Home Virginia Politics Winners and Losers: Virginia Primaries 2015 Edition

Winners and Losers: Virginia Primaries 2015 Edition


Here are a few winners and losers from the primaries held in Virginia last night that I believe are worth highlighting. As always, this list isn’t meant to be comprehensive, just some stuff that jumped out at me, so please add winners and losers of your own in the comments section. Thanks.


1. “Working Families” Coalition; Charlie Jackson: These guys –  – Mid-Atlantic Laborers Union/LIUNA, CASA in Action, NAKASEC Action Fund, SEIU Virginia 512, SEIU 32BJ, UFCW Local 400 – waded into four contested Democratic primary contests, endorsing Katie Cristol and Christian Dorsey for Arlington County Board; Penelope Gross for Fairfax County Board; Rosalyn “Roz” Dance for State Senate from the 16th district; and Steve Heretick for House of Delegates from the 79th district. They won them all, with a combination of money, door knocking, phone banking, etc. Hopefully, the Virginia Democratic leadership will take notice! Also, Charlie Jackson, the Democratic political strategist and 10th CD Democratic chair who helped mastermind all this, must have a big smile on his face this morning. 🙂

2. Del. Scott Surovell: Can we say “kingmaker?” He rolled the dice, endorsed Dan Storck over Tim Sargeant for Mt. Vernon District Supervisor, and came out on top last night. Surovell also saw his friend and political ally Paul Krizek sweep to victory. Not too shabby for one evening. Throw in Ben Tribbett as a “winner” here, since he played a role in all this behind the scenes.

3. Team Katie Cristol: Wow, just wow. Cristol came out of nowhere and performed impressively at debates, but she also won the Democratic nomination for Arlington County Board last night because of the strong campaign team behind her (and she also ran a heckuva campaign, let’s face it!). That includes the “Working Families” coalition, of course, but also everyone involved (e.g., her husband, Steve; political strategist Ian Redman, volunteers like Brian Devine) in that effort. Nice job!

4. Team Christian Dorsey: He went into this as a strong favorite to pick up one of the two Arlington County Board Democratic nomination slots, and he did. Mission accomplished by Lauren Hall, Virginia Robinson, Stephanie Clifford, Ingrid Morroy, and the many others involved in this effort. I didn’t endorse Christian, but he’s a really good, sharp guy who should make a fine addition to the Board. Mazel tov!

5. The Stolle Family: The Virginian Pilot headline (“Siobhan Dunnavant wins GOP primary, could become 4th Stolle elected”) says it all on this one.

6. Arlington County Board Member Libby Garvey: I hate putting her on this list, as i view her as a negative, damaging, corrosive force in Arlington politics. Still, she’s got to be happy that the folks most hostile to her lost last night, while someone widely viewed as an ally, Christian Dorsey (for his part, he insists he will be fiercely independent of anyone/everyone, and I hope that’s the case!), won. Not a bad night, all in all.

7. Mike Signer: He was determined to get elected to something (e.g., Lt. Governor in 2009), and he finally did…to the Charlottesville City Council. Signer also recently came out with a book, Becoming Madison: The Extraordinary Origins of the Least Likely Founding Father, and became a father (if not a Founding Father – lol) for the first time. Mazel tov to Mike, who’s definitely in the “winners” category right now.

8. Bill Howell: He could have been the next Eric Cantor, but instead he won resoundingly by working hard, raising tons of money, not taking anything for granted, and did I mention working hard? 🙂

9. Hal Parrish: The Republican nominee in the 29th State Senate District probably has a big smile on his face this morning, after watching the anemic turnout in the Democratic primary yesterday (and also the results).

10. Team Steve Heretick: A superb victory over the seemingly invincible Del. Johnny Joannou (calls himself a “D,” but more of a Republican or even Tea Partier). Nice job!

11. Team Mark Levine: Very impressive, not sure how they did it exactly, but the multi-page mailer they sent out, telling the story of Mark’s heroic efforts to find justice for his murdered sister (and for all women who are victims of domestic violence), has gotten rave reviews. Anyway, great job by Levine’s entire team (particularly campaign manager Jacob Weinberg) in putting together a winning campaign here, despite basically zero establishment support, endorsements, etc.! Also, I’ve got to say, I’m very much looking forward to watching Mark go after far-right-wing lunacy, idiocy, etc. in Richmond. Something tells me I’ll be posting a LOT of Mark Levine video in the coming years. 🙂


1. Terry McAuliffe: He got the candidate he  wanted – Dan Gecker – in the potentially crucial 10th State Senate district (although I have grave doubts that Gecker can motivate the base, in what is clearly a base election, to turn out this November). On the other hand, McAuliffe’s hopes of taking back the State Senate suffered a major blow yesterday, as longtime Democrat Don Caldwell threw his hat in the ring as a third-party candidate against incumbent Democratic Senator John Edwards. If Edwards loses in November, which now appears to be a serious possibility (maybe even a probability), Democrats’ chances of taking back the State Senate are close to zero.

2. Senate Minority Leader Dick Saslaw: Can you lose by winning? Last night, Saslaw got the two candidates – Dan Gecker and Jeremy McPike – he wanted. However, my argument is that both will struggle to win this November for a variety of reasons. Also, see the item about John Edwards above. In short, Saslaw’s chances of becoming Majority Leader again are not looking good right now, even if he doesn’t realize that yet.

3. Lee Hockstader/Washington Post: The Post’s/Lee’s endorsements both hit and missed last night. For instance, Katie Cristol, Paul Krizek and Penny Gross – all of whom the Post/Lee Hockstader endorsed – won last night. On the other hand, Atif Qarni, Craig Fifer, Bill Euille, Peter Fallon and Tim Sargeant – again endorsed by the Post – all lost. So much for the Post’s/Lee Hockstader’s endorsements having much “juice.”

4. Blue Virginia/Yours Truly: Some of my picks (e.g., Paul Krizek, Steve Heretick) won last night, some didn’t (e.g., Peter Fallon, Craig Fifer, Emily Francis, Atif Qarni). Mixed bag, leaning towards the “losers” side.

5. Patrick Hope: Endorsed some winners (Christian Dorsey, Dan Storck, Paul Krizek), endorsed some losers (Peter Fallon, Bill Euille, Julie Jakopic). Mixed bag.


1. Justin Fairfax: Endorsed and worked for four candidates – Michael Futrell, Jack Dobbyn, Clarence Tong and Derrick Wood – all of whom (particularly Futrell, Dobbyn and Wood, all of whom got trounced) lost badly last night. Not much to show for someone who is clearly angling for statewide office in 2017. Oh, and as an added bonus, Fairfax endorsed Mark Cannady against Scott Surovell (!!!). Zero political judgment with this guy.

2. Del. Rob Krupicka: Attempted to annoint his friend Julie Jakopic as his successor in the Virginia House of Delegates; she finished third last night. Also endorsed Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille for reelection; he lost. Also endorsed James Lander for Arlington County Board; he finished fifth. Not a good night for Krupicka, but on the other hand, he gets to make (and presumably sample) doughnuts for a living, rather than having to deal with being in a tiny/powerless House of Delegates minority, sitting in traffic on I-95, etc.

3. Michael Futrell: He got crushed (as expected) last night after running a poor/nonexistent campaign (including a website with all kinds of stuff “borrowed” without attribution from other people’s sites). On the other hand, he might not a total “loser,” because he could end up back in the House of Delegates, given that the candidate who had replaced him on the ballot (Rod Hall) announced he was dropping out. That means Democrats need to find a new nominee in House District 2, and Michael Futrell is (amazingly) one of the possibilities. However, I’m told this morning that this is less likely than I had thought, and I hope that’s the case; time for some new blood here!

4. Tea Party: Definitely didn’t have a good night. First, Tea Partier and all-around rabble rouser Susan Stimpson lost badly (62%-38%) to House Speaker Bill Howell. Second, right-wing nutjob Del. Mark Berg lost to what the Washington Post described as “a more moderate Republican, Christopher E. Collins.” Third, Sen. Emmett Hanger, who committed the heresy of supporting Medicaid expansion in Virginia, easily defeated Tea Partier Dan Moxley. Fourth, Siobhan Dunnavant – who reportedly considered running as a Democrat, even meeting with Dick Saslaw and Donald McEachin to discuss it – defeated “Newt Gingrich staffer Vincent Haley.” Yes, Tea Partier Amanda Chase won last night, but the guy she defeated – Sen. Steve Martin – is about as far right wing as you can get in this country. I’m also told by Dan Sullivan that “the results in Bedford County were a slap in the face to the local TEA Party/Republican Committee. 2 of 3 Supervisors lost to more moderate challengers.” Oh, and as an added bonus. Tea Party-backed “Democrat” Del. Johnny Joannou also lost last night. #FAIL all around for the Tea Partiers.

5. Alex McMurtrie campaign: Spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to finish…dead last, with 19% of the vote. Lame.

6. Team Peter Fallon: What on earth happened here? By most accounts, Fallon was a strong favorite to win one of the two Arlington County Board Democratic nominations, but he somehow ended up finishing third. Something clearly went wrong there, the question is what?

7. John Fredericks: I hadn’t even thought of this one, but a reader emailed me and said, “I’m pretty sure John Fredericks was off by a mile. Picked Joannou, Preston, etc. Not sure he got anything right.” I’d add that Fredericks also slammed Siobhan Dunnavant, who won last night.

8. Adam Ebbin: Endorsed Craig Fifer (finished second to Mark Levine, who Ebbin almost certainly didn’t want to see win, as Levine could eventually challenge him for either State Senate or House of Representatives) and James Lander (finished fifth). Ouch. (note: I’ve been reminded that Ebbin also endorsed Paul Krizek, who won)

9. Mary Margaret Whipple: Endorsed James Lander and Andrew Schneider for Arlington County Board. Both lost.

10. Virginia Sierra Club: Endorsed Peter Fallon for Arlington County Board and Emily Francis for State Senate. Both lost.

11. Grover Norquist: Endorsed Susan Stimpson, lost badly.

12. Mark Obenshain: Endorsed Sen. Steve Martin for reelection, lost.

13. Emily Francis campaign: Was the protoypical progressive, environmentalist, low-budget, netroots-appealing candidate, but almost completely failed to engage with the progressive netroots both in Virginia and nationally. Inexplicable.

14. Arlington Sun Gazette: Endorsed James Lander (finished a distant fifth) and Peter Fallon (finished third) for Arlington County Board. Apparently, Arlington Democrats weren’t swayed in any way by the local paper’s endorsements.

15. “The doors”. Election after election, I am told how important “the doors” are. Yet election after election, I’m not sure I see it. For instance, in this election, door-knocking champ Charlie Conrad supported Clarence Tong, yet Tong fizzled and ended up finishing fourth. Also, Atif Qarni’s campmaign focused heavily on “the doors,” yet turnout was miniscule and Qarni finished second. I’m not arguing against door knocking, I’m arguing FOR a mult-faceted campaign that employs ALL the tools of campaigning – technology, social media, messaging, narrative, smartly targeted direct mail, etc. – in the year 2015. A great example is Scott Surovell, who uses all those tools – door knocks like crazy, is all over social media, you name it – and seems to do nothing but win, win, win some more.

16. Arlington County Board member Jay Fisette: I can’t imagine he’s happy this morning. As one Democratic friend wrote to me this morning, “it’ll be interesting to see the dynamic on the Board with the new set of five.  Makes me wonder if Jay Fisette may call it a day…”

17. Tim Sargeant’s campaign for Mt. Vernon District Supervisor: At the outset, Sargeant was thought by many to be a strong favorite for this seat. He ended up running an underwhelming campaign and lost to a highly flawed opponent, Dan Storck.

18. Del. Mark Sickles, Supervisor Jeff McKay:  McKay got involved (on the losing side) in a primary in a neigboring supervisor’s seat against a guy he’s gotta work with for the next decade. Del. Mark Sickles also endorsed Tim Sargeant over Dan Storck…and lost.

19. Corporate media coverage: With few exceptions, it was shallow, spotty, and just outright lame. What else is new, sadly…

20. Voter turnout: Pathetic as always, even though it’s these primaries that in many/most cases determine who will win in November. Not sure why voters don’t “get” that.

21. Joe Morrissey: Just got this from an astute Virginia Dem political observer – “Morrissey is a big loser. His kingdom is in shambles. Joe Preston lost, Lee Young lost, Preston Brown lost and Alex McMurtrie lost.” Ouch.


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