It’s Deeds! (UPDATED)

DEEDS

With 60% of precincts reporting, Creigh Deeds (50%) leads Terry McAuliffe (26%) and Brian Moran (24%) in VA’s Democratic gubernatorial primary.  That’s a pretty insurmountable lead, even with 40% of precincts outstanding; at the risk of being premature, I’m going to call this one for Deeds (who, in the interest of full disclosure, I voted for).

Deeds had a late surge in the polls to become the strong front-runner. Even though a lot of people had started to consider Deeds an also-ran due to his dismal early polling, primary elections are volatile and Deeds ended up emerging as the safest choice.

McAuliffe had a lot of money and connections but no electoral experience, and his checkered past as head of the DNC and Hillary Clinton campaign flack was a major strike against him. Brian Moran portrayed himself as the progressive alternative to McAuliffe’s establishmentarian record, but Moran’s newfound progressiveness always rang somewhat hollow.  And all of the sniping between presumed front-runners McAuliffe and Moran left Deeds virtually unblemished.

Deeds was the safest choice, being the only candidate in the race who had run for statewide office before. In fact, he ran against the GOP’s gubernatorial candidate, Bob McDonnell, for Attorney General; Deeds lost by only several hundred votes, the smallest margin in VA history.

A Deeds-McDonnell rematch is both poetic justice and welcome news, since VA is certainly more progressive-friendly than it was in 2005. As The Washington Post said, Creigh Deeds will be a Governor in the successful Warner-Kaine tradition.

UPDATE: File this under things I’ve never seen before–a Twitter concession from Brian Moran:

TIWTTERCONCESSION

And make sure to stop on by and show your support for newly-minted Democratic gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds.

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VA-GOV: Moran Wins Major Support, McAuliffe Stays Home

This past weekend, at the Mount Vernon Democratic Committee straw poll, Democratic candidates for Virginia Governor, Virginia Lieutenant Governor and Virginia Attorney General made their cases to the voters and faced their first hurdle toward winning statewide office.

Every candidate showed up with just one glaring exception: Gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe, who didn’t even bother to show. For someone who’s shown so little interest in Virginia politics before he decided to run for Governor, skipping one of the state’s biggest cattle calls doesn’t bode well for his campaign.

In McAuliffe’s absence, Brian Moran brought down the house and won the straw poll in a landslide:

83 – Brian Moran
43 – Creigh Deeds
33 – Terry McAuliffe

You know what they say–if you don’t show up and ask for people’s votes, you won’t get them.

For Lieutenant Governor, Jody Wagner–VA’s Secretary of Finance–beat the other contenders by a healthy margin:

62 – Jody Wagner
44 – Jon Bowerbank
18 – Pat Edmonson
15 – Mike Signer
10 – Rich Savage

Delegate Steve Shannon, the only Democrat running for Attorney General, won universal praise for his campaign.

As it stands, the Gubernatorial race seems to be shaping up as a two-man contest between McAuliffe and Moran, while Deeds is quickly fading. One of the problems for Deeds is that he’s holding onto his seat in the Virginia Senate, which means he’s bound by campaign finance laws in terms of when and how he can raise and spend campaign cash.

Couple that with the fact that Deeds’ base is in sparsely-populated Southern Virginia–as opposed to Moran and McAuliffe, who hail from heavily-populated Northern Virginia–and you have a recipe for near-certain defeat.

McAuliffe is the well-known, well-funded establishment candidate while Moran is the progressive underdog; that’s the current dynamic of the race and it leaves nearly no room for Deeds. He should have a bigger role in the race, considering that he ran for statewide office in 2005 and lost by an extraordinarily slim margin; unfortunately for him, he’s just not out there aggressively selling his angle enough. Unless he takes some drastic action to change that, the dynamics of this race will leave him on the sidelines.

The Democratic Primary is June 9th.  In all likelihood–barring some major change in the race–I will be voting for Brian Moran.  But a lot can happen between now and the primary, so this certainly isn’t set in stone just yet.

On The Web:

Brian Moran for Governor

Creigh Deeds for Governor

Terry McAluiffe For Governor

VA-GOV: McAuliffe’s In

Former DNC Chairman and Hillary Clinton campaign chair Terry McAuliffe is officially running for Governor of Virginia.

McAuliffe was Chairman of the DNC from 2001 to 2005; in that time, Democrats lost two elections; the party’s fundraising consistently lagged behind the GOP’s; messaging and party discipline were terrible; and the party backed a slew of idiotic self-defeating policies.

But it would be completely unfair to blame all of that on McAuliffe–even if he did everything right, he might not have been able to single-handedly solve those problems.

What I do blame McAuliffe for, though, is the way he ran the party: poorly.   Under his leadership, state Democratic parties atrophied, starved of funds and talent.  Little to no effort was put into building the kind of web-based small donor network that propelled Howard Dean to national prominence under McAuliffe’s watch.  Under him, Democrats were consistently incapable of putting enough boots on the ground to win elections.  Under McAuliffe, the networks of volunteers and experienced political operatives that would go on to elect  Barack Obama President were never built.  Under him, millions of dollars of potential donations from small donors was never collected.

McAuliffe is politically old-fashioned.  He’s from the school of thought that says as long as you have enough wealthy donors willing to max out and as long as you can afford a lot of television commercials, you’ll win.  His leadership was fundamentally out of touch with the reality of American politics.  Every advancement Howard Dean made could have at least been started under McAuliffe; he simply refused to take a risk and modernize the Democratic Party. And that’s not the kind of leadership we need here in Virginia.

So, unless something major changes, I won’t be voting for Terry McAuliffe.  Thanks, but no thanks.

“Disenfranchisment”?

Cross-posted at Daily Kos

Now, there are a lot of Hillary supporters out there calling the exclusion of Florida and Michigan from the Democratic primary “disenfranchisement.” These Hillary supporters are saying they won’t vote for Barack Obama because he’s disenfranchising millions of voters. They say their opposition has nothing to do with what’s best for Hillary Clinton, that they’re taking a principled stand against voter disenfranchisement.

Alright, so I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt. Let’s say you are taking a principled stand against voter disenfranchisement. Let’s say this has nothing to do with your support for Hillary. Then I have some questions for you, like…

Where were you when the rules were being set?

The rules governing the primary were set by the Democratic National Committee nearly in August of 2006. Those rules said only Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada could vote before February 5th; any state that voted before then would be stripped of their delegation.

Thus, the potential for millions of Democratic voters to be disenfranchised was written into the 2008 primary back in ’06.

So, where were you guys then? If voter disenfranchisement is such a big issue to you, why weren’t you opposing the proposed rules back then? Why weren’t you doing anything back when this could have made a difference?

That brings us to…

Where were you when the states were rescheduling their primaries?

It was well known that any state holding a primary before February 5th would be stripped of its delegation. Yet, knowing this, the governments of Michigan and Florida went ahead and voted to break the rules. By changing the dates of their primaries, MI and FL’s governments disenfranchised their own voters.

So where were you guys then? Why weren’t you opposing the proposals to reschedule those states’ primaries? If this is about taking a principled stand against voter disenfranchisement, why didn’t you take action months ago when this all started?

Also,

What about Terry?

In 2004, Michigan wanted to break that year’s rules and hold their primary early. At the time, the Chairman of the DNC threatened to strip MI of their delegation if they went through with their plan. This is from the DNC Chairman’s book:

“You won’t deny us seats at the convention,” [Michigan Senator Carl Levin] said.

“Carl, take it to the bank,” I said. “They will not get a credential. The closest they’ll get to Boston will be watching it on television. I will not let you break this entire nominating process for one state. The rules are the rules. If you want to call my bluff, Carl, you go ahead and do it.”

[Emphasis Added]

The DNC Chairman in 2004 was Terry McAuliffe. Where’s McAuliffe now?

He’s the chairman of Hillary Clinton’s Presidential campaign.

If Hillary is taking a principled stand against voter disenfranchisement, why is McAuliffe the chair of her campaign? Why hasn’t she fired him for his pro-disenfranchisement views? Why haven’t you, her supporters, demanded McAuliffe be fired from the campaign? Where’s the consistency?

If it’s disenfranchisement now, it would have been disenfranchisement then. If you can’t support Obama because he’s not doing enough about voter disenfranchisement, then how can you support Hillary after she appointed pro-disenfranchisement McAuliffe to her campaign?

That brings us to…

What about Jenny?

Jennifer Granholm is the Governor of Michigan. She signed the law that moved Michigan’s primary before February 5th. With a stroke of her pen, Granholm disenfranchised millions of MI voters; had she acted differently back then, millions of Michigan voters wouldn’t be disenfranchised.

Granholm is also a Hillary supporter. If this issue is about taking a principled stand against voter disenfranchisement, why hasn’t Hillary rejected and denounced Granholm? Why haven’t you all called on her to do so? Why have you allowed Hillary to benefit from the support of someone who single-handedly disenfranchised millions of voters?

Misplaced Anger

A lot of you are blaming Barack Obama for this situation. But how? Obama didn’t set the rules. Obama isn’t in charge of enforce the rules. Obama didn’t move Michigan and Florida’s primaries up. Obama had nothing to do with these decisions. He might be benefiting from the situation, but he’s not responsible for it.

If you’re going to place blame, blame the DNC. Blame Howard Dean. Blame Jennifer Granholm and Charlie Crist. Blame MI and FL’s legislatures. There are dozens of people you can blame for this situation, but Obama isn’t one of them.

So let’s not delude ourselves into thinking he’s somehow responsible for this mess that we’re in. And while we’re not deluding ourselves…

Stop the Spin

Let’s be honest. The fight over Michigan and Florida isn’t about taking a stand against voter disenfranchisement. It never was. This is a political ploy by the Clinton campaign to get more delegates. Want proof? When asked why she didn’t take her name off of MI’s ballot, even though every other candidate did so, Clinton said it was because Michigan “is not going to count for anything.”

That’s right— Hillary Clinton didn’t take her name off of MI’s ballot because she said MI wouldn’t matter. She accepted and acknowledged that MI wouldn’t play a role in the nominating process because they broke the rules.

Want more proof? Here’s a statement from the Hillary campaign, released September 1, 2007:

“We believe Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina play a unique and special role in the nominating process. And we believe the DNC’s rules and its calendar provide the necessary structure to respect and honor that role. Thus, we will be signing the pledge to adhere to the DNC approved nominating calendar.”

It was only after Obama started winning that Clinton made FL and MI an issue. This was clearly a political decision. Now, there’s nothing wrong with making political decisions—all politicians make political decisions. But let’s stop pretending this is about voter disenfranchisement, because it’s not— it’s about giving Hillary a better shot at the nomination.

The very day Clinton sent a letter to Obama criticizing him for not doing more to seat MI and FL, she rejected a plan to seat MI’s delegation. Why? Because it wasn’t politically advantageous enough for her. This isn’t about giving MI or FL a voice— it’s about whatever works best for Hillary Clinton.

It’s About Integrity, Stupid!

So you say you can’t vote for Barack Obama because he’s disenfranchising millions of voters (even though he’s not really responsible for that).

Well, then I say I can’t vote for Hillary Clinton because of her lack of integrity.

The DNC makes the rules for the primaries. You might not like the rules— I certainly don’t, I think Iowa and New Hampshire have too much influence and I support overhauling the entire primary system— but you have to follow them. That’s the price of trying to be the Democratic nominee— you have to follow the Democratic Party’s rules.

We just had eight years of a President who freely broke the rules. We spent eight years suffering under a President who ignored any rule he didn’t like. Yet now we have Democrats supporting a Democratic candidate who’s also trying to break the rules when it’s convenient to do so.

That doesn’t bode well for a Hillary Clinton administration— America is a nation of rules, and Clinton’s attempt to break the rules for the sake of politics speaks volumes about her lack of integrity.

So you might not like Obama. You might not want to vote for him. That’s your decision to make, and you have the right to make it. But don’t feed us this garbage about Barack Obama “disenfranchising” Michigan and Florida, because that’s nothing but spin. And for people who are supposed to be part of the reality-based community, I expect better from you.