Archive for July 28th, 2009
He has already spent many hours cris-crossing the 73rd district of Virginia, but today University of Richmond Professor Tom Shields officially kicked off his challenge to Republican incumbent John O’Bannon.
Shields is part of a group of serious challengers to Republican House members across the state, as the Democrats attempt to take control of the lower house of the General Assembly. It’s a position they have not been in since reconstruction.
While Shields has attempted to run a relatively upbeat campaign, he has not been afraid to go on the attack of his opponent. Shields has characterized O’Bannon, a neurologist from Henrico, as “out of touch”. He has also taken advantage of a coordinated attack, hatched by the Democratic Party of Virginia, to slap incumbent Republicans that prevented the Commonwealth from taking advantage of stimulus funds connected to unemployment insurance.
Shields struck a tone of independent leadership in his announcement before about 75 supporters at Tuckahoe Elementary School. He laid out a vision he claims goes above party labels to improve the economy, education and health care. Not surprisingly, his opponent didn’t agree. O’Bannon said the Shields roll-out was nothing more than a negative attack.
“Usually some time lapses between a candidate’s announcement and the initiating of negative campaigning,” O’Bannon said in a statement today. “Judging from his comments today, Mr. Shields is content to misrepresent and – in some instances – falsify my record before explaining to voters his own plans.”
And Shields was not afraid to draw differences between his campaign and how he views O’Bannon. “Time and again, O’Bannon has put his party leaders and the special interests above families in his own district,” said Shields. “I believe that the 73rd district deserves a new generation of independent leadership, and I look forward to a serious debate about the major issues facing Virginia.”
O’Bannon’s district is as reliably red as any in Virginia. However, the district did vote for Barack Obama last fall, as well as supporting Tim Kaine as well. It looks as though both of these candidates will not go down without a fight. There is a good chance though, that the overall mood of the state could have more to do with who wins in Henrico than the personalities of either of these candidates.
The Shields release and the O’Bannon response can be found after the jump..
Democratic Attorney General candidate Steve Shannon is not giving up on his efforts to connect his Republican opponent Ken Cuccinelli to controversial comments made by a candidate for Delegate in the Northern Neck.
Catherine Crabill has garnered national attention for a fiery speech that she delivered at a Tea Party event, where she told the crowd that they “have a chance to fight this battle at the ballot box, before we have to resort to the bullet box.” The YouTube clip has become a democratic sensation, posted on blogs across the country as evidence of extremism on the Republican side of the aisle.
While many democrats have found ways to denounce Crabill’s comments, only Shannon has used the incident as a cornerstone of his campaign strategy. The Northern Virginia Delegate has repeatedly called on Cuccinelli to condemn the remarks and seems to find a way to remind voters that Crabill and Cuccinelli are both Republicans, running for office in 2009, as much as possible.
Shannon’s effort to draw this connection has moved up a notch when he chose to base his first video advertisement for his campaign on the Crabill comments. The ad at this point is only running on the internet, and campaign officials have not said if they plan to put it on television.
For the most part, Cuccinelli has ignored the repeated attacks by the Shannon campaign, and instead renewed his call for face to face debates.
It is difficult to judge just how big of an impact this viral internet video could have on the campaign in general. Privately, Republican leaders wish that Crabill had been a little more careful with her words, but are reluctant to criticize because of her connection with the Tea Party movement, which at this point is one of the few motivated grass roots political efforts in an off election year.
The situation is even more complicated, because even though Crabill is the nominated candidate, she was by no means anointed by the Republican establishment. She is running in a far flung district against an entrenched democratic opponent and truthfully, the GOP had no one else willing to run.
Is Shannon attempting to create a strong knot with a loose grouping a frayed connections? Is Cuccinelli secretly a supporter of violent government resistance? How much is this debate connecting with the average voter?
Does it have anything to do with being Attorney General?
See the Shannon ad and the latest call for debates by Cuccinelli after the jump..