George Allen loved sports metaphors. Now that he's history, I'm taking them back.
Imagine, if you will, that you're Frank Beamer, legendary coach of the Virginia Tech Hokies and Hillsville, VA native. Say that you just had a disappointing season (like, say, last season). You're Frank Beamer. You're not going to let it happen again. To make matters worse, you know you'll have an empty roster due to graduations, transfers, underclassmen declaring for the NFL draft, etc. Through some horrible stroke of misfortune, you now see that you're going to only have 20 players (unbelievable, but stay with me here)! You can't even take the field with a full offense or defense (never mind any players that may want to play both ways, it's not feasible today). You MUST go out and recruit in advance of this potentially disastrous situation.
So what would you call a college football program that doesn't even bother to recruit enough players to not only fill the roster, but even start the game?
You would call them a team not playing to win. In other words, losers.
So what do you call a political party that needs 51 seats (in the Virginia House of Delegates) to pass anything in its agenda that only runs 43 candidates?
As of today, we have 43 Democratic House of Delegates candidates either currently in office and not saying they will retire or challenging current Republicans. I applaud the 12 brave Democrats who have stepped up to challenge sitting Republicans, some of whom are challenging entrenched incumbents with multiple terms of experience in very red districts. At least 5 are running in districts President Obama won in 2012.
Now we can talk about how hard it is to run or how it's impossible to turn out younger, minority, and recent immigrant voters in off-year elections, or how the House of Delegates is a part-time job only so few people can afford to undertake, but we have leaders who are supposed to know all of this and still try to work to solve it. It's been done. The Republicans have done it. Why not us?
I'm especially disappointed that there are no challengers in the 12th, 13th, 32nd, and 67th districts. Each one was an Obama district in 2012. Each one either had a Democrat sitting in it recently (under different, but not that different lines) or has a Bob Marshall sitting in it currently (what more to say about him?).
The 12th is especially egregious. Obama won it. A Democrat held it for years. It's centered on a college town. It was even drawn to make sure it took in all the Democratic preceints in the area so that no Republican around it would have to worry! And there it is, with a freshman Republican who's only 26, who supported Bob Marshall's bill to have Virginia mint its own currency...running unopposed. I've seen some of the local Democratic leaders chatting up this delegate's weakness and their desire to take back the district. So...where's the challenger? Where's DPVA on all of this? Where's the House caucus?
I hope this gets a conversation started. Upset? You should be. You should be upset that, for so long, the House has been able to set the legislative agenda, giving us the bills that have made us a laughingstock. The Medicaid panel nominations from this weekend are typical of what will continue to happen as long as we aren't competitive in the House.
You play to win the game, and if we won't compete for control of the legislative agenda, why bother?
The filing deadline is March 28th.
UPDATE: I was reminded by lowkell that Terry McAuliffe promised in 2009 that NO CANDIDATE considering running for the House of Delegates should be worried about money in balking at running. Is the same true for 2013? If he wants to be an effective governor and actually hope at eventually getting any preferred policy through, both in his term and in the future, he better be serious about that.
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