With the 11th Congressional District Republican primary between Pat Herrity and Keith Fimian just 1 week away, it’s hard to say who has the edge. Not surprisingly, given how tight this race seems to be, the two candidates are pounding each other, with Fimian claiming Herrity voted to raise taxes (aka, “evil” in the right wingnut worldview) and Herrity calling Fimian a “tax cheat” (why that’s bad in the government-and-taxes-are-evil crowd is hard to say, but whatever). Meanwhile, Rep. Gerry Connolly hangs back and, presumably, enjoys watching the spectacle.
So, what to look for on June 8? According to Leslie Byrne, who used to represent the 11th district in Congress, the key is turnout.
Leslie Byrne, a Democrat who held the seat during the mid-1990s, said the turnout number to watch is 30,000. If voter turnout is less than 30,000, “I’m going to say that the Republican doesn’t have a chance” in the general election, she said.
Is 30,000 the number we should be looking at? I went back and checked previous June primaries in that district, and what I found.
2008 Democratic primary turnout (Leslie Byrne vs. Gerry Connolly): 24,680
2006 Democratic primary turnout (Ken Longmyer vs. Andy Hurst): 19,649
Also, just for comparison purposes:
2009 Democratic gubernatorial primary turnout (Terry McAuliffe, Brian Moran, Creigh Deeds): 37,539
2005 Republican gubernatorial primary turnout (George Fitch vs. Jerry Kilgore): 21,068
2005 Democratic gubernatorial primary turnout (Leslie Byrne, Chap Petersen, Phil Puckett, Viola Baskerville): 12,855
Looking at these numbers, it would appear that Leslie Byrne’s turnout target of 30,000 is somewhat high, as only one primary election in recent years hit that number in the 11th CD. Also, I’m not sure how much stock to put in June primary turnout as a leading indicator for November, given what happened in 2009 (relatively high turnout for Democrats in June, Democrats got crushed in November) and 2005 (low June turnout, Kaine won in November). What are you looking for next Tuesday? Please feel free to use this as a threat do discuss the upcoming elections.