Local Commentary

News from the Coffin Corner: Delegate Hull’s Richmond Report

The dog days of summer will soon be upon us as the 2008 presidential and senatorial nomination contests slowly conclude.

Dogs, Elephants, and Donkeys

The dog days of summer will soon be upon us as the 2008 presidential and senatorial nomination contests slowly conclude.

The winners of each party’s Virginia presidential primary of the winter, John McCain and Barack Obama, look to become official nominees this summer.

In the meanwhile, the Virginia GOP picked former Governor Jim Gilmore on Saturday to be their Senatorial standard bearer.

Another ex-governor will be officially selected as the Democratic Senate nominee at their convention next weekend.

As the only declared candidate, Mark Warner will undoubtedly be nominated by acclamation at the Democratic gathering in Hampton.

I do not see how anyone can beat him. He left office with almost stratospheric approval ratings in every corner of the Old Dominion.

Mark Warner is a pro-business Democrat who has reached across party lines to forge coalitions to pass meaningful, reform legislation.

That sounds like the Obama national message, too. I expect them to help each other increase the Democratic base in preparation for legislative elections in 2009.

Young Turks

Likewise, Virginia Republicans prepared for next year’s elections by selecting a new state party chair.

Jeff Frederick, a young, two-term, strongly conservative Delegate from Dumphries beat moderate incumbent John Hager.

It was certainly a rebuff for the father of President Bush’s new son-in-law and a big win for the anti-tax wing of the GOP.

Chairman Frederick has already issued a 100-day plan designed to revitalize what many see as a party in poor health after a string of legislative losses.

While we Democrats will undoubtedly brand him as a right wing zealot and him a campaign issue, he has campaign savvy and should not be underestimated.

Nor should Bob Marshall. The 15 year House Republican incumbent came within 70 votes out of over 10,000 cast of winning his party’s senatorial nomination.

Almost Sweet Revenge

The fact that Jim Gilmore, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee, almost lost his party’s nomination should be an embarrassment.

He was almost dethroned by a coalition of pro-life conservatives and moderate friends of Tom Davis, who was denied the Senate nomination by Gilmore’s troops.

Like I said before, I do not see how Mark Warner can lose in November and his strength might help Barack Obama pick up 13 new electoral votes.

Gosh, but it is going to be an exciting election season!

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch…

But, we General Assembly types have to worry about policy, not politics as we go into a special session later this month.

Called by Governor Tim Kaine to find a solution to the transportation nightmares of the Commonwealth, I remain pessimistic.

As I have said in this column before, leaders of both parties in the House may want failure in order to blame the other.

That, in turn, leads to a major issue for 2009, when all 100 members Delegate seats are up for election.

Coincidentally, those elected in 2009 will also draw new election districts in 2011 elections for the next decade.

But, I believe that failure to come away with something meaningful from this special session will be a pox on all of us.

I think that my colleagues need to remember that when voters throw the bums out, it does not matter whether you ride a donkey or an elephant.