The day after- Election ’09 winners and losers
Now that the winner and losers have been officially decided at the ballot box, it is time to dig a bit deeper and see who will benefit (and lose) the most in Virginia politics.
Gov. Tim Kaine – It is hard to believe that just a little more than a year ago, Virginia’s current governor was a whisker away from becoming the nominee for vice president of the United States. It seems that since his close friend President Barack Obama turned to the more experienced Joe Biden, Kaine’s fortunes have gone down hill. He was forced into a job he didn’t want (DNC Chair) and as a result had to constantly deal with questions about where he was having dinner each night. Taking on the job also put him at the center of yesterday’s losses not only in Virginia, but in New Jersey too, a state he has little to nothing to do with. Kaine now is left with a little less than two months to define his legacy in the governor’s mansion. A legacy that, regardless of his legislative and governing accomplishments (Smoking Ban, his stewardship in the wake of the Virginia Tech massacre), will now be defined by one huge political win (Barack Obama) and one enormous political loss (last night). Kaine, however, still enjoys the trust and friendship of the most powerful man in the world and his political destiny may still be ahead of him.
Jeff Frederick (former Republican Party chair) – Yes, there were Republicans who did not come out ahead last night and Frederick is among them. The feisty leader of the conservative wing of the party was on the precipice of causing a huge rift in the Republican party last spring. But within less than a month he became marginalized by the McDonnell machine and reduced to a few errant tweets that eventually no longer became news. In the days leading up to the campaign, Frederick tweeted about a write-in campaign for his former seat in the House of Delegates, and the formation of a separate Conservative party in Virginia. Frederick, who once held a position so powerful that his off-the-cuff comments about Barack Obama garnered national attention, may now only be remembered as the guy who once held one of the few seats in the House of Delegates that switched to the Democratic party in 2009.
Mike Henry (campaign manager for Terry McAuliffe and Steve Shannon) – Perhaps the most respected mind in Virginia politics, Henry had the distinction of presiding over two losses in one campaign season. The expectations may have been too high for a man who had been almost perfect in Virginia politics. He didn’t appear to have enough time to convince Virginia voters that McAuliffe was one of them and by the time he reached the Shannon campaign, the growing tsunami was already overwhelming. Henry is still incredibly well-respected and I am sure he will be back in the very near future (Terry McAuliffe is already considering a run in 2013).
Phil Cox (McDonnell campaign manager) – The man at the top of the Bob McDonnell machine withstood criticism about his ties to controversial conservative groups to become the biggest “behind the scenes” player in Virginia politics. This morning Bob McDonnell named him the head of his transition team and, depending on what his goals are, he may end up with a prominent position in the new administration. Cox managed a fickle and unsettled GOP in the spring and became the first Republican campaign manger to effectively integrate the internet and social media into an overall strategy. He also helped to guide Team McDonnell through the rough waters of the revelation of the candidate’s master’s thesis to cruise to a landslide victory.
Republican Bloggers/Internet Stars – Up until yesterday, it was just a given that Republicans would lose the war online. It may be too early to declare them victorious in 2009, but the GOP’s presence on the internet grew exponentially in this campaign. From offering right-leaning bloggers better seating at the Republican convention than the media, to gathering more Facebook friends and Twitter followers for Bob McDonnell than any other candidate, Republicans did not just hand the internet over to the Democrats. Sites like Bearing Drift have now become important players that candidates and voters can no longer ignore. They may not be the difference between winning and losing, but they are now having an impact, something they could never say before.
Brian Moran (former Democratic candidate for governor) – He watched as one of his one of his two opponents for the Democratic nomination lost in a landslide and the other already floated the idea of running again and hasn’t said a word. Brian Moran is rumored to be in talks to make a play for the Democratic Party’s chairmanship and could be well positioned to be a prominent and vocal opponent to the McDonnell administration. The former leader of the Democratic House Caucus, Moran is accustomed to the back and forth bickering related to the legislative process and could prove to be a go-to guy for reporters looking for the counterpoint to the McDonnell agenda. The question is, does he want that role? Regardless, Moran looks to have options. Options that weren’t available in early June.