Sunday, July 25, 2021
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Reflections on a Firehouse Primary

Today's story about the firehouse primary held yesterday in Roanoke City should center on the victory of Sam Rasoul, who won a four-way primary race by beating Councilman David Trinkle by 44 votes. That would be the story if Mayor David Bowers hadn't lost his cool when the candidate he endorsed, Trinkle, lost. Instead, the story has become the dismaying comments Bowers made to the Roanoke Times

Bowers insinuated that there were somehow dirty tricks involved in the primary. "The things I've heard that may have happened over the last couple of days are dirty and despicable and cause me to question the legitimacy of this nomination," he said.

All I can figure out is that Bowers somehow thinks Republicans interfered to insure victory for a weaker candidate than Trinkle. Others involved disagreed, including Trinkle himself. Trinkle told the Times that he thought it was "a pretty good Democratic day." Additionally, Onzlee Ware called Bowers' remarks "regrettable," noting that as a long-time office holder he knew better than to make unsubstantiated charges.

The turnout for the primary was about twice what was expected - 2,632. Evidently, that set Bowers off. David Bowers has been notorious in the past for making rather outrageous claims, but I thought he had outgrown that "foot-in-mouth disease." I guess not. The job of Democratic office holders now is to do everything to insure that Del. Ware's seat stays in Democratic hands, not to provide ammunition to Rasoul's Republican opponent.

There is another way to read the large turnout.

Bowers as LG? I Don’t Think So

David Bowers, Roanoke's mayor, says he is mulling a run for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor. According to Bowers, he's been asked by "longtime friends of mine in the Democratic Party from other parts of the state" to run for the nomination next year.

"As the Democratic ticket's developing, it appears to be a Northern Virginia ticket, and so they were suggesting that maybe the ticket needs some geographic balance to it," Bowers said.

I've known David for a long time. He served on Roanoke City Council a couple of terms, was elected mayor for two terms, then lost the office, regaining it eight years later by running as an independent against Nelson Harris, a fellow Democrat. He was re-elected last year as a Democrat. His only foray out of city politics was in 1998 against Bob Goodlatte for the 6th District congressional seat, a race he lost resoundingly, not carrying a single locality.

The party will choose its candidates for state-wide office next year in a primary. My advice to David is very concise: "Don't run. You'll lose" There are good reasons that Democratic tickets aren't likely to have candidates from central or southwest Virginia. First, there are few elected Democrats left from Lynchburg and west to vie for higher office. Plus, the votes in the area can't come close to those from northern Virginia or Hampton Roads, almost guaranteeing that candidates like Bowers will lose in a primary. And, let's not forget rural candidate Creigh Deeds' disastrous run for statewide office.

Right now, the only Democrat seeking the lieutenant governor nomination is Aneesh Chopra, secretary of technology under Tim Kaine and later federal chief technology officer in the Obama administration.  Chopra is wisely visiting Roanoke today to meet with Democratic party leaders since he is a complete unknown here.

Perhaps someone else can think of a viable Democratic candidate from the western half of the state. The only name I come up with is Tom Perriello.