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Virginia Elections 2013: Did Democrats Just Shoot Themselves in the Foot?

Virginia Democrats run the risk of losing the tied state senate and the effectiveness of a Democratic lieutenant governor, experts say.

Virginia Democrats have their ticket for the 2013 general election, but they could run the risk of losing the state senate should Sens. Ralph Northam and Mark Herring become lieutenant governor and attorney general.

Northam (D-Norfolk) and Herring (D-Loudoun) won their races in last week’s Democratic Primary Election to become the Democratic nominees for lieutenant governor and attorney general, respectively. They’ll join former Democratic Party Chairman Terry McAuliffe on the ticket in November.

“The good news for the democrats is that these two candidates are both experienced campaigners,” said Stephen Farnsworth, a political science professor at the University of Mary Washington. “They have won state senate races in districts that are not all that friendly to Democrats and that experience will be very helpful for the ticket.”

But Democrats rejoicing over their nomination may have to take the news with a grain of salt – if both Northam and Herring are elected, special elections must be held for their senate seats.

Why does it matter? With a state senate tied 20-20, the lieutenant governor would have the tiebreaking vote on what legislation goes to the governor’s desk.

But if the Democrats were to lose one or both of those seats, the tiebreaking vote would be rendered useless.

And those are races Republican candidates could have a decent chance of winning, Farnsworth said.

Northam took 54 percent of the vote to Republican incumbent Nick Rerras’ 46 percent during the 2007 midterm election to win Virginia’s sixth state senate district. 

Herring also defeated a Republican challenger, Patricia Phillips, during the 2007 election, winning 57 percent of the vote to her 43 percent.

But both districts are areas Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell carried during the 2009 general election.

“With a strong Republican candidate, as well as the likely small turnout for a special election the Democrats are going to have to work very hard to keep one or both of these seats if that’s what they end up having to do,” Farnsworth said.

Northam’s past experience in office could also help him against his Republican opponent, Chesapeake pastor E.W. Jackson.

Jackson has no history in public office and lost to George Allen in the 2012 primary election for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination. His appeal could be further muddled by a string of controversial statements he’s made in the past, which came to light after Jackson won the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor during the party’s May convention.

“There’s no question he has an enthusiastic following, but there is a serious question about how his record will translate into statewide appeal,” Farnsworth said of Jackson.

It should be noted that Herring's Republican opponent, Mark Obenshain is also a member of the state senate in Harrisonburg's 26th District. Obenshain has had wide margins of victory in elections since he won the seat in 2003. In 2009, he took 70 percent of the vote to defeat challenger Maxine Roles.

Should Northam and Herring get elected, Virginians can expect the special elections to get a great deal of attention and even more money.

“Right now, the money for a race for the House of Delegates might be competing with money going into statewide race,” Farnsworth said. “But in a special election for a vacancy, it’ll be the only game in town.”

ADSinNoVA June 17, 2013 at 06:04 PM
True these are swing districts, but Herring's was won initially in a special so it's do-able, and Northam's is not unfriendly for Democrats. It's a risk worth taking to bring sanity back to the AG's office.
TheRepublican June 17, 2013 at 06:38 PM
This just proves how stupid the Democratic socialists are. They can't even figure out a way to retain their own power. Like true morons they'll grab for office instead of thinkingg or long term control or being patient. Typical, impulsive democrats. And you seriously want these idiots running the country? Half their voters won't show up because they're stoned on dope or they're watching porn and they can't be bothered with an election. ONly thing tghat will get a democratic supporter off their lazy butts is the promise of a free handout. Just the way Obama won the election twice.
oldtowner June 17, 2013 at 06:46 PM
wow....now there's a reasonable "argument" from a thoughtful poster.....
Scooby's Doo June 17, 2013 at 06:49 PM
I vote absentee so it doesn't interrupt my porn and doping schedule.
Proud Liberal June 17, 2013 at 06:50 PM
Bitter much?
DGeorge June 17, 2013 at 06:54 PM
Relax," The Republican" is a paid Democrat. He goes around making ridiculous statements to get a rise out of people. Probably part of the WH crew.
oldtowner June 17, 2013 at 07:26 PM
to DGeorge: How would you know that? I do know that most of what he/she posts is totally riduculous and off the wall....however.....
Dave Webster June 17, 2013 at 07:45 PM
Herring's seat would certainly be up for grabs. That being said, it's hard to assert the Democrats shot themselves in the foot. It's not like they had any number of competent candidates capable of being Attorney General. They had two.
James Dunning June 17, 2013 at 11:15 PM
This article does not make sense. There is no way that a Democrat could ever shoot anything. The sad saps don't even know which end of the gun the bullet "eggscapes" from. So I think the odds of them shooting anything other than their incorrect mouths off is as likely as a 16 year old eating sushi in Del Ray.
Leslie Ackerman June 18, 2013 at 05:06 AM
All politicians are corrupt, but some are more corrupt than others. When you see the list of democrats, you confirm that. In fact, Terry McCrook has already a history of being a corrupt s.o.b.
T Ailshire June 18, 2013 at 07:53 AM
That is exactly the reason I voted for these two - I saw no difference between the two Democrat candidates in each of these races. Though I do hope we could have a Senate and a House of Delegates held in hands of the opposite parties - the only thing better would be a non-partisan state government, which isn't going to happen.
Karen Stallings June 18, 2013 at 10:39 AM
I fail to see the logic of thinking the R’s have the high ground when it comes to corruption in VA. Given what is going on in the Governor’s mansion and the AG’s office right now, to assert that McAuliffe is corrupt is laughable. His strong support for women and their rights – not only reproductive rights but rights to equal pay for equal work, his pro-business stance, his reasonable transportation stance all speak to a reasonable man without the social agenda that his opponents are spouting. Certainly no one, even the R’s, can accuse either Northam or Herring of being corrupt. Please Virginia, let’s give Richmond back to reason – and leave behind the corrosive social agenda that has permeated this last administration.
The Analyst June 18, 2013 at 02:48 PM
Republicans claim the poster "TheRepublican" isn't a Republican because he talks about and throws out opinions the Republicans would just as soon keep hush-hush. I don't know who they think they're fooling. All one needs to do is listen to Sarah Palin (now back on Fox), Michelle Bachmann, Ted Cruz, Louie Gohmert, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, or pretty much anything that's on Fox and you can see where this guy gets his opinions. They're hardly secret. This is what the Republican party has become.
Leslie Ackerman June 18, 2013 at 03:20 PM
Your comments are so typical of a liberal mind who thinks he is smart and right and there is only one answer to our problems. Ergo: everyone else is wrong, or stupid. And when you cannot use GOOD arguments, then you start insulting, right? So who is your voice of common sense: Chris Matthews? Andrea Mitchel? That ugly-bleached-blond named like a mineral (you see how I am using leftists tactics?). It is your standthat brings the discourse down, because you decided to put eveyr single Repub that stand fro something different at the bottom of your self-righteous world. You totally forget the center, the independents, the ones that are not associated to an ideology but to their open thinking and common sense. At least T.Ailshire (above) said something reasonable in much fewer words than you or your propaganda predecessor (Stallings). And at least Fox shows TWO sides of many, many stories, your friends at NBC invite solely those who gree twith them and preach to the choir (Check it out before you opine). N In summary: THAT is the typical fascim of mind that comes for the elitist liberals, as years of exposure have shown. If you dont agree with me, fine, but please: don't pretend common sense comes from you beause your pseudonym is 'The ANALyst'.
Karen Stallings June 18, 2013 at 11:32 PM
Whoa....In what world did Analyst insult you? The Sarah Palin rush Limbaugh on Fox part? I didn't read anything about what they said, only that they are the face of Fox (and I guess you take that to be the face of the Republican Party too so that is insulting?) Talk about long winded and insulting - pot calling the kettle black maybe?
The BSD Guy June 19, 2013 at 01:53 PM
Ms. Ackerman, like her Republican counterparts makes essentially comments with a more or less belligerent if not violent and angry tone. Filled with stereotypes and little reality (all politicians are corrupt, for example) plus crude insults (referring to TheAnalyst as TheANALyst). This is typical of the "us against the world, and we'll kill you if you disagree with us" type of mentality expressed by todays Republicans. As far as I'm concerned all TheAnalyst did was point out that TheRepublican makes comments that sound just like some of those of the spokesmen of the Republican party - and it's true. Totally true. The Republicans have become an obscure and extremely Radical group of people that are out of touch with about 90% of the rest of the U.S.. When one of their people speaks out as does TheRepublican, they try to disavow him, not because he's wrong but because they want to hide their plans and objectives from the American public. Cheap tricks and smoke and mirrors shows are all the Republcan party has to offer anyone anymore.
TheRepublican July 08, 2013 at 06:05 AM
Leslie Ackerman is a right thinking woman. Let's not focus on the socialists and the socialist agenda of the Democrats. Let's focus on the job creators. The job creators are the people that should be running the country because they're rich. Since they're rich they're smarter than us. The job creators are actively funding people like Sarah Palin, thus she must be smart too. Therefore, any criticism of her, Fox News, or anyone else associated with the right is a bunch of hooey. Keep this in mind, people. Glenn Beck once announced that he couldn't say some of the things he says on the air unless they were true. Fox News advertises itself as being fair and balanced. Other liberal elite media outlets don't make such a claim. Why? Because they know they're not fair and balanced. Thus, logic should tell you that everything that comes out of Fox News is fair and balanced, everything that comes out of the liberal elite media should be discarded, and Sarah Palin clearly has incredible insight. It's just that simple. Get it???
The BSD Guy July 19, 2013 at 12:32 AM
You're living proof of everything that's wrong with the Republicans. They try to use "tricks" like propaganda from Fox News and all their other idiotic talking heads, and who do they trick and win over? Idiots, that's who. The Republican party is now not only a national disgrace, it's an international embarrassment.
Leslie Ackerman July 19, 2013 at 08:11 AM
The ironic thing is that you don’t have to be a Republican; not being one gives you even more credibility. Ideally you need and open mind, lots of world (or DC) experience, a pursuit of fairness, and your history well read & analyzed. Age merely accumulates that along. But BSD just confirmed my stance about the left in this country. What makes Fox “propaganda” and MSNBC not? MSNBC thrives in vociferating and preaching to the choir with their only objective to make Reps evil and Dems victims (because it works with lots of blinded suckers and ideologues who just need an inflammatory headline). At least Fox has liberals in the discussion, MSNBC ensures the “conservative” line (*when there) is overwhelmingly subdued, and in advance! In other parts of the world, that would be considered proto-fascism and not journalism. Still, in typical Northern Virginia liberal fashion, when some people run out of good arguments, their resource is deliver 6 lines to insult and shut the dialogue, placing the adversary in that hellish corner of their world-view to end “victorious”. Yet, I have to give BSD credit for his honesty in his name, given the amount of BS in the vitriol delivered. Good luck!
Karen Stallings July 19, 2013 at 11:38 AM
If you believe everything any station puts on the air, you are sadly mistaken. TV is a source of entertainment but evidently some folks use it as their sole source of education. Sad, but true.
Leslie Ackerman July 19, 2013 at 12:19 PM
Since I fully agree with you, I wonder what made you think I believe in everything I hear on TV? To the contrary! I pursue disenting, broad based opinions, and I read a lot on top of my my three-country lives and year of experience with different realities, in order to have my own. It is the people who watch networks that "preach to the choir" or treat others condescendently, and even insultingly, who seem to be a problem, and since i try to compare with objectivity, MSNBC is may times worse than Fox can be. By nature, history has shown that most people are suckers that believe in one-lines and soundbytes to develop their OWN ideology. That's why you have to have good educational base ... and, well, you know how that goes in this country! I remain happily in the center and pursue the reasonable. But this country is horribly divided because of rigid ideology; and that includes BOTH extremes. My problem with the left is their sanctimonious attitude, as if they are simply superior because they (think they) are "advanced" (for being 'progressive') Then you converse with them and in typical american fashion they are clueless of world history, past facts, other countriy's experiences and the knowledge to do the right thing. In my opinion, it has been demostrated time and time again, but some don't learn. For somebody that mistrusts everything I heard from an ideological perspectice (I teach Science) I find your statement rather odd. Perhaps you did not read properly?

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