Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Webb receives nod of DSCC in VA Primary

The Democratic nomination for the Senate race and perhaps even the Senate seat itself were pretty much former-Governor Mark Warner’s for the taking. However, he heard the Siren call of the Presidency and is instead campaigning in New Hampshire rather than Virginia. Virginia’s junior Senator, Republican George Allen, is himself contemplating a run for the Presidency but decided to squeeze in one more Virginia election before entering the national stage.

It is six days to the Virginia Democratic Primary on June 13th. There have been some articles in the media and I have received mailings from each campaign. Beyond that I have seen very little activity and no polls. There is a fair amount of buzz on Virginia’s Democratic blogs and while they certainly represent activists they don’t represent the “John Q. Public” voters who really decide these races. I think it is fair to say this election will have a very low turnout and as a result the outcome could go either way which means the candidate who identifies and turns out his voters will win.

James Webb served as the Secretary of the Navy in the Reagan administration and Harris Miller is a successful businessman who has been active with the Fairfax County Democratic Committee. My guess is Webb will have some slight advantage in name recognition whereas Miller will (or should) have some advantage with a base in Northern Virginia.

James Webb seems to have a disproportionate amount of support from Democrats on the national level while Miller seems to be doing well on the local and state level as far as endorsements go. That assessment does not reflect an actual count of who is which corner but just a general impression.

I don’t claim to have any inside information but my guess is local Democrats work very hard and they are more likely to support one of their own over someone whose Democratic credentials are recently acquired. National Democrats, on the other hand, are strictly looking for whatever candidate is most likely to knock off George Allen in November and help change the dynamics in the United States Senate. If that was not clear with the endorsements of John Kerry and Harry Reid before it certainly became obvious today when Charles Schumer and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee came out publicly for Webb today.

From this afternoon’s Daily Press:
The national committee rarely gets involved in individual primary
races, especially contests as close as the Webb-Miller race has become. And with
just six days till the primary election, the DSCC is clearly signaling to
Democratic voters that it would prefer Webb over Miller in the November contest
with Republican Sen. George Allen.

Larry Sabato, a political analyst and political science professor at
the University of Virginia, said, "If Democrats are listening, this says loud
and clear that if Webb is the winner, the national people are going to put
substantial money into Virginia and if Webb loses, best of luck to Virginia
Democrats…. This is as dramatic as it gets."

My gut reaction is the assessment of the National Democrats is probably right. George Allen’s freshman term as Senator may have been lackluster but he has won two statewide elections – the first being as governor – and despite the public’s disenchantment with the Republican establishment in Washington he does have the advantage of incumbency. He will not be beaten easily.

Webb seems to have the characteristics that can appeal to independents and some Republicans. There may be those who may argue the Democrats need a candidate who can hold the base. I don’t think that is a problem. Given the current state of affairs in the country the Democratic base isn’t going anywhere except out to defeat Republicans.

Both Webb and Miller are scheduled appear on Hardball (MSNBC) with Chris Mathews on Thursday, June 8th.

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