I’ve been chewing over Del. Brian Moran’s resignation of his seat today, wondering a) why, b) why now, and c) what effect that it will have on the race. I think the simplest explanation is probably the right one.
The “why now” is at the center of it, I think. In a statement, Moran told constituents that that “you deserve the full attention of your representative in the legislative work this coming year.” That may well be true, but the legislative session begins in a month and two days. Moran’s known for years that he’d be spending this session campaigning for governor; he could have announced his planned resignation months ago, giving plenty of time for candidates to line up, obviating a special election, and allowing for the normal succession of power to take place. This surely represents an abrupt, unplanned change in tack. What’s changed? Just one thing: Terry McAuliffe entering the race. McAuliffe’s entry is terrible news for Moran, since they’re surely fighting over the same primary votes. Worse still, members of the legislature are prohibited from fundraising for state races while the General Assembly is in session, so McAuliffe gets to control the board for a month and a half while Moran (and Sen. Creigh Deeds) are twiddling their thumbs. In addition, Moran also gets to avoid any tough votes this year, while Deeds will have them pegged to his record. I can’t see that as a motivation for his decision, but it is an advantage.
The question, then, is what effect that this will have on the race. As a supporter of Sen. Deeds (my senator), the effect looks pretty good to me. International relations theory substantially concerns itself with the balance of power, and what happens when that balance is thrown off. As al-Qaeda well knows, it’s easier to bait two powerful nations into fighting each other than to actually fight them yourself; at the end, they’re both weakened and you, by comparison, are stronger. With regard to fundraising, I don’t doubt that Moran and McAuliffe will be able to substantially outraise Deeds in the primary phase of the race. They both live way upstate, which is where the money’s at. For both Moran and McAuliffe’s, their best hope is to be the last man standing, and be left with more money than Deeds. If Moran couldn’t fundraise during session, that would leave McAuliffe far ahead of Moran, which would likewise put him at an advantage over Deeds. Moran and McAuliffe will now balance each other out; it doesn’t matter if McAuliffe raises $10M by the primary if Moran does the same. While they’re fighting over the same bunch of primary voters, Deeds can quietly collect support among voters towards the center.
Creigh Deeds says that he has no intention of stepping down from his seat, and I think that’s absolutely the right tack; it’s part of how he’ll show daylight between Moran and himself. (Remember how McCain was ridiculed for suspending his campaign due to”historic crisis in our financial system”? Obama responded, rightly, that “it’s going to be part of the president’s job to deal with more than one thing at once.”)
Frankly, I’m not sure that Moran had a choice here—he’d be ceding the race to McAuliffe if he didn’t give up his seat at this point. Obviously, the “let them bleed each other dry” approach is not an election-winning strategy unto itself, but it’s certainly a significant aspect of this race. Now the Deeds campaign needs to keep its collective fingers crossed that Moran and McAuliffe are evenly matched. And Creigh Deeds needs to make the most of this session.
Recently Brian was on the southside touring. He was asked by a tv interviewer since the House members were also up for re-election in 09 and he was running for Governor was he going to run for both. He said he would. Then he said he would have to sit down with family and staff to see what was best for him. Now what I see I have a few questions. When is the convention or what ever. What if he don’t get it. Then that puts him out of both. I think he made a bad move here. But I am just on the outside looking in.
Waldo – As I wrote at BC, I think Deeds is making a bad mistake here. The idea that two heavily financed candidates vying for the same votes will cancel each other out, allowing a third to take advantage and win with the votes of another demographic, just doesn’t work, as President John Edwards can tell you.
I don’t think it’s right to say that it “just doesn’t work,” simply that it doesn’t necessarily work. Which is why I wrote: “Obviously, the ‘let them bleed each other dry’ approach is not an election-winning strategy unto itself, but it’s certainly a significant aspect of this race.”
Fasir enough — I hadn’t had my coffee yet. But my point still stands. If Creigh needs to keep his fingers crossed that a scenario over which he has no control plays out as you say for him to be governor, then he might as well drop out now.
Right now, no one has grabbed hold of this race. These guys are all dancing around one another. This is a bold move by Brian Moran, and we’ll see what happens.
Also, at the end of the day, for all the money he can raise, I don’t see McAuliffe getting much traction. Every cent McAuliffe spends up in NOVA helps out Moran, because once people start comparing those two, there is no doubt who would win on substance (unless McAuliffe runs a totally negative campaign against Moran, in which case Deeds can emerge, then have no chance of beating McDonnell in November because the party is split).
This race is not a marathon. Nor is it a sprint. It is more of a middle distance race. Back in high school for a year, I actually had the motivation for a few months to join the track team. I ran the 440 as part of the first leg of a relay, and my strategy at that distance was always sprint the first quarter as fast as I could. Make the other guy chase you.
Who’s going to win? Make a prediction since I have NO idea. I thought it was Deeds’s to lose but after a recent endorsement of Moran by LF Payne I can’t figure it out at all.
Only thing certain is that Bob McDonnell is pretty happy w/ all the healthy fighting on the other side of the aisle.
Only thing certain is that Bob McDonnell is pretty happy w/ all the healthy fighting on the other side of the aisle.
Let’s hope he’s just as happy about it as John McCain was. ;-)
Waldo, can you tell me why you support Deeds or rather why you think I or others should support Deeds over Moran? Right now I don’t see myself voting for Deeds but I’m open to arguments.
It’s not just a matter of coming up the middle on money or message but region as well. In a heads up, Moran would beat Deeds in a primary because of the Northern Virginia vote, but as McAuliffe pulls from that base as well, Deeds greater support in the rest of Virginia now could be enough to drag him over the line. Sure, Moran and McAuliffe aren’t going to ignore areas outside of northern Virginia (and outside of NOVA Moran probably beats out McAuliffe), but both have their roots there and will be eating each other alive in the vote rich area. Moran quitting his Delegate seat puts him back in the race financially but also strengthens Deeds by doing so.
Every campaign is based on a hope that events will unfold in a certain way. Obama surely knew that the best chance that he had of winning was for a major portion of the Bush administration’s policies—and the RNC’s platform—to go south shortly before the election. And so it happened. Had the economy not tanked, I don’t have any particular confidence that Obama would win.
One could have made the same criticism of Moran a few months ago: if he needs to keep his fingers crossed that a scenario over which he has no control plays for him to be governor (that is, for McAuliffe to decline to enter the race), then he might as well drop out now.
It’s significantly too early in the race to be able to make specific, meaningful contrasts on many issues of policy. That said. There’s no doubt that a part of why I support Creigh is that he’s my senator—I know him, I’ve known him for seven years, and I’ve been happy with how he’s represented me and the district. Also, he’s run for statewide office before, which is quite a different thing than running in a small district, and that’s certainly a skill that comes in handy. (Tim Kaine had previously run for lieutenant governor and Mark Warner had previously won for U.S. Senate.) Perhaps most important, Creigh is both closer to the center and is perceived as being closer to the center than Brian Moran and, consequently, more likely to be elected in this right-of-center state. Remember that what Mark Warner and Tim Kaine had in common during their campaigns for governor was the perception among many Democrats that these candidates were just too conservative for their taste. In Virginia, that’s how we know we’ve got the right nominee. :)
Yes, he’s just too conservative for my taste so you’re probably right :).
FWIW, Creigh is too conservative for my taste. Were I considering only issues stances, I’d prefer Brian Moran over Creigh Deeds.
It’s a shame how we kick the legs out from under progress by giving more weight to perception than policy.
I voted for Nader in 2000; like much of the nation, I learned my lesson. Also, I don’t think that all of my beliefs should be universalized, particularly when they’re contrary to the desires of a majority of the voting populace.
And that wouldn’t be a bad response, if Moran were even in the same universe as Nader.
Supporting candidates with the best policy positions doesn’t really equate to universalizing your beliefs, does it? In any event, Virginia doesn’t strike me as a very good place to make an argument for the practice of limiting your options to the desires of a majority of the voting populace.
Mark, the facts remain that a) millions of Democrats learned the lesson in 2000 that voting purely on the grounds of one’s ideological match with a candidate is a pretty bad reason to support a particular candidate and b) this lesson applies just as well to candidates who are not as far to the left and to races of a smaller scale.
Sure it does. If I hate Muslims, and I support a candidate who believes that Muslims should be second-class citizens and pledges to do so if elected, that’s precisely what I’m doing. My options are to a) recognize that my hatred is personal, and shouldn’t be brought into the political arena or b) support that candidate, because, hey, it’s my belief and why fight it?
On the contrary, it seems like a perfect (and necessary) place to do so. Imagine if we’d nominated Harris Miller. After all, he was a far better ideological match for Democrats than Webb. Yet we all knew then, as we surely know in retrospect, that he would have gotten clobbered by Allen. We Democrats consciously selected a candidate to the right of us, knowing that could well result in victory at the ballot box. Sure, we could have smugly nominated Miller, gotten our asses kicked, and lamented how Virginia is too ignorant to elect a great guy like Harris Miller over a racist jerk like George Allen. But then we’d have gained nothing.
In the end, the choice is (or, rather, could be, in a hypothetical matchup) as stark as losing and gaining nothing, or winning and getting halfway to where we want to be. I’ll take the latter.
Huh. I did not vote for Nader in 2000 because Bush scared the heck out of me. I have never voted for a third party candidate since I started voting at 18 in fact. But in a primary I will vote for who I believe in and then vote for the person the party selects–if that’s Deeds I’ll end up voting for him although gnashing my teeth at the same time. Well, I should qualify that, I didn’t vote for Kucinich in the last primary because he had no chance at all. But Moran does have a chance according to recent polling that was on Daily Kos–sorry I didn’t keep the link but it’s in the last few days.
Oh, I haven’t claimed that Moran doesn’t have a chance. I think that it’s too early to know his performance against McDonnell would compare to Deeds’. But, speaking broadly, whenever you’ve got a more liberal and a more conservative choice between Democrats for statewide office in Virginia, it’s better to go with the more conservative option, assuming that victory is a goal (as opposed to making a point).
At what point are we going to start having outright ideological litmus tests, in keeping with the failed traditions of the previous majority party?
What have we gained if we elected a D that votes like an R? (Not casting aspersions at Deeds here, just making a general statement.) If all we get is bragging rights, no thanks.
The premise of your argument, Vivian, is that the Republican opponent will vote the same way on all issues. I suppose it might be true in some outlier instances, but it’s hardly fair to say that it’s true in all instances or even the majority of instances–after all, the choice we get on the ballot is hardly ever actually a generic R versus a generic D, as most people actually aren’t generic stereotypes.
For instance, what did we gain by electing a much more conservative Democrat like Jim Webb to the United States Senate when we could have nominated Harris Miller? Well, Sen. Webb’s veterans benefits program is a great place to start, and I think all Democrats (indeed, most Virginians) can get behind that. On the larger philosophical point, however, while we can all agree that Harris Miller was much more liberal than Jim Webb, I think we can also all agree that Jim Webb is not nearly so conservative as George “Americans Aren’t Addicted to Oil, They’re Addicted to Freedom” Allen.
Also, Sen. Webb’s not a sound-bite spewing idiot. So that’s a plus.
Personally, as much as Webb has diverged with me on some issues (FISA chief among them) I’m still proud to have voted for him because of the Veterans bill and because I know that he still represents me better than George Allen ever did during his six years in the United States Senate. And while I intend to support whatever Democrat emerges from the primary this year, I know for certain that while Creigh may be less liberal than Brian Moran, he’s a moderate centrist when compared to the likes of Bob McDonnell.
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