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Only 15% of Virginia House of Delegates Seats Being Contested? WTF?!?

by: lowkell

Sun Jun 19, 2011 at 10:47:37 AM EDT


I usually don't link to or quote right-wing blogs, but this one by Mason Conservative raises an extremely important issue:
But even I was taken aback when I saw THIS list from VPAP outlining the contested elections in the House of Delegates for 2011.  I was stunned.  Of the 100 seats in the House of Delegates, ONLY FIFTEEN WILL BE CONTESTED BETWEEN A REPUBLICAN AND A DEMOCRAT.  That is an astounding 15% COMPETITION RATE.  Wow.  

For the record, here are the districts:  9, 10, 13, 19, 20, 31, 34, 36, 37, 42, 52, 59, 64, 75, and 87.

As a comparison, there will be 17 competative state senate seats out of 40, at a clip of 42% competition rate.

It made me wonder why this is?  Part of it is certainly is redistricting, but I think any Democrat in Virginia should be ashamed of their leadership and candidate recruitment.  On the list of delegates not being challenged are people like Jim LeMunyon, Tim Hugo, Rich Anderson, Tag Greason, Ron Villenueva, Chris Stolle, and Tom Rust; candidates who in the past have had to win close elections and many of whom are freshman.  Democrats failure to, thus far, find candidates to run in these districts is almost laughable and makes one wonder if DPVA Chairman Brian Moran should spend more time running his party rather than running scam schools.

I was going to write my own thoughts on this, but a long-time Democratic activist friend of mine nailed it in an email, which he/she kindly said I could use. Enjoy (actually, you wont't and you shouldn't! -- bolding added by me for emphasis).

UPDATE: I just double-checked VPAP, and Mason Conservative is correct, there are currently 15 "R" vs. "D" House of Delegates races listed by VPAP. Of course, VPAP's list may not be comprehensive, but even if you add 15 more, it's still only 30% contested. Heck, even if you add 30 more it's still only 45% contested. It should be 100% in a real democracy!

UPDATE #2: I just talked to a good friend of mine who's a Connecticut state representative (equivalent to "delegate" here). He was very surprised, not in a good way, at how low the percentage of contested races was in Virginia. In Connecticut, in contrast, approximately 134 of 151  House seats (89%!) were contested in 2010. For the Connecticut State Senate, 31 of 36 seats (86%!) were contested. And remember, Connecticut is even more lopsided than Virginia in terms of partisan makeup, except it's the flip in Connecticut (99-52 D's vs. R's in the House; 22-14 D's vs. R's in the Senate). In other words, it's far more hopeless for Republicans in "blue" Connecticut than for Democrats in "purple" Virginia, yet the percent of seats contested in Connecticut is orders of magnitude higher than here in Virginia. Why? A few possibilities: 1) they have public financing in Connecticut, we don't in Virginia; 2) they hold elections in even-numbered years, we don't in Virginia; 3) their redistricting is by bipartisan commission, despite the huge Democratic advantage in the state, as spelled out in the Connecticut state constitution. Those three structural factors appear to account for a major chunk of why Virginia and Connecticut are so different with regard to contested races. We didn't get into state party effectiveness, but I presume that would be part of it as well. Any other theories?

lowkell :: Only 15% of Virginia House of Delegates Seats Being Contested? WTF?!?
By any fair standard, this is a disgraceful performance by the Virginia Democratic leadership.

Mason Conservative underplays the negative contribution of partisan redistricting in general, and the particular role of Saslaw, Whipple, Howell, and Barker in this process. It was their squalid deal with the HOD Republican leadership that has consigned VA Dems to a generation of super-minority status in the HOD, and that terrible decision has made it harder for Brian Moran, Ken Plum & company to recruit Dem HOD candidates. But, there is no public record of which I am aware documenting that Moran or Plum ever spoke up and protested what Saslaw & company were doing to the House Dems.

Even if you take the very negative impacts of partisan redistricting as part of the way "business is done" (which I reject), the Democratic candidate recruitment efforts for the HOD were abysmal--and time has expired.

It is against this sorry background, that the Virginia Democratic leadership now wants everyone to work hard and knock doors for our Democratic candidates. That is a great idea where we have good Democratic candidates. Sadly, due to the failures of the leadership, tens of thousands of doors will go un-knocked because there is no Democratic candidate on whose behalf a knock can be made.

This sucks on so many levels it's hard to know where to start. As a progressive, it sucks. As a Democrat, it sucks. As a citizen who believes that our Democracy depends on competitive elections, it sucks. That about does it for now, but feel free to add your own ways this sucks in the comments section.
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Here in the 99th General Assembly District . . . (0.00 / 0)
In the 99th District we currently are represented by Democrat Al Pollard -- however -- Al announced he is not seeking re-election and his seat is open.

At least four Republicans are vying for their party's nomination while two others are rumored to be thinking about getting into the race.   One of those still "thinking about it is Catherine "Bullet Box" Crabill who almost beat Al Pollard.

A Democrat named ???? from Westmoreland County made some noise about running but he hasn't been seen or heard from for weeks.

As a result, Al Pollard's seat likely will go to a Republican.

Brian Moran reminds me of the old saying about tits on a boar hog.  Or something like that.


Actually Villanueva has an announced challenger, but... (0.00 / 0)
VPAP's list is actually not complete.

A diary earlier in the week announced that lawyer Adrianne Bennett has already begun preparing a challenge to Villanueva -- which is a good thing since Matthieson only lost a very similar district by 16 votes in a very bad year for the Dems. See http://vbprogressives.com/2011... .

I have also heard that a candidate announcement in the 2nd against Dudenhefer(sp?) is likely in Northern Stafford & Southern PWC.... Given that Obama won this district in 08, that is a welcome development.

However, your bigger point remains.... Especially given the Dulles Metro issue and the potential for developers and organized labor which have a stake in getting this done, and Tom Rust's role as Cuccinelli's "man on  the scene" working to deep six Phase II of rail to Dulles, there are deep pockets who would invest in a strong Democratic challenger to Rust. This is also a district in which Obama got a solid 55+% of the vote for the district as currently configured.... So I find no logical reason why DPVA or the FCDC cannot recruit someone credible in that district.

Greason & Morefield should also have challengers based on the competitive nature of Greason's district & Morefield's failure to establish himself. There should be a Dem running in the open seat vacated by Nutter to challenge Edwards, and frankly LeMunyon & Anderson should be getting challenges even if their districts lean more to the R side. Then there is the matter of finding someone, anyone to run against Bill Howell. Keeping the leader somewhat attentive to his home turf has incredible strategic value even if there is no chance in heck of picking up the district.


[ Parent ]
As I wrote in an update, even if we add another 15 candidates (0.00 / 0)
(which is highly unlikely at this point, but you never know), that's still only 30% of House of Delegates districts that will have contested races this year. Even if we add another 30 candidates (which I'd be stunned if we did), still only 45% contested.  That's pathetic in a Democracy.

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[ Parent ]
You underestimate Brian Moran (4.00 / 5)
You seem to think that Brian Moran is failing--he's not: he's succeeding brilliantly . . . at his day job.  Simply put, Brian Moran (and his employer Harris Miller) have a vested financial interest in the long term failure of the Democratic Party in Virginia and nationally.

While not all Democrats are progressives, most progressives are Democrats.  The Progressive drive to use government as an agent of reform and social justice runs counter to the economic interests of many of Harris Miller and Brian Moran's clients.  To the extent that Miller and Moran can stifle the Democratic Party's ability to compete in elections they can stifle attempts to regulate and reform the crooked business practices of their clients--of which for profit schools are simply the most obvious at the moment.

When DPVA installed Moran as chairman without demanding that he break all financial ties with Harris Miller it was obvious what would happen--DPVA's needs would be subordinated, even sacrificed, to further the needs of Moran's clients.  Moran's clients don't want the Democratic Party to be competitive in Virginia, so the Democratic Party will not be competitive in Virginia as long as Brian Moran is calling the shots.

Brian Moran is succeeding.

The Richmonder


Great comment. (0.00 / 0)
You absolutely nailed it!

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[ Parent ]
Are there... (0.00 / 0)
Recalls on DPVa chairs??

[ Parent ]
I presume if the DPVA Steering Committee (0.00 / 0)
decided to recall a chair, they could. But I strongly doubt they will do that. So, in practice, the answer to your question is almost certainly "no." In theory, if Tim Kaine or Mark Warner said "we need a new chair," it probably would happen. But will they? I'm not holding my breath, that's for sure.

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[ Parent ]
Remember... (0.00 / 0)
Let's see, who pushed for Mr. Moran to become chair of the DPVA....oh, yes, Mark Warner. Believe me, there is a reason that Warner has for that.

[ Parent ]
What do you think that reason might be? (0.00 / 0)
n/t

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[ Parent ]
Bad (0.00 / 0)
This state of affairs is absolutely disgusting. It's almost as if the Democrats have decided to let their numbers get as low as the Republicans once had in the H of D in the era before Vance Wilkins came on the scene. Wilkins as Republican leader took his party to majority status (before his hubris got him into trouble for sexual harassment). He did that by recruiting candidates in every House district and raising money to fund them. His typical method was to go to a local Chamber of Commerce, Lions Club, Rotary Club, etc., and ask people who they thought were the best potential people to run for office. Then - and this is critical - those people were given financial and logistical support.

For as long as I have been involved in Virginia democratic politics, the Democratic Party has operated the opposite of that. Too often, it waits for candidates to come to it. Then, when someone does, he or she gets no help, financial or otherwise. Indeed, the state party will demand that a candidate spend big money on polling before even considering giving financial assistance. Money gets controlled by party caucuses and office holders who are most interested in protecting themselves.

Brian Moran is simply following the pattern that has become "business as usual" at DPVA, but these numbers are NOT final.

A caveat: The deadline has passed for those candidates who wish to participate in the August 23 primary. However, the  party has until August 23rd at 7 p.m. to turn in candidate names for the general election, so all hope is not lost. Indeed, the local parties cannot turn in other non-primary names to the State Board of Elections before July 1.  


Well, to improve the 15% figure significantly (0.00 / 0)
there are going to have to be a heck of a lot more Democratic candidates by August 23. Should we get our hopes up? When I asked Brian Moran about this the other day (I said something like, "so, where are all our candidates?"), he just sort of stared off into the distance, didn't respond. Hmmmm.

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[ Parent ]
A lot of the candidacies are hopeless (0.00 / 0)
Brian S. running against David Bulova?  That Republican in Reston who got 39% of the vote last time running against Ken Plum?  Those are just vanity runs that won't go nowhere.  

But, having no Dem candidates in some of the races in Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William is horrible.  Those should always be contested.  But, it does make sense that the Senate races are more contested.  There's a slim chance the Senate could flip; there's no chance the House of Delegates will.  With the redistricting and everything - DoJ just signed off on the state plan the other day - it's one of those years where neither party is doing much to challenge incumbents.  I have heard of various people still thinking of running,like in the new Senate seat in Loudoun and a couple of the HoD races.  There are plenty of fingers in the air, so to speak, trying to determine which way the political winds are blowing this year.  

It's just not in the state races, however.  How many Fairfax Supervisor's races are being seriously contested?  Other than the Braddock Supervisor's race, that's about it.  Dennis Husch, the nutbar from Herndon, is the best Republican challenger to come forward in the whole county, and he's on a teabagger-inspired kamikazi campaign against John Foust.

The Comstock and Albo seats are the only two in play in Fairfax.


[ Parent ]
Part of the problem on the House of Delegates side (0.00 / 0)
is that the House Dems were completely thrown under the bus by Dick Saslaw et al. Essentially, they aimed to keep the Senate - a goal I agree with strongly, by the way! - by giving House Republicans whatever they wanted (e.g., locking in Republican control of the HoD for a decade). Given the weak hand Dems were dealt, it's somewhat comprehensible, but it still sucks on so many levels. Very depressing.

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[ Parent ]
But (0.00 / 0)
Saslaw was not one of the two dozen-plus Democratic Delegates who voted for the House plan.  The Dem incumbents basically cut a deal and ran on the House plan.  What can Saslaw, Howell and crew do if the Dems in the HoD decide to cave in?  

[ Parent ]
True, there's plenty of blame (0.00 / 0)
to go around on this one.  Still, the Senate Dem leadership and House Rethug leadership clearly cut a deal and threw the House Dems under the bus.

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[ Parent ]
Why not the Rust seat? (0.00 / 0)
Rust has stepped straight into the Dulles controversy and alienated developers and merchants who've been paying extra land fees as well as organized labor. And even if he is a long established incumbent, he's angered some deep pockets. SO I can't understand why FCDC can't come up with someone credible from the Herndon/ Reston area to take him on. Explanations please?

[ Parent ]
That was Brian Moran's response? (0.00 / 0)
I find that hard to believe that that would be the official DPVA position. Has anyone sent an official question to the DPVA political director, or Dave Mills, or the DPVA communications director? I seriously think that wouldn't be their public line on this....  

[ Parent ]
Most non-incumbent nominations are being determined by convention this year (0.00 / 0)
I went through and checked VPAP's list against the Board of Election's list of where primaries are being held and I came up with 18 seats with primaries where no opposing candidate is listed (and I'm pretty sure that list will shrink, because VPAP's candidate list is incomplete). Not that I'm expecting the DPV to recruit candidates everywhere they're currently lacking.

Either way, this seems to be a problem with off-off-year elections. In 2007, only about 40 House seats were contested. The problem is compounded by redistricting, where there's no guarantee that you'll still live in the seat you started running for months ago.


Right, so 40% in a good year... (0.00 / 0)
...a "wave" Democratic year where we had the wind strongly at our backs. That's the ceiling, apparently, even though Barack Obama won 54-55 House of Delegates districts in 2008. Three problems/challenges: 1) we need to figure out a way to get OUR base out in off-off years, at least to the extent that Republicans get THEIR base out in off-off years; 2) we need to recruit and run candidates; 3) we need to build our Democratic infrastructure, farm team, candidate base, progressive activist tools, etc, etc. so that we're strong year-in/year-out. Right now, we're not doing so hot on #1, #2, or #3.

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[ Parent ]
So, all this should be a topic (0.00 / 0)
of discussion at the upcoming DPVA Conference in July (which happens to be before the final drop dead date of 23 August)? Ahem.  

[ Parent ]
Good "ahem", Teddy. And the next quarterly DPVA mtg. is in Sept. (0.00 / 0)
I'd have thought that if the DPVA "leadership" were actually serious about "just in time" (not a lot too late) recruiting and helping prospective Dem. challengers they might have had this as a major topic of discussion at both the Fri. eve. Steering Committee meeting and the Sat. A.M. full Central Committee meeting held at Va. Tech in Blacksburg 3-4 June. But in fact there was minimal mention of the need to recruit more candidates. I was especially dismayed to hear the DPVA Treasurer's report of such a low "cash on hand" balance and even more dismayed to hear the Exec. Dir. emphasize that their "resources are very limited" this year so they have to be very selective which races for which they can provide some financial support. The worst remark, though, was Brian's comment that the party is "financially healthy", which I've said before but bears repeating.

So what will be discussed during the July Summit with respect to increasing the number of Dem. candidates ? At that stage I think about all they can say is that they should have started the recruitment by April as the Nomination Procedures document actually does suggest. There is a pretty good "plan" of sorts in the body of the procedures doc., but a plan is not worth much if the leadership, such as it is, ignores their own plan.

And what will the DPVA leadership have to say to the general membership in the Sept. quarterly meetings when they are held in PWC ? "Sorry, guys, we'll try again in 2013" ? If we are lucky, maybe when the DPVA elects new officers in 2012 we will gain some real leadership and maybe, just maybe,start to work the plan instead of just planning the work that never gets started early enough.

Always hopeful, just disappointed too often.  


[ Parent ]
I should clarify (0.00 / 0)
40 was for both parties (and a couple seats where a third-party candidate was the only opposition). Republicans only contested 5 or 6 Democratic seats that year.

[ Parent ]
So, how does this compare to other states? (0.00 / 0)
For instance, what's the % of contested races in Maryland? Pennsylvania? West Virginia?

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[ Parent ]
Last year in Maryland (0.00 / 0)
About 16/47 Senate seats and 40/141 House seats were uncontested (almost all of them Democratic seats).  

[ Parent ]
Right, so 31/47 and 101/141 were contested (0.00 / 0)
That's 66% and 72%, respectively. Not bad at all. So why the huge difference between MD and VA?  Even-year elections? Public financing? (do they have that in MD?) Strong Dem Party leadership? Other?  I mean, MD's House and Senate are overwhelmingly controlled by Dems, so it's like the Virginia HoD, just flipped. Yet here, our rate is so low; why?!?

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[ Parent ]
Connecticut vs. Virginia (0.00 / 0)
I just posted this update to the diary:
I just talked to a good friend of mine who's a Connecticut state representative (equivalent to "delegate" here). He was very surprised, not in a good way, at how low the percentage of contested races was in Virginia. In Connecticut, in contrast, approximately 134 of 151  House seats (89%!) were contested in 2010. For the Connecticut State Senate, 31 of 36 seats (86%!) were contested. And remember, Connecticut is even more lopsided than Virginia in terms of partisan makeup, except it's the flip in Connecticut (99-52 D's vs. R's in the House; 22-14 D's vs. R's in the Senate). In other words, it's far more hopeless for Republicans in "blue" Connecticut than for Democrats in "purple" Virginia, yet the percent of seats contested in Connecticut is orders of magnitude higher than here in Virginia. Why? A few possibilities: 1) they have public financing in Connecticut, we don't in Virginia; 2) they hold elections in even-numbered years, we don't in Virginia; 3) their redistricting is by bipartisan commission, despite the huge Democratic advantage in the state, as spelled out in the Connecticut state constitution. Those three structural factors appear to account for a major chunk of why Virginia and Connecticut are so different with regard to contested races. We didn't get into state party effectiveness, but I presume that would be part of it as well. Any other theories?


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[ Parent ]
Typical (0.00 / 0)
That seems to be the typical situation in Virginia. The legislature is an incumbent heaven where everybody looks out for everybody else. Year after year the same incumbents go back to Richmond, where a handful of people meet in a back room and decide on the budget. Lobbyists and big donors determine who will be heard and what legislation will look like. Typical situation. "Democracy" Virginia-style.

(If I sound cynical, it's because I am.)


[ Parent ]
Which ones are being determined by convention ? I've only hear of caucuses. (0.00 / 0)
I'm not aware of any nomination methods other than caucus except for those that are primaries, and as we know the filing for a primary is past.

It would be very unusual if any county committee chose a convention rather than a caucus for an HoD or state senate nomination method. I can't think of any reason for going through the more arduous route of selecting delegates for a convention vs the much simpler and least amount of work involved in a caucus.

As most BV contributors are aware, there are two types of caucuses, assembled and unassembled. Are you sure you aren't thinking about the unassembled caucus, commonly referred to as a "firehouse primary" where people show up, register to vote, then leave (a little like a regular primary, but the details are entirely controlled and managed by the party unlike a real primary that is run by the local government at taxpayer expense).

The main reason for the county committee to choose a caucus is to give them more time to recruit candidates because they have until just before the 23rd of Aug. to complete the caucus nomination process and determine their nominee. Which, for example, is why the Dem. nominating committee chair for the 50th HoD had not found a candidate as of the time the committee had to notify the SBE of their decision as to the nominating method.

But I have no idea why a committee would opt for a convention, involving selection of delegates, etc., over a caucus for a General Assembly race since there is no apparent advantage to choosing a convention and a few administrative disadvantages such as the ones I've mentioned.

Are you aware of any recent GA election cycles in which a  Dem. party county committee opted for a convention ? I can't think of any, and if there is one this year I'd surely be interested in hearing about it, and the committee's reason(s) for choosing a convention. When you say "most" I think that might be an exaggeration. Are you sure you didn't mean to say "caucus" instead of "convention" ?  


[ Parent ]
OOPS ! My question was intended to be addressed to Johnny Longtorso. (0.00 / 0)
I just violated my rule for myself to state the name of the person to whom I am addressing a question. Sorry about that, but I guess from the context/subject it may have been obvious (as with most of my typing errors they are bad enough for most bologgers to figure out what I meant).

Obviously, whether it is a convention or a caucus makes no big difference in terms of how long a candidate has to file in order to be considered for the nomination, although it does make a significant difference in how the nomination process is managed and how difficult it might be for a "non-establishment" candidate to gain support. In a convention, each district committee counts its votes and reports the total to the convention chair, whereas in a caucus all ballots are counted individually and the tally committee then reports the totals for each candidate, regardless of committee membership or temporary committee association as delegates (of which there are none in a caucus). So, the caucus to me is the more "democratic" of the two methods partly because there is no "credentials" verification for delegates and anyone who signs the statement attesting to the fact that they support "democratic principles" is eligible to vote whether they've ever been a Dem. committee member or even attended a committee meeting. Which is why the usual preference in a non-primary nomination process is the caucus.

So, back to my questions for Johnny Longtorso: Are you sure you didn't mean to say "most (or all ?) non-primary nominations are caucuses", or if not which races are you aware of are being determined by convention rather than caucus ?
 


[ Parent ]
Conventions are for large, multi-county districts. (0.00 / 0)
Tom, a convention following a round of county/city caucuses would make more sense in a large geographic district, where the logistics of running a firehouse primary in several jurisdictions at once can get a bit tricky. (Yes, I know, primary is best, but sometimes people don't file for the primary, or the paperwork gets screwed up, or you have a special election, where state law doesn't allow a primary. You have to have a fallback.) I haven't heard of a GA nomination by convention on our side in recent years, but the Republicans are holding a convention in SD 6 (a pretty sprawling district, covering the Eastern Shore, half of Norfolk and a county on the Middle Peninsula) to choose their opponent to Ralph Northam.

[ Parent ]
Power of Positive Thinking (0.00 / 0)
Nothing says winning like waiting until the right time to run.  For those old enough there was a short lived strategy of 50 states; basically run someone in every race - something the Republicans do.  That was so radical because for some odd reason the Dems won.

To ensure no surprises anymore the Dems really hold back their punches so they only run in races they can win.  It helps to have a distinct lack of a copper and zinc alloy; commonly called BRASS.

From the top on down the whole Dem party is becoming an embarrassment of weakness and fear. Vitter isn't the only one needing diapers.

Mere parsimony is not economy. Expense, and great expense, may be an essential part in true economy.
Edmund Burke


Another metal needed: gold (4.00 / 1)
We don't like it when Obama slinks off to New York to beg for money from Wall Street, but it takes millions to run national campaigns, so he went there to dig for gold. The same goes for state campaigns, and, thanks to Citizens United, as well as to Virginia's no-limits law on campaign donations, Virginia's elections are absurdly expensive.

Where are Virginia Democrats going to find the money necessary to run credible (or even un-credible) campaigns in every district and every race, besides which, we certainly can't do it when we have endless special elections and long-drawn out primaries that eat up funds. An under-funded candidate in a marginal or difficult district finally burns out after a couple of tries, becoming tired and disgusted by Republicans' viciousness---- so, no one else will want to try.

Republicans can force Democrats to spend until they are bled white, yet the GOP will still have plenty of cash in reserve. Republicans are also, state by state, going after and breaking every major pro-Democratic funding group like labor unions, intending to deny future money to Democrats. It is a calculated strategy.  


[ Parent ]
It is a calculated strategy. (0.00 / 0)
yup. Damn shame we don't have a atrategy. It is surprising to me that Virginia even HAS a democratic party. lol

I've heard... (0.00 / 0)
this is a problem with the Democratic Caucus in the House of Delegates, not with the overall party.

Perhaps, but.... (0.00 / 0)
...Brian Moran promised, when he was running for DPVA chair, that he would personally see to it that we had a candidate for House of Delegates in every district.  Why did he make that promise if he couldn't uphold it?

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[ Parent ]
He ASSUMED that someone else would do his job while he, well, didn't. (0.00 / 0)
Any of you who attended the 3-4 June DPVA quarterly meetings at Va. Tech in Blacksburg could see very clearly what he had intended to do as state party chair. Obviously, nothing. He was so pathetic that he couldn't even correctly read the script that the paid staffers wrote for him. He used exactly the same script on Sat. morning that he attempted to read to the full Central Committee meeting (with reps. from all the Congressional District Committee (CD)attendees that he read a little bit better the evening before to the Steering Committee meeting, including the short paragraph that said how soooo very impressed he has been in the 5 months he has been trying to learn what he needs to do as the new chair (clearly, he hasn't had time to learn much of anything with his very full-time paid day job).

On Sat. morning Moran actually stumbled over the scripted and previously practiced words, and when he introduced Steve Kaiser, a recently retired AIR FORCE colonel who is considering running for Congress in the 9th CD he instead said Steve is a retired ARMY COL, with several people (including me) shouting "Air Force", and his gaffe didn't even phase him - he didn't "get it" and made no attempt to correct his obvious error. He kept looking back at the screen instead reading from his notes in front of him to read the script and every time he did that he made a mistake. It became obvious that he hadn't spent any time going over the script and rehearsing it, and even more obvious that he didn't really have any interest in what he was saying, or even being there. No energy, not enthusiasm, weak delivery.

I think the worst comment he made, which I think was also in his script, was right after the party Treasurer gave her report which said that, even though they took in over "$250K at the biggest DPVA fundraiser of the year in Richmond at the Feb. JJ Dinner, the current cash on hand after expenses had been paid was only $50K ! And what did Brian say about this sorry financial situation ? He said the party's financial health if "very good" !! This just minutes after the Executive Director had emphasized the fact that the DPVA has to be very frugal with how they use our "limited financial resources". I don't think Brian even realizes the desperate financial condition of his own party, and that one of his top priorities as chair is to RAISE MONEY.

You want to know why the DPVA can't compete financially with the republicans ? Start at the top with the chair, who thinks $50K cash on hand is "healthy". You want to know why we don't have a state party level HoD candidate recruitment comparable to Howard Dean's 5-state strategy ? Start with the DPVA chair, who in his 5 months in office has just not had the time (and especially not the interest) to recruit even one candidate, nor did he recruit HoD candidates who weren't already planning to run when he was House Minority Leader, although he did claim credit for a couple.

What's wrong with this picture ? One thing and one person: We need a chair who is interested in and is willing to do more that just have the title while he spends all his time trying to handle what was just an Exec. VP job and is now a Chief Executive job that demands his full attention if he is to avoid facing unemployment. Organizations that pay their executives high salaries expect them to perform at high levels. Unfortunately, the DPVA has no such performance standards for their elected officers, and they are now getting just what they are paying for - nothing. I guess a nice title of "Chair" is fair compensation for doing nothing for the employer (DPVA and the poor suckers called contributors and volunteers who thought they'd get a leader out of the deal).

I do NOT, however, want to propose that the DPVA chair position be a paid job. There are plenty of County Committee chairs (I have one in mind specifically) who would be happy to take on the job with no pay, and would be ready to treat it as a very full time job and do it right. Mark Warner did the party and the Commonwealth of Va. a major disservice by using his power to get Brian elected chair, and there is no way Warner is ever going to admit that he made a huge mistake so we're stuck with Brian to the end of his term next year UNLESS Brian's real employer directs him so step down and devote ALL his time to his new paid job.

That's all I can think of to say about what I think of this sorry excuse for a party state chair, but I'll add more as other thoughts occur to me.

In the meantime, I'd suggest that BV contributors start thinking about how you might be able to influence both the Steering Committee members and the full Central Committee members you know to put more pressure on Brian to resign his unpaid job in favor of his full time paid job by the time of the Sept. DPVA meetings in PWC. And just as importantly, please think about who you'd like to see as an interim chair if Brian does decide to step down, because that person if elected might well be re-elected as chair for a full 4 year term.

                        T.C.



[ Parent ]
Tom, just an "FYI" (0.00 / 0)
Many of your comments are excellent, lengthy, and would more suited as diaries, since a lot more people would read them. The problem with comments, particularly on a diary that's more than a day or two old, is that readership drops off sharply. Which is why this comment of yours probably will only be read by a few people. Make it into a diary, and it's a totally different story. Anyway, just a suggestion...

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[ Parent ]
It's too early (0.00 / 0)
As some postings have noted, it's too early to know how many of Virginia's 100 House seats will be contested this November. Candidates have until August 23 to file qualification paperwork with the State Board of Elections.

While the number of contested House races may turn out to be low, everyone should take a deep breath until we know for sure. In fact, VPAP just posted four new contested House races today.

If you know of any candidates we have missed, let me know at dpoole@vpap.org

David Poole
Executive Director
Virginia Public Access Project


Thanks David (0.00 / 0)
I agree it's too early to know for sure what the final # of contested races will be. I've been told it will be in the low to mid 20s, but we'll see.  Anyway, while we're on this subject, do you happen to know the % of contested races for HoD and State Senate in previous years off the top of your head (or, where to get that information)?  My understanding is that it's been in the 40% range for HoD. Thanks again, you guys do great work!!!

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[ Parent ]
Uncontested GA races (0.00 / 0)
After an hour or so of digging through SBE election results, I come up with the following:

2001 House - 39 uncontested (13D, 25R, Putney); 5Ds and 5Rs faced 3rd party/independents only

2003 Senate - 19 uncontested (7D, 12R); 1D and 2Rs faced 3rd party/independents only

2003 House - 61 uncontested (23D, 38R); 6Rs faced 3rd party/independents only (Putney and Abbitt both had D challengers)

2005 House - 51 uncontested (14D, 35R, 2I); 6Ds and 5Rs faced 3rd party/independents only

2007 Senate - 17 uncontested (9D, 8R); 4Ds and 2Rs faced 3rd party/independents only

2007 House - 59 uncontested (31D, 28R); Putney and Abbitt had D opponents; 3 other Ds and 5Rs faced 3rd party/independents only

2009 House - 31 uncontested (9D, 21R and Abbitt); Putney had D and other opponents; 6 other Ds and 8Rs faced 3rd party/independents only


[ Parent ]
VPAP updates: Dems in HD 2nd, 3rd and 98, more to come (0.00 / 0)
•House District 2 - Esteban Garces is the first Democrat to file for this open seat, which was moved from Southwest Virginia to Prince William and Stafford counties. He'll face Stafford County Supervisor Mark Dudenhefer, a Republican.
•House District 3 - Democrat Vern Presley will challenge freshman GOP Del. Will Morefield in this Southwest Virginia district.
•House District 98 - Andrew Shoukas is the first Democrat to announce for this open seat on the Chesapeake Bay. (Del. Harvey Morgan, R-Gloucester is retiring.) Four Republicans -- Sherwood Bowditch  Ken Gibson, Keith Hodges, and Catesby Jones -- are running in an Aug. 23 GOP primary

My understanding is Adrianne Bennett is challenging Villanueva in the 21st & Blacksburg councilman Don Langrehr will soon announce for the Dems to replace Jim Shuler in the 12th.

That still isn't enough... At a minimum, I believe we need to see challengers to Greason, Rust, LeMunyon and Anderson as well as someone to keep Bill Howell occupied, and someone to run in the Nutter open seat.  


[ Parent ]
Right, we'll probably end up with (0.00 / 0)
about 20-25 contested races out of 100 House of Delegates seats. It will be better than 15, obviously, but still utterly abysmal.

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[ Parent ]
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The purpose of Blue Virginia is to cover Virginia politics from a progressive and Democratic perspective. This is a group blog and a community blog. We invite everyone to comment here, but please be aware that profanity, personal attacks, bigotry, insults, rudeness, frequent unsupported or off-point statements, "trolling" (NOTE: that includes outright lies, whether about climate science, or what other people said, or whatever), and "troll ratings abuse" (e.g., "troll" rating someone simply because you disagree with their argument) are not permitted and, if continued, will lead to banning. For more on trolling, see the Daily Kos FAQs. Also note that diaries may be deleted if they do not contain at least 2 solid paragraphs of original text; if not, please use the comments section of a relevant diary. For more on writing diaries, click here. Thanks, and enjoy!

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