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Posted at 11:33 AM ET, 02/10/2011

Is Webb's departure such a disaster for Democrats?

By Peter Galuszka

Jim Webb's long-awaited and unsurprising announcement that he will not seek reelection as U.S. senator from Virginia has the blogosphere buzzing about who's in, who's out and whose bench is simply too small.

There seem to be a number of CWs (conventional wisdoms) out there that may or not be true. Here are a few:

  • Webb's decision not to run is a nice gift for the state's Republicans. Maybe, but that assumes that potential candidates such as George Allen, Corey A. Stewart and Jamie Radtke are all that strong. Allen is so, like, 1990s, when everyone was dancing the Macarena. Stewart has only one issue, bashing Latinos. While bright and energetic, Tea Partier Radtke is far too inexperienced.
  • Former Gov. Tim Kaine is the Democrats only possible salvation. Maybe, maybe not. As head of the national party, he's buddies with Barack Obama, and he was regarded as a pretty good governor. But he's hasn't done much as party head; in fact, he was at the helm through the bitter midterm storm.
  • The Democratic bench is lean. Could be. But you do have a savvy political operative named Terry McAuliffe. If you want high-minded principles, there's Tom Perriello, who unfortunately was badly beaten up when he lost his Congress seat in November. Much of the perceived impotence of the Virginia Democrats is a reflection of the masterful political propaganda campaigns of far right Republicans and Tea Party types, regardless of whether what they said was true or not.
  • What about Kenneth Cuccinelli? All I can say is "Yipes! Book me to the Bahamas, Now!"

One other factor. Was Webb all that successful as a senator? I respect the man for his Vietnam War service and think highly of his novels. He also was a Republican who worked for Ronald Reagan. In other words, he's one of those rare, multitalented individuals who is going to bop from one interesting job to another. Virginians would have been naive to think he would have served them in the Senate for very long. And, quick, name one keystone initiative he put through. Myanmar doesn't count.

Peter Galuszka blogs at Bacon's Rebellion. The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.

By Peter Galuszka  | February 10, 2011; 11:33 AM ET
Categories:  HotTopic, Local blog network, Prince William County, Va. Politics, Virginia, economy, education, energy, environment, guns, media, military, taxes, traffic, transportation  
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"name one keystone initiative he put through":

How about the new GI bill. He introduced that his first day in office and saw it through. I now have numerous veterans/students using it to go through college.

Webb was atypical in that he got stuff done but didn't brag about it. If he were a typical glad-handing senator, the bill would have been called the "Webb GI bill," but it wasn't, and he wasn't Instead he was smart, articulate, reasonable, genuine, effective and understated.

Posted by: thegools | February 11, 2011 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Webb has been a great U.S. Senator in the traditioin of Virginia's conservative Democrats. However, he is the last one. Even if he ran he would lose due to the bankruptcy of the U.S. Its not his fault of course, but thats politics. Both parties have become corrupted to the point that even so-called Tea Partiers like Rand Paul took money from Goldman Sachs (directed to him from Boehner, the pretend conservative). What the U.S. is heading to is a more reasonable political party. One that is socially tolerant, and fiscally conservative. Why? Because most Americans are socially tolerant, and most Americans, even if they have debt (many do) at least recognize the "idea" of being careful with your money. Its a shame someone with real character like Webb has to go due to the shenanigans on Capital Hill and the lunacy of the Democratic and the Republican elites.

Posted by: shred11 | February 13, 2011 9:03 PM | Report abuse

Webb is an extremely talented individual, but I don't think he got bored with the job. He's already in his mid-60s, and another term would mean he'd serve as a Senator well into his 70s. He probably sat down and decided that he wanted to spend his last years on other priorities.

I agree that Tim Kaine isn't as strong of a candidate as people would like to believe. His numbers may be good now, but that's with people who were questioned by pollsters. The wildcard is how many of those people would be motivated to get out and vote for Kaine if he were on the ticket. I don't see him as generating much excitement, he never took a strong enough stand on issues for people to feel they had a vested interest in his candidacy.

One potential candidate you didn't mention is Bobby Scott, the US House Representative for Newport News and Richmond. He's in the same age group as Webb, but he seems committed to continuing in Congress, at least for now. There is a movement to recruit him in the Hampton Roads area (Virginia's largest metro area, the 7 cities of Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Suffolk, Portsmouth, Hampton, and Newport News -- some would say it's a 10-city area including Yorktown, James City County, and Williamsburg). He has an extremely strong base in his area, and he happens to be African-American and so he could get a boost from that base elsewhere in the state, especially from those turning out for Obama. The anti-war crowd loves him for being one of the original Congressmen to vote against the war, and people familiar with his work are impressed with his outstanding budgeting skills.

There's no word on whether Bobby Scott is agreeable to peoples' attempts to recruit him for the Senate, but it seems that he could get more people motivated to turn out and vote. I think that's his real value, Democrats are lazy voters until you give them something they actually want. He comes with dedicated supporters in Hampton roads -- a little effort getting word out to northern Virginia, and everyone would realize how much they want Bobby Scott.

Posted by: poliguru | February 14, 2011 7:42 AM | Report abuse

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