Elephant Ears

This blog is dedicated to the political happenings in the Valley and Southwest Virginia. As the the name implies, this blog will have posts based on what is heard by this elephant's (GOPer's) ears. It is also a great treat to get while at the county fair or a carnival.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Future of the House of Delegates

NLS has a great post on the outcome of all the HOD races this past year. He points to dem gains in NOVA and no losses in the minority districts, but shows how dems continue to lose ground in the white majority districts outside of NOVA. He seems to think the GOP is still well positioned for the future unless the dems can manage a strategy to win in white districts outside of NOVA.

I tend to somewhat agree with this sentiment, but also have some caution for GOPs. First off, the bleeding must be curtailed in NOVA or we could be in deep trouble. Fairfax seats such as Dave Albo, Vince Callahan, Tom Rust, and Tim Hugo continue to decline in GOP strength and will become increasingly hard to defend, especially as incumbents retire. I do not believe Loudoun and PWC are turning as democratic as some may think, but they may become harder to defend in total (before this election Loudoun's entire House delegation was GOP, now its 2 of each). Areas such as these will become harder and harder to keep locked up, although I believe a majority of each of these delgations will stay GOP.
Population plays another role. Most of the population growth is in NOVA, so their number of seats will continue to rise as the rest of the state declines. If we cannot secure newly drawn seats in 2011, we will undoubtably lose overall majority strength by virtue of new districts replacing likely GOP districts downstate. I have heard NOVA will gain as many as 5 Delegate seats in the next round of redistricting. There are some other possible seat changes on the horizon as well.
Here is my list of likely and/or potentional party changes in seats outside of NOVA in the next 2 or 3 election cycles:

John Johnson's (D) 4th in SWVA will go GOP upon his retirement
Ward Armstrong's (D) 10th in SWVA will go GOP upon his retirement
Lacey Putney's (I) 19th in the Valley will go GOP upon his retirement
Shannon Valentine's (D) 23rd in Lynchburg is still winnable by the GOP
Rob Bell's (R) 58th in Albemarle will depend on the way his district is redrawn
Watkins Abbitt's (I) 59th will likely be broken up after 2011 if he retires
Katherine Waddell's (I) 68th in Metro Richmond is still winnable by the GOP

If the GOP swept these 5 seats and was even able to defend the 58th, that would give the Republicans 62 seats. Even so, if we were to lose the 4 Fairfax seats and all 5 newly created NOVA seats, that would leave us with only 53. If other NOVA seats like May, Parrish, McQuigg, Frederick and Marshall were lost, we would lose the majority.

This all brings us back to the fact that in order to retain the majority after redistricting, the GOP must stop losing seats in NOVA. We will have a semi built-in advantage everywhere else, but we cannot continue to get crushed in the suburbs of D.C. In order to do this, we need more candidates that are about getting things done and fixing problems of concern to their constituents; not grandstanding. If we are going to win in NOVA, we need to have transportation and growth solutions. If we can do that, I believe the democrats will have almost no chance of regaining the House majority.

6 Comments:

  • At 1/25/2006 11:51 PM, Blogger Politicl.Animal said…

    Well, you're stuck, then, especially if your up-and-coming leadership is from the valley and southside. Lots of "grandstanding" done by those delegates.

    Also, your leaders will be those delegates who do not have credible, strong challengers year after year. They will be the ones able to take leadership and raise money (Vance Wilkins ring a bell?) Therefore, NOVA GOP delegates will be at a big disadvantage, while valley/southside GOP delegates have the advantage.

    Add to the fact that valley and southside residents don't care a rip about NOVA, and therefore would be open to hearing Democratic challengers talk about how Richmond favors NOVA (truth in the eye of the beholder on that one), it would make it hard for a valley/southside GOP delegate to take the lead on a bill that helps NOVA (like Kaine's first transportation package).

    Face it: your ideas are worn, your party is reeling AND the demographics are against you.

    We're taking the House by 2009. Bank on it.

     
  • At 1/26/2006 12:04 AM, Blogger GOPHokie said…

    Damn, confident arean't you?
    You wanna make a wager on that? I think we might lose the House, but not in 4 years.

     
  • At 1/26/2006 1:24 PM, Blogger J.Sarge said…

    GOP control of the House isn't going anywhere for quite some time. Democrats may make some gains between now and 2010, but Republicans will remain in control, and hence control redistricting.

    Population shifts will require adding more seats in NOVA, which might provide some light for Dems, but by and large Republicans will be successful in redistricting incumbent Democrats out of office (Ward Armstrong, Poisson and Caputo (if they are still in office), etc.). Thus, Democrats will have to start the long march all over again.

    That's what it looks like to me. What fo y'all think?

     
  • At 1/26/2006 5:13 PM, Blogger GOPHokie said…

    Due to irregular voting patterns it will be harder for the GOP to redistrict NOVA seats more safely. As for the seats I highlighted, many cannot be drawn together so they will likely stay in office until retirement.
    I would point out that according to census projections as of Jun of 2004, NOVA (Fairfax, Loudoun, PWC, Arlington, Alexandria and Falls Church) have had population growth to give themselves one more delegate seat. They currently have 26 and they would have 27. Unless the dems are successful at winning a tremendous majority of the NOVA seats, they will need big upsets in downstate areas like Lynchburg to regain the majority before the 2011 redistricting. That is essentially what NLS is saying in his post as well.

     
  • At 1/28/2006 10:43 AM, Blogger Politicl.Animal said…

    Me betting on politics is like Pete Rose betting on baseball.

    So, maybe ...

     
  • At 1/28/2006 1:35 PM, Blogger GOPHokie said…

    Except its not illegal for you to do it.

     

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