Virginia '09--Local elections, global implications

There is no allowance for election fatigue in Virginia.

There are no off years in the commonwealth. In even-numbered years we have the Federal elections along with the rest of the country. While most states take the odd-numbered years off. But in the Old Dominion, those years are for the elections for state offices.

In 2007, Virginia’s shift from Red to Blue in the presidential race was foreshadowed when the Democrats wrested control of the Senate of Virginia from the GOP for the first time since 1999. Those are four-year terms and all seats are up for grabs at once.

The Republicans managed to maintain their control of the lower chamber, the 100-member House of Delegates, in ’07. However, that once vice-like grip on control there has slipped. Since the 2001 elections, the Democrats have steadily added a total of 10 seats, giving the GOP a 54-44 lead with two independents.

Next year there will be elections for Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General and all 100 seats in the GOP-controlled House of Delegates.It’s not hyperbole to say that this local election will have global implications.

If the Republicans can take back the Governor’s Mansion from the Democrats (VA has a one-term limit so incumbent Democrat Tim Kaine can’t run), and strengthen their control of the House of Delegates, that would be taken as a message that the state’s Blue status in ’08 may have been an isolated phenomenon. Such victories would be a major morale boost to the party nationwide.

If, on the other hand, the Democrats keep the governor’s chair and take away most or all of the seven seats they would need to control the HOD, talk would be of a permanent realignment. Liberals everywhere would be emboldened while Republicans would be dispirited.

The GOP nominee for governor is Bob McDonnell, who is the sitting Attorney General. On the Democratic side, the candidate could be a Clinton-era figure, Terry McAuliffe. The former DNC Chairman has lived in McLean for many years, but he would need a road map to find his way outside the Beltway.

McDonnell is considered to be a strong favorite, but a year ago it was odds on that the Old Dominion would go for the GOP presidential candidate.

Nothing will happen unless all Republicans, especially those of us who live in Virginia, make it happen.