Hurt jumps into the fray.

Sen. Robert Hurt is joining the fray for the Republican nomination in the 5th CD. He’s the sixth candidate to enter the race to challenge Rep. Tom Perriello, and enters as the clear leader. Hurt only advanced to the senate last election, and before that served in the house since 2002. He’s never really distinguished himself in the legislature, and he’s also never made an ass of himself—like most legislators, he’s just a guy who has reliably shown up and done the work that needs doing.

Prior to Hurt’s unsurprising entrance, the leader was surely Albemarle County Board of Supervisors member (and my supervisor) Ken Boyd. Which isn’t saying much—BoS to U.S. House is a big leap, and being a member of a county BoS does nothing to lay the groundwork for running for a House race. But unlike his largely unknown opponents, Boyd has successfully run for office (twice) and knows what it is to serve in office. Hurt obviously ups the ante, having served in the highest legislative office one could serve in short of U.S. House. Also, Hurt is the only candidate from Southside, assuming one ignores the too-sad-to-be-a-parody campaign run by Bradley Rees, which is the rational thing to do. (Though I’d blithely asserted that Perriello couldn’t win last year, being from the north end of the district. Obviously that wasn’t true.) Hurt’s current and prior districts combine to include about a quarter of the geographic range of the 5th, which is a significant advantage not to be ignored.

No doubt, Hurt is the strongest candidate, and he’s the only guy in this race that makes me wonder if Perriello could have some trouble next year.

But, never fear, Virginian Republicans’ instinct towards self destruction is kicking in already. Brian McNeill explains:

One possible problem for Hurt’s candidacy is that he voted in favor of a $1.4 billion tax increase in 2004 that closed a gap in Virginia’s budget that threatened the state’s AAA bond rating and increased spending on education, public safety and mental health services.

The tax increase has been a sore spot for the Republican rank-and-file ever since. The issue has come up, for example, in this year’s gubernatorial race between Republican Bob McDonnell and Democrat R. Creigh Deeds. McDonnell has criticized Deeds for backing the 2004 vote, saying it was the largest tax increase in Virginia’s history — and unnecessary.

“People have long memories, especially of such a difficult time politically,” said Keith Drake, a former Albemarle County GOP chairman and leader of the Albemarle Truth in Taxation Alliance. “[Hurt] was on the wrong side of that vote.”

(God love Keith Drake. That man is the greatest gift to Albemarle Democrats in my lifetime.) Is it possible that Republicans could be so thick-headed as to nominate an ideologically pure candidate rather than one that can win? Absolutely.

Let’s see if any candidates drop out with Hurt’s entrance into the race. Unless Ken Boyd has the fervent backing of the fringe right in Albemarle County, his hand may have been trumped in this race, and I think it would be sensible for him to pack it in. I’m not sure that most of these folks have the sense to realize that they’re probably licked.

Published by Waldo Jaquith

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

7 replies on “Hurt jumps into the fray.”

  1. Let’s see if you get grief for declaring the nomination race over. I already have.

    Hurt will win the nomination easily.

    I want to see a good campaign, but I’d love to watch the trainwreck of a Rees nomination. Heh.

  2. Hurt is pandering, or something, to the teabaggers by heading to a tea party on Saturday in Danville. One in which Rees was not invited, as far as I have been able to find out. Virgil will be there, as will the other two candidates, Feda Morton and Laurence Verga. The so-called ‘Fair Tax’ people will be there too.

    Heckuva job, Robert.

  3. Unlike you Waldo, I feared for Perriello’s job security. He barely won in 08, and won’t have Obama’s turnout to help him. I figured he’d have a tough race no matter who the Republicans nominated (well, except maybe Rees). :-)

    I think Boyd’s a fairly sharp guy and will see this as a chance to exit gracefully. A lot of people on the far right seem to want Michael McPadden, but I don’t know how well he’d do against Perriello.

    In terms of difficulty to beat for Perriello, my quick, unthinking rank:
    1. Robert Hurt
    2. Boyd
    3. McPadden
    4. Verga
    5. Morton
    6. Rees

    I think any of the top 3 would be tough, but I’m not sure which of the bottom will realize that they’re outgunned and pack it in.

    Either way, it should shape up to be a good race next year.

  4. The 5th District will pan out much like the 1st District did. Perriello knows he’ll have to run a challenger’s race again given the demographics of his seat. Insofar as the GOP candidates go, the nomination contest will more than likely be a convention… so six candidates is just a good start.

    Hurt will have a hard time getting over the 2004 tax vote with Republican activists in the 5th. Keys to victory will be:

    (1) Solid background with the unit committees.
    (2) An effective communicator on fiscal and social conservative issues.
    (3) Walk in everyone’s second favorite pick.
    (4) Run a solid campaign. Not overwhelming, just solid.

    Unfortunately, what you *don’t* see on that list is “Can you beat Tom Perriello?” as a requirement. There’s a high degree of confidence that Perriello is one-and-done, and I think that underestimates Tom’s strengths. You’ve got to give the guy credit — 26 town halls is more than all the other congressional delegation put on combined.

    Fact is, he’s not a nutjob leftist — he’s a common sense guy with ideas I personally would be opposed to, but you could sit down and have a cup of coffee with the guy. Not a bad persona to have in a district that fundamentally does not identify with your political party…

    The 5th District will be interesting on a number of levels, not just because of the demographics or the meta-climate in 2010, but also because of who Tom Perriello is.

    I wouldn’t call VA-05 a bellweather for much of anything, but it will be an interesting race regardless — one that could very well cut past party ID depending on the GOP nominee.

  5. Meri: “I think any of the top 3 would be tough, but I’m not sure which of the bottom will realize that they’re outgunned and pack it in.”

    Rees is definitely outgunned now. The court made him forfeit the two that he had in his car.

  6. “does not identify with your political party… ”

    No offense Shaun, but the last congressman from this district first elected as a Republican was 122 years ago during reconstruction.

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