May 17, 2007 [LINK / comment]
Will Dems run in 24th District?
According to The New Dominion, the Democrats are planning to take advantage of divisions within the Republican Party by nominating a candidate to run in the 24th District state senate seat currently held by Emmett Hanger. And to think that this has been considered a "safe" district for Republicans...
Tom Long, the chairman of the Augusta County Democratic Committee, confirm[ed] today that Democrats in the 24th do plan to run a candidate in the November general election.
Long said that one candidate has pre-filed for a May 29 party mass meeting where a nominee for the seat -- currenly held by Republican Sen. Emmett Hanger -- will be named.
Well, as the Church Lady said, "Isn't that interesting?" That article also quoted U.Va.'s Sean O'Brien, who expects the Democrats to reach out to the center of the political spectrum and nominate moderate candidates in districts where moderate Republicans are being challenged by right-wingers. If Hanger wins the nomination, he will be a shoo-in come November; if Sayre wins it will be a toss-up. But I'm sure that the "conservative movement" activists will keep on dreaming up ways to "mobilize the (right-wing) base" and identify "hard core" Republican voters in their election campaign strategy. Those folks are tragically and utterly blind to the fundamental reality that the vital center is, far more often than not, where political fortunes are won or lost.
Hat tip to D.J. McGuire, who offers a solid analysis based on policy preferences and the hankering of many right-wingers to defect to the Libertarian Arin Sime in case Hanger beats Sayre. He igores, however, the large number of voters who are sick of endless polarized bickering in Richmond and just want legislators who are competent and able to hammer out pragmatic deals that serve the public interest. (Guess who's good in that department?) He also overlooks the personal character and incumbency aspects which weigh heavily in Hanger's favor. By the way, D.J. is the very same guy who doubted my suggestion last week that the Democrats might contest the seat after all. At least he acknowledged the error, which is admirable -- and rather uncommon in the blogosphere.
The prospect which McGuire raises, of a large number of Sayre supporters from within the Republican ranks ending up voting for the Libertarian Sime in the general elections should Hanger defeat Sayre, says a lot about party loyalty these days. Even with all the nastiness and dirty tricks used by Sayre supporters against fellow Republicans which I have witnessed over the past several months, at this point I would still be inclined to vote for Sayre in November if he defeats Sen. Hanger. It all depends on whether the closing weeks of the campaign are clean or not.
Hanger vs. Sayre in Staunton
The two candidates vying for that senate seat, Emmett Hanger and Scott Sayre, spoke to the Staunton Republican Committee on Tuesday evening. Each candidate was only allotted ten minutes, however, and no questions were allowed from the audience, so it wasn't the Great Debate that we Hanger supporters have been hoping for. Afterwards, there was a forum on "media bias" consisting of Chris Graham, editor of The New Dominion, Melanie Lofton, a reporter/producer with WHSV TV-3 in Harrisonburg, Steven Winslow, editor of the new Conservative Viewpoints blog, and Bruce Grover, vice chairman of the Staunton Republican Committee. I was delighted that one of our members raised the issue of anonymous bloggers and the damage they do by spreading false rumors and misinformation, without being held accountable. Graham and Winslow both agreed with her that bloggers who use their real names deserve more credibility (!), and of course, they both blog using their real names.
I'm sorry to say this, but the version of that meeting as reported by "SWAC Girl" did not accord with what I observed. For one thing, Sen. Hanger spoke first, contrary to what she wrote, because Sayre arrived late. As the senator was leaving, a few of his supporters did leave the room to speak to him for a few minutes (I could see them from the rostrum where I was seated, whereas "SWAC Girl" was seated in the rear), but most of the Hanger crowd stayed in the chambers and politely listened to Mr. Sayre. There was no hostility shown to either guest, and I did not notice any banging doors. As for the alleged "bullying and intimidating" of our chairwoman, there was a motion from the floor which she ruled out of order, and an appeal by me which she refused to act upon properly. That's all. After several members objected vehemently to this, she abruptly declared that the meeting was adjourned without even taking a vote and left the chambers, leaving the members and guests stunned. An "orderly meeting"? Not! The only rude words I heard came from a young Sayre supporter who told one of the long-standing party members (a Hanger supporter) that he hoped he was offending her and wanted to know what else he could say that might offend her even more. (He must have learned that line from Alton Foley. ) I could challenge other assertions made in that blog post, but it would not be appropriate to do so in a public forum.