Election fallout in Virginia
The "fallout" metaphor is appropriate: Take shelter, everybody! The News Leader interviewed some local Republicans, some of whom think the party has been too moderate and needs to become more conservative. That begs the question, of course, of how conservatism is to be defined. I would agree that the party needs to field candidates with a clear conservative agenda, but those with a narrow, dogmatic approach are unlikely to win a majority of votes. It seems that many Republicans were not very enthusiastic about John McCain's candidacy, even though he nailed down the nomination fairly early in the 2008 primary season. If people don't like the candidates that are produced by the current nomination system, there is only one solution: do away with primary elections, and nominate candidates via party mass meetings and conventions, in which only party members and sworn adherents can participate.
Thursday's Waynesboro News Virginian interviewed State Senator Emmett Hanger and JMU Professor Bob Roberts. In explaining how the GOP got off track in conveying its basic message to the voters, Hanger mentioned the negative influence of radio talk show hosts Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, and hardball politicos such as Karl Rove. He said those people "have defined politics as warfare rather than a forum for the expression of ideas," leading to increased polarization in the country. (Limbaugh gets carried away sometimes, but I still think he has a net positive effect overall.) Hanger and Roberts agreed that the governor's race next year will be crucial in setting the Republican Party's future course. Attorney General Bob McDonnell is the presumptive GOP candidate, and he seems to be squarely in the middle of the Republican party (a tenuous position, these days), neither too far to the right nor too far toward the center.
Too close to call
In Virginia's Fifth Congressional District, the vote tally keeps changing because of late reports and corrections by some precincts. Democrat Tom Perriello has pulled slightly ahead of incumbent Rep. Virgil Goode, and now leads by nearly 700 votes, about 0.2% of the 316,618 total votes cast. The main issue in that campaign seems to have been whether Mr. Perriello was one of those "New York lawyers." (He says he worked there only two years.)