November 6, 2007
As the folks at Daily Whack Job recently said, the campaign for the 24th District Senate seat currently held by Emmett Hanger has been quite anti-climactic compared to the bruising primary battle between Hanger and Scott Sayre. That is only because Senator Hanger has campaigned in a very cautious, low-key way this fall, striving above all to avoid doing anything that might provoke defections by those who voted for Sayre to the Libertarian candidate Arin Sime. It's also because Hanger's supporters have been biting their lips about the recent behind-the-scenes maneuvers of the folks who tried so hard to unseat Hanger in the primary campaign. Yes, sports fans, the Hanger-vs.-Sayre battle rages on five months after we thought the issue had been decided. Day after day we see TV news reports and articles in the local papers that simply do not seem to grasp the situation. Well, they'll figure things out before long, I suppose.
As for the election, most people assume that Hanger will end up on top, but his margin of victory won't be as big as it would have been if he had campaigned more actively. That's just Emmett's style as an "un-politician." It's too bad, as it may detract from Senator Hanger's perceived influence when the General Assembly convenes in Richmond in January. In a two-way race, Hanger would expect to get 60% or more of the vote, but in this three-way race, he will be lucky to get 45%. The late-campaign surge of advertising by David Cox and Arin Sime may close the gap, but since neither one seems to have generated much more momentum than the other, they will probaly finish within ten percent of each other in the final vote tally. Cox's slogan of "Because he'll actually do something" comes across to me as a little sarcastic. The Dems need to come up with a serious alternative budget, or else pay attention to smarter campaign consultants. If Sime can get at least 25% of the vote, he may just earn a reputation as a serious figure in Virginia politics.
I spent all morning and part of the afternoon working the polls for the GOP, but turnout here in Staunton has been low because there is only one contested race. A cold front came through last night, and as the wind picked up, it became very uncomfortable standing outside. I was surprised by the absence of Democratic poll workers, and by the presence of poll workers for Arin Sime, the Libertarian candidate. It just so happened that Mr. Sime and his wife Lauren showed up at the first polling station where I worked this morning, the National Guard Armory. It was the first time I had met him, and he impressed me for being courteous and intelligent. Then after I left for a quick lunch break they showed up at the second polling station, R.E. Lee High School. It was like he was following me around or something! At both places I had a chance to talk to the candidate and his supporters, who are friendly and thoughtful. We chatted about property rights, eminent domain, rural conservation, and about pornography, which has grabbed people's attention here in Staunton lately. (The Libertarian solution? Don't buy it!) We agreed that if Scott Sayre had won the GOP primary in June, the Democratic candidate would have had a better chance to win the general election, since many of Sayre's supporters identify with Sime's position. I told Arin he would be a strong second preference for me, since there are several important issues on which Republicans and Libertarians see eye to eye, but that if he ended up causing Cox to win this election, I would wring his neck!
Unfortunately, I won't be able to attend the victory celebration of the Augusta County Republicans tonight because my lovely wife and I bought tickets to The Police concert, at John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville.