Virginia in the Democratic Crosshairs

While the Weekly Standard was busy cataloguing a Virginia that probably doesn’t exist, the WaPo’s Tim Craig writes about the Virginia that does. And it’s squarely in Democrats’ crosshairs:

[Tim]Kaine is sending a strong signal that national Democrats and President Obama plan to fiercely compete to win the Virginia governor’s race.

With Kaine at the helm of the DNC, millions of dollars and the full weight of the national party organization will flow into Virginia this year, setting up a nationally watched race. If Democrats can win a third consecutive governor’s race, it will be hard to argue the state is anything but blue.

There’s more than a bit of spin here. Democrats and Republicans alike have targeted enormous resources on Virginia’s statewide races in recent years. That’s to be expected, as it (and New Jersey) are the only real political contests on the calendar.

The only difference now is that the sitting governor is a party chairman and, as Craig notes, he really, really needs a political legacy (as opposed to the legislative one which is…I think “thin” would be the operative word, for a family blog).

Craig does a good job of painting Bob McDonnell as a looming juggernaut waiting to upend Kaine’s hopes. But then there is this:

McDonnell, who will run on a ticket with Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R), can spend the next 10 months reaching out to suburban voters in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads. (He grew up in Fairfax County and has spent his adult life in Virginia Beach.) McDonnell also plans to reach out to African American voters.

Although they are conservative, McDonnell and Bolling say they have learned from GOP losses. In other words, don’t expect them to be talking about such divisive issues as abortion on the campaign trail. At a dinner with Washington Post reporters last week, Bolling stressed that he sponsored Virginia’s child health insurance program when he was in the state Senate in the late 1990s.

There may be a rationale for this, and it may be quite good. But word is McDonnell has already been warned-off an approach that sees his consultants mute his conservative credentials in hopes of capturing votes in the Golden Crescent. We’ll see whether that warning is heeded.

As for the rest…yes, the Democrats are riding high and they seem to have the Republicans stuck in both a funk they don’t understand and an electoral box they can’t easily escape.

But a note of caution: just as the errors, missteps and outright bungling of the national GOP swamped its Virginia cousins, the same forces could very well sink the Democrats. The more often Nancy Pelosi & Co. are on television, touting their latest nostrums, the more likely a backlash becomes (just follow the poll numbers on the “stimulus” to see how it may end).

That oceans of money will be dumped into the statewide races is a given. But will it affect the results? Money, celebrity and connections don’t always win.

Just ask George Allen.