Herring-Murray Result Will Linger for Weeks
With Democrat Charniele Herring clinging to a 16-vote lead over Republican Joe Murray in the special House election to replace Brian Moran, it appears as if Northern Virginia Democrats have a bit of election fatigue.
No, Moran shouldn't be blamed for failing to do more to prevent Democrats from suffering an embarrassing result in a district that President-Elect Barack Obama carried with 75 percent of the vote two months ago. As a candidate for governor in a tough race, Moran didn't have the luxury of personally visiting Alexandria Democrats around the holidays to remind them to vote in a special election.
But the Virginia Democratic Party was outflanked by the GOP. Murray won the absentee ballot precinct with nearly 80 percent of the vote, a clear sign that Herring and the Democrats got beat in the all-important organizing effort..
For weeks, Murray and Alexandria Republicans have been telegraphing that they thought Murray could pull off an upset with just a few hundred votes.
Democrats never took it seriously, and they will now suffer the consequences.
True, Herring appears to be the winner. And when the Democratic nominee stands for election to a full term in the fall, they will likely easily prevail. (Will it be Herring?)
But Murray's strong showing is a huge coup for Virginia Republicans. With all 100 House seats up for election this fall, the Herring-Murray race becomes the last election that reporters and pundits have to evaluate the political landscape for state House races heading into the fall.
Instead of stories about the undeniable Democratic trends in Northern Virginia, pundits will have to leave open the possibility that maybe, just maybe, the GOP isn't dead in Northern Virginia after all.
If Murray can nearly pull off an upset inside the Beltway, how can anyone conclude that Fairfax County Republican Delegates David B. Albo, Thomas Davis Rust or Timothy M. Hugo are underdogs this fall? Or what about Del. Jeffrey M. Frederick's (R-Prince William) open seat?
True, it's silly to compare a special election to a general election for governor considering the vast turnout differences. But that's not the point. From now until that election, the Herring-Murray race will be mentioned in news stories and GOP candidates will use it to bolster fundraising.
And Democratic incumbents in Northern Virginia will feel a need to redouble their own reelection efforts just to be on the safe side. That will drain resources away from other competitive races.
Score one, finally, for the Virginia GOP.
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