Looking over races in central Virginia, I sure see a lot of incumbents going unchallenged. If they were hit by a bus in the weeks or months before election day, the opposing party would have no chance of getting their own guy elected, because they decided to sit it out. My own representatives in the House of Delegates, Rob Bell, has no Democratic challenger. I’m as much to blame as anybody else for Bell going unchallenged—after all, you don’t see me running against him—but I do think there’s a potential solution. I think party chairs should be nominated to run when nobody else is available, as a matter of party rules.
For instance, I’d thought about putting my name in against Bell, not because I had any interest whatsoever in running, but because he could have been hit by a bus, and so somebody should have been carrying the flag for the opposing party. But I didn’t, for the same reason that you didn’t do it, either—because I’d look like an idiot. I’m running, but not really. I’m not even really half-assing it. I just thought it’d look nice to have my name printed up on a bunch of ballots. Please don’t give me any money.
If party leadership had to line up and put each their names as the standard-bearer for their party in otherwise uncontested races, then it’d be a routine thing, not requiring explanation beyond “I’m the vice-chair, so it’s really just automatic.” This would have the happy side-effect of providing an indication of how many people will vote for a Democrat/Republican no matter who is on the ballot, a sort of a baseline for the district. Under the extraordinary circumstance that this candidate-by-default wound up being elected, there’s at least some reason to think that the person isn’t totally unable to do the job, by virtue of having risen to the top of the party’s leadership.
So, yeah, that. Let’s get on it.