Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Look Ahead . . .

In just a day days, voters will go to the polls across the Old Dominion and elect a slate of Congressmen (Yes, Congressmen, sorry Krystal!) who will represent Virginia for the next two years. It will also heavily influence the next round of redistricting that the 2011 General Assembly will have to deal with. While most people are focusing on the fight between the Republican House and the Democrat Senate in redistricting, we can't forget the influence members of Congress will have.

Let's take a quick glance, district by district. I will be following up on the races after the election.

1st: The question everyone has been asking is if Krystal Ball's Halloween outfit will hurt her campaign with the district's voters, or if it's gotten the attention of every red blooded male and angry feminist. After holding off a challenge from his right in the primary (did that pathetic showing by Crazy Crabill even qualify as a challenge?) Wittman has easily locked this seat down after his 2007 special election win. In an ideal world (Republican gerrymandering), Wittman would look to get rid of the Democrat-leaning portions of Prince William County in the 1st (which even supported Deeds in 2009!) and avoid picking up any more of the expensive and Democrat-leaning areas of Northern Virginia. Wittman is well positioned for higher office. This district has a lot of smaller components (Northern Virginia suburbs, Fredericksburg, rural exurbs from Richmond through the Northern Neck, Republican portions of the Peninsula, college city of Williamsburg and its swing suburbs of James City County, etc.) and I think Wittman will be willing to be a team player and adjust parts of the district to shore up Republicans elsewhere.

2nd: Glenn Nye is in a tough election with Scott Rigell, but you'll notice that Obama isn't coming to town for him. And no one is mentioning Glenn for DPVA Chair after the election. Nye's career is toast. Even if he wins, I can't see him surviving a challenge from the left in 2012. He'll be stuck between wanting a safer seat through redistricting and worrying about adding too many liberal Democrat voters to the district. Rigell will also be worried. His district is a swing district and is about to throw out the second incumbent in two elections. He'll need to find a way to pick up Republican voters from neighboring district. I expect Rigell to win on election day, but he'll have to start thinking about 2012 soon.

3rd: Bobby Scott helped cut a deal in 2000 that made most of the representatives in Tidewater happy. Could he sit down with Wittman, Rigell, and Forbes and do it again? The problem is that all three are looking to unload Democrat voters and it's hard to put them all into Scott's district. Also, Scott is young at heart but is already 63. This may be the last redistricting he sees and he might be thinking about a successor. Is there anyone in the General Assembly who could replace Scott and not become a national laughing stock? I'm looking at you, Lionell Spruill and Louise Lucas.

4th: Like Wittman, Forbes is well positioned for a statewide run, if he were to want it. In looking ahead, his only concern in redistricting is that his district surprisingly went to Obama in 2008. Now you can say this was a fluke, but Forbes isn't the type to risk any chances. He'll want to shore up Republican support in his district and avoid the Democrats recruiting a top tier and well funded challenger in 2012 when Obama will be back on the ticket.

5th: The outcome in the 5th District is going to be close, too close for the comfort of likely winner Robert Hurt. I think he'll end up with less than 53% of the vote in what should be an easy walk for Republicans this year against one of the most liberal Democrats in the country. This will send a message loud and clear to Robert Hurt: Get Charlottesville the f'ck out of the 5th. There are two main ways to do this: more all of Charlottesville into another district or split the area up into two or three districts. Which would they prefer? A Perriello win will leave Republicans in a no win situation. If the 5th is made more Republican somehow, Perriello is well positioned for a state wide run. If they make it more Democrat, they'll be stuck with Perriello around for years to come. Which would they prefer?

Here's the irony of a Perriello win: Just like 2008, it will be attributed entirely to Barack Obama. Perriello is going to get almost no credit amount the pundits predicting his defeat if he wins, they will just say it was due to a surge in Democrat voters from Obama's visit. That Perriello had to wage a campaign that kept him close enough to justify an Obama visit will be overlooked. Perriello has been consistently underestimated, which could influence how afraid Republicans are of him during redistricting.

6th: Bob Goodlatte is, along with Wittman and Forbes, one of the solid conservative voices in Virginia. The only problem facing Goodlatte is the delicate situation facing the Roanoke area when Morgan Griffith is elected in the neighboring 9th. Griffith will want to add Salem and his old base, and the 9th will also have to grow to pick up more voters. Goodlatte will want to keep as much of the Roanoke area intact as possible, which may force the 9th into the 5th. But Hurt will want to keep the conservative voters of Franklin County and his historic base in Martinsville and Henry County. It's going to be a complicated situation, much like the dance in Tidewater, but one they should be able to sort out. Hopefully.

7th: Cantor's district is so overwhelmingly Republican he has little to worry about, but there's the possibility that Charlottesville could be pushed into the district. How much is Cantor willing to do to water down the Republican strength in his district to benefit fellow Republicans like Robert Hurt? You have to wonder what a well funded Democrat could do if Charlottesville and its suburbs were combined with the other counties in the Charlottesville media market: Madison, Orange, Louisa. This could be a nuisance that Cantor won't want to deal with, he'd rather be focusing on fundraising for other Republicans and campaigning to support them than putting up with challengers in his own back yard.

8th: How much longer will we have to put up with Jim Moran? Please. Can someone defeat him? Either in the general election (unlikely) or a Democrat primary (anyone have the balls?) Will he ever go to jail where he belongs, or just die in office?

9th: Morgan Griffith is surging in the polls right now and is posed to defeat Rick Boucher over his role in the cap and tax legislation. This is the perfect end to Boucher's career and a warning shot to the remaining Democrats in the Southwest like Roscoe Reynolds and Phil Puckett. You're next. Griffith will want to take Salem and his old legislative district, but I don't think that's enough to match the slow population growth of the 9th. He'll need to pick up more voters and run into the same problem facing Republicans in 2000. Hurt in the 5th won't want to give up his conservative voters in Franklin, Henry, and Martinsville. Goodlatte won't want to give up too much of his home of Roanoke. We'll watch some interesting deals made here.

10th: Frank Wolf has been an elusive target for Democrats, but I wouldn't be surprised if they finally get organized in 2012 to finally mount a real challenge. Wolf's district will need to shrink dramatically to get down to size. It will be difficult to figure out how Wolf can make his district more Republican leaning, or at least not as more Democratic, with the changes across Northern Virginia.

11th: Finally, the 11th. This district kicked out liberal Leslie Byrne in 1994 and it's a good race to watch to see how well Republicans will do in 2010. I think Connolly has the advantage here, but it's one to watch. The Democrats are afraid as shown by their $1 million investment into Gerry at the last second. The outcome could heavily influence the outcome of redistricting and determine who is making the deals. A Connolly win could produce an easy trade between Wolf and Connolly, shore up Connolly, shore up Wolf. A Fimian win would give Republicans headache as they try to negotiate to protect another rookie Republican.

Here are some other issues to consider.

George Allen: A George Allen come back in 2012 is getting a surprising level of Tea Party opposition. Will Bob Marshall be the benefactor or someone else? A lot of establishment types opposed Marshall's 2008 Senate bid because they thought Jim Gilmore was the stronger candidate--HA! If the establishment feels the heat from the Tea Party over George Allen and keeps its concerns about Bob Marshall, look for them to put the pressure on one of Virginia's conservative trio (Wittman, Forbes, and Goodlatte) to run. That could reduce the constraints on Republicans in cutting deals, like Forbes wanting to keep Chesapeake or Goodlatte focused on Roanoke.

Retirements? Will Wolf retire before 2012? What about Goodlatte? Some scenarios are likely, others less so, but a retirement could produce the same result as George Allen not running: an open House seat that the Republicans are free to draw without the concerns of an incumbent. Some scenarios-

Goodlatte Out? A Goodlatte retirement or Senate run (both low likelihood in my book) could allow the 9th to take on more of the Roanoke area, giving up Craig, Covington, and Alleghey to the 6th and Patrick and Henry to the 5th. The 6th would expand to the north to take the western portions of the 10th and take in parts of Charlottesville and Albemarle. The 5th would keep a third or so of the Charlottesville and Albemarle area, but pick up Lynchburg, Amherst, and more of Bedford. The 7th would pick up the remaining portions of the Charlottesville area, probably giving up more of Hanover and the Richmond areas to Wittman in the 1st.

Forbes Out? A Forbes retirement or Senate run (I'd like to see a Senate race focused on Webb's failure to stand up to Obama's anti-military policies) could free the Republicans to give more of Chesapeake to the 2nd to beef up Rigell. The 4th would then need to pick up more of the Richmond suburbs from the 7th, and the 1st could probably benefit from parts as well. This doesn't touch on fixing the 5th, but could be compatible with parts of the Goodlatte scenario as well.

Perriello Wins- Accept It A Perriello victory and the Democrat Senate could force the Republicans to accept a deal that gerrymanders the 5th to Perriello's favor. He'd pick up more of the suburbs in Louisia and Orange. While not exactly deep blue, they are liberal bastions compared to the Southside parts of the 5th right now. He could pick up more African-American voters from the 4th, a relief for Forbes and the Republicans. Look for the Republican portions of the 5th to go to the 9th.

Perriello Wins- Reject It Another outcome of a Perriello victory could be a logjam between Democrats and Republicans over the Congressional redistricting. Instead of cutting a deal, Republicans might decide they are fine with the current boundaries, for the most part, and are willing to let a judge slightly redraw them for population. I don't think that most of the Republican members like Wittman, Rigell, Forbes, and Griffith would be happy, they have particular agendas that a judge would likely ignore. But maybe it's worth it if the 5th stays moderately Republican?

These are just a few things to consider as you're watching election returns on Tuesday night. Good luck to the conservatives running!

1 comment:

  1. Only place I can post this, NAS, is here! But, guess what.......................

    You lose !

    Hurt wins !

    And I told you in February it would be the most masterful campaign ever assembled against the full brunt of the socialist Democrat party!
    Yes,, this race will indeed go down in history and be studied by students of political science for years to come!

    Admit it, NAS, you've been HURT by Robert Hurt! Ha, ha!