With all the big news and hoopla in Virginia the past few days, a major story in Arlington County probably hasn't gotten the attention it deserves. I'm talking about this announcement yesterday:
Arlington County Board Member Christopher Zimmerman today announced that, after nearly two decades of service, he will be stepping down from the County Board in early 2014. Zimmerman, who was re-elected to a fifth term in 2010, is the second-longest-serving Board member in the County's history. He said he is stepping down to become Vice President for Economic Development of Smart Growth America, a national non-profit organization.
Zimmerman's announcement, made in the County Board Room, was broadcast live by the County's cable television station, ATV. A special election will be held in Spring 2014 to fill Zimmerman's seat for the remainder of his four-year term.
"Much has been accomplished" in the County since he joined the Board in 1996, Zimmerman said. "And I am proud to have been a part of it." Still, he said, "I never planned to be a County Board member indefinitely."
"Arlington is fortunate to have had an extraordinary public servant in Chris Zimmerman, who provided and dedicated his time and energy to improve our quality of life," said Arlington County Board Chairman J. Walter Tejada. "Arlington has made tremendous strides under Mr. Zimmerman's leadership and his departure is a loss for Arlington, but happily, he remains an Arlington resident and a leader in the Smart Growth community."
First off, congratulations to Chris Zimmerman on his new job, which sounds like a great fit. Second, thanks to Chris for his many years of excellent service - not just to Arlington County, but also to the region as a whole, particularly via his work on the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (which he served on for 12 years and chaired in 2002 and 2008). These will be large shoes to fill, no doubt about it.
With that, I wanted to lay out who I'll be supporting to replace Chris Zimmerman on the Arlington County Board. Not a specific individual, that is, but the criteria I'll be looking for.
Here are a few winners and losers (note: this is not meant to be comprehensive, as that would be endless, boring, and exhausting! LOL) from this election cycle that I believe are worth highlighting. I'm not going to dwell much on the obvious winners (McAuliffe, Northam, Herring) and losers (Cuccinelli, Jackson, Obenshain), but instead on ones that jump out at me. And again, this list isn't even close to comprehensive, so please add winners and losers of your own in the comments section. Thanks.
Winners 1. Robby Mook and the rest of the McAuliffe campaign staff: It may not have been pretty in the end, but the bottom line is that - as Steve Jarding told me back in 2006, most certainly with a big dollop of sarcasm - "when you win you're a genius, when you lose you're an idiot." By that reasoning, these guys are now geniuses. To be serious, though, I'd say they ran a strong campaign, strategically smart, tactically agile, and of course extremely well funded. One caveat: I tend to agree with my friend Paul Goldman that it was risky to nationalize the campaign by bringing in Clinton and Obama in the closing week, just as the "Obamacare" rollout fiasco was exploding (on the other hand, Clinton and Obama were both excellent in making the case for Terry and against Cooch). Anyway, I think Terry's lead tightened (at least from the public polling; maybe not from the "internals") because there's real anger out there in the right-wing base against "Obamacare," and because the government shutdown was starting to fade into the rear-view mirror (with federal employees back to work and compensated for the time they were off) by Election Day.
2. Bill Bolling: I've already seen the chatter, that if Bolling had been the Virginia GOP nominee this year, Republicans would have won. And it's quite possible that's the case. Regardless, Bolling got his revenge on Cuccinelli for knifing him (politically/metaphorically, of course) by staging a coup and depriving him of the chance to run for Governor he assumed was his. Bolling also will almost certainly end up with a plum position in the McAuliffe administration if he wants one. Not too shabby a result, in the end, for Bolling.
3. Corey Stewart and Pete Snyder: With Republicans losing the Governor and LG races, and possibly the AG race as well (stay tuned on that one), these two guys - who finished right behind E.W. Jackson at the Republican convention last May - are almost certain to run again in 2017. If Obenshain pulls out the AG race, I could see an Obenshain for Governor race in 2017 with Stewart and Snyder fighting it out for LG (and Rob Bell for AG?).
4. Michael Mann: Speaking of revenge, the former UVA climate scientist who Cuccinelli launched a "witch hunt" (to use the Washington Post's words) against, has got to be feeling prettttty good right about now. :)
5. LGBT Virginians: They got Governor McAuliffe, who is strongly pro-equality/anti-discrimination, and dodged having a raging homophobe in the Governor's mansion, not to mention an even worse homophobe (if that's possible) as LG. Now, if only Mark Obenshain - who WALKED OUT of the Senate rather than vote on an openly gay judge - loses, LGBT Virginians can really celebrate.
6. Virginia Women: They got a Governor and Lt. Governor who both strongly believe, as Ralph Northam puts it, that a bunch of legislators in Richmond, most of whom are men, should not be telling Virginia women what they can and can't do with their bodies!
7. Virginia's economy: We just dodged a major bullet, as Ken Cuccinelli's economic and tax policies would have trashed our AAA bond rating, tarnished our state's image, harmed our educational and transportation infrastructure, and generally made our state MUCH less attractive to business. Phew!
8. Virginia public education: As noted in #7, dodged a huge bullet, as Cuccinelli was a big proponent of taking money intended for public schools and putting it into private and religious schools. Cuccinelli also would have been forced to slash the education budget to pay for his enormous tax cuts to the wealthy and well-connected.
9. Renewable energy and the environment: Terry McAuliffe is a big fan of renewable energy. To put it mildly, Ken Cuccinelli - a fossil fuel shill and climate science denier - is NOT. Again, phew!
From the Mark Herring for AG campaign, which now looks it may have been successful after all! As of this moment (6:17 am Wednesday), the State Board of Elections website shows Mark Herring with 1,098,418 votes (49.91%) to Mark Obenshain's 1,097,877 (48.88%). Also, there three precincts outstanding - 2 in Mecklenburg County, which Obenshain won 60%-40%; and 1 in Rockingham county, which Obenshain won 75%-25%. So...Obenshain could pick up 100-150 votes, but he trails by 541 votes, making it a tough roe to how for Obenshain.
Mark Herring released the following statement regarding his lead in the race for Attorney General:
"Election Day is over and I am honored to have a majority of Virginians cast their ballots for me for Attorney General. Just before 2 a.m., we took a several hundred vote lead to become the next Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Virginia.
"I am grateful to have earned the support of so many Virginans all across the Commonwealth and look forward to continuing to work on their behalf."
UPDATE: Dave Wasserman of the Cook Political Report tweets: "By my math, Obenshain is likely to net another 700-800 votes from the three outstanding precincts. Herring's current 'true' lead: 358 votes." Thus, he adds: "So, I expect Herring (D) to be 300-500 votes short pre-provisionals. But who knows how many counting errors/uncounted absentees there are."
According to UVA Political Science Professor @LarrySabato: "We need a fair, nonpartisan examination of VA GOV '13 polling. It was off--in some cases (WaPo), WAY off." It's hard to disagree with that sentiment, given how utterly wrong the Virginia 2013 polls were in the closing weeks of the election. Click on the image to "embiggen," or click here for the Huffington Post Pollster numbers for Virginia 2013. In short, they sucked. How bad did they suck? Let's rank them in descending order of suckitude (based on how close they came to the actual outcome). Keep in mind that Terry McAuliffe ended up winning this race by 2.5 points (47.7%-45.2%).
1. Republican Rasmussen Reports, of course, was putrid as always, claiming on 10/20 that Terry McAuliffe had a 17-point lead. The only people who believed THAT poll probably also believe in little green men and unicorns and stuff.
2. Roanoke College's "polling" unit, as always, embarrassed its school with its beyond-amateurish product. In a "poll" conducted from 10/21 to 10/27, Roanoke somehow managed to put McAuliffe up 15 points. Again, we're talking little green men and unicorns. But what else is new for this bunch and its pathetically, laughably bad "polls" that for some reason "newspapers" keep citing as if they have any validity whatsoever? GIVE IT UP!
3. Our friends at the Kaplan/Bezos/Washington Post love to criticize automated polling and others that don't meet their lofty standards, yet they (along with their partner Abt-SRBI) produced a total stinker of a "poll" in late October that had McAuliffe up 12 points. Why am I not surprised?
4. How is Zogby still in business, and why would anyone in their right mind take them even the least bit seriously when they pair up with the deranged "Newsmax?" This combo did one of the last (11/1-11/3) "polls" of the cycle, and also one of the worst, putting McAuliffe up 12 points. Again, how is Zogby still in business?
5. I probably should put NBC/Marist here, as they had McAuliffe up 8 points, BUT that was at the height of the government shutdown. Also, as far as I know Marist does decent work. So we'll give them a partial pass, even though they were also off by a wide margin.
6. Public Policy Polling had the last (or next to last, it's hard to keep them straight) poll of the cycle (11/2-11/3), and it was badly off, showing McAuliffe up 7 points, and indicating no reason whatsoever for any concern that this race was tightening, might be close, etc. I mean, why even bother doing polls if they're going to be so misleading in terms of their absolute numbers as well as their analysis?
7. Christopher Newport University had a 7-point McAuliffe lead in its 10/25-10/30 poll. Not.
8. Quinnipiac and Hampton University each showed McAuliffe up 6 points in their final polls of the cycle. Actually, Quinnipiac would have been smarter to just stick with its 4-point margin of its next-to-last poll. Anyway, these two were among the "best of the worst" pollsters of Virginia this cycle. Which ain't sayin' much.
9. Now it's where things get REALLY bizarre. First, an "Emerson College Polling Society" (a what?!?) "poll" actually nailed the results, at McAuliffe +2 points, but TOTALLY for the wrong reasons. Among other problems with that "poll": they had Sarvis at 13 points (off by a mile); their internals were bizarre (e.g., they claimed that McAuliffe's strongest support was in the 8th, 11th...and 10th (!!!!) CDs. WTF? The 10th?!? Uh, don't think so. And how about the 3rd CD, which is overwhelmingly Democratic? This poll just proves that you can be "right for the wrong reasons," also that you can hit a target merely by throwing darts at a board and getting lucky. Which brings us to the right-wingnut "Wenzel Strategies" ("poll" done for the Republican "Ending Spending" PAC). Wenzel is beyond parody, not even worth mentioning as a "pollster," are wildly wrong ALL THE TIME, yet somehow they came pretty close in this race, showing McAuliffe up 1 point. Who knows, but in no way, shape or form should anyone EVER take this group seriously in its future "polls."
So, yeah, Larry Sabato's right that "We need a fair, nonpartisan examination of VA GOV '13 polling." But I'll bet you a lot of money that we won't get one. I hope I'm wrong, but I'm not holding my breath.
P.S. In fairness, none of the pollsters found Cuccinelli ahead, and they were right about that - barely!
It's 7 pm, and polls are now closed in Virginia. In this live blog of the election returns, I'll primarily be checking the State Board of Elections website (assuming it doesn't crash, as it so often does on election nights in Virginia), VPAP and the Fairfax County Board of Elections site. Feel free to use the comments section of this post to report what you're hearing. Later tonight, I hope to head over to the Democratic victory party, where hopefully we'll have a lot to celebrate!
P.S. I'm at the Sheraton in Tysons Corner, where the Democratic "Victory Party" is being held. We'll see if I have a chance to actually celebrate a bit, or if the races aren't called for hours...
UPDATE 6:28 am: With 2555/2558 precincts counted, it's Terry McAuliffe 1,064,016 (47.75%)-Ken Cuccinelli 1,008,596 (45.27%). That's a 2.5 percentage point victory, which is several points under what the polling average indicated heading into election day. What happened? Also, Ralph Northam won by 11 points (55%-44%),which is solid but below what many of us thought the victory margin would be. Sure, "a win's a win" and all that, but the margins at the TOP of the ballot adversely affected a bunch of races for House of Delegates. Ugh.
UPDATE 11:54 pm: Mark Obenshain now leads Mark Herring by just over 7,000 votes (0.35%), with 7 precincts remaining to be counted. Sounds like we're talking about a recount here. Stay tuned. On the House of Delegates front, there's really not a lot of good news for Democrats, with several close races apparently being eked out by Republicans (e.g., Bob Marshall over Atif Qarni, David Yancey over Robert Farniholt, David Ramadan apparently edging out John Bell, Tom Rust over Jennifer Boysko by the skin of his teeth, Barbara Comstock barely beating Kathleen Murphy, Tag Greason edging out Elizabeth Miller, Scott Lingamfelter squeaking by Jeremy McPike, and "Sideshow Bob" Marshall beating Atif Qarni by just 3 points. It leaves me wondering what would have happened to all these candidates if Terry McAuliffe had beaten Ken Cuccinelli by the margin all the polls were saying he'd win by - 6 points, 7 points, something like that. My guess is that a bunch of these Dems would have won. Sigh...
UPDATE 9:35 pm: Terry McAuliffe has FINALLY taken the lead over Ken Cuccinelli, 46.71%-46.31% (7,520 votes) with 2311/2541 precincts counted. Mark Herring is within 38,000 votes of Mark Obenshain (51%-49%). We're sooooo close to a sweep I can practically taste it. So close, but yet so far? We'll see soon enough.
UPDATE 9:30 pm: Of all networks, freakin' FOX just called it for Terry McAuliffe! LOL. In the actual numbers, McAuliffe's behind by 400 votes, but there are a lot more votes outstanding in Fairfax, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Richmond, and Prince William. Congratulations to our next Governor, Terry McAuliffe! :)
Today is Election Day 2013 here in Virginia, and we all need to get out and vote for the Democratic ticket against the "Extreme Team" of anti-LGBT, anti-women's-reproductive-health-and-freedom, anti-environment, anti-science wackos. Polls are open from 6 am until 7 pm, which gives you 13 hours to exercise one of your most precious rights (and duties, IMHO) as an American - voting. Anyway, what are you seeing and hearing out there? What's turnout like in your neck of the woods? Let Blue Virginia readers know in the comments section of this post. Thanks.
Here are a few Virginia and national news headlines, political and otherwise, for Tuesday, November 5. Polls are open today in Virginia from 6 am until 7 pm - please vote for Terry McAuliffe, Ralph Northam, Mark Herring, and your Democratic House of Delegates candidate. Thanks. Also, see the video of Ken Cuccinelli dabbling in "birtherism." More evidence that the guy's a complete nut. Unfortunately, as DPVA spokesman Brian Coy points out, "that's the best Virginian Republicans have to offer this year, making Ken Cuccinelli's 'birther' speculation yet another key reason to vote today to keep him out of the Governor's mansion."
That's right, the U.S. Senate a little while ago moved ahead with the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), a bill that "would make it illegal to discriminate against someone on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity." Heck, it even got seven Republicans to vote for it. The times they are a changin' - for the better, it would appear, when it comes to LGBT equality and protection against discrimination in America.
But not so much (actually, not at all!) with rabid homophobe Ken Cuccinelli or his "ping-pong partner" (and Loudoun County Board member) Eugene Delgaudio - yeah, this guy - the head of the viciously anti-LGBT "Public Advocate" hate group. Believe it or not, just as the Senate moves forward with extending protections against anti-LGBT discrimination, Cuccinelli's pal Delgaudio has put up an ad claiming that Terry McAuliffe is "in bed" (hahaha, get it?) with the "homosexual lobby" (last I checked, that involved American citizens fighting for EQUAL protection under our law and our constitution).
Unfortunately, none of this is surprising coming from these people. Still, it reminds us all what we're dealing with when it comes to Cuccinelli (who has said that homosexuality brings "nothing but self-destruction, not only physically but of their soul"), Jackson (who has railed against homosexuality in the most vile ways for years, such as stating that their "minds are perverted, they're frankly very sick people psychologically"), Obenshain (who walked out of the State Senate rather than vote on an openly gay judge's confirmation), Delgaudio, and this entire lot of (unhealthily) sex-obsessed freakazoids. It also should give us all a little bit of additional motivation to get out to the polls tomorrow IN DROVES and vote against these bigots.
Just hours before Virginians who were hurt by the reckless Tea Party shutdown go to the polls, Ken Cuccinelli will stand with a Senator who voted to shut down the government, and an extreme former congressman who said the shutdown was “not a real problem,’ and called thousands of furloughs for federal workers and contractors “a paid vacation.”
“Hours before they cast their ballots for our next governor, Virginians will get one more opportunity to see where Ken Cuccinelli stands by looking at who he’s standing with,” said DPVA spokesman Brian Coy. “Instead of condemning the extreme shutdown politics that damaged our economy, Cuccinelli will drape his arm around Ron Paul, who cheered the shutdown on from the sidelines, and Marco Rubio, who voted to shut the government down and voted against reopening it again.
“If Virginians have learned one thing about Ken Cuccinelli this year, it’s that his extreme agenda will always come before what’s best for their families. Closing his campaign with one Tea Party leader who voted for the shutdown, and another who said the damage it cause to our economy was “not a real problem” proves that point once and for all.”
Vice Speaking at a GOTV canvass with Terry McAuliffe this morning, President Joe Biden absoulutely NAILED it about the extreme team of Ken Cuccinelli, E.W. Jackson and Mark Obenshain.
These guys are the antithesis, the absolute antithesis, of change and progress. Everything they talk about, without exaggeration, is about turning back what the rest of the country and the world thinks is progress. It's hard to fathom...this state being led by a man who rejects all that this new thinking stands for...The whole nation is looking at this race...and folks,it comes down to you.
So make sure you vote tomorrow, for the Democratic ticket up and down the ballot, and tell these Tea Party extremists who shut down our government and want to tell us what we do in our bedrooms and doctors' offices where to shove it.
All three of the statewide candidates in Virginia who stand with women - Terry McAuliffe, Ralph Northam and Mark Herring - will champion the issues of reproductive rights, equal pay, protection from sexual violence and voter suppression. All three strongly support women's health and economic security and equality. And all three are overwhelmingly supported by women in Virginia.
In contrast, Ken Cuccinelli's political career has been dedicated to denying women in Virginia access to abortion, birth control and preventive health care. "The ultimate goal is to make abortion disappear in America and make people want it that way," said the Republican candidate for Governor. He wants to insert himself into the private lives of women, and the women of Virginia are responding to that with a resounding, "No!"
Cuccinelli used questionable ethical practices to ensure the passing of TRAP regulations that are forcing abortion clinics to close around the Commonwealth. Knowing the clinics would be unable to afford alterations that would put them in compliance with the stringent new architectural guidelines, Cuccinelli bullied the Virginia Board of Health - by claiming they did not have legal authority and threatening to sue them - into reversing their own decision to grandfather existing clinics into the new regulations, thereby passing the TRAP regulations for all clinics in Virginia. This abuse of power has caused preventative health care services to be stripped from many women living in the communities that need them most.
The others on the GOP ticket are no better when it comes to women's rights. We stand against Cuccinelli, Jackson and Obenshain as fervently as we stand for McAuliffe, Northam and Herring.
Here are a few Virginia and national news headlines, political and otherwise, for Monday, November 4. Polls open in 23 1/2 hours. Also check out the video of Sen. Mark Warner stumping for the Democratic ticket yesterday in Arlington. Warner points out the unprecedented bipartisan support this ticket's receiving, due to the fact that it's mainstream while the other ticket is most definitely not.
*For Governor, Terry McAuliffe leads 50%-43% over Ken Cuccinelli, with Robert Sarvis fading (as most third-party candidates do in the end) to just 4%.
*For Lt. Governor, Ralph Northam is beating EW Jackson by 13 points (52%-39%). I find it disturbing that there are 39% of Virginia likely voters who would be willing to vote for this extremist huckster. Should be more like 3.9%.
*In the AG's race, Mark Herring's up over Cuccinelli clone Mark Obenshain, but not by much, at 47%-45%. The problem here, in my view, is that a lot of voters STILL don't realize how extreme Obenshain is, in large part because Obenshain's run a campaign that has obfuscated his views/votes (e.g., supporting a bill that would have made miscarriage a crime reportable to the police within 24 hours; supporting "personhood" legislation that would outlaw abortion and many forms of contraception; being anti-environment and anti-background-checks; etc.) and even outright lied about them. All voters need to do to confirm these facts is about 15 minutes of using Google. But will they? If they do, then Obenshain should by all rights lose tomorrow by as large a margin as E.W. Jackson.
*Neither Cuccinelli nor McAuliffe are popular, to put it mildly, with both seriously "underwater" in their favorability ratings. But, as PPP explains: "among voters who dislike both candidates- and they account for 15% of the electorate- McAuliffe leads Cuccinelli 61/16. Those voters who don't like either major party standard bearer are responsible for McAuliffe's entire lead in this poll."
*If Bill Bolling had run as an independent, it actually would have cut into Terry's margin, with the final results being McAuliffe 34%-Cuccinelli 32%-Bolling 22%. Of course, if Bolling had actually run a campaign, voters would have found out that he's just as conservative in most ways as Cuccinelli, so that probably would have changed.
*I'd say this sample is a bit too Democratic leaning (50% say they voted for Obama last year; 45% for Romney), but I guess we'll find out tomorrow. It's also probably a bit too female-leaning, with a 56%-44% female/male breakout in the electorate. I'd say it will be closer to 52% female, but again we'll see.
*There's a "gender gap" in this poll, but not as large as in a number of others, with women favoring McAuliffe by 11 points (51%-40%) and men supporting him by 1 point (47%-46%). In the Washington Post poll, Cuccinelli trailed by 24 points (!) among women, while leading by 1 points among men.
P.S. I don't take Zogby seriously, and certainly not when it's paired with the crazy "Newsmax," but just for completeness purposes, they've got Terry up 12 points and "Headed for Big Win" tomorrow. Question: which "poll" is more ridiculous - Zogby, Roanoke College, or Emerson College?
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