For Virginia Democrats, the outcome of Tuesday’s primary election could not have been better.
This is not so much because of the candidates who won, as it is because the victors won decisively, and with similar margins of decisive triumphs throughout the state. The fact that State Sen. Creigh Deeds won the Democratic nomination for governor by the same margin in Fairfax County, with 49 percent of the vote among the three candidates, as he did throughout Virginia, is terribly important in calculating his chances to beat GOP rival Attorney General Bob McDonnell in November. The same goes for the Dems’ lieutenant governor nominee, Jody Wagner.
Both winners prevailed despite the spirited and tireless efforts of their rivals over many months. Virginia is a huge state, and simply following the on-line updates of the candidates, some tweeting and updating their status on Facebook with considerable regularity, seemed exhausting. All retained attitudes of fierce competitiveness, cheerfulness and optimism right up to the end, some reporting updates on their searches for their favorite road trip snacks as they criss-crossed the commonwealth. Indeed, with low voter turnouts expected (and realized) in the primary, the battle for every single vote was justified. In the gubernatorial race, some of the most credible polling showed the race was a virtual three-way dead heat even just a week before the vote.
But, amazingly enough, it didn’t turn out that way, not by a long shot. Some of the campaign inner circles may have known better than the public polls that they were falling back. Among the massive on-line exchanges of young Democratic professionals nationally, this was the case, and there have been no lack of sharp criticisms of the handling of some of the campaigns contributing to the final outcome.
Still, for Democrats, they are fortunate to have a clear choice in their Deeds-Wagner-Steve Shannon slate going into the fall, one around which it appears clear the party writ-large will unite and fight for. As the election approaches, the eastern section of Fairfax County, combined with Arlington, Alexandria and Falls Church, will again prove decisive if the race is close, as it has in other close statewide Democratic upset victories this decade.
We feel that Deeds will be more than up for the challenge this fall. He went head to head with McDonnell just four years ago, losing by a mere 360 votes out of two million cast. The state has become considerably “bluer” since then, especially around these parts. And Deeds has had the benefit of four more years of experience in the state senate battling his GOP foes over issues vital to the state’s future. He’s a proven campaigner with the stamina and capacity to stay on point which are the critical ingredients to success in a long haul. He’s just completed one such long haul, and now is facing another.