N. Va. to Play Huge Role in ‘Too Close To Call’ Presidential & Senate Races

Region Critical for Obama, Kaine in Tuesday’s Election

With most polls showing the Presidential and Virginia’s U.S. Senate races neck-and-neck, well within margins of error, voter turnout will be the key to who wins next Tuesday.

A special burden of responsibility falls on registered voters in Northern Virginia – especially those in eastern Fairfax, Arlington, Alexandria and the City of Falls Church – where the margin of victory may or may not materialize against prevailing trends in the rest of Virginia to determine the next President or U.S. Senator from this state.

In past statewide elections, the overall margins for Democrats were more than achieved in this Northern Virginia region alone. It will be up to Democrats to determine if that will happen again this time, and up to Republicans to deter it with high turnouts of their own.

Polls will be open next Tuesday, Nov. 6, from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., and notably, for the first time in a presidential election, the number of polling locations in the City of Falls Church have been reduced from five to three. Now, polling places are only at the Community Center (223 Little Falls St.), Thomas Jefferson Elementary (601 S. Oak St.), and the Oakwood Apartments (501 Roosevelt Blvd.)

Regionally, the issues in the closing days of the campaigns have focused on moves by area jurisdictions to extend opportunities for the brisk pace of in-person absentee voting, making up for time lost due to power outages from Superstorm Sandy, as well as handling distractions such as vandalism against pro-Obama lawn signs in Falls Church and a sting operation that caught the son of U.S. Rep. Jim Moran apparently advising a volunteer on how to perpetrate electoral fraud.

Patrick Moran has resigned from his father’s campaign, Arlington police were notified and the State Board of Elections voted to forward the matter to the state attorney general. But the incident is not expected to change the outcome of the veteran Moran’s race for an 11th term, where he maintains a solid advantage.

Falls Church police were alerted to the sign thefts and vandalism this week, and Fairfax County and Falls Church have announced extended hours for absentee voting to the following:

At the Fairfax Government Center, 12000 Government Center Parkway, absentee voting can occur from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. today and Friday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, and at satellite locations, such as the Dolly Madison Library, 1244 Oak Ridge in McLean, and the Mason District Government Center, 6507 Columbia Pike, Annandale, hours will be from noon to 8 p.m. today and Friday, and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. In Falls Church, voting can take place at the Dogwood Room at City Hall, 300 Park Avenue, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. today and Friday, and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday.

On the ballot are only former Virginia Governors Tim Kaine, Democrat, and George Allen, Republican, for the U.S. Senate, but there are electors for five presidential candidates. The winner will claim all 13 electoral votes assigned to Virginia with its population of 8 million.

In addition to electors for President Obama, Democrat, and Gov. Mitt Romney, Republican, are those for Constitution Party candidate Rep. Virgil Goode from southwest Virginia, Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson from New Mexico, and Green Party candidate Jill Stein from Massachusetts.

Rep. Goode is a long-time political leader from the 5th Congressional District, a sprawling southwestern rural district covering almost 9,000 square miles (larger than the entire state of New Jersey) who has been elected to the State Senate and to the U.S. Congress as a Democrat, Republican and independent from 1997 to 2009. He is expected to make a small dent in the statewide voting totals for president, having both loyal supporters in his home district, and a portion of the 40.4 percent who voted for Ron Paul in the state’s Republican primary earlier this year (Paul was the only candidate on that ballot besides Romney).

All the presidential candidates appear on the ballot with their vice-presidential running mates, as well.

There are expected to be no changes in the state’s 11 U.S. House of Representative elections, where the GOP retains an 8-3 edge. That includes the two regional districts that are held by incumbent Democrats Moran (8th District that includes the City of Falls Church) and Rep. Gerry Connolly (11th District of eastern Fairfax and parts of Prince William).

Connolly narrowly retained his seat for a second term in 2010, edging Republican Keith Fimian by less than 1,000 votes. He was the only Democrat seriously challenged by a Republican in that election who cling to his seat, however, as three other Democrats in the southern portions of the state fell.

In the Spring 2012 redistricting process, Democrats and Republicans agreed to reinforce their majorities obtained by the 2010 election result. So that turned Connolly’s district from one with only a 54-46 percent Democratic margin in 2010 to a 59-41 percent Democratic margin now.

Thus, Connolly is not seriously threatened in Tuesday’s election, even though he has four challengers – Republican Chris Perkins, Green Party’s Joe Galdo, and independents Peter Marchetti, Chris DeCarlo and Mark Gibson.

Moran has three opponents on the ballot Tuesday – Republican Patrick Murray (who also ran two years ago), Green Party’s Janet Murphy and independent Jason Howell. Moran is expected to match the 61 percent majority he obtained in 2010.

Coincidentally, the GOP candidates in the 11th and 8th Districts are both retired Army colonels.

Beyond the partisan races on the ballot, there are two proposed Virginia constitutional amendments. The first proposes to limit “eminent domain,” the circumstances when private property can be taken for public use and the second proposes to allow the state legislature to delay legislative “veto sessions” for up to one week.

The closing days of the race have all campaigns geared up full tilt. In the Senate race, Allen scheduled events in Springfield and Loudoun County, and Kaine has an event in McLean this Sunday.

Allen appeared at a family-owned coffee shop in Springfield yesterday to underscore his support for small business, and Kaine campaign officials briefed reporters in a conference call yesterday, saying that his campaign’s closing message will focus on Kaine’s track record “as a city councilman, mayor, and governor, living a life guided by faith,” and “his ability to work across the aisle for jobs, the middle class and reducing the deficit.”