Could Armstrong’s ad jeopardize his leadership position?
Virgina House Minority Leader Ward Armstrong is already feeling the reverberations from a controversial campaign ad that puts distance between he and President Barack Obama. In the ad, Armstrong touts his “pro-life, pro-gun” record and calls any comparisons to him and Mr. Obama a “stretch.”
Armstrong has not returned our inquiries about whether or not he supports the president’ re-election, but it is clear that his efforts to retain his seat could make life a lot different for him come January.
Armstrong, already one of the most conservative democrats in the House, will face a fickle House minority that may look to replace him with a member that more accurately represents the voice of the left in Virginia.
“This makes it harder to justify Ward as the primary voice for our party in the House,” said Del. Dave Englin a liberal member from Northern Virginia and a rising democratic star. “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. ”
Englin has been rumored to be considering a run for house leadership, a position that could propel him to future run statewide, and make him a powerful liberal voice. A voice that could get a great deal of attention, especially if Virginia gives control of the Senate to republicans.
“A number of people have asked me to run for higher leadership in our Caucus,” Englin told me. “We have several talented Members who could provide that, and we’ll work out the details within our Caucus family after November 8.”
Englin is not alone in his criticism of Armstrong. Lowell Feld of the influential Blue Virginia blog wrote Friday that Armstrong should not expect any help from the blog in the future.
“Whether Ward Armstrong wins his race for delegate or not,” wrote Feld. “He can forget about any support whatsoever on this blog for statewide office in 2013, or for any other office for that matter.”
But Armstong, who hasn’t responded for comment on this story, still has his supporters including in Northern Virginia. Del. Bob Brink told me that he wasn’t ready to talk about organizational matters for the upcoming session, but had high praise for his democratic leader.
“Ward has been a skillful and articulate floor leader for House Democrats,” said Brink. “The issues on which we agree far outnumber those on which we disagree.”
Armstrong won’t be able to escape the specter of Obama anytime soon. The president’s bus tour scheduled for next week is expected to roll through the Southside. Virginia republicans are already asking if one of the leading democrats in Virginia will be there to greet him.