It’s truly appalling to see people who have run as Democrats, served as Democrats, etc., turn around and endorse a Republican over the Democratic nominee for public office. We’ve seen that in the past here in Virginia, with State Sen. Benjamin Lambert (D) endorsing right-wing Republican George Allen over Democrat Jim Webb for U.S. Senate in 2006; wth Democratic strategist Dave “Mudcat” Saunders endorsing far-right-wing Republican Ken Cuccinelli in 2013; with Democrat Libby Garvey endorsing Republican John Vihstadt over Democratic nominee Alan Howze for Arlington County Board in 2014; and now with two Democrats in Prince William County – former Supervisor and House of Delegates candidate Hilda Barg and State Sen. Toddy Puller – endorsing Republican incumbent Maureen Caddigan (see mailer at right) over Democratic nominee Andrea Bailey (see photo below). It’s utterly lame, and it actually gets lamer the more you know about the whole messed-up situation.
First off, keep in mind that this Prince William County district – Potomac District – went by 20 points (58%-38%) for Terry McAuliffe over Ken Cuccinelli in the 2013 governor’s race. So this is most certainly a winnable district for Andrea Bailey over Maureen Caddigan (note: I’m told by a top NOVA Democratic political operative that Bailey has a decent shot at beating Caddigan, even though Caddigan is an entrenched incumbent). So yeah, the endorsements of Bailey’s fellow Democrats — all pulling together as one team, as they should be — would certainly help matters here, especially since the key in this district will be turnout, given the usual, lamentable dropoff in Democratic voters in odd/off years.
Second, I’m told that many of these people – Hilda Barg, John Jenkins (a Democrat who’s been on the Prince William County Board since 1982), and Maureen Caddigan are just “old school” Prince William County people, have all been friends for decades, and that THAT is what a lot of this is all about. Perhaps the most disappointing figure in all this is Sen. Toddy Puller, who has been a strong Democrat for years, and who I’m told Prince William County Democrats worked very hard for in 2011. Now, I hear those same Prince William County Democrats are very disappointed Sen. Puller has endorsed Republican Maureen Caddigan over Democrat Andrea Bailey.
Fortunately, there are numerous Democrats who ARE supporting Andrea Bailey: Rep. Gerry Connolly (who I’m told is “aggressively” backing her); Delegates Scott Surovell and Charniele Herring; Woodbridge Supervisor Frank Principi; Democratic State Senate nominee Jeremy McPike; City of Manassas Council Member Jeanette Rishell; Dumfries Councilman Derrick Woods; the Prince William County Democratic Women’s Caucus; etc. In addition, Bailey is supported by Northern Virginia labor unions and the Prince William Education Association.
Speaking of education, I’m also hearing that Justin Wilk, a Democrat (and great guy who will make a superb Prince William County School Board member) who’s running in the Potomac District as well, cannot seem to get his fellow Democrats John Jenkins and Toddy Puller to do the most basic thing – endorse him over Republican Betty Covington. Why not? Got me, but someone should definitely ask Jenkins and Puller.
Anyway, the bottom line here is that Democrats in Prince William County (or anywhere) should not be endorsing Republicans, certainly not with how far right that party has lurched in recent years, except perhaps in truly freakish circumstances. In this case, endorsing Andrea Bailey and Justin Wilk – both excellent candidates – should be an absolute no brainer. Except, for some reason, it isn’t – for whatever ridiculous, inexcusable reasons – for Hilda Barg, John Jenkins and Toddy Puller. Sigh…