Some odd characters are lining up to challenge Rep. Perriello.

The lineup of challengers to Tom Perriello is shaping up to be quite a bunch of characters. Where do they find these people?

Here’s Rep. Perriello challenger Feda Kidd Morton accusing the boards of elections in municipalities across the state of colluding with the State Board of Elections and Tom Perriello to get Virgil Goode tossed out of office:

Morton also said she thought it was unusual that additional votes for Perriello were discovered during a post-election canvass.

“Votes showed up the day after the election,” she said. “You don’t usually see that happening.”

Morton clarified that she has no evidence that any sort of irregularities or voter fraud. “There was nothing proven,” she said. “I’m not saying that.”

It’s almost like she’s never actually observed an election before. Which, to be fair, she may well not have.

And this newest guy, Laurence Verga, I just love. He just moved to Albemarle from California five years ago. His bio on his website says that “[h]e currently resides in Charlottesville.” “Currently.” It’s a temporary thing, you see. I wonder if being “a California real estate developer” is better or worse than being a “New York lawyer”?

And this Bradley Rees guy? What a hoot! I’m looking forward to his candidacy like Jon Stewart looks forward to a Sarah Palin candidacy.

Yet another candidate thinking hard about running is Cordell Faulk, the spokesman for Larry Sabato’s Center for Politics. If Sabato has any sense, this is a prospect that should make him awfully uncomfortable. Politico called out Sabato on his relationship with Rep. Virgil Goode in June—Sabato said that Goode would win relection, and Goode gave Sabato a huge earmark. This is it went on year after year, without disclosure provided in forecasts about Goode’s odds, including last year, when Sabato marked the race as “likely Republican” on October 28. Even I didn’t think that Perriello wouldn’t win, but come October 28, “likely Republican” was a much stronger phrase than I would have used, since things had come to look pretty rosy for Perriello by then. When Perriello didn’t request the earmark that Sabato had come to rely on, there was a whole kerfuffle, which concluded with Perriello saying that he intends to fund more important things in the district and Sabato saying there are no hard feelings. So what Sabato is left with is the appearance of impropriety—something that Sabato needs desperately to shed, for the sake of his career—which sure looks a whole lot worse if it appears that his surrogate is trying to unseat the guy who took away his earmarks.

(In an interesting coincidence, Verga bought 2400 Old Ivy Road in 2005, the building that housed the Center for Politics at the time. The nearly-new building went for $4.8M, and was immediately sold to UVA.)

The very best part of these latest developments is that there are so damned many candidates—the party has so little structure, and the bench is so…well, there is no bench—that they had to hold an informational session for potential candidates, presumably because it was easier to lecture to a crowd than have a series of one-on-one meetings. Where did they hold this session? At the Albemarle County Republican HQ, an abandoned bank-cum-christmas-tree-stand on the fringe of the dying Albemarle Square Shopping Center in Charlottesville. That’s the same Charlottesville that Republicans insist that a challenger to Perriello can ignore and still win the race. If they really believe that, this is a hell of a strange geographic center for them to draw their candidates from.

The reason this is all such a mess is that the Fifth District Republican Committee basically consists of Virgil Goode and Tucker Watkins. There was no Fifth District Republican Committee to speak of until Goode switched parties. (What would the point have been?) So the party existed around the concept of getting Goode reelected. (Fun fact: When the prior chair of the Fifth District Democratic Committee retired a few years ago, the guest of honor at the retirement party that he threw for himself was…Rep. Virgil Goode, the very guy he claimed to have been working to unseat.) 5CD Republicans have never had to do anything else, and never prepared for the possibility of doing anything else, other than doing whatever Goode said to do. So now that they’re tasked with actually having to run a candidate, they’ve got no structure, no pecking order, no organization that would allow a Republican in the 5CD to determine if they’re a viable candidate or not. The usual rising-through-the-ranks concept doesn’t apply. So any dope can up and declare they’re running for congress. As they are, in spades, with many more coming, apparently.

The only chance that Republicans have to save face here is getting some non-embarrassing candidates to run. My own representative on the Albemarle Board of Supervisors, Ken Boyd, is going to run. I don’t like the guy’s politics, and I don’t see anything on his resumé that has prepared him to run for or be in Congress, but he’s not a mouth-breather, he’s engaged with the BOS, and he’s got experience running for office. Obviously, Sen. Robert Hurt (R-Chatham) is well qualified to run. It’ll be interesting to see what effect, if any, the entrance of a big-boy candidate has on the field. Normally you’d expect a few candidates to back down, leaving a more reasonable field of people. With this bunch, I’d be surprised if more than one or two people threw in the towel. They don’t have the sense, and the district chair doesn’t have any control over them.

Won’t this be fun?

Published by Waldo Jaquith

Waldo Jaquith (JAKE-with) is an open government technologist who lives near Char­lottes­­ville, VA, USA. more »

11 replies on “Some odd characters are lining up to challenge Rep. Perriello.”

  1. So Verga bought the building from the Center of Politics for $4.8 million and turned around and sold it back to UVA for . . . ? What? Did he make money? In doing so, was he helping the Center for Politics make extra cash? Can Sabato do anything to get money other than sweetheart deals?

  2. So Verga bought the building from the Center of Politics for $4.8 million and turned around and sold it back to UVA for . . . ? What? Did he make money?

    Unfortunately, there’s no way to link to the specific page on Albemarle’s County’s GIS page, but here’s the transfer history:

    Sale Date 10/18/2007
    Sale Price $5,900,000
    Deed Book/Page 3504/292
    Validity of Sale Valid Sale

    Sale Date 06/22/2005
    Sale Price $0
    Deed Book/Page 3006/206
    Validity of Sale Invalid Sale

    Sale Date 12/03/2004
    Sale Price $4,823,500
    Deed Book/Page 2883/382
    Validity of Sale Valid Sale

    Previous Owner N/A
    Sale Date 04/27/1984
    Sale Price $135,000
    Deed Book/Page 796/452
    Validity of Sale Valid Sale

    So he actually bought it in December 2004, transferred it to a corporation (perhaps he owns that corporation, since the price listed is $0) six months later, who in turn sold it to UVA two years later. He acquired it for $4.8M, UVA bought it for $5.9M.

    I’m just speculating, but I think it’s totally possible that this was coordinated with UVA. The university bought a key property in $6M with a shell corporation, presumably to avoid the seller from realizing that he was in a transaction with a party prepared to spend a whole lot more money for that land. He may have just brought it as a broker on behalf of the university.

  3. The $0 sale is listed as invalid, but it could meant it was a tax-free transfer, since it was between two entities who were the same owner.

    $1.1m is a great paycheck for doing essentially nothing but signing papers.

  4. Waldo, interesting find. What is UVA using the building for now? It’s interesting that the Center was involved, given the scandal around Goode and Sabato, and Faulk’s potential run.

  5. UVA is using the building for precisely the same thing that they were using it before—now they’re just not paying rent. The Center for Politics moved out, but that’s unrelated to the transaction. That’s just because Sabato donated the money to buy a building across the street to house them.

  6. (The Sorensen Institute is housed there, where my wife used to work, and I used to do some consulting for a couple of the organizations in that building, too, so I’m very familiar with it.)

  7. The fine senator from Pittsylvania County is ROBERT, not BOB . . .

    You’re right, of course—I’ve fixed that. For some reason, I routinely want him to be named “Bob.” When I launched Richmond Sunlight, that was his name there, so certain was I that he went by that nickname. You’d think I’d learn by now.

  8. This may be somewhat off topic but is VA going to get a new house seat after 2010 reapportionment? Even if not will this seat look different assuming that population density in VA has changed in the previous decade. As I understand it, reapportionment doesn’t take place until 2012 election. Reapportionment will once again not be good for Democrats. People are moving from midwest and northeast to South and West.

  9. VA will not get a new house seat after 2010. Redistricting depends on the outcome of this fall’s election. All the more reason we need to elect Deeds as Governor and get more Democrats in the House of Delegates like Neff.

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