Home 2018 Elections Winners and Losers: Virginia Elections 2018

Winners and Losers: Virginia Elections 2018

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Here are a few winners and losers  from this election cycle that I believe are worth highlighting. Note that this list isn’t even close to comprehensive, so please add winners and losers of your own in the comments section. Also note that this is not meant to be comprehensive (nor is it any particular order, other than Kaine being the #1 winner), as that would be endless, boring, and exhausting! 😉 Oh, one more thing – I’ve always asked people for their opinions, and many of them will be included below, but for this list I “crowd sourced” extensively. So, a lot of the following aren’t really by me, but I’ve chosen to include them because I thought they were interesting, because I agreed with them in full or part, etc.. Still, you’re welcome to blame me if you don’t like them. 🙂

Winners

1. Tim Kaine: Other than crushing neo-Confederate Corey Stewart by 16 points yesterday, Kaine is the #1 Virginia winner of 2018 because he ran super hard, took nothing for granted, ran on a unifying message (“for all!”), and most importantly for the winners category, went WAYYYYYYYY above and beyond the call of duty in campaigning for Democrats “downballot.” That includes multiple campaign stops in deep-red parts of Virginia, like VA-09 (Anthony Flaccavento) and VA-06 (Jennifer Lewis), plus a ton of help to Dems in “purple”/tough-but-winnable districts like VA-02 (Elaine Luria), VA-07 (Abigail Spanberger), VA-10 (Jennifer Wexton), and VA-05 (Leslie Cockburn). Without Kaine’s relentless campaigning for Luria and Spanberger in particular, it’s quite possible they would have lost close races instead of winning them. And Kaine helped out with even more “downballot” races than that, for instance the Prince William County School Board Chair race (Babur Lateef) and the Arlington County Board race (Matt de Ferranti), helping both of them to victories last night. And, as one contributor to this list put it, “Kaine’s a winner for helping to train so many great young folks to be the campaign managers and communication directors we will need to take back the House and Senate in 2019.” Finally, this has got to feel great for Kaine after the bitterness of November 2016, when he lost his first race EVER in his political career, albeit as the running mate to Hillary Clinton. So… for all those reasons, Kaine is by far the #1 winner last night! I’m very, very happy to have been a part of it. 🙂

2. Kaine’s Chief of Staff Mike Henry: I kinda hate doing this, because I’ll miss tons of “winners” here, but let me just name a few on Team Kaine who belong on this list. We’ll start with Kaine’s Chief of Staff Mike Henry, who I first got to know in 2005, when Mike managed Kaine’s successful gubernatorial campaign, and who also managed Mark Warner’s winning (by an incredible 31 points over former Gov. Jim Gilmore) 2008 campaign for U.S. Senate. Mike, who I consider a friend, is one of the top political operatives in the country, although these days he’s mostly focused on serving as Kaine’s Chief of Staff. Still…Mike’s the brains behind the Kaine political operation, so for that reason alone he makes the “winners” list.

3. Tim Kaine Campaign Communications Director Ian Sams: I got to know Ian on the Perriello campaign last year, and was very impressed with his communications savvy, professionalism, strategic acumen, etc. Ian brought that to bear on behalf of the Kaine campaign this year – to great effect! As one person said to me, Ian’s “Twitter feed and constant smack downs of the Minnesota Confederate and the entire VA-GOP” alone make him a winner. Nice job Ian, and congratulations on the big win!

4. Tim Kaine Campaign Manager Keren Dongo and Democratic Party of Virginia Coordinated Campaign Director Bruce Sinclair – I’m told “they ran the entire coordinated effort and from day one invested millions in winning these House races, instead of just focusing on Kaine’s race.” Nice job!

5. Jake Rubenstein: I was very impressed with Democratic Party of Virginia Communications Director Jake Rubenstein – professional, strategically savvy, produced excellent material, was very much on top of stuff, very responsive, etc, etc. Great job by Jake from everything I saw!

6. Susan Swecker: Democratic Party of Virginia Chair Susan Swecker was a dynamo – as she always is – this campaign season, seemingly in multiple places at once, campaigning hard for Democrats up and down the ballot. I really can’t recall a better Chair than Susan Swecker, and no that’s not a backhanded compliment either. 😉

7. Tom Perriello: After his loss to Ralph Northam in the 2017 Virginia Democratic gubernatorial primary, Perriello easily could have done what many other losing candidates do and disappeared. Instead, Tom jumped right back in, campaigned hard for the Democratic ticket in 2017 (helping us to a statewide sweep and pickup of 15 House of Delegates Dems), then this year campaigned hard all over the state for Democratic candidates. As far as I’m concerned, that’s exactly what Democrats who ran and didn’t win SHOULD do, but it’s very rare to see (a couple who spring to mind this cycle include Dan Helmer in VA-10 and Dan Ward in VA-07). So…thank you Tom Perriello, a big winner in my book, and good luck in your important new job as Executive Director of U.S. Programs at Open Society Foundations (aka, running around working to save the world and stuff like that – heh).

8. Justin Jones, Aaron Fritschner: I really enjoyed working with the communications directors for the Abigail Spanberger and Jennifer Wexton campaigns, respectively. Both were very responsive, put out excellent/bloggable material, and were a pleasure to work with. Congratulations to both on your candidates’ wins last night!

9. Wexton Campaign Manager Ray Rieling and the Wexton Campaign Team: Great job scaling up from the primary to a massive, multi-million-dollar, top-targeted “red-to-blue” race…and winning decisively! Having consulted to and observed several VA-10 Democratic campaigns in the past, I can say that’s NOT an easy thing to do!

10. Democratic Committee Chairs: These people are unsung heroes and deserve a shoutout for the hard work they do, often unappreciated but definitely NOT unimportant! Just a few who spring to mind include Fairfax County Democratic Committee Chair Dan Lagana, who like many of these folks apparently never sleeps and never stops door knocking, organizing, etc.; Arlington County Democratic Committee Chair Jill Caiazzo, who one source specifically told me I should put on my “winners” list for her work in uniting Arlington Democrats and leading them to a big victory last night (Kaine got 80% in Arlington; Matt de Ferranti captured a County Board seat; Barbara Kanninen was easily reelected to the School Board); Virginia Beach Democratic Committee Chair Carla Hesseltine, who has been doing great work helping elect Democrats – including Elaine Luria – in her part of the state; VA-10 Dems Chair Zachary Pruckowski and Loudoun Dems Chair Alfonso Nevarez, both of whom helped Jennifer Wexton to victory last night; the Chesterfield Democrats and Henrico Dems, who helped Abigail Spanberger to victory last night; the Stafford County Dems who helped their county go for Tim Kaine; etc. etc.

11. Democratic Women: Democrats picked up three U.S. House seats last night, and…yep, all three were by female candidates (Elaine Luria, Abigail Spanberger, Jennifer Wexton). This continues a trend that started in 2017, when a slew of Democratic women were elected to the Virginia House of Delegates. Let’s keep this streak going in 2019 and beyond!

12. Washington Post Virginia Editorial Folks: I’ve bashed them in the past (for good reason!), but they got it right this time, with blistering demolition of Corey Stewart, strong endorsements of Tim Kaine and Jennifer Wexton, and an admission that their bet on Barbara Comstock in 2016 had not worked out. How much impact did the WaPo’s endorsements have? Hard to say, but the Wexton campaign certainly featured their endorsement heavily in TV ads, so they must have thought it was effective.

13. Dems Running Everywhere: I have mixed feelings on this one, but a person I greatly respect suggested it, so I’m adding it. “Not everyone agrees with this but I actually think for the second straight year one of the winners is the idea of running in every race and every corner of the state. I do believe contesting for the downballot races kept Republicans on defense.”

14. Criminal Justice Reform: This one was suggested by a contributor – “Looking at the commonwealth attorney’s race in Chesterfield County; I think every Democrat in the state supported criminal justice reform, and it has clearly become an issue that suburban white women are comfortable with given our wins.”

15. National Security Democrats: Another one suggested by a contributor – “National Security Dems – in a state where National Security matters, Democrats now own the issue, from Warner holding Russia accountable to Luria’s and Spanberger’s bios.”

16. Dems Refusing Corporate PAC Money: From a contributor – “Luria and Spanberger both refused corporate PAC money and Wexton, Luria and Spanberger were all endorsed by End Citizens United — fighting corruption and corporate capture of our democracy continues to be a winning message for Dems (also see ballot initiatives in Missouri, et al on campaign finance reform).”

17. Urban/Suburban Virginia: If you look at a map of Virginia, what you see is that Virginia Democrats keep racking up their wins, cycle after cycle, in urban areas and increasingly in suburbia (e.g., the urban/suburban “crescent” from Hampton Roads to Richmond to Northern Virginia, and increasingly including Henrico County, Albemarle County, Chesterfield County, etc.). What that leaves to Republicans is rural Virginia, which simply doesn’t have the numbers to beat urban/suburban Virginia. We certainly saw it last night in VA-07 and VA-10, and also in Tim Kaine’s big statewide win. I don’t expect this trend to reverse anytime soon, but in fact would think it would continue to grow.

18. Northern Virginia Democrats: It is now almost impossible for Republicans to win statewide with a fired-up, vote-rich “blue” Northern Virginia. It’s also increasingly impossible for Republicans to win in Northern Virginia. As of last night, the Northern Virginia Congressional delegation will basically be all Democratic, as will an increasing number of elected officials (e.g., the new Prince William County School Board Chair and the new 5-0 Democratic Arlington County Board).

19. Amazing Volunteers and Activists: I’m not even going to try to name all of them, but obviously folks like the Liberal Women of Chesterfield County deserve a shoutout, as do the many impressive and effective Democratic volunteers in the state. And then there’s Steve Baker in Arlington; as one of the contributors to this list told me, “Just last weekend – as a part of his ‘Outside Arlington’ initiative – he organized folks to knock 16,000 doors for Spanberger.”  WoFA, Dump Comstock and Indivisible, Network Nova, Virginia Democracy Forward, Virginia Grassroots Coalition, Together We Will, DLOV, etc, etc. – also deserve kudos. And a contributor says, “Stacy Snyder: Activist fighting to get Democrats elected in rural parts of Virginia.” Oh, and as a contributor said, “DLOV –  a vibrant and active organization helping get out the Latino vote in EVERY CORNER of the Commonwealth.  They seriously did an AMAZING job this cycle.” And I can’t forget Susan Mariner and Lindsey Terry, two Virginia Beach Democratic activists who did great work in helping to break open the Scott Taylor #Petitiongate scandal. But really, this list could be endless, and I definitely don’t want to leave people off (e.g., Carrie Pruett), so if you volunteered for a campaign and/or are a Democratic activist, consider yourself a “winner!”

20. A Few Prognosticators Who Nailed It: Chaz Nuttycombe’s “worst case” map for Tim Kaine actually came very close to nailing the final results (e.g., a 15-point win, which is almost exactly what Kaine won by, and a 66-point predicted win in Arlington County and a 32-point predicted win in Corey Stewart’s home county of Prince William, both of which also pretty much nailed it). Ben “Not Larry Sabato” Tribbett’s final House ratings on November 2 nailed the Wexton win, had VA-02 leaning Dem pickup, had VA-07 as a tossup and VA-05 as leaning Republican, all of which were accurate. Ben also was very much on top of things last night. Larry Sabato and Company also had VA-02, VA-07 and VA-10 as leaning to the Dems, with VA-05 leaning Republican. Oh, and former Arlington Treasurer Frank O’Leary NAILED IT on the turnout in Arlington County, as well as what that might mean for a possible Matt de Ferranti victory. Nice job! (Note: For my part, I thought Wexton would win VA-10 fairly easily, and that VA-02 and VA-07 would be very close. I was hoping we would somehow pull out VA-05, but was not particularly optimistic about it. I also wrote back in January about the way Matt de Ferranti could win…and it basically played out just like that.)

21. Candidates Who Believe in Clean Energy and Climate Action: As the Chesapeake Climate Action Network put it, “The ‘New Virginia Way’ continues to take over the Old Dominion. Last night’s new Congressional winners  Elaine Luria (D-Hampton Roads), Abigail Spanberger (D-central Virginia), and Jennifer Wexton (D-NoVA)  are all alarmed by the latest scientific reports on climate change and are serious about a green energy revolution. And last November, of course, 13 General Assembly candidates  mostly women  won seats in the Virginia House of Delegates while refusing to take dirty campaign money from Dominion Energy.”

22. Candidates Who Ran on Common Sense Gun Violence Prevention Measures: As the Pride Fund to End Gun Violence PAC put it regarding VA-02 (but this could apply to VA-07 and VA-10 as well), “Common sense gun reform and incumbent Scott Taylor’s allegiance to the NRA and their campaign checks were key factors in his defeat. Voters wanted a leader who would stand up to the gun lobby and put public safety first – electing Elaine Luria as the new Representative for VA-02 in Congress.”

23. Matt de Ferranti for Arlington County Board and Babur Lateef for Prince William County School Board Chair: I wanted to give both these guys a shout out, mostly because they’re both really good people who won election last night, but also because they were both tireless, indefatigable campaigners who ran positive campaigns with a clear vision for where they wanted to lead. Great job!

Mixed

1. Dems Who Ran Strong Campaigns But Didn’t Win: Several Democratic candidates were winners in every way but winning their elections last night, due to being in deep-red, almost-impossible-to-win districts. Other than that, though, I thought that Anthony Flaccavento (VA-09), Jennifer Lewis (VA-06), Vangie Williams (VA-01) and Carter Turner (HD-08) stepped up, ran excellent campaigns and did our party proud — and should be recognized for that! As should everyone who volunteered or worked for their campaigns.

2. Newspaper editorial page endorsements: Mostly, these were awful, but there were a few good ones, such as even the hard-right RTD and Daily Progress endorsing Tim Kaine for reelection, and not a single paper to my knowledge endorsing neo-Confederate Corey Stewart. On the other hand, as my newspaper endorsement grades explained, there were some seriously godawful endorsements, such as the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star’s totally messed-up endorsement of Corey Stewart-loving Rep. Rob Wittman (R-VA01), the right-wingnut Republican Times-Disgrace/Richmond Times-Dispatch endorsement of extremist nutter Dave Brat for reelection, the Republican Times-Disgrace/Richmond Times-Dispatch’s sh*t-for-brains endorsement of Rob Wittman in VA-01, etc.

3. Polling. A mixed bag, with the VA-07 polls showing it neck and neck, but with the VA-02 polls really messed up and the VA-10 polls mostly (with the exception of the WaPo/GMU Schar School polls) underestimating Wexton’s margin of victory.

4. Virginia House Speaker Kirk Cox (R): He didn’t lose his majority in the special election yesterday in a deep-red House of Delegates district, but his time is coming soon. Watch out in 2019!

Losers

1. Corey Stewart: Not only did he get crushed by 16 points, he also ran a toxic, nasty, demagogic, just godawful campaign that will go down in history as possibly the most disgraceful ever seen in Virginia (let’s hope none other is ever MORE disgraceful!). Just to highlight what a complete loser Corey Stewart is, the guy actually managed to lose his home county, where he is Chairman of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors, by 31 points (!!!!) to Tim Kaine. And now he’s being challenged both by Democrats AND by one of his Republican colleagues, Martin Nohe. If neo-Confederate Corey’s disgraceful career isn’t over now, it almost certainly will be soon. Good riddance!

1a. Corey Stewart’s Impact on Downballot Republicans: It’s hard to measure, but it couldn’t have been good, let’s just put it that way.

2. Virginia GOP: What a mess. This party has now been wiped out statewide in 2018, 2017, 2016, 2013, 2012…etc. going back to 2009. And they’re getting their butts kicked in pretty much every other way too, including losing 15 House of Delegates Republicans last year, and on tap to lose a bunch more – and their control of the House of Delegates AND possibly State Senate – in 2019. To make matters worse, as one of the contributors to this list noted: “Think about this – Gillespie actually helped lead the effort to draft the plan for the GOP to capture the middle again – and not get beaten by demographics and changing social mores…  But even when he ran for Governor he couldn’t implement it.  He couldn’t become a viable candidate without the Trump wing…  he couldn’t tack to the center. None of the Rs can…  they are stuck.” In short, the Virginia GOP has tried to ride the Tea Party “tiger,” but of course the “tiger” has eaten them, as tigers are wont to do. Sad!

3. Del. Tim Hugo (R), State Sen. Glen Sturtevant (R) and other Virginia General Assembly Republicans in “blue” districts: If they were nervous after 2017, they must be in full panic mode after what happened yesterday here with Barbara Comstock. Watch out next year, the “blue wave” is coming for you too!

4. Local Republican Elected Officials in Deep-Blue Jurisdictions: Watch out in 2019 to Republican local elected officials like Fairfax County Board members John Cook and Pat Herrity; Fairfax County School Board members Tom Wilson and Elizabeth Schultz (note: Fairfax County went by 44 points to Tim Kaine last night); Loudoun County Board Republicans (note: Loudoun County went by nearly 30 points for Tim Kaine last night); Prince William County Republicans (note: Prince William County went by 31 points to Tim Kaine last night); etc.

5. Former Del. David Ramadan: Lost his BFF Barbara Comstock last night, and was actually quoted in the WaPo that “Trump destroyed the Republican Party” and that “There’s no other way to put it but that this is the fault of the moron in the White House.” Hahahahaha.

6. The NRA: They poured money in to their A-rated pals in Virginia, like Barbara Comstock and Dave Brat, only to watch them get their butts kicked. Sad!

7. Corporate Media Coverage of Virginia Political Races: I wrote about this the other day, and really could just go on endlessly about the “horse race,” “both sides,” false equivalency, failure-to-call-out-lies-as-lies, stenography-masquerading-as-“journalism” coverage we mostly get from the corporate media. And they wonder why their readership is declining?

12. The Brat, Taylor and Comstock campaigns: Lies, lies, hysteria, fear-mongering, idiocy and more lies basically sums up these campaigns. And despite (or because of?) all that, they lost anyway. Pitiful.

13. Arlington/Falls Church Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos:  She already was facing a likely primary challenge next year from her “left” on criminal justice issues, but now, after endorsing/campaigning for Republican/”Independent” John Vihstadt over Democratic nominee Matt de Ferranti, she’s definitely got a lot of Arlington Dems pissed at her. Myself included.

13a. Arlington “Democrats” Libby Garvey and Carla de la Pava: Two other “Democrats” who both endorsed and campaigned against the Democratic nominee for County Board. Not cool, and definitely not going to be forgotten anytime soon by a lot of Arlington Dems.

14. Anyone Who Voted for the Candidate of Bigotry, Fearmongering, Anger and White Supremacy: What the hell were the 41% of Virginia voters who cast their ballots for Corey Stewart yesterday thinking exactly? Did they really think that Corey Stewart would, in any way/shape/form, make their lives better? Bizarre, but thankfully they lost. Still, it’s disturbing that 41% of Virginia voters are apparently willing to vote for anyone with an “R” by their name, even someone as odious/toxic as Corey Stewart.

15. Anyone Involved in Producing, Paying For, or Being Forced to Watch False, Obnoxious, Racist GOP TV Ads: Whoever produces, pays for, approves, etc. these ads should be ashamed of themselves, if they have any shame. As for everyone whose TV screens were darkened by this crap, let’s just all be happy it’s over, and that for the most part these ads seem to have failed to achieve their main goals – electing people like Corey Stewart, Barbara Comstock, Dave Brat, etc.

16. Pipeline Opponents: This one was suggested by a contributor, that Leslie Cockburn would have been the leading voice on this issue, particularly as others haven’t put any real pressure on, so her loss yesterday is a “loser” for pipeline opponents…