Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
About Chris Cillizza  |  On Twitter: The Fix and The Hyper Fix  |  On Facebook  |  On YouTube  |  RSS Feeds RSS Feed

Virginia: The Races to Come

"Virginia is for lovers ... of elections," state Attorney General Bob McDonnell (R) said Wednesday at the annual Shad Planking political gathering in Wakefield. How right he is.

The commonwealth hosts elections every year, with state offices up in odd years (2005, 2007, 2009) and federal elections filling in the gaps (2006, 2008). Given this continuous election cycle, it was hardly a surprise that much of the talk at this year's Shad Planking was not about the races on the ballot this November but rather the contests coming up in 2007, 2008 and 2009.

Virginia limits its governors to a single term (the last state in the nation to do so), so the minute Gov. Tim Kaine (D) was elected last November, talk began to circulate about the next race in 2009.

On the Republican side, McDonnell and Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R) are seen as two likely combatants, with McDonnell given the early edge by party insiders as he has a strong following among the social conservatives -- a key voting bloc in an intraparty fight.

The name most-mentioned for Democrats is a familiar one -- Mark Warner. The thinking goes that if Warner comes up short in his all-but-certain 2008 presidential bid, he could return home to reclaim the governorship. Warner left office with extremely high public ratings and made little secret of the fact that he loved being governor.

If Warner is either unavailable or unwilling to make the race, there doesn't appear to be an obvious second choice among Democrats. Since all three of the state's top offices will be open in 2009, a handful of Democrats have been mentioned, though it remains unclear who would run for what.

At the top of that list is state Sen. Creigh Deeds, who came within 323 votes of defeating McDonnell last fall in the AG's race. Deeds's strong showing surprised many Democrats, who may be willing to give him a second chance at either the AG position or governor. Deeds clearly remains interested in a future statewide, as indicated by the fact that he was one of the few Democratic politicians to sponsor a beer truck at this year's Shad Planking.

Another intriguing name for Democrats in 2009 is state Rep. Brian Moran -- the brother of U.S. Rep. Jim Moran (D). Brian Moran is his party's caucus chairman in the Assembly, and he is aggressively raising money for a statewide bid. Conventional wisdom has Moran in the AG's race, but we hear rumors that a governor's race is also being mulled.

Among the other names mentioned as potential Democratic statewide candidates: 2004 Lt. Gov. nominee Leslie Byrne, state Delegates Ward Armstrong and Steve Shannon, as well as Jim Webb and Harris Miller (both of whom are seeking their party's nomination to challenge Sen. George Allen in the fall).

As for the 2008 Senate race, much depends on John Warner. The five-term senator has not yet announced if he will seek reelection. If he decides to run again -- at age 81 -- he will face minimal opposition. (Virginia political insiders were particularly interested in the departure of Susan Magill, Sen. Warner's longtime chief of staff, at the end of February.) Of course, if Allen is elected president (or vice president) in 2008, it could create another opening and set off a scramble on both sides of the aisle.

Should Warner retire, Rep. Tom Davis (R) would quickly join the race and is already making considerable efforts to expand beyond his northern Virginia base; he was the lone elected official from northern Virginia to make the trek to Shad Planking and did so on a bus filled with Allen supporters. Despite the fact that he faces no serious Democratic challenge this fall, Davis has already raised $1.6 million and ended March with $1.8 million in the bank. He has sprinkled contributions to local party organizations, civic groups and even little leagues around the state over the past months -- all aimed at building up chits in case Warner's Senate seat comes open. (For more on Davis's plans, check out The Hotline's "On Call" blog -- they landed an interview with the ambitious pol.)

Davis, a moderate on social issues, would prefer not to be challenged in the primary, but at least one prominent conservative -- former Gov. Jim Gilmore -- has made clear he would be interested in a Senate opening. Gilmore, who held the governorship from 1997 to 2001, is also mentioned as a potential gubernatorial candidate in 2009. He was nowhere to be found at Shad Planking, however.

Democrats have less good news on the Senate side as most observers believe Mark Warner would be the only candidate with a 50-50 shot of winning the seat. Warner ran for Senate once before -- in 1996 against John Warner. He lost that race 52 percent to 47 percent.

And now for a bit of trivia about Wakefield, Va. As you drive into the town on 460, a sign proclaims it as the home of Maralyn "Mad Dog" Hershey -- a participant in the second season of CBS's "Survivor."

By Chris Cillizza  |  April 21, 2006; 2:18 PM ET
Categories:  Governors , Senate  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: The Friday Line: Fla. Drops Off List of Top Govs. Races
Next: House: Mollohan Steps Down From Ethics Post


Posted by: Vienna Voter | April 21, 2006 04:16 PM

"Her first success was against Gwen Cody, a real estate agent whom almost anybody had to be better than."

Not True. Then Supervisor Tom Davis teamed up with Leslie Byrne in the 1986 Republican "primary" and ousted incumbent conservative Gwen Cody by six votes with moderate GOP nominee A. Strode Brent. Brent then lost to Leslie Byrne in one of a series of spats in the early days. See posted story at

Posted by: Anonymous | August 3, 2006 9:14 PM | Report abuse

Has everyone forgotten about the question mark. Does anyone remember what it's for. Does anyone recognize where it is on their keyboard. Well, I just wanted to remind you that question marks are for ending questions, not periods? Periods are only for ending statements? And question marks are quite conveniently located right next to the period key on your keyboard? They are beautiful and necessary punctuation marks, and I think they are starting to feel offended at their exclusion from society by so many people? Here are some extra ones to try and make up for this exclusion and remind you all how wonderful they are:


Posted by: Sandwich Repairman | April 24, 2006 9:35 PM | Report abuse

Has anyone seen Brian Moran do retail politics. I ran into Brian and Creigh at a metro stop last October. I don't mean to bad mouth Creigh, but it looked like for every voter he met, Brian met three or four. As caucus chairman, he helped win back seats and has done a pretty good job fundraising. While people may complain that our party doesn't have a very deep bench, they shouldn't count Brian Moran out of the governors race. After Mark Warner, he's the strongest candidate we have.

Posted by: Robby | April 24, 2006 4:21 PM | Report abuse

I think it is a decent probability that J. Warner will either decide not to run or will be unable to due to health/age issues, so the 2008 senate race could be up. M. Warner will be running for pres;so unless he's getting clear signals early that nothings going to happen I don't see him running for a state offic (losing the nom in 2008 and then running for gov in 2009 is possible)

As for Davis; I think his stock for a statewide office will go up if NOVA starts turning more democrat, because he might be able to show strongly in a region that otherwise creates a significant opposition advantage. And if something like, oh, the house of delegates refusal to even contemplate giving metro a permanent source of funding in order to receive federal matching funds bites N. Virginia R delegates in '07, Davis is immune to that because he's the guy who got congress to promise the matching funds. If the dems fail to make further inroads in Nova, however, Republicans might not feel the need to make themselves more attractive up here and Davis's moderation will be more of a burden to the republican hardliners.

Posted by: clarissa | April 24, 2006 1:42 PM | Report abuse

I see where that clueless hack herself Susan called my Senator an old GOAT. Senator BYRD is a remarkable senator and delivers for my state of WV. He has done more for us than any Republican has ever done. He isn't your senator so your opinion is baseless. I could call Senator Warner of Virginia an old goat, but I will not do so because he is one of the last true gentleman of the senate. By the way, pro abortion Tom Davis has little chance of getting the right wing GOP nod for Warner's seat. So stick it in your ear honey!

Posted by: Tom | April 24, 2006 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Up here an openly gay Member of Parliament just entered the race to be leader of the Liberal Party. That could set the stage for Canada's first openly gay Prime Minister!

Posted by: Sandwich Repairman | April 23, 2006 4:47 PM | Report abuse

VIRGINIA IS FOR (heterosexual) LOVERS (who smoke)

Posted by: jay lassiter | April 23, 2006 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Trying to return some civility here, what is a shad planking anyway?

Posted by: Sandwich Repairman | April 22, 2006 9:46 PM | Report abuse

John Warner has served with dignity, so if you want to get rid of him, why not include the other old HACK Robert Byrd of W Virginia? Any time he waddles up to the podium to preach on Cspan, I turn the channel. He can hardly walk, his hands shake, and he spits when he talks. Watch him, it is so sad the Democrats are so desperate to keep that seat that an old GOAT like Byrd keeps his seat.
Yes, and I asked the same of Strom Thurmond, he almost had to be carried in for voting. That is just sad.
So be truthful, if the old GOAT is a Democrat or a Republican, they should step down and give new blood to the Senate.

Posted by: Susan | April 22, 2006 12:44 PM | Report abuse

John Warner is not respected anymore, lets get that straight right now. He is an old hack who can barely remember his own name. We are about to lose Oceana NAS, even with John Warner. Time for hime to

Posted by: Southsider | April 21, 2006 6:56 PM | Report abuse

Fairfax County voted for Kerry in 2004. As for the 11th District:

2004 Presidential Vote
Bush (R) 161,104 (50%)
Kerry (D) 159,055 (49%)

Warner was elected to the Senate in 1978 by a margin of 50.2% to 49.8%. Was his Senate career a fluke?

Posted by: Sandwich Repairman | April 21, 2006 6:13 PM | Report abuse

I think Mitt Romney will win the GOP nomination in 2008. However, I don't believe he will choose George Allen as his running mate. I don't see what Senator Allen brings to the ticket, really, and the Democrats would smear him silly with innuendo that he's a racist for having that lassoo or whatever in his law office at one time. Instead, I'm thinking Romney will choose Fred Thompson or Mike Huckabee, either of whom would be compelling choices.

Posted by: Mark | April 21, 2006 6:02 PM | Report abuse

Does the "normal electorate" hate career politicians like John Warner? He's been in the Senate for 27 years now. And won by a surprisingly narrow margin in 1978--after the original GOP nominee died. I think they only dislike the ones who keep losing.

Tom Davis' 11th District seat definitely seems like a swing ripe for a real contest if he were to vacate it.

I wish Mark Warner would run for Senate again.

Posted by: Sandwich Repairman | April 21, 2006 6:01 PM | Report abuse

What about Bobby Scott? Congressman from the Richmond area.

I would like to see a Warner vs. Warner in 2008 but that's not likely.

Posted by: RMill | April 21, 2006 5:21 PM | Report abuse

I have to agree with Anne (1st post) that Byrne is a disaster on any ticket. I supported Chap Petersen in the primary and I would not be surprised if he ends up back in VA politics very soon either, not to say I have any inside info but fairfax sources are saying 'stay tuned'.

As for Tom Davis, apparenlty the Dems still haven't realized what the changing demographics of this area mean for these types of races, allowing Davis to slip by without a strong challenger against him doesn't give me much confidence in the depth of the party. Sure, the Dem's have got plenty of star power at the top with the likes of Warner, Kaine et. al., but to really make VA competitive they must field credible challengers against the likes of Tom Davis and even Frank Wolf.

Posted by: B. - FFX | April 21, 2006 4:59 PM | Report abuse

The Jeannemarie/Gerry dynamic is already at work with low-level sniping at each other.

I'm in the District, like Gerry and it may "trend" Democratic. But Tom is not only in his 6th term, meaning he probably has a loyal strong machine in place; and he also picked up all sorts of political capital (Ouch!) as head of the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee at least twice. He was successful at that, so there have to lots and lots of favors from all over the country that he can call in for both himself and Jeannemarie.

Imagine "combined" campaign events when Tom campaigns in the 11th, with heavy hitter Republican names getting to pay back with a two-for-one not far from where they live themselves. [Many probably are actually consitituents in the 8th, 10th and 11th districts] I'd bet that such events are already being planned.

Posted by: Vienna Voter | April 21, 2006 4:54 PM | Report abuse

Regarding the 11th District Tom Davis seat, if he vacates it you certainly have to give the Dems a better than 50 percent shot at a pickup, given recent voting trends.

As for the lovely Ms Devolites Davis, I can't see the voters in a district like this (as opposed to areas where dynastic succession is more acceptable) giving the seat to the incumbent's wife -- even though she is obviously more qualified than most spouse-candidates.

Posted by: Loudoun Voter | April 21, 2006 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Virginia should change the motto that delegates announce at the conventions from "Birthplace of Presidents" to "The Home of Never-Ending Elections."

Ever wonder how much it costs to have primary and general elections every year in the Land of Fiscal Conservatives?

Posted by: Vienna Voter | April 21, 2006 4:28 PM | Report abuse


You are absolutely right. I do enjoy the sport of speculating in the field of "who will run" and "who will win". Especially for the '08 elections. My bad.

With regard to John Warner and '08, let's just say I am pretty confident that he is running for re-election. Didn't want to ruin the speculation game (which, again, is a lot of fun as a political junkie), but I know this one is rock solid.

Posted by: Virginian | April 21, 2006 4:25 PM | Report abuse

what about Davis' 11th house seat if he goes to Senate? i think Dems have a seriously good shot at picking up this seat if it happens, it will certainly be a dogfight for it. Chap Petersen perhaps? i think he ran for statewide office too early, but i still think he has great potential as well. Gerry Connolly would probably be in that race as well. On the Republican side, think Tom Davis' wife wouldn't mind his House seat?

2009. I think Mark Warner will run for governor again. Deeds would certainly be a viable candidate though. I think a lot does depend on Kaine and if he can help keep up the Democratic momentum in VA.

Posted by: brent | April 21, 2006 4:25 PM | Report abuse



Section 1. Executive power; Governor's term of office.

The chief executive power of the Commonwealth shall be vested in a Governor. He shall hold office for a term commencing upon his inauguration on the Saturday after the second Wednesday in January, next succeeding his election, and ending in the fourth year thereafter immediately upon the inauguration of his successor. He shall be ineligible to the same office for the term next succeeding that for which he was elected, and to any other office during his term of service.

There appears to be no limit to non-consecutive terms.

Posted by: Vienna Voter | April 21, 2006 4:23 PM | Report abuse

I don't know. Warner--John, that is--will be pretty old by that time, but if he decides to stay, he won't face any real opposition. He's very well respected on both sides of the aisle, and I just don't see him losing. Though, a Warner vs. Warner rematch would be interesting this time around...

Mark Warner will probably run for president in 2008, and so will George Allen. Allen will probably have the hardest time of the two (as well as out of the top presidential, GOP juggernauts of McCain and Romney), simply because none of the aforementioned will be running for anything this fall--well, except, perhaps, the presidency.

This will probably be one of the most trying things for Allen in becoming the GOP nominee, as he will have to spend his time running re-election and spending money, as opposed to campaigning around the country for president.

My guess (I know, it's pretty early, but why not?) is that Allen will not be the GOP nominee, and will instead be the vice-presidential pick of either McCain or Romney. If McCain is the nominee, I really believe that Romney will be his running mate, as he has a compelling story to tell: he's charismatic; he has a wife who has a chronic disease and can genuinely share why it is important that Americans are insured; he's good looking (this is trivial, but it is important in politics as we all know) and will be able to put Massachusetts--perhaps for the first time in years--into play for the GOP.

What do you think?

Posted by: stevend | April 21, 2006 4:23 PM | Report abuse

Anne was right on target. Nothing was more disappointing than to see Leslie Byrne's Every time I see the name with respect to an upcoming election I get that horror movie chill down my spine - Sheeee's Back!

She skews the ballot for other electable Democrats, making it more difficult for them to be elected. I wouldn’t doubt that her loss as Lt. Gov. Candidate had a trickle down effect on the Deeds - McDonnell race.

She’s the epitome of the “Professional Politician.” The ones that the normal electorate have grown to hate so much.

Her first success was against Gwen Cody, a real estate agent whom almost anybody had to be better than.

Her election to Congress was a fluke, with a brand-new seat for Virginia and a split opposition. The voters bounced her the very next election cycle and the seat has not been held by a Democrat since.

The only perpetual candidate I can think of who has run more with less real success is C. W. “Levi” Levy.

Leslie, We love you - to be somewhere other than Northern Virginia.

God! Please spare us having her run again!

Posted by: Vienna Voter | April 21, 2006 4:16 PM | Report abuse

I've got to think Creigh Deeds might be the best choice for the Democrats for Governor in 2009 - assuming Mark Warner is not interested in running again. I didn't vote for him for AG, but I was very impressed with the way he handled the razor-thin loss, and the dignity and class he displayed during the count and re-count.

That being said, and I know it's very early, but I think it's going to be very hard for a Democrat to win in 2009. The two Republican "frontrunners" are currently holding statewide office, which I think gives them an early edge.

Not only that, but if Kaine's early months are any indication, it doesn't seem like he has the political muscle and ability that Warner had in moving his agenda forward. I think it's going to be really hard for a Democrat to run after one big tax increase by a Democrat governor (which was/is publically supported, and another massive push to increase taxes by Kaine (a move that doesn't seem to have much public support). It just seems like the "tax-and-spend" label will probably have a little more force in 2009. But then again, it is 3 years out, and anything can happen.

Just one man's opinion.

Posted by: FortyFour | April 21, 2006 4:03 PM | Report abuse


John Warner hasn't publicly said anything about it yet. If you have inside info, please spill the beans for us.

Besides, you're missing the point. Half the fun is the speculation and the theoretic match-ups. Sheesh. Try to get into the spirit of things, all right?

Posted by: Jackson Landers | April 21, 2006 4:01 PM | Report abuse

Are there any limits to the non-consecutive terms Virginia governors can serve, then? I only recently moved to the state, so I'm new at this.

Posted by: Tim | April 21, 2006 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Put your VA Senate 08 predictions to bed. Senator John Warner is running for re-election.

Posted by: Virginian | April 21, 2006 3:38 PM | Report abuse

On several occasions at Democratic party events, I've seen Creigh Deeds walk into a room amid cries of 'here comes the next Governor of Virginia!' Nobody else except Mark Warner and Tim Kaine enjoys the level of palpable goodwill among VA Dems as Creigh does.

There's huge grassroots support within the party for Creigh to run for Governor. My money would be on Brian Moran to run for the AG primary and leave the Governor's race to Creigh. Creigh has enough support that he could potentially have the field to himself if he keeps his organization together and prepares himself for a run immediately. Which is essentially what he's been doing since his narrow loss several months ago.

Jim Webb does not want to be Governor or Lt. Governor or anything else. He wants to be a United States Senator. Webb will not be a factor in any races except for the Senate.

A John Warner retirement would truly shake things up among the Democrats. First dibbs clearly would go to Mark Warner if he wanted the job (which may not be the case) and assuming that he's not busy being President of the United States. If James Webb loses by a very narrow margin, then Webb gets second dibbs. If both Webb and Warner have already found their way to Washington then it will be Tim Kaine. Creigh Deeds would make a credible candidate for Senate as well, but he's a smart enough guy to avoid a primary fight with big dogs like Warner and Kaine. I bet he'll keep his powder dry for '09 to run against a slightly weaker GOP candidate for Governor.

Altogether, it's remarkable how deep the Democratic party's bench has become for state-wide races. They've clearly got enough talent on hand to field serious, credible candidates in every state-wide race for the rest of the decade. As they seem to be picking up more state House and Senate seats every cycle, no doubt there are guys we've never even heard of who will become factors between now and the close of 2009.

Posted by: Jackson Landers | April 21, 2006 3:18 PM | Report abuse

interesting thing about Virginia, they have a state constitution which demands that any governor may only serve 1 term. The people who put that together were so afraid of corruption and abuse of power that they put a block to any hanky panky in the the governor office.

On the other hand, George Washington gave up power like General Cincinnatus of Rome, who gave up power as the leader of the city-state and went back to his farm. The moral of the story, some people give up power willingly and others must have it taken away.

Posted by: Laura | April 21, 2006 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Oh, for heaven's sake. Did the mention of Leslie Byrne's chance for election to a state-wide office come out of anyone else's mouth besides hers or her husband's? As a life-long Virginia Democrat, I can tell you that the woman has about as much chance of winning state-wide office as I have of becoming Miss America. I suspect that if the Democrats had nominated anyone else for Lt. Gov., Sen. Deeds would not by A.G. Deeds. She was an utter and complete drag on the ticket.

Posted by: Anne | April 21, 2006 2:49 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company