Demography is not destiny for Virginia Democrats. Short term increases in Virginia's minority population will have only a minor impact on the state's politics. Long term projections have focused on Virginia's growing Hispanic and Asian-American populations, with little emphasis on Virginia's large existing African-American community. Nationally, strong African-American support for President Obama and Democrats has been a linchpin for progressive victories. But it's hard to look at Virginia and feel the same way. For now.
As Democrats prepare for spring and a forecast of snow, here are thirteen districts where Democrats could win but still need a Democratic candidate.
There are six Republican-held districts that voted for President Barack Obama in 2012 and in 2008 that do not have a Democratic challenger right now. Do you live there? Run! Know someone? Tell them to run! Call your mother, your aunt, your college room mate. If you have heard rumors of potential candidates let me know. And let them know to file the damn paperwork!
13th District: Bob Marshall
2012 Obama Vote: 55%
2008 Obama Vote: 55%
Bob Marshall doesn't just represent a district that voted Democratic in the last two presidential elections, he represents a district that gave President Barack Obama 55% of the vote. His district was made more Democratic under redistricting, but the rapidly growing population does not always turn out in off-year elections. The coordinated campaign should be covering this as part of the strategy of turning out Obama supporters in the off year. All that is needed now is a candidate!
50th District: Jackson Miller
2012 Obama Vote: 54%
2008 Obama Vote: 53%
Second verse, same as the first, a little bit louder, a little bit worse. The situation here is similar to Bob Marshall, but with a slightly less crazy Republican. Obama-district, check. Lots of new voters, check. Candidate? Not yet.
Back in 2005 Republican Anne Crockett-Stark knocked off incumbent Democrat Bennie Keister in the 6th District. Keister had been barely holding onto office in the first place, winning the open seat in 2001 with 51% of the vote and winning reelection in 2003 by just 49 votes. In both races Keister had a significant financial edge over his Republican challengers, so it's no surprise that when Republicans targeted the race heavily in 2005 and outspent him they pulled off the win.
Let's take a look at Keister's performance.
It's just days away from the candidate filing deadline for the Virginia House of Delegates. Many Southwest localities have a tradition of conventions, not primaries, so the impending doom facing Virginia Democrats may actually be delayed beyond March 28th. But from this vantage point Virginia Democrats are starting out from way behind in Southwest Virginia. Longtime popular Democrat Joe Johnson has called it quits, getting out while he's still ahead.
Here's how bad this news is for the Democrats.
Bill Bolling, the last best hope of independent Virginians, has declared that he will not be running as an Independent candidate in this year's Virginian Gubernatorial election. The field is now set between Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who has politicized his office and is a characterchure of Tea Party radicals, and former DNC Chairman Terry McAullife, who has never held an office to politicize and is a characterchure of snake oil hucksterism. The only way that either could ever become Governor is if the other were their opponent.
Virginia has fallen a long, long way from statesmen like Thomas Jefferson.
McAuliffe is already positioning himself as a centrist, a corporate sellout to the Big Boys in Virginia, in order to win over the business community and drive Cuccinelli to the radical fringe of the electorate. Here's McAullife on uranium now that Bolling is out.
"Any economic proposal in these tough times merits a hard look. However, I would need to be certain that mining uranium can be done safely and cleaned up completely before a moratorium is lifted."
McAuliffe added Tuesday, "So far I have not seen that."
"So far" McAullife hasn't seen the evidence he needs, but somehow the proposal still "merits a hard look." His campaign is providing just enough of a qualification to his support to keep the support of environmentalists in Virginia, the already beaten and abused stepchild of the Democratic Party. But he's opening the door once as Governor to push through an end to the moratorium.
Bolling was the last best hope Virginians had to run an unapologetic opponent of uranium mining, uniting both environmentalists and concerned Republicans in Southside and Hampton Roads.
Environmentalists have been up in arms over a proposed "Prius tax" in the new transportation package, but except for a few wise Northern Virginia Democrats like Scott Surovell and Adam Ebbin no one seems too worried about the new tax. Increasing taxes on hybrids was in the transportation package from the start, don't listen to idiot Democrats like huckster Donald McEachin, and Democrats like Dick Saslaw ensured that it would be kept in. Where is McAullife on this issue and why is he so silent in the face of such popular outrage? Tea Party radicals are killing efforts to promote Virginian tourism and prepare for sea-level rises from global warming. But is the silence from leading Virginia Democrats any less crazy?
Today I am launching my new political blog, The Real Crystal Ball. A big reason for this blog is to clear the air following the reelection of President Barack Obama and his second victory in the Old Dominion. Gleeful Virginia Democrats looking ahead to Terry McAuliffe's ascension to the title of "His Excellency" are in danger of having the Governor's Mansion pulled away from them at the last second, like Charlie Brown trusting Lucy just one more time to hold the ball. In this case the role of Lucy is being played by the Commonwealth's ever-changing electorate, which has jerked back and forth between Democrats and Republicans so many times in the last eight years political pundits are developing whiplash. Today's lesson is to clear up the belief that demography is destiny in the Old Dominion.