At Connolly HQ, Jill Biden fires up volunteers
With 18 hours left before the polls open in Virginia, Rep. Gerald Connolly (D) and a famous longtime "friend" sought Monday to fire up volunteers for one last push to keep the 11th district seat out of the hands of Oakton businessman Keith Fimian (R).
At Connolly's campaign headquarters in a Fairfax strip mall, Jill Biden, the wife of Vice President Joe Biden urged several dozen chanting, singing supporters to "make 10 more calls or 10 more e-mails," as Northern Virginia Democrats fret that an anticipated nationwide GOP wave might sweep Connolly aside after just one term.
Biden said she had a longstanding relationship with Connolly, going back to when Connolly was a top aide and Joe Biden was a senior member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
"You know when I got the call to come in for Gerry, I was more than happy because Gerry has been a friend for years and years," Jill Biden said.
Biden, a longtime educator who currently teaches at Northern Virginia Community College, cited Connolly's support for education as well as his backing of the Obama administration's health-reform bill as reasons why he deserved reelection.
Following Biden, Connolly took the floor to tell supporters he was feeling upbeat about Tuesday. "A little piece of evidence, in our analysis of the people who voted early -- we won the absentee ballots," he said.
Connolly fired up the crowd by citing Fimian's opposition to abortion in the case of rape or incest, and Fimian's much-discussed suggestion that the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre might not have happened if students there had been "packing heat." Connolly said Fimian -- who has apologized -- still needed to explain his "cro-magnon views on a tragedy that still resonates here."
"There is no enthusiasm gap in the 11th congressional district -- witness," he said, gesturing at the crowd.
After speaking to the crowd, Connolly talked to reporters but declined to discuss whether other Democrats around the country were going to have a rough Election Day. "I'm going to be focused on my race, not on the national political scene," he said.
As the crew of volunteers prepared to hit the streets, Josh Grant -- a volunteer organizer from the League of Conservation Voters -- explained to the group how to canvass for votes and how to use their "walk lists" to record the reactions of people they met going to door to door.
"We are only talking to people who we think are going to vote for us," Grant explained. "We are not going to every house."
Another aide asked volunteers to "give us two hours or regret the next two years."
Connolly and his supporters may exude confidence, but many Democrats aren't taking any chances. The D.C. Democratic State Committee sent out an "urgent" appeal Sunday for volunteers to travel across the river to help the Virginia incumbent. And the liberal group Moveon.org sent an e-mail to members in the District Monday asking for volunteers, with the subject line "Please Please Please."
"Have plans?" the Moveon e-mail asked. "Cancel them. Can't cancel? Postpone. If you got sick, you'd find some way to reschedule your other stuff, right? And this is way more important than illness. This is the, uh, FUTURE OF AMERICA we're talking about--and it could come down to 184 people in Falls Church."
Fimian, for his part, mostly avoided the media over the weekend as his campaign sought to move beyond the gun issue. He plans to spend Monday afternoon at the Dunn Loring and Vienna Metro stations.
| November 1, 2010; 3:40 PM ET
Categories: 2010 Virginia Congressional Races, Ben Pershing, Election 2010, Gerald E. Connolly, Keith Fimian
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