Tales from the Trail

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).

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.

USA-POLITICS/

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.

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.