Tales from the Trail

Virginia shakes off Obama blue, returns to red roots

Pundits always use sports analogies for politics, we’re thinking of trying something different — a hair color analogy.

Virginia returned to its red roots tonight after an impetuous experiment last year with blue, the state’s political color of a generation ago. MONACO/

OK maybe it doesn’t work as well. To put it more simply, the Republicans won the governor’s race in Virginia. That was in contrast to last year when Barack Obama captured the state which voted Democrat in a presidential election for the first time since 1964.

After Virginia was called, Republicans could not hide their glee, joy, smiley faces. And they were quick with reactions to Republican Bob McDonnell’s victory over Democrat Creigh Deeds.

Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele issued a statement and repeatedly went on CNN including on the “Larry King Live” show. “It sends a clear signal that voters have had enough of the president’s liberal agenda,” he said.

The First Draft: Elections East-West

Elections in the East, elections in the West.

Hot off the wire: Afghan President Hamid Karzai has been declared re-elected.

AFGHANISTAN/Afghanistan’s election commission made the declaration after Karzai’s opponent, Abdullah Abdullah, withdrew and a run-off election was canceled. “The Independent Election Commission declares the esteemed Hamid Karzai as the president,” the commission’s chief said.

This will no doubt increase the pressure on President Barack Obama to roll-out his new Afghanistan strategy earlier rather than later, now that he knows who the United States will be dealing with.

Matthew Hoh, the former State Department employee who quit last month in protest over U.S. policy in Afghanistan, told NBC’s “Today” show that the Karzai news was “disappointing” and despite the investment of  a lot of U.S. resources, “we didn’t get what we put our troops there for.”

“People on Capitol Hill, they watch the news”

OBAMA/President Barack Obama, on a campaigning blitz for fellow Democrats facing tough fights to stay in office, or get there, is trying to tie the state races to national issues to convince voters their ballot will have a broader impact.

“People on Capitol Hill, they watch the news,” he said.

On Wednesday, the president flew to New Jersey for a rally backing Governor Jon Corzine, who only just climbed into a tie with his Republican opponent, according to opinion polls.

Corzine is struggling in his bid for re-election Nov. 3, although New Jersey is a heavily Democratic state.

The First Draft: Preparing for a fall?

Are Democrats trying to soften the blow for President Barack Obama if the Democratic candidate for Virginia governor, Creigh Deeds, loses in the November elections?OBAMA/

The Washington Post thinks so. It says in a front page story that top Democrats sense that Deeds is likely to lose in the key swing state so they’re trying to distance Obama from him.

The article cites senior administration officials who are frustrated with the way Deeds has handled his campaign, saying he refused some strategic advice. They also say he did not reach out to some key constituencies that helped Obama win Virginia in the 2008 presidential race — the first time in decades that a Democrat won in that state.

The First Draft: The president keeps campaigning

Back from his overseas trip, President Barack Obama has spent this week as campaigner-in-chief.

OBAMA/Every day Obama has pushed lawmakers to approve an overhaul of the healthcare industry — the president’s top legislative priority.

And last night he made a quick trip up to New Jersey to do some political campaigning and inject some presidential charisma into Governor Jon Corzine’s struggling re-election campaign.

The First Draft: Showdown in Virginia

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).

The First Draft: Reading tea leaves in Virginia

USA-POLITICS/The year after a presidential election, there’s typically few electoral contests on the calendar as politicians focus on getting some work done so they’ll have something to brag about to voters during the next election.

The few races that do occur tend to be heavily scrutinized as pundits look for something to chew over in the slow period before next year’s congressional midterms.

Today, Democrats in Virginia go to the polls to pick a candidate for the governor’s mansion, as incumbent Tim Kaine is constitutionally limited to one term. On the Republican side, Robert McDonnell faces no opposition for his party’s nomination.