RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!!!!!!!
We are all aware of the 5.8 earthquake that struck central Virginia in August, 2011, but who knew it was a precursor to the BIG ONE that struck Henrico County on November 8, 2011. This one registered a 10.0 on the political Richter scale and was accompanied with collateral damage.
The earthquake I am referring to is the Commonwealths Attorney race in Henrico County, won by Democratic candidate Shannon Taylor, the first Democratic candidate to win this office since the 1980’s, the first woman to be elected to this office and the first candidate since 2009 to have managers of her campaign understood how to energize the Democratic base and turn Democratic voters out in mass.
I think the facts are well known here bout this race. The Rethugs nominated Matt Geary as their candidate. Shortly after, it was disclosed that he was having an affair and Rethugs, lead by their fearless leader, Eric Cantor, decided to run Republican member of the House of Delegates from Western Henrico, as an independent. Cantor and his brothel of minions helped Janis raise hundreds of thousands of dollars on Janis’ behalf in order to guarantee a win and set up Janis as the Rethug nominee for Attorney General in order to follow the same path as former Governor Jim Gilmore, also a former commonwealth attorney from Henrico County. Fortunately, Democratic voters in Henrico decided they were not having any part in this plan, and, collectively decided to nip it in the bud, which still causing aftershocks within the GOP and the Henrico County Government complex.
Watch this video clip from Jeff Schapiro of the Richmond Times Dispatch, for a more in depth look at this race:
Collectively, Janis and Geary spent about $450,000.00 on this race, however, their money, along with Janis’ paid television ads, were no match for the mail campaign that Shannon Taylor’s campaign waged. In her mailings, Taylor took Janis to the woodshed, contrasting her long record of service as a prosecutor for 12 years, with Janis’ experience as law school intern with no prosecutorial experience. See here:
Taylor’s camp kept the pressure on Janis, sending mailing after mailing, pounding Janis’ lack of experience, a fact even the right-wing Richmond Times Dispatch couldn’t hide.
While all of this was going on, there was another race going on in Henrico County – the race to represent Varina Magisterial District on the Henrico County Board of Supervisors.
Rethug Jim Donati has held this seat since the 1980’s but he had huge issues to overcome to get re-elected. The tidal wave of growth occurring in the Varina District was largely ignored by Donati, the Republican controlled Board of Superviors, as well as county manager Virgil Hazelet. The changing demographics in the district were another huge obstacle for Donati, as the AA population swelled, along with the number of white liberals moving into the area.
Based on these two sets of facts, Democratic candidate Tyrone Nelson ran an aggressive campaign against Donati, holding Donati accountable for the lack of services, including lack new schools, libraries, etc., that the western part of the county was showered with over the prior 30 years. The county dump, also located in Varina, played a role in this election.
In addition to the commonwealths attorney and supervisor race, House of Delegate member Joe Morrissey, whose district covers parts of Varina and Fairfield district, was being challenged, as was State Senator Donald McEachin by a write-in campaign, whose district covers huge chunks of Varina and Fairfield Magisteril Districts.
As election day quickly approached, Taylor’s campaign had one last mail piece to drop – a mailer with a shot of Eric Cantor with these cheesy smile on his face telling voters “Eric Cantor won’t be happy if you vote for Shannon Taylor on Tuesday, but these folks will.” Those folks were Kaine, Warner and McEachin. With Cantor’s role in this race looming large, Democratic voters were looking for the right opportunity to take him down a couple of notches.
On election night, as returns came in, it was clear that Tyrone Nelson was on his way to a huge win, crushing Donati by 2,300 votes. See results here:
And see what a sore loser Donati is here:
Shannon Taylor went on to win 46% to 38% over Janis, with Geary claiming the remaining 16%. The results are in the link below. The precincts in the 200 series are in the Fairfield District and the precincts in the 500 series are in the Varina District. The 3 and 4 series are the far western districts that are primarily Republican, with the 400 series, Tuckahoe District, being the
Both Tyrone Nelson and Shannon Taylor wiped the floor with their Rethug opponents – check out precincts like Rolf, where Taylor and Neslon’s opponents percentage of the vote was in or close to single digits. And In Fairfield District, precincts like Ratcliffe, where Taylor annihilated her opponents:
220 – RATCLIFFE
Matthew P. “Matt” Geary 59 5.62%
Shannon L. Taylor 916 87.32%
W. R. “Bill” Janis 71 6.76%
Even in Republican territory in Tuckahoe District, more folks moving into Henrico from out of state are changing precincts like Rollingwood, and Spottswood, where Taylor barely lost:
PRECINCT VOTE VOTE%
416 – SPOTTSWOOD
Matthew P. Geary 58 17.57%
Shannon L. Taylor 127 38.48%
W. R. “Bill” Janis 144 43.63%
PRECINCT VOTE VOTE%
414 – ROLLINGWOOD
Matthew P. Geary 76 12.85%
Shannon L. Taylor 251 42.47%
W. R. “Bill” Janis 263 44.50%
These two precincts are particularly impressive – two women living in these precincts starting reaching out to friends and neighbors to find like minded people about six years ago and have built an informal network of Democratic voters. They now have hundreds of people in their network who volunteer, contribute and hold events in their homes. I attended an event at a community association they held in October of 2008 and their were hundreds of people in attendance. This same group held an event for Shannon Taylor in October and they really should get some credit for the results in these two precincts.
Every Democratic candidate on the local Democratic committees sample ballot won their race, all the way down to soil and water conservation board.
Now for a shout out to State Senator Donald McEachin, whose Senate District runs through Fairfield and Varina District. Senator McEachin’s senate district is composed of 39 precincts in Henrico County and as a whole, averaged a 29.66 per cent turnout. Rethug State Senator Walter Stosch, who represents 55 precincts in the far western and Republican part of Henrico County, averaged a turnout of 22.85%, almost a 7% difference, which is HUGE. McEachin worked day and night to assist these candidates and to to turn out the vote. And Democratic voters in the Richmond area trust him and listen to him, as he is one of few who stands up for our Democratic values, and calls the governor on the carpet when he needs to be called out. Voters throughout his senate district, in the city of Richmond, Charles City County and Henrico County have a deep bond with Senator McEachin and that was quite apparent in this election, as they heard his call to turn out in mass. And here was the best quote on election night, from the Senator himself:
“It’s a great night to be a Henrico Democrat,” state Sen. A. Donald McEachin, D-Henrico, told a shoulder-to-shoulder crowd at his Nine Mile Road law office, Taylor by his side.
“Eric Cantor, here’s your new commonwealth’s attorney,” he said, singling out the House of Representatives majority leader from Henrico, who pumped thousands of dollars into the campaign of independent Bill Janis.
But to be honest, the biggest shoutout goes to Shannon Taylor herself. I do not know Shannon Taylor, nor have I ever met her – but I am in awe of her. To get in a race so late, to raise the money she did, to hire the staff she did, to go door to door in swing precincts, etc., etc., is so impressive, knowing she had never run for office. But her impressive resume, her amazing credentials, her dazzling personality and her core Democratic values all combined to pull off this historic victory.
And for those of you reading this who do not live in the Richmond area, pay close attention. Henrico County is and has become a HUGE player for Democratic candidates on a statewide level. These two races in Henrico really show how excited and active the base is. If Virginia is to be carried by Obama next year, Henrico has to produce a big margin for Obama.
Here is some great analysis of the race done by the RTD and both are a must read:
Peace from the BatCave.