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Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Is Virginia a watershed for the nation?

Virginia, long a bastion of conservative thought typified by the Byrd dynasty, Columnist James Kilpatrick, Liberty University, and Pat Robertson elected a Catholic, anti-death penalty Democratic Governor Tuesday Night. In a state with the perfect mix of rural protestants and military families to make it the state with longest streak of consecutive Republican electoral wins in Presidential politics (Virginia last voted Democrat for President in the landslide election of 1964 and before that in 1944), The GOP has now lost two consecutive Governor's elections in the state.

Kaine, the former Mayor of Richmond demonstrated that a Democrat in the South can position him/herself to win by doing some basic things. Kaine deemphasized polarizing social issues and ran his campaign on a positive message of economic growth. Kaine's success in minimizing Republican margins in the Hampton Roads area which is dominated by Military families is a promising sign for Democrats in 2006. Kaine's campaign which furthered Warner's populist appeals of 2001 was even successful in the rural Tidewater area a GOP bastion whose Congressman Virgil Goode switched to the GOP several years ago because the National Democrats were way out of step with his constituents. Kaine was able to build upon the margins Mark Warner built in the inner Northern Virginia areas (Suburban Washington) of Alexandria and Arlington Counties while running much stronger than Warner had in Fairfax, Prince William and Lounden Counties just outside the Beltway. This area has filled up with many new residents and high tech companies over the past several years and Warner began an upward trend for Democrats in the area.

The Democrats now have the right combination of suburban and urban voters to win the peripheral south (states like Virginia, Tennessee, Florida and North Carolina) if the right candidates are put forward. Democrats in Washington are crowing about Kaine's victory declaring that it is a harbinger for 2006. It can and will be precursor for next year only if the Democrats study Kaine's victory and why he carried areas of the state that Democrats running for President have had no success in.


Anonymous said...


I do not think the Virginia or New Jersey victories were huge losses for the GOP, like that national media would have us believe.

As your article articulated, these are Democratic candidates who won my moving to the center.

Apparently, national and regional Democrats have forgotten that this country is not pining for more chowder-headed liberal leadership (i.e. Dukakis, Kerry, Gore), but will vote for centrist Democrats who can articulate a clear vision and show a willingness to take on the corrupt Republican juggernaut (Edwards, Clinton, Warner, et al).

More to the point, both of the victories were "holds" not pickups. Kaine won in large part on the coat tails of current Gov. Mark Warner's dynamic and centerist leadership.

Were these victories good for the Democratic Party? Definitely. Were they a watershed moment that marked the begining of the end of the Republican juggernaut? Hells no.

Jill said...

If you look at Kaine he is very similar to Jim Davis in his moderation but adherence to Democratic principles. This is playbook we need to use to win Florida.

Anonymous said...

Jill's correct, but you must also include Smith. I think that both Davis and Smith fit the Kaine mold and would be great candidates for Florida Dems.

On the other side of the aisle, Gallagher and Crist are competing to be Doug Forrester - the extreme right-wing GOP candidate in New Jersey. As each day passes, both Gallagher and Crist move more and more outside of the mainstream.

Florida Democrats should be feeling good. Our 2 candidates for governor are embracing the middle, while the GOP candidates are flying off the handle and pandering to right-wing extremists.

Orlando Democrat said...

I agree that VA is a good model for Florida. The big question though is can our party and candidates show the discipline that the candidates in Virginia do? Our leadership is too inmterested in being loved by lobbyists rather than doing the right thing.

Matt said...

Big wins for the Ds. Has Virginia ever had a Catholic Governor before?

Anonymous said...

Great story in the New Yorker on this subject. It's specifically examining Robert Casey, Jr.'s bid to unseat the rabid, radcial, right-wing Senator, Rick Santorum.

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I am the host of the Major League Soccer Talk and EPL Talk Podcasts and am frequent guest on other (world) football shows. I am also the publisher of various other websites including this one. I work in public/government relations in addition to my soccer work and have a keen interest in history, politics, aviation, travel,and the world around us.