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Coordinating Va Democrats: No Simple Task

Washington Post editors

The Virginia Democratic Party's decision to add Jim Wilson, a longtime Republican operative, to the payroll of its coordinated campaign may be a sign that Democratic efforts this year may not be so coordinated after all.

The coordinated Democratic campaign has been established to boost U.S. Senate candidate Mark R. Warner, congressional candidates and Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.), the party's presumptive nominee for president.

Although he is a Republican, Wilson supports Warner and travels the state putting up campaign signs for him.

But at Saturday's U.S. Senate debate between Warner and Republican Jim Gilmore, Wilson was seen with a sign in his truck that included Warner's name and that of Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), the presumptive GOP nominee for president.

Kevin Hall, a Warner spokesman, said Wilson plans to put the sign in his own yard. Wilson used to work for former Republican senator George Allen.

"He is obviously a Republican, but he likes Mark Warner enough he is willing to work for the Democratic Party," said Jared Leopold, a spokesman for the Virginia Democratic Party. "As far as what he wants to put up in his yard, that is his decision. He is an independent contractor."

Leopold added Wilson "will not put up a single sign for us that has a Republican name on it" as part of his regular sign duty for Warner. Warner is making a big push to try to get Republicans to vote for him.

But will Wilson also put up signs for Obama and Democratic congressional candidates?

"We'll find someone else to put up Obama signs," Leopold said.

Leopold said Wilson is being hired as a "paid consultant," but he declined to release Wilson's salary.

Although officials in the Warner and Obama campaigns stress they are working together closely, the two efforts at times appear to running on parallel instead of integrated tracks. Warner's and the Virginia Democratic Party's coordinated campaigns are based in Alexandria. The Obama campaign is based in Richmond.

The Obama campaign also has decided to establish its own regional offices across the state instead of solely relying on those established by the party's coordinated campaign.

Officials within the Obama campaign said that decision was made because Obama plans to target different voters than Warner does. But the two campaigns still do a lot of work together, most notably joint canvassing projects.

By Washington Post editors  |  July 23, 2008; 11:56 AM ET
Categories:  Election 2008/Congress , Election 2008/Local , Election 2008/President , Election 2008/U.S. Senate , Tim Craig  
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This comes as no surprise to any of us Virginia Democrats who know Mark Warner well. He's a politician uniquely committed to... himself. And nothing else.

He can trade my vote for one of those precious Republican votes he's chasing so hard. I'll be voting for Obama, and leaving both the Warner and Gilmore bubbles blank.

Posted by: VADemocrat | July 23, 2008 1:42 PM | Report abuse

makes sense to me Warner was running for President after all

He is propably kicking himself since Hillary lost (and he was too chicken to take her on directly) and he is also more than a little jealous of Obama who actually had the guts and courage to not only take her on but beat her

Posted by: Anonymous | July 23, 2008 1:54 PM | Report abuse

gas prices are so high, people are willing to car pool with democrats

Posted by: Anonymous | July 23, 2008 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Virginia is a centrist, pragmatic state. That is why it has favored moderate, common-sense political leaders like John Warner, Chuck Robb, Jim Moran, Tom Davis, Frank Wolf, Mark Warner, and Tim Kaine.

There is nothing wrong with a candidate trying to reach out to all voters across Virginia. This is actually the type of effort that will bring people together and away from stinging partisanship.

Isn't this just the type of post-partisan appeal that Mr. Obama is preaching?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 23, 2008 3:15 PM | Report abuse

george allen is very moderate

Posted by: Anonymous | July 23, 2008 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Go Mark Warner AND John McCain!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 23, 2008 3:58 PM | Report abuse

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