Four years ago almost to the day, Virginia Democrats like Creigh Deeds were busy – not to mention eagerly – revving up to run for governor in 2009. For instance, check out the announcement above, by Creigh Deeds, from December 13, 2007 (at the same time, national Democrats were salivating at the prospects of taking back the White House, as Bush’s approval ratings were in the toilet bowl and the economy was sinking into recession). In response, another Virginia Democrat running for governor, Brian Moran, responded by (strongly) hinting that he’d be announcing for governor as well, but not until after the early 2008 General Assembly session. In reality, of course, Brian and Creigh were both running hard at this point in the cycle 4 years ago. And soon to follow were numerous Democratic candidates for LG (Jon Bowerbank, Jody Wagner, Mike Signer, etc.) and one strong one for AG (Steve Shannon).
This time around? Basically, we’ve got the sound of crickets chirping on the Democratic side, even as Republicans galore – Bill Bolling, Ken Cuccinelli, Keith Fimian, Corey Stewart, Pete Snyder, Dick Black, Jeff McWaters, Bob Marshall, Rob Bell, Mark Obenshain, Jill Holtzman-Vogel, and who knows who else in coming months – come out of the woodwork to eagerly throw their hats in the ring, or hint at doing so, for 2013.
In comparison, who’s on the roster for Democrats? Well, we’ve got Terry McAuliffe
probably possibly running for governor. We’ve got Chap Petersen and Ward Armstrong mentioned as possible 2013 candidates. In the former case, however, there are no signs of any moves to gear up for such a campaign. In the latter case…after getting his butt kicked (and spending a ton of $$$ doing so) this past cycle, plus pissing off a lot of Democrats with his conservadem distancing from/dissing of President Obama, c’mon Ward, you MUST be kidding! Another possibility for 2013 had been (at least theoretically) Tom Perriello, but he de facto took his name out of contention last week, as he accepted a great job heading up the Center for American Progress Action Fund (congratulations Tom — smart move!).
Also last week, PPP came out with a new poll which tested a few possible Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidates, including T-Mac, Perriello, and Gerry Connolly. Over the past couple years, I’ve heard rumors that Connolly might be interested in statewide office, but I’m skeptical. First, of course, he has to win reelection to the House of Representatives this year, and while I don’t anticipate that being a major problem in a presidential year, Connolly will need to focus on that, one would think, as opposed to gearing up for 2013. Other than those names? I’m not hearing much, verrrrry quiet out there in “blue” Virginia. Hmmmm.
Why the stark difference between 2007 and 2011? What I’m hearing from people is this: we’ve got a serious perception problem. Namely, there’s a broad perception among Virginia Democrats, rightly or wrongly, that we are in a terrible slump after three straight election wipeouts (2009, 2010, 2011). We also have a pathetically moribund/incompetent DPVA; an ethically-challenged DPVA chair (I hear he’s sold his soul to the for-profit “education” devil for $2-$3 million a year, so at least he’s not a CHEAP whore! lol); and a “minor league system” that, if it were being rated in baseball terms, would be seen as an almost total rebuilding project, nearly barren of talent with major league potential, and not even with any top draft picks, even as the Major League team loses 120 games a year, loses money, and struggles to put paying fans in the seats.
I’m also hearing a broad perception, rightly or wrongly, that Terry McAuliffe would be a weak gubernatorial candidate, that he really doesn’t have his heart in it (e.g., that he’s more interested in running his green car company), and in fact that he’s only “THE candidate” because nobody else is running.
Finally, the perception among many Virginia Democrats is that the “energy” still seems to be emanating more from the other side, even though it’s highly possible that both Barack Obama and Tim Kaine will carry Virginia in November 2012 (of course, the electorate in November 2013 will be much different, and not to Democrats’ advantage, if historical trends hold).
As if all that’s not bad enough, history tell us that if Barack Obama wins the White House in 2012 – a strong possibility given the improving economy and the pathetically weak/extreme Republican field – Virginia Democrats lose in 2013. Hence, the sound of crickets from the Virginia Democratic side, while Virginia Republicans are busy yelling “me first!” and “I wanna run too!” Great stuff, huh? Nope, didn’t think so.