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.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Race is On in the 28th

As campaign season heats up, the 28th Senate District looks to potentially be a very competitve race. As you all know, the dems have convinced former Del. Albert Pollard from the northern neck to run for this seat.

The GOP nomination seems to be a bit more murky right now. Intially, it appeared John Van Hoy would be the default candidate due to his support and closeness to 1st District Chair Russ Moulton and being on State Central. Since then two more Stafford candidates have emerged: Joe Graziano, a narrowly defeated supervisor candidate; and Jonathon Myers, a long time party activist and GOP committee secretary. Had there been a convention, one these three candidates would have virtually been guaranteed the nomination due to Stafford having control of the process.

Instead, the method of nomination will be firehouse primary. This opens the possibily of a candidate from the northern neck having a shot; especially with 3 Stafford candidates in the race.

In light of this, former Westmoreland County Commonwealth's Attorney Richard Stuart has thrown his hat into the GOP nomination battle. Under most circumstances, he would have virtually no shot at the nomination. Even so, this particular situation lends itself to him potentially securing it.

First off, we are assuming that the three Stafford candidates will all have a decent showing in the Stafford/Fauquier area. Each has their own strengths and weaknesses; but it would appear they should each get a pretty equal portion of the votes in this area. Conversely, Stuart should have a good shot at securing nearly all the votes in the northern neck. Van Hoy has family and business connections in that area, but it still seems likely that Stuart will carry the day by a wide margin here.

From the 2005 GOP Gubentorial primary, total votes cast looked like this:
Stafford County: 2483
Fauquier County: 345
Frederickburg: 119
Prince William: 37
Total for Stafford Area: 2984

King George County: 420
Lancaster: 540
Northumberland: 469
Richmond County: 197
Westmoreland: 281
Total Northern Neck Area: 1907

As you can see, intially the northern neck has a severe disadvantage here. Even so, if the Stafford candidates evenly split that area they each only get around 1000 votes; while Stuart gets the 1900 from the northern neck. Whats more is that because of the dynamics of this race, Stuart may be able to even garner votes in the Stafford area b/c he has the best chance of winning. Let me explain:

First off, the dem opponent is from the northern neck. One of the biggest concerns right now in GOP circles is that since Pollard represented all 5 northern neck counties as a Delegate, that he may be able to pull big numbers here, despite the GOP tilt of the area. Conversely, the Stafford County area is already pretty strong GOP, with no reason to change based on name ID or local dynamics. Based on this knowledge, it would appear the GOP's best bet is to run someone from the northern neck to counter Pollard's advantage there.

Local election results in the '06 Senate race look like this:

Stafford County: Allen +3903
Fauquier: Allen +917
Fredericksburg: Webb +268
Prince William: Allen +36
Total Stafford Area: Allen +4588

King George County: Allen +1158
Lancaster: Allen +787
Northumberland: Allen +947
Richmond County: Allen +638
Westmoreland: Webb +16
Total Northern Neck Area: Allen +3514

Based on this, the GOP has a bigger vote advantage in Stafford. Most of this is due to shear population; but it also plays into what I said eariler. The GOP has a strong area, with no apparent reason to see a weak showing. Conversely, the GOP has less votes in the northern neck; and Pollard could potentially make that problem worse.

Most importantly, not only is Stuart from the northern neck, but is from by far the most democratic locality in the area. Allen got 58-62% of the vote in the other 4 locales but lost Westmoreland County by several votes. Whats more is that Stuart defeated incumbent CA Peggy Garland in 2003 with 64% of the vote in that same county.

Even after all this analysis, Stuart does face two potential problems. First, is his resignation of his CA job in 2005. The article says he did it due be with his family while they experienced health problems. If that is truly the reason, that won't be much of a problem; especially since Del. Pollard retired in 2005 basically for similar reasons.
The second problem for Stuart is that he gave Del. Pollard a donation in 2001 as well as Mark Warner's Inaugural committee in 2002. Even so, apparently that wasn't enough to stop the Westmoreland GOP from giving him their party's nomination for CA in 2003. Also, Jim Webb endorsed George Allen in 2000; but that didn't stop him from defeating him 6 years later.

There is no clear indication yet what will happen in the primary, but Stuart has a major strategic advantage for both the nomination and more importantly the general election. The big question here is whether Stafford Republicans would rather risk the seat to get one of their own as a Senator, or if the GOP Senate majority is more important to them.

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