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?