddy Goodson

    The gubernatorial election is, I believe, over  year away. the in-your-face Petersen response was wonderfully invigorating to depressed Democrats (“it’s about time!”) but can this intensity survive and continue for 18 months or more? Will there be that many opportunities to carry it on and on and on? Terry has not ignored the opportunity in his skipping about the commonwealth, he has used the war on women and other Republican overreach in his mini-speeches; his approach seems to be that of the long-distance runner rather than the sprinter—- do you think? I believe we Democrats need both approaches as of now.  

  • Teddy Goodson

    He’s got a petition or two up, but personally I believe he should be courting the Women’s Strike Force, asking how

    he can help them (not, that is, going to them for their endorsement, but to help them in their struggle). He could pick up some major brownie points if he was vocal and practical in his support for the women of Viginia.

  • pontoon

    was tabled for this year…so it will be back in the next GA session.  So, yes, I believe this will become an issue again next year.  And who knows, Kathy Byron and Jill Vogel may come up with some other invasive procedure they could add to the “Informed Consent” law by 2013.

  • I’ve never been a Terry fan, and I’ve always been a Chap fan, so this isn’t, I don’t think, biased.  But if Terry had been out there in front on this subject, I honestly wouldn’t have cared, and I don’t hold it against him that he wasn’t.  Why?  Because he can’t do anything about it, not really.  Not in the way that Chap could (and DID!) because they are in very different roles right now as Democrats in Virginia.

    All Democrats have issues that they are willing to plant their flag over, and while most of us pretty much agree on what those issues are, we don’t agree on what order they should be handled.  I personally (and I could be wrong about this) don’t think of Terry as someone who was at the forefront of fighting for women’s health issues.  (That’s not a slam — I know fully that he supports the Democratic platform, and strongly, just not as strongly as other Democrats have done.)  He has his issues and his order, and comparing him to Chap, who is actually in the Senate with a vote, and speculating that it means something for 2013, doesn’t strike me as an apples to apples comparison.

  • kindler

    That’s exactly what I saw Chap and a few others in Richmond showing.  When a major battle is brewing in your homeland is precisely the wrong time to go AWOL.

    This is the time for Dems to find their voice and Chap will be remembered for expressing that anger and frustration. I hope he runs for one of the 3 statewide offices, and I’ll support him whichever one he chooses.  

  • AnonymousIsAWoman

    He showed leadership, and I think progressive women will remember this for whenever and whatever he decides to run for.