The First Draft: Showdown in Virginia

June 10, 2009

No major events are on the calendar today in the Federal City, but on the other side of the Potomac River there’s plenty to chew over.

Virginia Democrats on Tuesday night picked State Sen. Creigh Deeds, an unpolished moderate from the rural Shenandoah Valley, over better-funded rivals in the state’s gubernatorial primary.

This normally wouldn’t be big news, but the Virginia governor’s race is sure to get lots of national scrutiny as one of only two major electoral contests this year (along with the New Jersey governor’s race).

Virginia, long a bastion of conservative politics, has turned blue this decade. The state has elected two Democratic governors in a row, backed Obama in last year’s presidential race, and is now represented by two Democrats in the Senate.


Much of this shift has been driven by rapid population growth in the affluent Washington suburbs, where voters have more in common with liberal New Yorkers than conservative Southerners. Thus it’s interesting to note that Deeds, who hails from a sparsely populated, conservative area, defeated two better-funded, more liberal candidates who call Northern Virginia home — former Democratic party (and Clinton ally) Terry McAuliffe and state Delegate Brian Moran.

Deeds will face Republican Robert McDonnell in the November election. The two have faced off before: McDonnell beat Deeds by a mere 323 votes in the attorney general’s race four years ago.

For more Reuters policital coverage, click here.

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