O.K., so there’s a little thing in this business that we call "bad timing." It’s like when Al Gore scheduled a major global warming speech in New York, and it just happened to fall on one of the coldest days of the year. Or when the Ford Motor Company introduced its space-shuttle-shaped Aerostar minivan—complete with a multimillion-dollar series of shuttle-morphing-into-car TV ads—just weeks before the Challenger exploded over the Atlantic.
No-shock therapy: Mark Warner (left) told a crowd of Phil Forgit (right) supporters that "this race is going to shock not only the conventional political wisdom in Virginia, but across the country." Warner was wrong.
Well, as much as it pains us to admit it, The Odd Dominion sheepishly joined this pantheon of ignominy upon the publication of our last column, in which we trumpeted the unstoppable juggernaut that is Virginia’s Democratic Party—on the very day that the Republicans won a special election (for the U.S. House seat vacated by the death of Representative Jo Ann Davis) by an embarrassing lopsided margin.
Now, the win itself wasn’t a big surprise—this was, after all, a district that Dubya carried by double digits in 2004, and one that hasn’t elected a Democratic representative since 1977. Still, the Dems thought they had a decent shot at it, since they had both a credible, effective candidate (decorated Iraq war vet Phil Forgit) and the post-election political wind at their backs. In fact, just a few weeks ago ex-Governor Mark Warner was promising a crowd of Forgit supporters that "this race is going to shock not only the conventional political wisdom in Virginia, but across the country."
As it turned out, the only people who were shocked were the folks who thought that Eastern Virginia had somehow morphed into Northern California overnight. And yet, even if party insiders were prepared for a loss, the magnitude of the defeat must have been a bit sobering, to say the least. Sure, Republican candidate Rob Wittman was a strong, well-respected state delegate, but the fact that he could overpower Forgit so completely (holding him to a smaller percentage of the vote than even the windsurfing whirlwind John Kerry squeezed out of the district) sure took the fizz off that election-day bubbly the Dems have been drinking.
The real question remains, however: Is this election a bellwether, or merely the exception that proves the rule? It should certainly be noted that the National Republican Campaign Committee poured far more money into this race than its Democratic counterpart, and there were a number of mitigating factors (the foreshortened campaigning period, the strong affection local voters had for Republican Rep. Davis) that strongly favored Wittman. And overall, Commonwealth-wide trends do not seem to be running in the Republican’s favor (in just the last few weeks alone, high-ranking U.S. Rep. Tom Davis has indicated that he won’t be running for re-election, while popular Democrat State Senator Creigh Deeds has set his sights on the governor’s mansion).
But if we’ve learned anything since our last deadline (and, honestly, we probably haven’t) it’s that you can never count a good Republican out. (And the bad ones are even more resilient—they’re like cockroaches, those guys!) In fact, we’re so impressed with the GOP’s recent electoral resurgence, we’re going to toss them a bone and provide a ready-made soundbite for the upcoming race to replace Governor Tim Kaine.
In case you missed it, Virginia recently became the latest state to reject federal "abstinence-only" sex education funding, because—as the Governor’s spokesperson put it—Tim Kaine believes that "abstinence-only education does not show any results…it doesn’t work. He’s a firm believer in more comprehensive sex."
All right, the word "education" might have originally appeared at the end of that sentence—but what’s a few syllables, give or take? And believe us, when you’re on a roll, it’s best to take every opportunity you can. So go ahead and spread the Governor’s outrageous, pro-teen-sex proclamation far and wide—we’re absolutely certain that no one will ever question its veracity.
C’mon, trust us. Have we ever been wrong before?