Saturday, August 22, 2009

Laying the HURT on Perriello?

The 2009 Gubernatorial election isn't even over yet but the Republican Party of Virginia has lined up a top tier cast of candidates to take back Virginia's Congressional Delegation next year. Rick Boucher's vote on cap and trade may be the tipping point to get Delegate Terry Kilgore into the race.

Much like Virgil Goode in 2008, Rick Boucher has built up the appearance of invincibility because he's managed to crush weaker candidates. The Republican Party is convinced that Delegate Kilgore would be a top tier challenger, unlike Delegates Bill Carrico and Jay Katzen. Personally, I think the political climate will swing Southwest Virginia so much against the Democratic Party (More so than it already has) the 9th is in play with anyone with the ability to raise money.

In the 11th, Gerry Connolly may seem relatively safe but we still have to read the tea leaves of this fall's election. He may end up being vulnerable as the suburbs swing against Obama's mismanagement of the economy and tax and spend policies. That makes self-funder Keith Fimian a great challenger. He has strong name ID from his previous run and the resources to bid a challenge to test Connolly's numbers out.

I may be most excited about the 2nd District, where we may be able to replace Republican Glenn Nye with Republican Scot Rigell. But any Virginia politico junkie knows that this list leaves out the 5th District, where Tom Perriello narrowly defeated Virgil Goode with only 727 votes. The GOP should be out for blood in this district but I haven't seen any sharks yet. Except for this rumor of State Senator Robert Hurt running.

Here are my concerns:

He also doesn’t have a reelection battle on his hands this year, allowing him to gear his energies exclusively toward a congressional bid.

But we are almost at the end of August! The reelection battle will be over in the first week of November. That's only two months. If he doesn't get in soon, not having a reelection battle is virtually meaningless. It would have mattered if he had announced in, say, July. But not October.

Those close to Hurt say indications are he will enter the race, but that family issues are holding him back.

Bad news! If Hurt's family is not behind him 100%, his heart won't be in the campaign 100%. Defeating an incumbent Congressman, even a vulnerable one, will be difficult and I don't think Hurt has ever experienced a difficult election. If he doesn't have his family supporting him he's not going to have the fire in his belly to keep going when times are tough. He's looking at challenging a guy doing over twenty town halls this month. He's got to be just as energetic and on the road.

A Washington operative who has worked in Virginia estimated Hurt is 60 percent leaning toward the race.

“I think if he jumps in there, you’ll see the vast majority of those who talked about it start drying up real quick,” the source said. “He’s obviously a favorite down there, but he also has the pedigree and resume for the district. He can raise money statewide to raise money from PACs and lobbyists in Washington.”

Andy Sere (Who else would be the Washington operative who worked in Virginia commenting on the potential recruitment of a Republican candidate for Congress?) wants to highlight that Robert Hurt is willing to take money from PACs and lobbyists in his challenge to Tom Perriello . . . who doesn't take money from corporate PACs and lobbyists. This is more bad news. Given the anger at Obama and the Democrats, a Republican challenger should be able to tap into the grassroots. 2010 will be the year we'll see the money bombs from Ron Paul's Presidential campaign finally hit Congressional candidates. I'd rather have a more right-wing Republican running than Robert Hurt if it meant clean money with fundraising.

But of course Robert Hurt has to focus on the corporate special interests and not the conservative grassroots for his run. He voted for the largest tax increase in the history of Virginia under Governor Mark Warner. With that type of background, it is hard for me to see how the patriots at Tea Parties will rally behind Rob Hurt.

My suggestion to the Republican Party of Virginia: Keep looking in the 5th. Someone else will be able to lay the hurt on Perriello.

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