Here it comes… and don’t just believe me. Believe the bookies. Deeds is pulling this off at the last minute, thus depriving Virginia Republicans of a much desired McAuliffe candidacy or a pushover Brian (brother of Jim) Moran effort.
Why do I think this is going to happen? Because Moran and McAuliffe have been slowly driving up each other’s negatives for the past month. In any race where multiple candidates beat one another to pieces, a third inevitably sneaks through the cracks. Unfortunately, because the two top candidates have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars convincing the electorate the other is dishonest, naturally it shouldn’t be a surprise when the third candidate takes those same attacks like a Teflon champ. Nothing sticks… Deeds is in great shape heading into Tuesday.
Deeds is softer on guns than he was in 2005. But there is no question that Deeds came close enough in the 2005’s Attorney General’s race that such a rematch against McDonnell by the Democrats would not only be smart — it would be a true contest of ideas, and one Deeds has arguably earned.
That — plus the fact he has nothing to sell to rural Virginians about his roots — means that Deeds comes to the table with every element the last four Democratic statewide campaigns since 2001 have required to win; good (but not great) on the 2nd Amendment, an appeal to rural voters, and a pre-existing statewide network of support.
If Creigh Deeds does pull this one off, score a huge win for function over form. Moran and McAuliffe had plenty of form (read: cash) at their fingertips, and we may yet again see the matchup that scored kills for the Dems against Earley in ’01, Kilgore in ’05, Allen in ’06, and Gilmore in ’08.
Virginia Republicans keep saying they were all chalked up to flukes, infighting, or macaca… but with McDonnell placing such a heavy price on unity coming out of the 2009 RPV Convention and the traditional bucking of the incumbent party in the White House, the Democrats may be facing one of the strongest challenges yet to their brief eight-year resurgence to power.
Of course with a different candidate, all of this changes. Democrats have traditionally had to run moderate candidates in order to carry the statewide water for the DPVA. If a staunch Northern Virignia liberal such as Moran or Clinton-insider McAuliffe magically comes up with the win on Tuesday, run up the skull and crossbones — because it just might be that easy for Republicans to pick either candidate apart. Neither candidate will easily sell in the rest-of-Virginia, and ultimately that provides the weakness McDonnell’s campaign staff will expertly leverage going into the summer.
Deeds, on the other hand, forces us to work. So if this is the anti-endorsement, here it is.
* Let it also be known that I anti-endorsed Harris Miller in 2006 because I feared his money against a then-invincible Senator George Allen. Macaca would have played for the Democrats regardless of who the Democratic candidate would have been.
** Let it also be known that I’ve been c
alling this one since early May when the Moran-McAuliffe fisticuffs began, to much derision amongst friends and political hacks alike.