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Decision Virginia Archive 8/08- 7/12

Steele to stump in VA-3 for longshot candidate

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This is interesting… Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele will bring his “Fire Pelosi” bus tour to Henrico County this week.

The fact that he is stumping in Virginia is not much of a surprise, what is interesting is who he is stumping for.  In the height of a competitive election year, where Republicans are hopeful to regain at least the House of Representatives and perhaps even the Senate, Steele will spend the evening with Chuck Smith the man hoping to unseat long time Democrat Bobby Scott.

Despite an exhaustive search of practically every web site tracking congressional races across the country, I could not come up with one analyst or pundit willing to put Scott’s seat at risk.  The third district is considered to be among a group of seats Democrats have no danger of losing.

Steele will also make a stop in the 11th district in Fairfax in support of Keith Fimian, a Republican candidate that could potentially unseat Democrat Gerry Connolly. He will also make a stop in Charlottesville in support of Robert Hurt, a Republican hoping to oust Tom Perriello in a race that is one of the most watched congressional races in America.

So the question is why is the Republican National Committee Chairman coming to support a candidate that does not appear to have a legitimate chance of winning?

Lisa D. Creeden, the communications director for Chuck Smith 2010 told me tonight that it was the RNC, and Chairman Steele specifically, that suggested that he come to town in support of the Smith campaign.  Creeden noted that Steele’s “Fire Pelosi” bus tour will make many stops in Virginia, but that the Chairman specifically want to appear with Smith, a candidate running in a district that handily went for Barack Obama in 2008 and has consistently elected Democrats by wide margins.

“We are very much aware of the demographics of the district,” said Creeden. “But if there was ever a year to unseat Bobby Scott, this is the year.”

Creeden was honest and said there is no secret poll that shows her candidate within the margin of error, but she said that they have had encouraging signs that people are becoming more interested in their race.  That includes hits to their web site and attendance at events.

The Washington Post’s Virginia Politics blog, speculated that Steele may have chosen Smith because they are both African-American and Steele is making an effort to encourage more minority participation in the Republican Party.   Creeden said she can’t read the Chairman’s mind but believes that if that played a role, it was only a minor one.

“It’s not as if he (Steele) took out a map and pinpointed all of the African-American candidates and said ‘I am going to stump for them’.” she said. “He is going all throughout Virginia and he felt that Chuck Smith was one of the many candidates worth supporting.”

So far reps for the RNC have not returned our requests for comment on the tour.

Chairman Michael Steele appears with Chuck Smith Wednesday September 15th. The rally takes place at 8:15pm at the historic Henrico Theater in Highland Springs.

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