With Dudley Retiring, What Happens Now?
I assume that Ferguson will still remain the democratic frontrunner for the that nomination; but others may arise with the seat now being an open contest.
On the GOP side, I am hearing Dudley's son AJ looks to be the early frontrunner for the nomination. AJ was rumored to be interested in running this year if Ferguson defeated his father in 2005; so it looks like he may get that matchup.
The GOP will start with 2 advantages in this race now. The first is that the district is Republican leaning, and is drawn where it very tough for a dem to run to be able to win it. This results from the example from our 2005 race; where the dem won conservative Franklin County; but was unable to parlay that crossover into conservative Floyd and Pittsylvania Counties. Ferguson's major obstacle against any opponent will be building support in these two counties to hold down the losses that Franklin will need to offset for him.
The second is money. Dudley has almost $100k on hand, which will undoubtably goto his son's campaign fund. In a district like this one; thats a great start. Ferguson will have the advantage that the dems know he can perform well, and will probably send a good chunk of change his way.
I personally think this development helps GOP chances of retaining the seat b/c Dudley's problems won't be an issue now. The big question mark is whether his son will be punished for some of his father's business decisions and stupid mistakes.
I felt that with Dudley barely winning even with a gubentorial election to drive turnout, he would be a very precarious situation in an off year election. Now a new candidate can hopefully fight their own battle, and make the election about issues instead of personal problems. That should favor the GOP here.
We will keep an eye on this race to see what happens next; but I think this should be good for the Republican house majority.