Not Larry Sabato has a very good take on the 21st Senate District race, where the GOP had hoped to pick up one of the three Senate seats they need for control. John Edwards, a Democrat who is highly regarded by the independent voters in the district, is facing Del. Dave Nutter (R-Christiansburg). The district now includes Blacksburg, which may make it a bit more Democratic than it was previously.
The results of the recent Republican primary, where Nutter faced a Tea Party clone named Tripp Godsey, showed just how weak Nutter is in the Roanoke Valley. While Nutter easily won a primary that had an extremely low turnout of less than 3% of registered voters, his numbers in the Roanoke area – John Edwards’ base – were dismal. Nutter barely won the Roanoke Valley (52%-48%). Not only that, but Nutter’s performance in Roanoke City was beyond pathetic.
The population center of the 21st is the Roanoke area. If Democratic voters turn out in the Roanoke City and County, then Edwards will have a relatively easy victory. Making it even easier for Edwards is the addition of Freeda Cathcart, an experienced grassroots organizer and president of her Roanoke neighborhood civic league, as the Democratic candidate in the 17th House District. That district became open with the retirement of Republican Bill Cleaveland. Every Democratic vote that Cathcart turns out in Roanoke City and Roanoke County helps Edwards hold this district for the Democrats.
I’ve known John Edwards for many years. He is a man of impeccable integrity and an excellent campaigner. The toughest obstacle for him will be the money that Bob McDonnell and the state GOP will throw into the race. Don’t underestimate John Edwards in the money race, though. Plus, he has a secret weapon – his high school government teacher who became a locally famous TV star in one of his previous campaigns when she told people why she always knew Edwards would rise far in life.