Home 2019 Elections Winners and Losers: Virginia 2014 Primaries Edition

Winners and Losers: Virginia 2014 Primaries Edition


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Here are a few winners and losers (note: this is not meant to be comprehensive, as that would be endless, boring, and exhausting! LOL) from the 2014 Virginia primary election cycle that I believe are worth highlighting.  And again, this list isn’t even close to comprehensive, so please add winners and losers of your own in the comments section. Thanks.


1. Hillary Clinton, 2016 Democratic candidates, Nancy Pelosi: Eric Cantor’s defeat last night, to the extent it killed ANY hope for the Republican Party passing immigration reform (there goes the Latino vote!) or being in any way/shape/form a serious, sensible, governing party (there goes the independent and “moderate”/”swing” vote!), almost hands the White House and Congress in 2016 to Democrats on a silver platter. I mean, yeah, it’s scary to see one of two major political parties in America go completely insane, but on the bright side, my party – the Democratic Party – should by all rights be the beneficiary, big time. As one of my NOVA Democratic political friends put it to me, “Long-term, immigration reform will be radioactive for Republicans, pushing them even further to the right just as Hispanic voters are burgeoning in number. What Pete Wilson did in California, Brat may have done nationally — handing the Hispanic vote to the Democrats for a generation. (Much like the defeat of two Delegates by tea partiers in primaries last year made Medicaid expansion out of the question in the House this year) ”

2. The Beyer campaign. The following is from a Beyer supporter, but I agree. “Virtually flawless on all the metrics. Ran a solid, experienced, candidate with a deep fundraising network (put very little of his own money in), understood the district and the electorate and appealed to them with a consistently positive message.”

3. Patrick Hope’s “internal” polling. Absolutely nailed it, not just days in advance but weeks and even months. Spot-on accurate; pretty much called Beyer’s winning percentage as well as the order of finish. Impressive.

4. Mark Warner: With the Virginia GOP basically in a civil war, Warner could probably laugh all the way to reelection. He won’t, of course, because that’s not how Warner rolls. Instead, he’ll run hard, as a reasonable, “moderate,” “radical centrist,” etc. And my guess is that Virginia voters will reward him for that in November. Oh, and Warner should be happy with Beyer on the ballot for House in the 8th CD, as Beyer has money, can help GOTV, has proven himself to be a strong candidate, etc.

5. Gerry Connolly: I’d presume that he’s perfectly happy to have Don Beyer as his partner in the Virginia Democratic Congressional delegation next year. Seems like they’ll work quite well together with no friction whatsoever, as would likely have been the case with at least a couple of the other candidates (e.g., Levine? Chatman?)…

6. Bruce Shuttleworth: I thought he was very impressive in debates, really came across well, and helped himself for his own future (not necessarily in politics, just in general). Just a really good guy.

7. Jim Moran: Handled the primary very well by not inserting himself into it, at least not overtly (e.g., by endorsing). Also seemed very happy with Don Beyer’s victory, and really there’s no reason for him not to be, as Beyer certainly didn’t in any way criticize Moran or run on a “we need a change from who we’ve got now” platform.

8. Virginia blogs: Generally had much better – more detailed, extensive, etc. – coverage than the corporate media. For instance, The Bull Elephant and Lynn R. Mitchell live blogged several important GOP events, where there was very little if any corporate media presence. They also had their fingers much more on the pulse of what was going on than the RTD or the Post or whoever. As for the 8th CD, not to brag but Blue Virginia covered just about every debate, provided extensive video, analysis of the candidates’ performances, etc, etc. Who else did anything even CLOSE to that?


1. Patrick Hope: I got this from an astute 8th CD Democratic politico, and agree with all of it except the part about Ben. “Came in second with a high visibility, low budget campaign — but didn’t carry one precinct outside his district and lost some vote-rich North Arlington precincts by 30+ points. Turning his campaign over to Ben Tribbett was a major error of judgment. Little upward path; when he goes back to Richmond he needs to decide whether he’s going to be a workhorse or a showhorse. New political principle: ‘T-shirts don’t vote either.'”

2. More Patrick Hope: From another astute Virginia Democratic politico. “I believe Patrick Hope was a winner and a loser. Obviously lost the race but came in second to a well heeled and known winner. That he managed second in a crowded field is a plus. That he suffered some slings and arrows as the primary drew near did reveal some blemishes. He has to go back to work in the GA and accomplish progressive goals not just fight the good fight.”

3. Adam Ebbin: Didn’t embarrass himself, but didn’t do particularly well either with 13.6% of the vote and third place. Remember, Ebbin has a State Senate district, which is much bigger than a House of Delegates district (and Ebbin’s been around much longer too), yet he finished almost 5 points behind Del. Hope. Hard to see how this run set him up for another Congressional run whenever Don Beyer retires (which he said last night could be as many as 12-20 years!).

4. Bill Euille: Also didn’t embarrass himself, but didn’t do well either with just 8% of the vote, including a dismal third-place finish in his own city of Alexandria. I doubt he’s in any danger of being primaried for Mayor after this, but you never know…

5. Alfonso Lopez: He got out in time so that it didn’t really hurt him, but on the other hand he didn’t gain any traction, even after signing on some top-notch talent to his campaign. Probably no major net impact…

6. Jack Trammell: The Democratic nominee in the 7th CD will now get to face Dave Brat, not Eric Cantor. We’ll see if he can rise to the occasion, and FAST, but that’s not going to be easy against someone was formidable as Brat, and in a solidly “red” district like the 7th. Still, Trammell will get his 15 minutes of fame at the minimum, and at the maximum will get serious funding and other support to run a high-profile Congressional race the next few months. Where on earth did THAT come from?!?

7. “Identity Politics”: Didn’t work at all in the sense of Chatman’s argument that people should vote to send a woman to the House. On the other hand, people did tend to vote for the candidate from their area who they “knew” (e.g., older voters who remember Beyer when he was LG and voted for him in this election) so perhaps that’s a form of “identity politics” that was alive and well yesterday.


1. Mark Levine’s Campaign Team. The following is from an 8th CD Democrat whose analysis I respect. I pretty much agree with it, as much as I like Mark Levine personally. “Massive misread of the electorate. To paraphrase Paddy Bauler (look it up) — ‘The 8th District ain’t ready for aggressive progressivism.'” Also, whoever was advising Levine, particularly with regard to “internal” polling telling him he had a chance, ergo to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars of his own money on TV ads, should never work in Democratic politics again. Of course, these guys are probably laughing all the way to the bank right about now…

2. Lavern Chatman: From a smart Democratic politico. “Blessedly. What kind of arrogance does it take to put yourself forward for a position of trust with that ‘fraudulent conveyance’ case in your background? Back to NC, we can only hope.

2a. Oprah Winfrey: “Ancillary Loser #2: Oprah. A lot of people will never think of her in the same light.”

3. Fairfax County voter turnout: Not that voter turnout was high anywhere in the 8th CD yesterday (total turnout was just 38,855, but Fairfax County was beyond abysmal. Despite having 79 precincts, compared to 27 in Alexandria and 53 in Arlington, Fairfax County had just 12,678 voters show up yesterday, compared to 14,411 in Arlington and 10,675 in Alexandria.

4. Ed Gillespie: He’s really stuck between a rock and a hard place now. I mean, this guy’s as “establishment” as you can get, doesn’t want to run as a crazed Teahadist, but may feel pressure to do so after last night. Also…just what a party! How on earth do you heard these crazy cats, let alone position yourself between them without getting scratched, gouged, etc. Yikes.

5. Dick Saslaw: Every penny Adam Ebbin spent in this Congressional race is one less penny he can spend to help Saslaw regain a Democratic majority in the State Senate next year.

6. Charniele Herring: As we’ve discussed previously, she ran a terrible campaign, from start to finish (e.g., her entry was botched; she waited way too long to drop out; she embarrassed herself at the first debate, although she did better at later debates). This fiasco could REALLY hurt her statewide ambitions, possibly even open her up to a primary challenger. We’ll see. At the minimum, she should totally revamp her political operation, which has not served her well to put it mildly.

7. Young voters: I bet the average age of voters yesterday was in the 60s. As one 8th CD Democratic political operative put it to me when I remarked that young people didn’t show up yesterday: “not even a trace of them.”

8. The corporate media’s false equivalency that “both sides are to blame for the stalemate in Congress”. A top NOVA Dem politico says, ” Cantor lost in part because he hinted that he MIGHT be willing to compromise with Dems on immigration. Beyer won on a strong progressive platform, but also by saying that we need to find ways to work across the aisle. The Republican Party is the cause of gridlock, not ‘both sides.'”

9. Media conventional wisdom about the Cantor-Brat race: Totally, wildly wrong. Pretty much nobody in the corporate media, or in fairness in the blogosphere, saw Cantor’s loss coming. Heck, the Post said that the only “question in this race is how large Cantor’s margin of victory will be.” Uhhhhhh.

10. Republican Times-Disgrace, aka “Richmond Times-Dispatch: First, their editorial endorsing Eric Cantor was unbelievably lame, with howlers like “Cantor remains indispensable” and “Cantor also has replicated Ronald Reagan’s success in reaching bipartisan consensus on bills that, despite their lack of attention, have the potential to make differences in the lives of citizens.” Hahahahahahaha. Then, yesterday, the RTD majorly f’ed up, posting a story that claimed President Obama had come into the 8th CD to “boost” Don Beyer. They finally took the story down, but they left their tweet up for hours. Just abysmally bad “reporting.”

11. Corporate media coverage of the 8th CD Democratic race. Seriously, WHAT corporate media coverage of the 8th CD Democratic race? Heck, the Post made an endorsement without the guy making it (Lee Hockstader) ever, to anyone’s knowledge, even attending ONE debate or forum! I also saw a respected local political reporter, someone I like, claiming on TV that he had no idea who might win this race, even though the “internals” and other polling (including Blue Virginia’s, Bruce Shuttleworth’s, etc.) had been indicating for weeks/months that Don Beyer would win EASILY. Hello?

12. Cantor’s internal polling, campaign staff. Unbelievably pathetic. Just a couple days ago, these folks were saying that Cantor’s internals had him “with a 34-point lead over primary opponent economics professor David Brat.” Just off by, like, 45-50 points! Also, as Chris Cillizza writes: “Asked why Cantor lost, one well-connected GOP operative sent this email: “[Eric Cantor Campaign manager] RAY ALLEN RAY ALLEN RAY ALLEN”. McLaughlin fared little better as many people pointed to the internal poll he conducted that showed Cantor ahead by 34 points. McLaughlin in an email exchange with me Tuesday night blamed the defeat on a large number of Democrats crossing over to vote against Cantor; ‘Eric got hit from right and left,’ he said. But, there’s little evidence that’s what really happened.”

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