McDonnell Holds Lead in Polls as Nov. 3 Looms
Trailing in all polls with less than two weeks before the Nov. 3 election, Democratic Virginia gubernatorial candidate State Sen. Creigh Deeds shifted his campaign focus sharply last week to intensify efforts to get out votes in the decisive Eastern Fairfax-Falls Church region.
The candidate, from rural Bath County and usually more comfortable in rural areas of the state, began Friday a blitz of the small Northern Virginia geographic area, which analysis of past elections this decade has shown to be the key to a succession of statewide Democratic victories. Friday night he was introduced by long-time supporter and premiere regional political leader State Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple during a rally at his campaign office in the City of Falls Church.
On Saturday, accompanied by Virginia Governor Tim Kaine, Deeds made four stops in the immediate area, meeting Hispanic community leaders at a restaurant in Annandale, charging up canvassing volunteers at the Mason District Park, meeting Vietnamese-American community leaders while touring the Eden Center in Falls Church, then visiting the annual Merrifield Fall Festival at the Luther Jackson Middle School.
Deeds was back Tuesday for a energetic rally at the Democratic campaign headquarters in McLean that featured Former President Bill Clinton. Following his final debate with his GOP challenger, Virginia Attorney General Bob McDonnell, in Salem Tuesday night, he brought his campaign to the parking lot of the Northern Virginia Graduate Center in Falls Church yesterday morning, overlooking the football field of George Mason High School.
Meanwhile, McDonnell has focused his campaigning efforts in his strongholds of Southern Virginia, although he will appear in Springfield early this Saturday morning to charge up a “get out the vote” effort of Fairfax Republicans. Polls show McDonnell ahead of Deeds among likely voters, with an eight percentage point lead in the Clarus Research Group poll, by 19 percent in the SurveyUSA poll, and by 14 percent in the Christopher Newport University poll.
But Deeds told the News-Press in an interview last weekend that he hopes the tide will turn by shifting from “getting out the issues” to “getting out the vote” in the last two weeks. He noted that 600,000 Virginians were registered to vote for the first time last year in the campaign to elect President Obama, and that getting these people to vote again on Nov. 3 could swing the outcome.
Obama will weigh in for Deeds in the coming week, beginning with an e-mail sent out yesterday urging his 2008 electoral base to “get fired up” again, and a rally at the Old Dominion University in Norfolk on Tuesday, where getting out the African-American vote will be the focus.
The entire statewide Democratic slate was also buoyed in Northern Virginia by endorsements from the two most influential newspapers in the region, the Washington Post in a series of editorials this week, and the Falls Church News-Press in today’s edition (see Page 2). In addition to Deeds in the governor’s race, Democrat Jody Wagner was endorsed by both papers over her Republican opponent Bill Bolling for Lieutenant Governor, and Democrat Steve Shannon was endorsed by both over Republican opponent Ken Cuccinelli for Attorney General.
In addition to the statewide races, campaigns for state delegate seats are also white hot in some regions as Democrats are fighting to pick up the six seats they need to gain a majority the House of Delegates. Key to those races is the fact that the majority in the House of Delegates will control the re-districting of Congressional and state legislative districts following the 2010 census.
In the Falls Church area, first-time Dem candidate Kay Kory is expected to defeat GOP challenger Danny Smith in the 38th District covering the Mason District, veteran incumbent Dem Jim Scott isexpected to win handily over GOP challenger Christopher Merola in the 53rd District covering the City of Falls Church and Merrifield, while first-term State Del. Margaret Vanderhye is facing a stiff challenge from the GOP’s Barbara Comstock in the 34th District covering McLean and Tysons.
The Deeds rally at the Northern Virginia Grad Center under warm, clear skies yesterday morning (a sharp contrast to the cold, rainy conditions on the weekend) featured Republican State Del. James Dillard, Fairfax School Board candidate Jim Jennison, U.S. Rep. Jim Moran and Kitty Boitnett, president of the Virginia Education Association, arriving in a school bus to a small but lively crowd that included Falls Church Mayor Robin Gardner, Councilman Lawrence Webb and Del. Scott.
As a Republican, Del. Dillard said he supports Deeds because, as past chair of the House Education Committee, he noted that when in the legislature, McDonnell voted against all efforts to raise teacher salaries, and was one of the few ideological right-wingers who voted against Gov. Mark Warner’s 2004 bi-partisan budget reform that added $1.5 billion to education.