Sunday, June 07, 2009
Talking Virginia Politics
In years past Virginia gubernatorial elections were the backwater afterthought ( if anyone outside of the Commonwealth paid any attention at all) from the previous year’s presidential elections. Not so these days as the parties take advantage of the Only Game in Town to sharpen their skills for the next round. New Jersey also elects a governor in 2009 but lacks the recent history of political change that makes Virginia a full-scale battleground.
I still pay attention to Virginia politics but don’t really keep up with events there so my information is sketchy. Still Virginia is where I’m from, a place never too far out of mind and covered regularly by the Washington Post, one of my regular news sources. The Post does pay attention to Virginia politics, so I do too, sort of.
I don’t have a favorite candidate for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. I definitely have a least favorite—Terry McAuliffe—whom the Post describes as a 17 year McClean resident with no “natural base in the state”. That’s because McAuliffe’s residence was a matter of convenience for a DC insider, not because of any inherent interest in the state; McAuliffe’s stage was national; he was the Clintons’ main money-man. As chairman of the Democratic National Committee, he shrank the Democratic base to a bare electoral majority that the party could not always command, leaving the nation vulnerable to eight years of CheneyBush and a Republican Congress. His successor did just the opposite and essentially restored the party’s base. For me, McAuliffe is the epitome of the wheeling-dealing mentality that looks too closely at the short-run bottom line and pays no attention to the longer term consequences.
Either of the other two candidates, Creigh Deeds or Brian Moran, is fine by me. Unlike McAuliffe, both have longstanding experience representing Virginians and have dealt with many of the state’s critical issues. Moran is from Northern Virginia, the state’s economic engine and locus of an immense snarl of development and traffic. Deeds is from Bath County, on the West Virginia border, and considered the most conservative of the three. What little I know of him leads me to think he is more of a thoughtful conservative than a rabid one. I know that four years ago he came almost defeated the man who is the presumptive Republican nominee for governor this year. Either Deeds or Moran will do.
The tenor of the campaign sounds ugly at this distance. Too much “my opponent is/did/said (fill in something evil here)”. But that’s the nature of high stakes politics these days, especially when big money is involved. I know the candidates held a series of debates and maybe actually discussed real issues but, as I said, I don’t pay attention to the specifics. I might have missed something along the way.
All I actually know is that Creigh is an unusual name and that after Tuesday, the 2010 election cycle begins.