Another casualty of the Virginia election
By Lee Hockstader
Along with at least seven incumbents -- six of them Democrats -- there was another big casualty in Virginia’s House of Delegates from the election results Tuesday: any hope of bipartisan redistricting.
Sure, Bob McDonnell, the governor-elect, supports appointing a bipartisan commission to redraw the state’s electoral map every 10 years in order to fashion a more genuinely competitive two-party system. So does Bob Bolling, the lieutenant governor who was reelected. But with ascendant Republicans controlling something near 60 of the 100 seats in the House of Delegates that takes office next January, the chances that they will cede control of the all-important map are nil.
Too bad. It means that gerrymandering will continue to ensure that huge majorities of the state’s legislative races remain non-competitive. Over the last couple of election cycles (2007 and 2005), 85 to 90 percent of the commonwealth’s lawmakers had no serious electoral challenge. In the Republican tide Tuesday, there were more tight races than usual; still, 30 incumbents had no challenger at all, and dozens of others won by lopsided margins.
As for the seven incumbents who lost -- a huge number compared to previous elections -- one (a Republican) was caught up in a blatant scandal, and most of the others were either freshman or sophomore Democrats.
Four of them were in Northern Virginia, and two were particularly promising lawmakers -- Margi Vanderhye, a go-getter who represents the Great Falls and McLean area of Fairfax County, and Chuck Caputo, a well respected expert on education who represents a district that straddles western Fairfax and eastern Loudoun counties. Vanderhye was knocked off by Barbara Comstock, a conservative newcomer to state politics who was spokesman for George Bush’s Justice Department. Caputo lost to Jim LeMunyon, an exceptionally able business executive. Those two winners -- both of them smart, savvy and well spoken -- have the potential to be big players in their party’s leadership in Richmond.
The other two Republicans who beat Democratic incumbents in Northern Virginia -- Tag Greason, a businessman, and Richard Anderson, a recently retired Air Force officer -- are likely to be more run of the mill players in Richmond.
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