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Winners and Losers: Virginia Election 2015 Edition

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by Lowell

Here are a few winners and losers from this Virginia election cycle that I believe are worth highlighting. As always, this list isn’t meant to be even close to comprehensive, just a few things that jumped out at me, so please add winners and losers of your own in the comments section. Thanks.

Winners
1. Tommy Norment — It wasn’t exactly a resounding victory, but the bottom line is that this right-wing, corrupt jerk remains as Senate Majority Leader for another four years. Lovely.
2. Del. Alfonso Lopez — Worked his butt off the past few months to help protect House of Delegates Democratic incumbents and hopefully pick up a seat or two, and his efforts were largely successful. 
3. Trent Armitage — The Virginia House Democratic Caucus director had a good night, all things considered, last night, as did his boss, House Democratic Leader David Toscano.
4. Richmond Times-Dispatch endorsement of Glen Sturtevant — Arguably helped Sturtevant narrowly defeat Dan Gecker and maintain Republican control of the State Senate. Nice job, Republican Times-Disgrace!  Ugh.
5. Loudoun County Democrats — Bounced back from being shut out on the Board of Supervisors, snagging the Boad Chair position (Phyllis Randall) and two other seats, including Koran Saines’ victory over raving homophobic bigot and laughingstock Eugene Delgaudio (R).
6. Fairfax County Democrats — Despite lots of gloom and doom in some quarters prior to the election, Democrats ended up actually picking up a seat on the County Board (go Kathy Smith!), while also easily holding the Sheriff’s office (also a great win by Dalia Palchik for School Board, knocking off the pathetic Patty Reed). A good night, all things considered.
7. Arlington County Democrats — Clean sweap last night by ACDC Chair Kip Malinosky and his team, with Katie Cristol and Christian Dorsey romping over Republican/faux-“Independent” Mike McMenamin. Great stuff.
8. Alexandria Democrats — Clarence Tong and company kicked butt last night, winning everything but the kitchen sink, including a huge victory by Democratic nominee Allison Silberberg over write-in candidate Bill Euille. Nice job.
9. Shannon Taylor —  A rising star among Virginia Democrats, she easily retained her position as Henrico County Commonwealth Attorney last night!
10. Faye Prichard — In Hanover, Prichard got over 60% of the vote in an overwhelmingly Republican district (one where crazy Dave Brat beat Eric Cantor), focusing on local issues. development, schools, budget, etc., with strong grassroots support. Good stuff.
11. Del. Monty Mason — As the Virginia Gazette noted, Mason “became the first incumbent to be re-elected in the 93rd House District since 2009 Tuesday.”
12. Gerrymandering — As Travis Fain of the Daily Press put it, “Wins all around for incumbents, gerrymandering…All 122 legislative incumbents on the ballot yesterday won re-election. Patrick Wilson at The Virginian-Pilot says this is the first time that’s happened in at least 20 years.” Ah, “democracy.”

(“Mixed” and “Losers” after the “flip”)


Mixed
1.  Washington Post endorsements — A mixed bag, with some winners (Jeremy McPike, Kathleen Murphy, John Bell, Kathy Smith, John Foust) and some losers (Scott York, Danny Vargas, Patty Reed, Ted Velkoff, Karen Keys-Gamarra). As usual, it doesn’t appear that Washington Post endorsements have much “juice” at the polls anymore; if they ever did it was probably years ago…
2. Gov. McAuliffe — I was thinking about putting him in the “Losers” category, but the fact is, Democrats held their own in the State Senate last night, when there were many voices out there with prophecies of doom. So, in the end, nothing much changed, although credit to McAuliffe for helping push Jeremy McPike and John Edwards over the finish lines and not losing a single incumbent Democratic Senate seat last night.
3. Brian Zuzenak (Common Good VA Political Director) — Like his boss, Terry McAuliffe, it could have been worse and it could have been better last night. I DO question why resources were pumped into the McCabe and McCollum campaigns in closing days, when every penny of that money should have gone to: a) Edwards; b) McPike; c) Gecker. Very bad resource allocation there.
3. My State Senate predictions —   I was a tiny bit too optimistic on Dan Gecker, but my bottom line prediction basically nailed it: “For the moment, the slight lean towards Dan Gecker in SD-10 would give the Democrats 20 seats, but the fact that Sen. Edwards’ race is a tossup and that the Colgan seat is so touch-and-go means that it’s really going to take things breaking Democrats’ way on November 3 to regain control.”
4. April Moore — She ran in an overwhelmingly Republican district against a super-well-funded incumbent, and she obviously didn’t win. However, notwithstanding that (horrible) hand she was dealt, she did a superb job, articulated progressive and environmental values superbly well, and would have demolished the deplorable Mark “Criminalize Miscarriages” Obenshain in a fairly-drawn, non-incumbent-protection-gerrymandered district. Nice job, April, you rock!
5. Michael Hamlar — Similar to April Moore, ran in an almost impossible (due to gerrymandering) district for Democrats, yet did himself and the “blue team” proud.  Thank you for running, you rock as well!
6. Michael Bloomberg — Spent a ton of money on two candidates (Jeremy McPike and Dan Gecker). Won one, lost one…the definition of a mixed bag. I’d also say that putting so much money into broadcast TV, particularly in the expensive DC-area media market, made very little sense, huge waste in terms of reaching the intended/targeted voters (e.g., the vast majority of people viewing those McPike ads lived in DC, Maryland, Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun…everywhere BUT McPike’s district).
7. Guns as an issue — No clear sign one way or the other. John Foust tried to make a gun shop in McLean an issue, and he won, although who knows how much the gun issue had to do with it. McPike won, but again, how many targeted, likely voters in his district were truly swayed by Bloomberg’s ad campaign? And Gecker lost. So…who knows.
8. Prince William County Democrats —  If Jeremy McPike and/or Paul Ebert had lost, PW Dems would have definitely been in the “losers” category. Because other than McPike, Ebert and Justin Wilk (and also Scott Surovell, of course, whose sprawling Senate district includes a swath of PW County), it was kind of a rough night, with Corey Stewart (R) romping yet again, with Maureen Caddigan (R) defeating Andrea Bailey (D), Earnier Porta (D) losing to Ruth Anderson (R), etc. Meh. UPDATE: Prince William County Dems Chair Harry Wiggins tells me that the School Board went from 6-2 Republican to 5-3 Democratic. That’s great news, although still doesn’t balance out the County Board disaster IMHO.

Losers
1. Dick Saslaw — No real way to spin this for Saslaw; he won’t be Senate Majority Leader for another four years, and at this rate, maybe never again in his life. Time for this corrupt, incompetent “leader” to FINALLY retire (or be primaried in four years)? Let’s hope.
2. “I-66 tolls” as a potent political issue — Can we say “fizzzzzzzle?” Lots of money spent on this one, again using the wasteful broadcast TV method, and not much/anything to show for it, as both Democrats – Kathleen Murphy and Jennifer Boysko – targeted by the ads won last night. Also, have I mentioned that the I-66 toll ads were total lies, demagoguery, etc?  So I guess total lies and demagoguery took a hit last night as well. 🙂
3. Anti-LGBT bigots — No sign of the foaming-at-the-mouth, anti-transgender crowd in Fairfax County turning out in droves to unseat the Democrats who voted for transgender student protections last summer. And Republican Patty Reed, who tried to have it both ways, lost. Good riddance.
4. Democrats who supported Bill Euille for Alexandria Mayor — Despite Allison Silberberg having won the Democratic nomination for Mayor fair and square, several Democrats (e.g., Rob Krupicka, Julie Jakopic and especially Kerry Donley) bolted to support Bill Euille’s quixotic (and apparently not particularly well run) write-in campaign. That didn’t work out so well.
5. John Vihstadt — The Republican/faux-“Independent” had hoped for another ally on the Arlington County Board, endorsing fellow Republican Mike McMenamin (who was trounced last night) and Democrat Christian Dorsey (who is highly unlikely to do Vihstadt’s bidding in any way). Hopefully, just three more years of Vihstadt on the Board…then get him outta there.
6. Arlington Republicans — Yeah, what Arlington Republicans? LOL
7. Fairfax Republicans — Bad night, hopefully will only get worse as Fairfax continues to get more “blue” in coming years.
8. Loudoun Republicans — Their disarray (two Republican candidates splitting the vote) allowed a Democrat to snatch the Board Chair position out of their hands. Hahahahahaha.
9. Broadcast TV advertising —  Massive waste of money, utterly inefficient (and ineffective), stupid stupid stupid in an age where you can TARGET your advertising!
10. Dan Gecker’s campaign — I was never a fan of this guy, didn’t have confidence that he’d be a strong candidate in the general election, and thus supported real Democrat and real progressive Emily Francis in the primary. The theory by Saslaw et al was that Gecker, who had been an “independent” and a member of the Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors, would perform well enough in the “red” areas and rack up margin in Richmond City. Instead, Gecker got wiped out in Powhatan and didn’t do so well in Chesterfield either. #FAIL
11.  Republican Predictions — On the Republican side, there were some highly optimistic predictions (from their perspective) about what would happen last night. Fortunately, they didn’t come to fruition for the most part. One of the worst is on a hate site, so I won’t link to it, but they actually claimed this would be “a wave election of historic proportion,” “an opportunity to not only thwart some of the liberal agenda that’s been crammed down our throats over the past year, but to remarkably reshape the balance of power at the state and local levels for the next several years.” Nope, nope, and nope!
12. Don Caldwell —  The Democrat-turned-“Independent” caused a lot of heartburn but essentially accomplished nothing else, winning just 6% of the vote and not impacting the State Senate race between Democrat John Edwards (a “winner” by the way) and Republican Nancy Dye (definitely a “loser” despite all the money spent on her campaign) one bit.
13. Rural voters — From Blue Virginia fellow “front pager” Elaine in Roanoke: “Rural voters who always return Republicans to office make themselves losers in every election. Why should the Republicans do anything for the poorest areas of the state? The voters always vote for the GOP anyway. The GOP doesn’t have to earn their votes. The areas of Virginia that would benefit the most from Medicaid expansion are the very areas that vote for people who will never allow Medicare expansion, who don’t care if rural hospitals close.”
14. Corporate media coverage of local races — For the most part, it was thin, spotty, not particularly “deep” or insightful.  Apparently, the corporate media figures Virginians didn’t care about these elections, which the Washington Post even claimed were mostly “symbolic.” Of course, that just feeds into Virginians not knowing about the elections, the candidates, the issues, etc, and ultimately not getting involved…a vicious cycle.
15. Rep. Barbara Comstock — A NOVA Dem politico suggested that I add Comstock, and I thought that made sense. As the politico put it, “lots of Dems won on her turf, especially Foust; she was heavily invested in Chronis.”