1. Was the Next Conservative Star…
Overlooked with all the talk about the Republican guys- Cuccinelli, Bolling, McDonnell and Allen- who showed up at the Tea Party convention last week? I’m not sure how everyone missed it. But isn’t Jamie Radtke far more impressive than Sharon Angle and Christine O’Donnell, two Tea Party affiliated candidates running for Senate right now? Radtke demonstrated superb organizational skills in pulling off the largest state Tea Party convention yet. She has far more policy savvy than either of the Senate candidates. And she handled the descent of national and international media upon the event with aplomb. The rise of Republican women have been one of the key political stories of the last two years- Will Radtke be Virginia’s contribution?
2. Spinal Politics
A few years ago The Washington Post reported on a tape of a Democratic conference call in which a prominent Democratic legislator lectured then Governor Mark Warner’s chief-of-staff on the need for his boss to obtain a spinal infusion. I hadn’t heard much more about spinal politics until this week when an advisor to Governor Bob McDonnell apparently informed the House leadership that their lack of support for the Governor’s ABC privatization plan might be a sign of its need for a spine regeneration procedure. No one is thrilled at the prospect of a spinal operation and the House GOP was no exception. Tim Hugo, in particular, expressed his misgivings in a widely circulated email. Speaker Howell is clearly attempting to mediate the situation, suggesting that the rift can be healed with political therapies short of major surgery.
Seems to be more important with every passing week. Who are the two most prominent Republican Governors in the country at the moment? I’d argue that it’s not Bobby Jindal and Mitch Daniels, but Bob McDonnell and Chris Christie. They are increasingly seen as the two individuals whose elections represent the beginning of a GOP resurgence nationally. Not suprisingly, McDonnell and Christie will be campaigning together for GOP candidates running this November. I won’t be surprised if they carefully take each other’s measure inasmuch as they may be vying for the same spot on the GOP national ticket in 2012.
4. A Chair Opens
For the Democratic party with the announced departure of Richard Cranwell. The recent performance of the party heightens the significance of the choice it’ll make in December of a new party leader. After being on an upward trajectory for most of the last decade, Virginia Democrats have appeared dispirited, rudderless and slow to respond to Republican charges. The recent VDOT audit is an excellent case in point. Most Democrats do not believe that there is more than a billion dollars sitting around for transportation projects that had never been allocated. But the party appeared almost completely unprepared for the audit’s release, one that depicted the most recent Democratic administration as a case study in ineptitude and mismanagement. The Democrats desperately need a consistent voice and an energetic new chair could be the first step in finding one.
5. Is Fimian Neck and Neck with Connolly?
This was the buzz in Virginia political circles this week. I had originally thought that the defeat of Pat Herrity in the GOP nomination ( a candidate with more name recognition in Fairfax than Fimian) contest would make it very difficult for the Republicans to effectively contest the Connolly seat. But if Connolly is truly in play, it tells us an awful lot of how bad the environment is for Democrats this year.
6. Can Tom Perriello Hang On?
Against a strong challenge by Robert Hurt? It’s a terrible environment for a Democratic incumbent that supported the major priorities in the Democratic agenda, but Perriello may be one of the party’s best candidates in Virginia. He’s an aggressive campaigner, he’s managed to garner the support of a major veterans group and the NRA, and he’s raised a ton of money. And he’s very popular with party activists across Virginia. Even if he loses, I expect Perrielo to be a key player in determining the future of the Virginia Democratic Party.
7. Thunder on the Right
Was the title of a fascinating book that Richmonder Alan Crawford wrote about 30 years ago regarding the emergence of a new conservative movement in the United States. Crawford’s title is a great way to describe the politics of 2010. In Virginia, there’s a lot of talk right now about redistricting. But I think that a number of Republican incumbents in the House and Senate may be worried in 2011 about a challenge from the new thunder on the right than the outcome of redistricting.