“I have been around numerous campaigns, and expect hard debate on the issues,” Bell wrote. “However, we can all remember how negative mailings filled with innuendo and personal attacks helped defeat Virgil Goode in 2008.”
Two observations. First, Bell represents a swing district but he must been feeling very confident in turnout this fall on the Republican side. Mentioning Virgil Goode and associating himself as an innocent victim of negative mailers, just like Goode, would make sense in a solid red district in the 5th. But John McCain only narrowly won the 58th District (or potentially lost it depending on the allocation of absentee ballots) and Perriello swamped Goode 54% to 46%. This district was actually the center of the McCain-Perriello crossover in the district, so I don't think the swing voters there really have any sympathy for Virgil Goode.
Second, Bell seems to be rewriting the 2008 election. I'm sure we all remember the negative mailings in 2008. They may have helped contribute to Virgil Goode's defeat. But here's the funny thing. They were sent by Virgil Goode. Goode ran the same sort of desperate negative campaign against Perriello that Neff is running against Bell. That didn't help Goode, and it certainly won't help Neff. Game over, congratulations on another term Rob Bell.
Update: Sorry I wasn't clear but when I talk about Perriello swamping Goode 54% to 46% I'm talking specifically about Rob Bell's 58th District in the House of Delegates, not the 5th Congressional District as a whole. Perriello did very, very well in winning over McCain voters in the suburbs around Charlottesville, which is pretty much Rob Bell's district. And not just in Albemarle. Look at Greene County. Perriello won 559 more votes than Obama in Greene County while Goode finished 607 votes behind McCain. That is a lot given the 727 vote margin in the 5th District as a whole. Figuring out what went wrong with McCain voters in the northern end of the district is a key part of defeating Perriello next year.