In his first-ever Facebook Live chat (see video, below), Ben “Not Larry Sabato” on Thursday night had some interesting things to say about politics and his own possible case of COVID-19 in Las Vegas in early February. See below the video for highlights:
- On possibly having COVID-19 in Vegas back in early February: “I think I may have had the the COVID-19, we’ll see; my doctor actually thinks it’s very possible as well. I was in Las Vegas from the end of January until February the 8th. And on the 7th of February, the day I was supposed…to come back here, I got ill in a way… I think I described it to people that day then as something that I’ve definitely never had before. It was entirely respiratory, and when I’ve gotten sick before that had anything respiratory, you know, there’s always a nasal drip there’s congestion, I basically feel like every time I get sick it’s basically the same thing. And whether it’s strep, or whether it was something else …you had a with runny nose you got day with a wet cough, you got a sore throat …like almost every sickness I ever had. This was totally different and it was instantly different, noticeable in the first couple hours how different it was. I had a very strong fever, went back and forth between a fever and chills that day. I was in Las Vegas, it sucked; there’s nothing worse than getting sick when you’re in Vegas. And it was pretty bad. So when I got back here, the next day…I took enough sort of over-the-counter things to get on a plane and and come back. But when I came back here, I didn’t go the doctor for about a week and a half. But I was at home, you know, sort of was home isolating, even though that was not my intent. I didn’t think it was something needed to isolate for that point…I went to the doctor in mid-February, they were still only screening people that had been to Wuhan, so it was not even a question if you weren’t to Wuhan… you weren’t gonna be tested. And so the doctor diagnosed me with viral bronchitis and said it should last about three weeks, maybe upwards of up to five. I’m now I’m week nine, I still have diminished lung function. And one of the reasons that I think that I could have been a sort of early person getting this was that while I was in Las Vegas, there was an international convention going on, 50,000 people for this international concrete convention, which had a lot of people from all over the world, but especially in Asia that were present in Las Vegas for it. So anyway…I’m fine, but looking forward to being able to get that test to find out later on if I did have it previously. Obviously that would be great to be immune from it. But even though I think I had a more mild case…I would not wish it on anybody what I got. It was definitely different than anything I had ever gotten before…”
- On who will be running for Lt. Governor of Virginia in 2021? “I don’t think anyone yet is off and running for 2021. It’s not a great time to get started on a statewide campaign. It would be really hard to raise money or do any of the things that you have to do to get a campaign going. So I don’t think anyone is off and running yet. I expect, you know, we have four candidates running for governor and the the two legislators that are running, I’m not sure if they will be able to put together enough of a structure and campaigns to be sort of credible in that field. And so I wouldn’t be surprised to see either one of them drop back to run to Lieutenant Governor. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a number of people who are on local government now try to move up and run. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some people from outside of elected office run. And of course…every member of the General Assembly wants to rumor themselves every four years for when this is open, that’s an entry-level position for statewide office. I expect we’ll see a big field for that.”
- On campaigning during coronavirus: “I don’t know that while this is ongoing or
right after it goes on, that anybody wants someone knocking on their door, that anyone wants all those traditional campaign things, having events in their home. Can
you imagine being asked right now to host a fundraiser in your home and open
up to you know sort of 40 to 50 people…do you want 40 to 50 people in your home where one of them could be not only infecting the others but bringing things into your home. I don’t think anyone would want that right now. So the idea of a traditional fundraiser to me is like almost off for the year.”
- On who might be the top GOP statewide contenders in 2021: If Democrats win the White House in 2020, “I think 2021 is going to be a year where we might see a Republican resurgence in our state…I don’t know how much they will have a resurgence in the House of Delegates…just because I think… the candidate recruitment for Republicans is going to be really hard in 2021, especially if they face a loss in the presidential election; it’s going to discourage people, they’re going to be down and then they’re not going to know their district lines, because we’re not going to know until very late in the year what those districts even look like. And those two factors together probably make it hard for Republicans to do well in the general assembly seats. But in the statewide election, I think they probably…I think you will see at least one, if not a couple, Republicans winning statewide.”
- On how the 2020 U.S. House races in Virginia might go: “I think we probably
retain all of the ones for the Democrats…You look at the three pickups; obviously the four Democrats that were in Congress before are going to all be reelected. The three pickups that we had in , I don’t think anyone thinks that the Republicans have any chance at taking out Jennifer Wexton in Northern Virginia in this environment. I think the Elaine Luria is in a very strong position, especially given that you know with Scott Taylor running, she’s gonna draw a very weak opponent…so she’s in very good shape. Spanberger probably is the biggest question mark. The Republicans, though, haven’t even figured out yet at all how did how they’re gonna do their conventions…now the Republicans may have to do virtual conventions – I think that’s going to lead to incredible divisiveness and make it very difficult for where they have contested conventions to come out on the other side.”
- On who might win the Democratic nomination for governor in 2021: “First of all, I think that…you got five candidates for governor right now. That’s not going to last, people are going to drop back. My big question mark on the 2021 field for the Democrats is, I don’t think that Mark Herring will survive in the governor’s race…I’m really really confident of that. And so, will he drop back to run for attorney general? Will anyone primary him if he does that? How long will he wait to make that announcement? I think that’s…my big question mark…”
- On 2021 more broadly: “What makes it so hard and so difficult to predict right now is usually what would happen as you come out of the the General Assembly session of the year before or statewide election and that’s when you see people starting to announce for statewide office for the next year…Because of what’s going on with COVID, noone’s sort of starting up their campaigns, and I expect what that will lead to is something very similar to 2001…the Democrats had a ticket of Mark Warner and Emily Couric…a state Senator from Charlottesvile, unoppposed for the nomination for Lt. Governor, a superb candidate..she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the summer of 2000…dropped out of the campaign…so because of that timeline…there were no candidates, this was in the late summer of 2000 for the 2001 primary, and that’s when three people jumped in that race…Alan Diamonstein…Jerrauld Jones…Tim Kaine…I expect that’s more what you will see this time…people jumping in later…It’s a lot easier to make a quick run than a long run…an 18-month campaign’s a lot more expensive than a 6-month campaign…I thnk we’re going to see a lot of candidates…a very crowded Republican field, very crowded Democratic field…This is going to be an election where you’re going to see sort of the next generation assert itself of who is that next generation.”
- On who the Dems’ best bet is to keep the governorship in 2021: “We have
five candidates right now. You’ve got the lieutenant governor’s running, Justin Fairfax; I don’t think that he will be successful, I think if he’s nominated the Republicans would certainly pick up the seat. Mark Herring the Attorney General’s an announced candidate; I don’t know how much longer that will last, but I don’t think that he will stay in that campaign. And so then you’re left with the two Jennifers who are both state legislators – Jennifer McClellan, state senator, longtime Virginia politico; Jennifer Carroll Foy, who’s a younger, more up-and-coming delegate. I don’t see them putting together state-wide campaigns. So I think for right now, my gut says that Terry McAuliffe will probably be the Democratic candidate. But I wouldn’t be surprised to see some of those people I just mentioned get out and to see some other fresh faces get in. And I think you could see a fresh face get some traction in this election, but it has to be a fresh face that has some more experience and more statewide name ID or ability to sort of get it than sort of a run-of-the-mill legislator.”
And lots more, including who the biggest Virginia political a**hole is (Ben thinks it’s possible that Jerry Falwell, Jr. could win this year, with Justin Fairfax also a major competitor); sports; Fairfax County; criminal justice; TV shows; etc.
P.S. I agree with most of that, including the 2020 and 2021 political analysis. How about you?