Rick Waugh Bows Out; Will Anyone Challenge Eric Cantor in 2012?

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    In 2010, Eric Cantor had two opponents, Democrat Rick Waugh and a Tea Party candidate named Floyd Bayne. Combined, Cantor’s two opponents received about 41% of the vote, to Cantor’s 59%. Unfortunately, the 7th CD is a solid “red” district, likely to become even more “red” after redistricting. Also, Eric Cantor has a huge amount of money at his disposal, plus the Richmond Times-Dispatch in his back pocket. All of which means, very simply, that it’s extremely difficult for Democrats to a) recruit strong candidates against Cantor; and b) to have a chance at winning, even if they succeed with part “a.”

    Last time around, Rick Waugh ran an energetic – but wildly underfunded – campaign, and until recently, he had given every indication that he’d take on Cantor again in 2012. Yesterday, however, Waugh announced that he would not be running after all. The reasoning is…well, let’s just say “unique.”

    Soon after I announced in December my hope to run again for 2012, my family was threatened and my home was burglarized.  The police don’t know who did it, and I don’t either.  It may have had nothing to do with politics.  But I was upset, and I was also angry and frustrated about a barrage of criticism of me from other Democrats. In that angry state, I made some ill-considered statements about some of the people who had worked on my campaign.  I particularly regret having made certain statements that called into question the honesty of Brian Umana, my campaign manager. I should not have stooped to the level of those who were impugning my own honesty.

    So let me be clear.  During the campaign, Brian Umana was not merely a campaign manager – he led the staff, he oversaw work in twelve counties and in the City of Richmond, he recruited donors and volunteers, he helped write some of my policy speeches and position papers — and he did this with only the small fraction of the budget we had aimed for.  Brian worked hard for my election, and he worked hard to advance the cause of Democratic politics in the Seventh Congressional District.  There is much work for all of us to do, and my statements did not help the cause – for that I apologize.  I am also sorry if my statements caused any pain to Brian.  I am writing this letter to make sure everyone knows where I stand regarding my staff -they worked hard for the Democratic cause in 2010, and they have my thanks (and, I hope, yours) for that work.

    Since the campaign ended, I have taken a new job to be able to feed and support my family.  The work I do now is beneficial to the community as well as the welfare of my family.  I do not have, nor will I have, the ability to financially support my family and run for Congress again in 2012.  Therefore, I will not be a candidate in 2012 as you and I had hoped.

    Make of that what you will. Meanwhile, the question is whether Democrats will be able to recruit a legitimate challenger – or any challenger, for that matter – against Eric Can’tor in 2012. True, the 7th CD is an extremely tough one for the “blue team,” but it seems to me that Democrats need to challenge Can’tor on principle if nothing else. Also, why not make Can’tor at least answer a few questions about his hideous record, hopefully get him to spend a bit of his corporate/Koch brothers money, and maybe chip away a bit at the time he has to campaign for other Republican’ts.