It seems like every few days I receive an email from the Moran campaign and a bit less frequently from the Deeds’ camp notifying me of the local officials and General Assembly members who have endorsed them.
I’m usually fairly impressed by the prestige of the endorsers who show up in these press releases and even more impressed about what they have to say about Brian Moran and Creigh Deeds as individuals.
Mayor of cities such as Richmond, Hampton, Norfolk, Newport News, and Portsmouth and the Chair of the Legislative Black Caucus have endorsed Moran.
The Senate Majority Leader, Congressman Rick Boucher and a number of well known General Assembly members have endorsed Deeds.
Is all politics, as Tip On’Neill claimed, local?
If it is, Deeds and Moran should be feeling pretty good about their chances, Terry McAuliffe’s national visibility and financial resources notwithstanding.
In fact, I think it is the extent of their local ties that makes the outcome of the contest difficult to predict right now.
Local officials and activists have worked with Moran and Deeds for well over a decade. They are familiar with their viewpoints; in many instances they’ve become personal friends; and, perhaps most importantly, they know what to expect from them if either succeeds in becoming Governor.
McAuliffe? They’re not so sure about. And more than a few local officials and activists harbor a generalized resentment toward any parachute candidate who begins at the top.
But I’m never very comfortable with blanket statements about the nature of politics.
Especially this year.
The Democrats have been very successful recently, but they can’t just assume that their good fortune will continue.
The economic downturn and the accompanying financial anxiety has changed the political landscape in ways that we’re only beginning to discern.
Moreover, Democrats with whom I speak seem to be far more worried about Bob McDonnell today than they may have been a year ago.
McAuliffe’s emphasis on job creation, his capacity to bring greater financial resources to the table than McDonnell, and the sheer exuberance with which he campaigns strike some Democrats as more important than the time he has spent laboring on local crusades.
On June 9th, the Virginia Democrats are going to test the O’Neill Adage.
And we’ll see if, in politics, it’s still the “local” ties that bind?