Intra Party Effects of New Chairman
First off, this is a big victory for Tom Davis. His people were instrumental in getting Hager to run for chair and eventually win the race. This should pay dividends as it should give him the inside track to getting a primary as the method of nomination for the 2008 Senate race. It should also give a good set up for whoever Davis wants to get the 2009 governor nomination since we will likely determine the method of nomination for that within the next 6 months.
As you can imagine, there are also ideological overtones to this chairman's race. Most considered this race to be conservative (Judd) vs. moderate (Hager). This was a result of Hager working for Mark Warner as well as the Tom Davis machine working to get him elected.
As a result of this, the election of Hager is also seen a victory for the party moderates as well as a defeat for the conservatives. This makes for an interesting setup come November.
The tag line for the conservatives over the past few years has been that the GOP wins when it sticks to its principles and it loses when it runs moderates. That sentiment was certainly invoked in the elections of 2005, and even some argue that for 2006.
With lots of competitive races and even the Senate majority in peril on the horizon, the conservatives will likely point to Hager "the moderate" for the defeats if they occur in November.
To compound this problem, Gillespie has been a gangbuster fundraiser up to this point. Alot of that can be attributed to the fundraiser with President Bush at the home of Richard Sharp, and various others with 2008 presidential hopefuls. Even so, Hager will have a tough time performing at that level until the election. This is one more potential problem conservatives will likely be able to point to if we crash and burn on election day.
The other side of the coin here is that Hager will likely get very little credit if the GOP is successful in November, since most of the threatened Senators are conservatives (Cuccinelli, O'Brien, and Rerras). The conservatives will argue they won b/c of their own principles and not the leadership of Hager.
I see all this leading up to an inevitable backlash against the moderates in the RPV Chair election at the Advance in early December. The conservatives will run a candidate who will likely take on Hager for the job, which will cause a battle much like this last one.
Right now, we seem to be united with our new chairman. I don't see the same level of unity the next time around. We will likely have a divisive nomination for Senate in 2008 shortly after this chairman's election, so it may be awhile before the RPV can regroup.
We are in the middle of a major realignment within the party. Its just much more clear when viewed through the lens of the RPV Chairman and the race for the job. Whats unclear is which side will be successful. The other thing that unclear is who is a "conservative" and whos a "moderate".
UPDATE: Let me point out that I am not personally saying supporters of Hager are moderates. I am simply saying that's the way some in the party will likely see it. We must remember that perception is key in politics. Like I said at the end of the post, its unclear who is conservative and who is moderate; b/c it all depends on who you ask.