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October, 23rd 2007

Stupid suggestions about the VA-Sen race

– Liz Mair

So, everyone is now talking about how Rep. Tom Davis won't be running for Virginia's Senate seat. Personally, I'm going to wait for Davis to make his intentions public before speculating (I know the guy, and while I wouldn't say well enough to bet on his plans, given how much effort he's devoted to putting himself in a position to run for the seat, I still think there's a chance he may go ahead and do it-- even if he's not happy about having to go through a Virginia GOP convention, rather than a primary).

But, others, it seems are treating Davis' opting out as a foregone conclusion.

Witness Hugh Hewitt's colossally stupid post from yesterday, in which he treats Davis' opting out as a done deal, and seems to suggest that Lynne Cheney-- that's right, Lynne Cheney, the VP's wife-- should run for the seat being vacated by John Warner.

I am well aware that Hugh is completely out of touch with reality these days (his shilling for Romney and unwillingness to acknowledge even one problem with his chosen candidate tells me so), but this is ridiculous. Has Hewitt talked to any voters recently, who do not comprise the membership of an extremely closed, tight-knit, very conservative and uber-partisan base within the GOP itself? More to the point, since he lives in California, does he have even the most basic knowledge of what the political scene is like here in Virginia now?

Evidently not. His assertion that Lynne Cheney's candidacy would have more legitimacy than Hillary Clinton's may be true, but the basic point is, when Hillary was leaving the White House with Bill, first, Bill was hugely popular-- and that rubbed off at least a little on his wife. I don't know if Hugh has noticed (my guess is not), but pretty much everyone in this country, including a lot of Republicans I know, hate (I mean HATE) Dick Cheney and see him as culpable for a lot of the trouble that the GOP has gotten itself into. Second, I don't know if Hugh has noticed, but Hillary was a liberal, going to run in a rather liberal state. Lynne Cheney, however, is a conservative, who would be running in a distinctly purple state. And, did I mention, the vast majority of people I know who vote in Virginia hate her husband and would likely be skeptical about the Cheneys (any of them, with Mary, possibly, being excepted) getting more power?

I know this much: I would have a lot of trouble voting for Lynne Cheney, specifically because I'm beginning to get a bit weary of the way her husband is handling himself, and frankly, I would prefer for him not to have any more influence in politics for at least a few years-- either as a politician directly, or as the spouse of one.

I also don't fancy the idea of voting for retired Gen. Peter Pace, to be quite frank. First off, I don't think there's a chance in hell in increasingly war-skeptical Virginia that any voter who isn't a committed and hawkish Republican will vote for a guy involved in the execution of the Iraq War (unless possibly he runs on a platform of saying "the President has screwed all of this up, I was just doing what I was told," which he won't). Second, while I know that there's been some discussion about how his comments about homosexuality being immoral wouldn't be problematic because, hey, a lot of people voted for Virginia's marriage amendment last year, and the only people who are going to have a problem with it are people who wouldn't vote for him anyway, I beg to differ. I voted against the marriage amendment in Virginia last year-- there, I've said it-- and obviously, I'm a Republican. I also would point out that about a third of those who voted for that amendment were Democrats-- and there's not much chance that they're going to vote for the guy who was conducting the Iraq War. I'd also hasten to note that social conservatism plays really badly in Northern Virginia, on the whole-- and Northern Virginian votes will be needed to get a Republican into that Senate seat.

In sum, while I don't think the idea of a Pace candidacy is as monumentally stupid as the idea of a Lynne Cheney candidacy, I still think it's pretty dumb (note: I don't think there's much chance we'll be getting either). However, I like both Jim Gilmore and Tom Davis, and think that both of them represent much safer options where this race is concerned than some of the other names being pulled out of the hat. Personally, I'd feel safer with Davis on the ticket. He knows how to win in Northern Virginia, he is currently serving in elected office so has a tangible record and people can see him doing something as opposed to having to think back to 2001 (as they'd have to with Gilmore), and from having seen him speak many times, I think he'd stand a good chance of kicking Mark Warner's butt in debates. Gilmore I like and am reasonably close to philosophically (hell, he's probably one of about three politicians in the whole country who agrees with me exactly on abortion), but his public profile is lower than it once was, the glut of new voters in Northern Virginia don't know him (a lot of us didn't live here in 2001), and while he's not the rock-ribbed conservative he wants many to think, he projects a conservative image that I think would possibly be a bit scary to some people up here.

Bottom line: I really hope that Davis goes ahead and runs. The odds of that don't look great right now. But, I believe he'll be the GOP's best shot at holding John Warner's seat, and since he's a hard worker who's always looking for common ground, I also think he'd do a great job in the Senate. I guess by the end of the week, odds are, we'll know what his intentions are.

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