Virginia's Status for 2005

There was a recent special election in Virginia to replace Republican Thelma Drake, who was elected to Congress. The Democrats campaigning for their candidate included Gov. Warner, and the Republicans campaigning for their candidate included Sen. Allen, so the stakes were raised quite a bit. The Democrat, former television reporter Paula Miller won by 97 votes over Republican conservative activist Michael Ball:Ball, a Republican activist and financial adviser, campaigned as a staunch anti-tax conservative and criticized Warner's push for a tax increase last session. Miller lauded the tax effort as a necessary budget-balancing move....

Grover Norquist, the leader of Americans for Tax Reform, said that Ball lost because he wasn't anti-tax enough. After the race, Norquist issued a news release accusing Ball of having run as a pro-tax Republican. "Ball refused to make the race a referendum on taxes by signing the Taxpayers Protection Pledge," Norquist said.

Norquist was pretty upset about losing this special election, especially given how Warner and the Virginia Democrats have been able to defeat the GOP since 2001 by framing the tax increases of Virginia in terms of fiscal and social responsibility, and they are more than worried about facing the Democratic Lt Gov Tim Kaine in 2005, and what another Governor victory would mean for Virginia Democrats (and Warner) going forward.
This Pledge about ending taxes are front and center what Norquist is about: First, there was The Pledge.

When he was 14 years old, Norquist says, he thought about the value of branding the Republican Party with a simple message: No new taxes. Sixteen years later, as head of a new group called Americans for Tax Reform, Norquist created the Taxpayer Protection Pledge: "I pledge to the taxpayers ... that I will oppose and vote against any and all efforts to increase taxes." Period.

Now, 210 House members, 37 senators, 1,200 state legislators and seven governors have signed The Pledge, which is seen by some as powerful politics and by others as a campaign stunt that ties lawmakers' hands.

That Warner has figured out how to beat Republicans in Virginia over the issue of taxes (the GOP's signature brand), means that chatter (Will Virginia governor be Dems' Person of Year in 2008?) about Warner's chances for the WH are inevitable. For now, Warner's right to be focused on 2005, as that's the prize that's going to raise his chances. As for the Governor election between Lt. Gov Kaine (D) and AG Jerry Kilgore, it's taxes and gay marriage again for the GOP. They tried to tar Kaine on them in 2001 (1, 2, 3) as well as against Warner:On the radio ad, which is aimed primarily at Warner, a man and woman talk about the Democratic candidates' views on the death penalty, abortion, gun control, welfare legislation, and same-sex marriage.

"One of [them] wants to legalize gay marriage in Virginia," the man says.

"Wait," the woman replies. "Gay marriage in Virginia?"

"Oh, you haven't heard the worst of it," the man adds. "Mark Warner opposed welfare reform and he opposed the abolition of parole for violent felons."

Nevertheless, Kilgore is at it again:Kaine and Kilgore also sparred in a bitter set of social-issue exchanges 11 months before the Nov. 8 election decides their well-funded campaigns for governor. The attorney general amplified his charge that Kaine is "John Kerry with a Richmond address" and would be too liberal for Virginia on the social issues of gay rights and capital punishment.

"Virginia voters will learn that he was an ACLU lawyer," Kilgore said in a preview of his campaign attacks. "They will learn that he not only opposes the death penalty but he has actually represented death row inmates, those who escaped from prison. They'll learn that he ... opposed our efforts to end the barbaric practice known as partial-birth abortion, and they'll learn that he supported even higher tax increases than the governor and the General Assembly imposed."

Engineering social division and starving societal services, it's all the Republicans got. Here's an early video pitch by Kaine for the netroots. I've not seen polls done to date. Kaine is going to be tough to defeat though, especially given he's strong in the Richmond area, and Warner's popularity is high.

Update: I do have some poll numbers, thanks to an emailer.

Mason-Dixon, 10/01/04:

Kaine 35
Kilgore 40

Richmond Times-Dispatch/NBC 12 12/01/04:

Kaine 25
Kilgore 34

Tags: Governor 2005-6 (all tags)

Comments

20 Comments

Leadership
The Dems in Virgina have been able to capture the leadership mantle. Good for them.
by sam89 2004-12-29 03:07PM | 0 recs
Virginia Is The New Model For the South
Gov. Mark Warner burst onto the political scene in 1996 when he challenged Sen. John Warner (no relation) as part of a group of wealthy, self-funders that were heavily recruited by the Democratic party in that election cycle. While Gov. Warner ultimately lost that race, he stayed involved in the Virginia political scene both as a potential candidate as well as a backer of such healthcare, and small business projects. When then-Lt. Gov Donald Beyer lost the 1997 Governor's race to Jim Gilmore, many thought all hope was lost about the Democrats regaining their statewide foothold. Things got worse, in 2000 Sen. Chuck Robb lost to Fmr. Gov. George Allen, and in 2001 Sen. Emily Couric (who was a rising star in Virginia politics and an oft-mentioned name of a Lt. Gov. candidate) passed away. So within 2 years, the Democrats lost an incredible amount of power, both houses of the legislature, and held no statewide seats. In stepped Mark Warner who not only had money, but political contacts in and out of Virginia from his 1996 Senate run to his numerous business and civic dealings. Also, Warner ran an aggressive, statewide campaign that not only targeted the usual Democratic consituencies, Northern Virginia around DC, blacks, cities, etc. but also spent considerable time and resources in the rural areas and all over the state. It paid off as Warner won an incredible amount of counties and constituencies (albeit by thin margins) that Democrats had not won in a generation. Furthermore he was running with Tim Kaine, the aggressive and out front mayor of Richmond who happened to also be the son-in-law of the first modern Republican Governor Linwood Holton. Holton is revered up in the hills of SW Virginia, with Mark Warner looking like Chuck Robb in his early days, suddenly Democrats were fashionable again. It also did not help that Gov. Gilmore went to war with his own party in the VA Senate and the resultant budget impasse created alot of negative drama for Republicans. Over the last 3 years Gov. Warner has aggressively with both Democrats and the Republican majorities in both legislative brancehs to craft budget compromises. Winning praise from various groups - and giving Warner an unprecendeted level of popularity.

Virginia is the last state to mandate one-term only Governors, if it was not so Warner likely would have cruised to reelection and probably helped Democrats downballot in the process. However in 2005 the likely Democratic candidate is Lt. Gov. Kaine who will enjoy the popularity of the Warner administration as well as his own accomplishments. The Republican candidate will likely be Atty. Gen. Jerry Kilgore who has been careful not to clash with Warner as much as he might like as not to appear to be constantly opposing the popular Warner administration.

There is speculation as to whether Gov. Warner will challenge Sen. Allen in 2006. If he did, he would likely give Sen. Allen (who was also a Governor himself) a run for his money, though it would be a 50-50 race at least at the start. A more viable option would be to wait until 2008 when Sen. John Warner is likely to retire and the seat will be open. As was the case in 1988, Gov. Warner who if was as popular as Chuck Robb then, could almost walk into the seat.

What this all means is that 3 years ago we had all but written off Virginia as a Democratic wilderness but suddenly it is proven to be a great example of Democrats winning in an unnatural if not unfriendly environment.

by southerndemnut 2004-12-29 03:43PM | 0 recs
Re: Virginia Is The New Model For the South
I like the way Mark Warner runs his elections. Even in his first run, against a Senator John Warner, he nearly won. I covered his Gov election in 2001 extensively, and he won going away. I don't know if he'll run for President or not, but he could easily take the by-then 81 year old John Warner's Senate seat in 2008, regardless of whether Warner retires. 2006, against Allen, would be a hell of a battle.
by Jerome Armstrong 2004-12-29 03:51PM | 0 recs
The Numbers
like the way Mark Warner runs his elections. Even in his first run, against a Senator John Warner, he nearly won.

I've spent a lot of time studying Warner's numbers, and they're amazing.  They most closely correspond with those of successful statewide Republicans and Doug Wilder.  I don't how to replicate them, but I do know that it wouldn't be easy.

-Waldo Jaquith

by Waldo Jaquith 2004-12-29 04:08PM | 0 recs
Taxes Will Not Work in Virginia In 2005
Taxes will likely not be the issue that propels a Republican back into the Governor's mansion in 2005 in Virginia. If anything it will be that Virginia is more or less a Republican state now overall and it takes an exceptional Democrat to win. When Gov. Warner took office in January of 2002, the state was facing a financial crisis, a budget impasse, and an aura of hostility inherited from his predecessor who literall went to war with his own party in the VA Senate. While few people will ever we able to achieve 100% popularity, Warner has won plaudits from Democrats and Republicans alike on his handling of the budget impasse and the tax situation. Warner's proposed plan actually fell somewhat less than some of the Republican plans that were floated around.

So while Republicans will almost always bring up taxes as an issue in any given election, it having traction in 2005 is dubious. For to attack Warner/Kaine on taxes and the budget would be tantamount to attacking your own party as the budget was adopted by healty majorities on both sides.

by southerndemnut 2004-12-29 03:49PM | 0 recs
More Details
There are some dynamics to the upcoming Virginia races that merit further discussion.  I'm a Virginian (living in the New River Valley for the past 1.5 years, just moved home to Charlottesville last week, have worked on two 5th District campaigns, so I know Southside), which may color things a bit, but I feel strongly that Virginia is a very, very important place for us to focus our energies for November of '05.  As you know, there are only two notable elections then -- us, and New Jersey.  We can take back a bunch of seats in Virginia, and hold onto at least our two statewide seats while we're at it, but we'll need some help.

My apologies for the self-links to my blog.  I've been blogging since 1996 -- it's where I dump my brain.

1. The Shift Right
As with national politics, Virginia has undergone a huge rightward shift in the past few years.  This is because our previous governor, Jim Gilmore (former chair of the RNC) campaigned on the promise of eliminating the car tax.  The car tax is a regressive tax that probably should go, and he won the race on that sole point.  Now, the deal with the car tax is that it's actually levied by localities, under state authority, and, along with property tax, provides a huge chunk of localities' revenues.  Well, as Gilmore's his four-year term wound up in '01, it became clear that the economy was crumbling.  Still, he kept his phased roll-back of the car tax going, and actually fudged the books to fake it.  He had the department of taxation hold off on issuing refund checks for income taxes until after the annual budget cycle had gone through, so that he could make like the state budget was in good shape.  During Gilmore's term, there was significant turnover in the legislature, resulting in a rather large number of freshman and sophomore Republicans appearing on his watch.  All these guys felt the need to defend the Gilmore economic logic in which 1+1=5.  The result was that there was a huge shift to the right in the party.

2. The Republican Split
When Mark Warner was elected in 2001, he was elected as a centrist Democrat, running on his business experience and his ability to do a crappy job that nobody else wanted to do: fixing the broken state budget.  He spent his first two years slashing the hell out of the budget, just gutting programs, no matter how essential.  He had to do this in '02 (we have a biannual budgeting process and a part-time legislature that meets for a 45-60 days every winter) because he knew that he couldn't muster the support in the Republican-dominated General Assembly for a tax increase.  The state suffered.  Badly.  Education, mental health, public safety...everything.

By late '03, people were desperate to have their taxes raised.  Warner proposed doing so, along with nearly every Democrat in the General Assembly.  The battle was long, and very ugly.  The General Assembly session ran way, way over.  A great tug-of-war emerged between Republicans.  There were those sophomore Republicans who believed that any tax hike was wrong and all tax cuts were good.  (And those Republican seeking higher office who took the same stance.)  And then there were those genuine Republicans, who knew that sound fiscal policy meant funding our obligations.  One Republican, Sen. Chichester, actually proposed a bigger tax hike than Gov. Warner supported.  The resulting budget was in between the two -- still seriously underfunding state obligations, but improving things dramatically.

After that session, half of the Republicans declared a war on the other half, saying that any Republican who raised taxes was as good as dead.  That was when Grover Norquist stuck his head into things.  Now, if there's one thing that nobody likes in Virginia, it's somebody from outside of Virginia telling us what to do.  Norquist is no different.  Still, he established his Virginia's Least Wanted -- a list of the 19 Republican delegates and 19 Virginia senators who supported the tax increase.  These fiscally-responsible delegates were declared to be RINOs -- Republicans In Name Only.  (Which is quite far from the truth, of course.)

The next session is in two weeks.  It's not a budget session, but it will bring another showdown between these two factions.

3. The Traits of Tim Kaine and Jerry Kilgore
Jerry Kilgore, by virtue of being the attorney general, is more well known than Tim Kaine, but not by much.  (Like, 19% name recognition vs. 12%, or something along those lines.)  Still, the position of Lieutenant Governor isn't worth a bucket of warm piss (to paragraphs Cactus Jack), and so Kilgore is using his position to make a name for himself while Kaine's in a tougher position in that regard.

Now, Kaine's from Richmond.  That's a big minus.  Most of Virginia has nothing to do with Richmond, and doesn't trust the city on the whole.  Virginia is a really huge state -- it goes further west than Detroit -- and people in Southwest Virginia may go their whole lives without coming within 100 miles of Richmond, and be the better for it.  In Virginia, in a statewide race, there are no bonus points awarded for being from Richmond.  Kilgore, on the other hand, is from from Southwest Virginia, making him a Real Virginian™.  He's got a southern accent (more on that later) and is from a well-known family down that way.

Kaine is a solid speaker -- he speaks off the cuff, and well -- whereas Kilgore leaves a bit to be desired.  Kilgore has very, very rarely spoken in public on the record, at least under circumstances where his voice can be recorded for broadcast.  There is one simple reason for this: Jerry Kilgore is very, very effeminate.  People hearing him speak for the first time are often shocked, to the point at which they don't even pay attention to what he's saying, because it seems so very obvious that he's a gay man.  I can't say whether he's gay or not, but I can say that he exhibits all of the stereotypical traits of an effeminate gay man, and that will not play well in Virginia.  The media have picked up on this, with the Staunton News Leader referring to "the `Ned Flanders meets Mr. Rogers' whine that passes for Kilgore's voice," and the Hampton Roads Daily Press saying that Kilgore "left the appearance of being a little, well, French."  Papers have been reluctant to come right out and say it -- though that's changing -- in part because it's just so obvious.  It would be as if a candidate had a huge, hairy mole sprouting out of the tip of their nose, such that anybody seeing him could think only of that.  What's to say?

This is Kilgore's big weak spot.  Kaine's campaign will never exploit it, so surrogates must do so on his behalf.

4. The Issues of the Governor's Race
The death penalty will likely be the big one.  Kilgore is in favor of expanding the death penalty in two ways.  First, he wants people to be put to death for simply being present at murders, or closely associating with those who did the murdering, such as the person who drives the getaway car for a bank robbery gone wrong.  Second, he wants for judges to be able to throw out a jury's verdict if they return a sentence of life in prison when they could have ordered death.  Both are insane, and both have earned him a round drubbing from the Virginian Pilot and the Washington Post.  Meanwhile, Kaine opposes the death penalty on religious grounds, saying that it's anti-Christian, but says that he wouldn't bring an end to it as governor.  Kilgore is using the death penalty to make him look strong (to compensate, I'd say), and using it as a weapon against Kaine.  There is no state progressive religious group to stand up on Kaine's behalf, unfortunately.

The budget may be another big one, but we'll have to see how this session goes.  Kaine has sided with the spend-but-don't-tax fruitcakes in the General Assembly, putting him in Bush and Norquist's court, and pitting him against genuine Republicans.  (More on that below.)

Eavesdropping may be another issue.  Several of Kilgore's closest staffers and allies have been caught up in an eavesdropping scandal.  It appears that all of them took the fall and protected Kilgore.  The 33 Democratic plaintiffs have settled with the Republicans for $750,000, but discovery of new information may still happen between now and November.

4. Sidenotes
Sen. George Allen (R) (who Gov. Warner may well run against in '06) has hired Dick Wadhams, who we all know for his work running John Thune's campaign.  He is a pitbull, and a bad man, and his entrance into Virginia politics takes things up a notch.  Then there's Jerry Kilgore's hiring of Scott Howell.  We all know Howell for his work as a media strategist for Thune, Jim DeMint, Sen. Norm Coleman, Sen. Jim Talent, and Sen. Saxby Chambliss.  Yes, Scott Howell is the guy who created and executed the Cleland-loves-terrorists campaign that won Chambliss the seat.  Again, that takes things up a notch in Virginia.

Also, there is talk of Republican Sen. H. Russell Potts running for governor as an independent.  Potts is one of these Republicans who are aware of how a budget should work, and his announcement came just after Kilgore jumped onto the Norquist bandwagon.  Potts isn't announcing anything just yet, but if the backlash against Norquist's involvement in Virginia poisons Kilgore enough, Potts will jump in.  This would be very good for Tim Kaine, of course.

5. Conclusion
There is a shuffling in Virginia.  A reassignment is taking place.  Will radical Republicans win, or genuine conservatives?  Or will we Democrats have the wherewithal to divide and conquer, taking advantage of the split in the Republican Party?  Will Allen and/or Warner move up to run for the presidency?  Will Republicans hold onto the attorney general seat?  Might they gain governor and lieutenant governor?  Or will Democrats seize attorney general?  Will we make any headway in the House of Delegates election in '05, since all of those seats are up, preying on those Republicans on the "Virginia's Least Wanted" list?  Or will we support those Republicans, knowing that they're doing the right thing, and squander the opportunity?  Will Virginia be a staging ground -- a rehearsal -- for '06 and '08?  Or might we actually be an incubator for those races?

In short, this is Kilgore's race, right now.  Kaine can take it over, but this is just a single race that's part of what may become a very powerful state, politically-speaking, in the next couple of years.  The state Democratic Party is underfunded and overworked, and can't coordinate or even pay for all of the work that needs to be done.

What will you do?

-Waldo Jaquith
 http://waldo.jaquith.org/

by Waldo Jaquith 2004-12-29 04:03PM | 0 recs
Re: More Details
Now, Kaine's from Richmond.  That's a big minus.

That seems an over-statement, at least from the point of view of how a Democrat might win in Virginia. Remember, Kaine won in 2001, and it wasn't Warner coattails that pulled him over, or otherwise Kilgore wouldn't not be AG.

Granted, you know the state much more than I do, but when I looked at Kaine's numbers, you had the typical NOVA slant Dem, and the rest slant GOP, but in the Richmond area, Kaine won bigger than is usual for the Democratic candidate, pushing him over the top. He's not going to win in W VA anyway, but he will in NOVA, and if he combines that with bigger than normal numbers in Richmond, that's his ticket, as it was in 2001. You might have reason to point out what I'm not seeing though...

by Jerome Armstrong 2004-12-29 04:21PM | 0 recs
Re: More Details
Kilgore ran against Donald McEachin a black legislator from Richmond. McEachin, in my opinion, was somewhat of a hapless candidate who consistently lagged behind both Warner and Kaine in 2001. A better candidate would have been McEachin's primary opponent Sen. John Edwards (no relation to the NC John Edwards) who hailed from Roanoke and could have balanced the ticket geographically. That is not to say a black could not win in VA, Douglas Wilder did twice in the 1980s, and is now Richmond's mayor.

Coming from Richmond might not be as positive as something else, but is far less of a liability than coming from NoVa which is probably majority non-native born.

Then again I think the whole classic struggle that once defined Virginia is over. NoVa was once viewed upon by many in the rest of the state as matastisizing mass growing down into the state threatening to do harm. However Virginia is growing rapidly and changing, not just in NoVa, but all across the state enough that politics is no longer us versus them but rather how fast to move forward.

by southerndemnut 2004-12-29 04:58PM | 0 recs
Good Point
Coming from Richmond might not be as positive as something else, but is far less of a liability than coming from NoVa which is probably majority non-native born.

Quite true.  People from Northern Virginia may as well be from New York City.  I'm a progressive raised (for a time) in Europe, and I don't trust Northern Virginia politicians. :)

To return to Jerome's earlier query, I think it's true that being from Richmond earns Kaine the Richmond vote, which is well and good, but I think that's offset by the loss in votes throughout the rest of the state that comes from being from Richmond.  All other things being equal, a candidate from Wise County will beat a candidate from Richmond.  Of course, all other things are never equal, so it's all academic. :)

-Waldo Jaquith

by Waldo Jaquith 2004-12-29 05:16PM | 0 recs
Re: Good Point
i live in richmond :)

democrats always take the richmond vote, the city is a majority non-white.  more people live in the suburbs around richmond than in richmond city, and the majority of those people are republicans.  kaine's recognition there may be a plus for him.  richmond is almost like the middle ground between NoVa and the rest of virginia(the sticks and the tidewater region)

by inst 2004-12-29 11:01PM | 0 recs
Re: Good Point
That was my take too, so from a Democratic candidates vantage, being from Richmond, a base with influence on many Republicans, seems to be about as good a position as Kaine could get going into this.
by Jerome Armstrong 2004-12-30 05:57AM | 0 recs
Re: More Details
Virginia has always had a history of three-way politics going as far back as I can remember, and farther back even more as I read in history. Sure every state has various factions at one time or another, but Virginia was unique in that it often spilled over to the elections themselves. That accelerated rapidly when the old Byrd Democratic machine began to fall apart in the late 1960s. So much so that in the 1973 Gubernatorial race there was no Democratic candidate at all, but rather the Republican candidate was former Democratic Governor Mills Godwin versus outspoken 'populist' Henry Howell who ran as an Independent. In 1994 Oliver North ran against Sen. Chuck Robb as a hard-right candidate, while Marshall Coleman, a Republican, ran as a third-party candidate supported by many Republicans who couldn't stomach North's brand of politics. Fmr. Gov. Douglas Wilder also contemplated running as a third-party candidate against Robb, there was no love lost between them, but ultimately did not and belatedly endorsed Robb.

I am not so sure that the race is Kilgore's to lose entirely. The Virginia election will take place in the fall of 2005, not under the backdrop of a national political campaign like in the even years, and will be confined largely to Virginia. I would agree that Kilgore likely starts out with the obvious advantage that is a Republican in a conservative state. However, due to the issues stated above, the general popularity of Warner's administration, and other factors there is not a ready Democrat-vs-Republican argument at play. Kaine could very easily do what Al Gore should have done in running after Bill Clinton, embrace the good things that came over the last 4 years and tackle the challenges that are left to be dealt with.

Yes, I was excited to see how Gov. Warner's campaign unfolded in 2001. Not because of 9/11 but because he was able to recognize all of the elements needed to win. Virginia is not natural territory for Democrats to win, but we can, we did, and we will again.

by southerndemnut 2004-12-29 04:45PM | 0 recs
"To Lose"
I am not so sure that the race is Kilgore's to lose entirely.

Oh, I'm not either -- I deliberately avoided using that phrase.  This race has not begun to shake out yet, and it remains to be seen what sort of a form that it will take.  Kaine did very well in his first debate with Kilgore (columnists and the media generally agreed that Kaine won handily) and, if I have anything to say about it (and, thankfully, I do), surrogate groups are going to pop up to support Kaine's anti-death penalty stance, attack Kilgore for being anti-Christian, portray Kilgore as a Norquist sycophant, stir things up regarding the eavesdropping case, and work to make Kilgore look weak.

But again, you're right, it's certainly not Kilgore's race to lose.  He certainly has the upper hand right now, though, and he's setting the agenda.

-Waldo Jaquith

by Waldo Jaquith 2004-12-29 05:22PM | 0 recs
Kilgore's Presentation...
...the guy is just not ready for prime time (I think I'm stealing that phrase from the Kaine campaign). His eye-rolling at the AP debate earlier this month was ridiculous.

This Kaine fundraising video shows a few great clips of Kilgore being an immature jackass.

by redsoxkangaroo 2004-12-30 08:37AM | 0 recs
Re: More Details
I agree with a lot of what you have to say.  But I do have a few bones to pick.  

  1.  The Shift Right --  I think it would be more accurate to say that the Republican Party has shifted sharply to the right in the past few years.  I'm not sure you could argue that the state, as a whole, has shifted to the right.  The Republicans' knee-jerk, extremist reaction to the fiscal crisis of the last session is the perfect example of their shift to the right.  Warner's ultimate success in pushing through the necessary budget changes and coming out of it with higher-than-ever approval ratings proves that, overall, the people of Virginia want common-sense leadership rather than extreme conservative dogma.

  2.  The Republican Split -- You've hit this one on the head.  The ongoing division between the extreme fiscal conservatives and the moderate Republicans is an interesting dynamic that will play out over the course of this election cycle.  Hopefully, the recent victory of DemocratPaula Miller in the 87th District will help convince Republicans that their reactionary anti-tax rhetoric is not going to work.  But it probably won't

  3.  The Traits of Tim Kaine and Jerry Kilgore -- Kilgore's "effeminate traits" are something that I hadn't considered before.  But you might be on to something.  I have to disagree with your contention that being from Richmond is a major disadvantage.  Next to Northern Virginia, where Kaine will win anyway, Richmond is the most populous region in the state.  I think a big win there can offset some of the losses he'll sustain in the SW.

  4.  The Issues of the Governor's Race -- The death penalty, unfortunately, is going to be a HUGE issue in this race.  Kilgore will use it against Kaine incessantly.  I don't think this issue is a winner for us at all.  I don't think having a "progressive group" to support Kaine's position will help.  The best we can do is focus on Kaine's promise to enforce the law and try, as best we can, to change the subject.  Virginia is strongly pro-death penalty and it would take years of grassroots organizing for a "progressive religious group" to make any kind of impact.
I hope the budget will be a winner for Kaine this year.  He should continue to identify himself with Warner and his business-like approach to the budget.  A heavy emphasis should be laid upon the "waste" that he helped Warner cut from the budget.  Kilgore will call Kaine a tax-and-spend liberal over and over.  Kaine's response should be: "Mark Warner and I did...x, y, and z."

  1.  Sidenotes -- No doubt.  Things will get ugly in Virginia over the next couple of years.

  2.  Conclusion --  Kaine CAN win this race and, if he does, it would be an enormous boon to the Democrats' chances in this would-be swing state.  If we can capitalize on Warner's ability to portray Democrats as business-like, no-frills centrists then we can begin to create a Democratic majority here.  It won't be easy though.
by VAprogressive 2004-12-31 08:42AM | 0 recs
The Shift Right
I think it would be more accurate to say that the Republican Party has shifted sharply to the right in the past few years.  I'm not sure you could argue that the state, as a whole, has shifted to the right.

You're absolutely right -- I didn't intend to state or imply otherwise.

-Waldo Jaquith

by Waldo Jaquith 2004-12-31 11:51AM | 0 recs
Re: More Details
Kilgore is leading now, by 5 in one poll and 9 in the other. But there are still a huge amount of undecideds who may well shift Kaine's way.
by raginillinoian 2004-12-31 10:07PM | 0 recs
Virginia's Status for 2005
As a resident of Northern Virginia, my sense is that the anti-tax drive has lost much of its appeal in the last couple of years, as Virginia Republicans have shown that the GOP is not the party of fiscal conservatism.  Also, demands for spending on roads and education have made tax cutting issues like the car tax repeal seem irresponsible. Kaine may as well write off Western and SW Virginia, but he could definitely find a winning coalition between Northern (emphasis on North)Virgina, Richmond, and the Tidewater.
by ctd72 2004-12-30 11:22AM | 0 recs
Dems and SW VA
Kaine may as well write off Western and SW Virginia, but he could definitely find a winning coalition between Northern (emphasis on North)Virgina, Richmond, and the Tidewater.

Remember that the 9th District comprises the whole of Southwest Virginia, and has long been represented by bad-ass Democrat Rick Boucher.  Warner's 2001 numbers make clear that Democrats can do well there.  Of course, as you well know, Kaine is from Southwest Virginia -- I think that time spent campaigning in the far, far western tip of Virginia may be time wasted.  Anybody in Norton that's going to vote for Kaine is already going to vote for Kaine -- no minds will be changed there by shakings hands, since Kilgore's their boy.

That said, if I were Kaine, I'd make friends with Rick Boucher real quick.  Boucher's not going to go out of his way to work with Kaine publicly, since Boucher's really his own man, but behind the scenes, I don't doubt for a minute that he'd be happy to share advice, lists, strategy, and key allies.

Thus far, Kaine has done a really bad job of reaching out for votes and support.  His campaign lists, at least those that are being used, are based solely on who is given money.  They've picked only the lowest of low-hanging fruit, and many of the key Democrats that I know in the 9th and 5th Districts haven't heard a peep out of Kaine's campaign, to the point at which they're feeling a bit miffed.  This will lose him support in the 9th and Southside real quick.  If he can work with Boucher and other rainmakers in Southside and Southwest Virginia, he can patch this up, and gain some votes in those areas.

-Waldo Jaquith

by Waldo Jaquith 2004-12-30 11:44AM | 0 recs
Kaine should campaign everywhere
It should be noted that Wilder won by campaigning throughout the whole state. I don't think  Kaine should write off any area. Also keep in mind that the religious right, even though it's based in Va only holds sway over a minority of the population. When the most extreme politicians run Virginians usually reject them( at least on a statewide basis).Candidates that win in Va tend to be fiscally conservative( ie balanced budgets) and socially moderate.
   In the suburbs of Richmond you mostly have " suburban Republicans" many of who will vote for a moderate Democrat. I suspect this is true for N Va too. But don't write off Hampton/Norfolk area I believe its as populous as Richmond or more.
by tienchi3x 2005-01-01 04:41AM | 0 recs

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