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Retiring Democratic Party chair reflects on political cycles

Rosalind Helderman

Retiring Democratic Party of Virginia Chairman Richard Cranwell said Tuesday that he's seen high moments as chairman of the state party -- and acknowledged that there have been setbacks. He called last year's statewide elections, in which Bob McDonnell (R) won back the governor's mansion from Democrats by more than 17 points, a "little punch in the snout."

But in an interview, Cranwell said he believes the Democratic Party's staff and organizational infrastructure are strong and he feels comfortable stepping down after five years at the party's helm.

"There are political cycles, and I understand they come and go," he said. "The important thing is that I really think the group of young people working for us now are as competent and talented as any in the country. I'm comfortable we're in good shape."

Cranwell said he decided to step down now to spend more time with his children, who are 11 and 13. "They're both good baseball players, both good soccer players. I'd really like to spend a little more time doing soccer and doing baseball," he said.

Meanwhile, Cranwell flew the party banner one last time Tuesday. He said he believes congressional candidates have gained momentum on the GOP. He said he believes U.S. Rep. Tom Perriello is in a tight race with Republican state Sen. Robert Hurt (Pittsylvania), as is incumbent Glenn Nye (D) with Republican Scott Rigell. U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly will defeat Keith Fimian, Cranwell predicted, and U.S. Rep. Rick Boucher (D) will hold against a challenge from Del. Morgan Griffith (R-Salem).

"People engage me like they weren't a month ago or two months ago," he said. "To me, it feels like it's moving some."

Cranwell, who served 30 years in the Virginia House of Delegates, promised he would not retire from public life, pledging to be a "foot soldier, not a staff sergeant." He also declined to endorse a successor.

By Rosalind S. Helderman  | October 12, 2010; 6:10 PM ET
Categories:  Rosalind Helderman  
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Mr. Cranwell , I will not miss all of your dirty campaigning and the slanderous flyers the Va. Democrat party has sent out over the years you have been in charge. Maybe before you go, you could actually send out flyer for Connolly that explains why he voted for obamacare, and why Connolly never held an open town hall on the subject. What a coincidence that you leave for personal reasons right after the GOP swept all the state offices and is about to take over congress.

Posted by: fairfaxgoper | October 13, 2010 12:31 PM | Report abuse

It appears the Northern Virginia tea party people supporting their extremist Tea Party candidate Keith Fimian are getting more angry, just like their candidate.

It is only fitting that the Tea Party would endorse a candidate who spent 7 days in jail for assaulting and permanently injuring another person.

I wonder how they will feel if, God forbid, Fimian gets elected and starts dismantling their Social Security system.

Posted by: spatrickbe | October 13, 2010 4:06 PM | Report abuse

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