Chopra in Harrisonburg

Aneesh Chopra
Aneesh Chopra

Earlier today, Aneesh Chopra, one of the two Democratic candidates to be Virginia’s next lieutenant governor, spoke to a crowd in Harrisonburg.  About 40 people were in attendance at the Beyond restaurant; this group included a number of JMU students, local high school students, and a bevy of Democrats including past and present members of the Harrisonburg City Council.

Mr. Chopra discussed his experience, including his time working for the Kaine administration, as well as his plans to stimulate economic growth in the Commonwealth.  After these remarks, he opened the floor to questions from the audience.  Then, at the end of the gathering, Larry Rogers, the former mayor of the city endorsed Chopra.

I took the opportunity to ask Mr. Chopra about his opinion regarding the organization of the Virginia Senate.  If you may recall, the body was split evenly between Democratic and Republican members after the 2011 elections.  Rather than engaging in some sort of power sharing arrangement, the Republican Party declared that they were in the majority due to the fact that the lieutenant governor was a Republican.  Perhaps not surprisingly, Aneesh Chopra mentioned that, if elected, he would act as the 21st Democratic senator, which would allow the Democratic Party to assume control that body in much the same precedent as set by Bill Bolling several years ago.

Unlike the Republicans who are running a convention, the Democratic Party will be holding an open primary on June 12th to select their nominees for statewide office.  As any registered voter will be allowed to participate, it is important for interested citizens, be they Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Constitutionalists, or independents to learn about our choices and to select which one of them best represents their values.

A Look At The Numbers

Well, the results of the Democratic Primary are in.  Sure, there are still a few unreported precincts, but, with 99.80% accounted for, the numbers are clear.  Creigh Deeds will be the nominee for Governor and Jody Wagner will be the nominee for Lt. Governor.  However, please note that all numbers used in this post come from the Virginia State Board of Elections and are currently unofficial.

First, I have one important observation with the Lt. Gov. race.  Sure, Wagner won with a commanding 74.21%, and won just about every city and county save for nine.  However, look at the numbers for Harrisonburg.  Mike Signer won with 57.5% of the vote (which was his best showing after Halifax County and Martinsville)!  In a down ticket race like this one, name recognition is everything.  I expect that his band of volunteers around Harrisonburg made this small victory possible.  A friendly face, a few good words, and a sign right before you vote can work wonders!  Take note.

As expected for an off year election, turnout was low…6.315% of registered voters in Virginia for Governor and even less for Lt. Governor.  However, there are some interesting variations.  For example, you have a very high turnout in Deeds country like Bath and Highland County (24.52% and 21.92% respectively) while the southwest corner of the state, Lee, Scott, and Wise Counties had turnouts of only 1.536%, 1.614%, and 1.978%!  Deeds captured 80 localities with an outright majority, and 43 by plurality.  Not surprisingly, Senator Deeds performed very well in his Virginia Senate district getting over 90% (yes 90%) of the vote in Alleghany County, Bath County, and Covington City.  Although just a preliminary glance at the map, it does not appear as if any particular geographic region was very bad for Deeds.

Considering Deeds was, for the most part, painted as the most moderate of the three Democratic choices, I think that this primary illustrates that Virginia voters, even the ones who vote in Democratic primaries, are more conservative than the media would lead us to believe.  Therefore, I believe that if Bob McDonnell can successfully articulate and promote a conservative message, run a solid campaign, and highlight Deeds’ more liberal qualities, he should be able to capture the mansion in November.  Here’s hoping.

Fairly Quiet On The Voting Front

As I mentioned in my last post, if you have any interest in the three statewide races here in Virginia, I strongly suggest you get to vote.  I just did.  The first thing I noticed when I arrived at Keister (my polling place) was the odd lack of signs for the candidates.  There were no signs for any of the governor candidates…none whatsoever.  This deficiency raises an interesting question.  If the candidates cannot motivate their supporters to actively participate in the primary process, won’t that hurt their chances in the fall?  As the lone exception, the Mike Signer campaign had a couple of signs and a person handing out information, but no other candidate had anything or anyone.  I asked the fellow campaigning for Signer where the other campaigns were.  He stated that the Signer campaign was the only one active in the city.  Intrigued, after I voted, I decided to drive over to both the Waterman and Spotswood polls, and, sure enough, Signer was the only candidate represented.  Having spent many an hour at the polls, I think that such active campaigning is a strong boost to a candidate, especially in a down ticket race like Lt. Governor.  Therefore, I congratulate the Signer campaign for their efforts.  As for specific tactics, I wished he didn’t keep using the word “progressive”.  I guess Democrats like that word, but for a conservative like myself, it conjures up all sorts of negative and unconstitutional connotations.  Anyway, as expected, the voter turnout was pretty low.  When I voted at 11:00 AM, the count was around fifty.

Should be interesting to see who wins.

Democratic Primary Theory

With the Democratic primary coming up tomorrow, I have one question for you.  Are you planning to vote, and if so, for whom?  Personally I enjoy voting in the Democratic primaries and always do so when there is no Republican primary.  It gives me yet another chance to voice my opinion.  For our out-of-state friends, Virginia has open primaries which means that any registered voter can vote in either the Republican or Democratic primary as long as they do not vote in both.  We selected our candidate via convention this year, which means that I can vote for a Democratic candidate too.  You see…there is no party registration in Virginia.  We don’t have registered Republicans, Democrats, Greens, Libertarians, Constitutionalists, or anything else.  The state cannot restrict a primary to members of a certain party when there is no registration.  When it comes to selecting Republican candidates, I greatly prefer a convention to a primary, but that is a discussion for another day.

Anyway, tomorrow is voting day.  So for whom are you going to vote?  I’ve heard two competing theories when it comes to voting in the opposing party’s primary.  Either you vote for the candidate you think is least electable in the hopes of giving your candidate the greatest chance of victory or you vote for the candidate who is the most acceptable or more closely matches your own views in case that candidate wins.  Although both theories have their potential benefits and negatives, I prefer the latter.  For example, in 2006, I voted for Jim Webb over Harris Miller.  Did I want Jim Webb to beat George Allen?  Certainly not!  However, if a Democrat did win the seat, I would definitely want the more conservative of the two to represent me.  The same holds true for the Democratic nomination for Governor.  Obviously, I want to see Bob McDonnell as Governor.  But I emphatically do not want a hardcore liberal in the mansion.  Therefore, of the three Democratic choices, I intend to vote for Creigh Deeds.  He is more supportive of our Second Amendment rights and the state death penalty.  I certainly don’t want a Clinton insider and DNC operative like McAuliffe running Virginia, and Moran seems like a typical liberal supporting abortion, so-called immigration reform, and government meddling in health care.  Now don’t think for even a moment that I endorse Creigh Deeds, but among the three candidates, I find him least objectionable.

If, on the other hand, you want to follow the opposite theory, I would recommend voting for Brian Moran.  McAuliffe is too well funded and connected and Deeds can offer more appeal to moderates and independents.  Either way, the good news is, regardless of which Democratic candidate gets the nomination, polls presently indicate that Bob McDonnell should beat all of them.

So don’t forget to vote in to in the Democratic primary tomorrow.  I know that I won’t.