Mmmm, can you smell that? Yes, dear readers, that delightful effluvia of half-punched chads and grease-smeared touchscreens can mean one thing and one thing only: It’s election day! And not just any election day, either — we’re talking about the sort of seismic, epoch-defining, life-changing face-off that comes along but once in a generation. Yes, the battle royale between incumbent Arlington County Board Democrat G. N. “Jay” Fisette, Jr. and his ferocious Green Party challenger John Reeder is truly one for the ages.
It was Terry McAuliffe’s race to lose, until the Washington Post wrote its game-changing endorsement of Creigh Deeds.
Ha! That’s what we call “arcane down-ballot political humor,” and it’s the sort of thing that separates us from people with, you know, actual lives. (Now, if you noted that the Arlington County Board race isn’t actually a primary, and therefore isn’t being voted on today, congratulations! You’re an even bigger nerd than we are.)
No, today’s true main event, as everyone within a thousand miles of Terry McAuliffe’s campaign-ad broadcasting tower surely knows, is the Democratic gubernatorial primary. And, while turnout expectations are exceedingly low (after all, the 2005 Dem primary for Lieutenant Governor drew an anemic 115,000 hardcore politicos to the polls), there are a number of factors that might actually push this puppy toward the double digits, voter participation-wise:
1) The Macker Factor. Say what you will about Terry McAuliffe, but his entry into the race, along with his attendant piles of campaign cash, have turned what is normally a sedate (and often pre-ordained) primary process into a high-profile three-ring circus. Love him or hate him, McAuliffe tends to inspire strong feelings, and that passion could easily be reflected at the polls.
2) Party Switchers. With the Republican nominating convention over, and the GOP troika of Bob McDonnell, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling and state Sen. Ken Cuccinelli already out barnstorming the Commonwealth on their “Just Say Yes” tour (really, that’s what they’re calling it!), Republican voters don’t have much to do. And since Virginia’s party-free voter registration allows each and every citizen to participate in the primary of their choice, the urge to storm the ballot box and make some mischief could be strong indeed.
3) The Horse Race. Finally, the rare spectacle of an actual toss-up primary election in the Old Dominion might inspire the normally sedate electorate to wake up and hit the voting booth. A few weeks ago, when McAuliffe was sitting pretty in the polls, we were all set to write this thing off as “the Macker vs. the slackers” and be done with it. But then Brian Moran’s negative ads began dinging McAuliffe’s armor, and Creigh Deeds’ affable, aw-shucks persona (and game-changing Washington Post endorsement) started to draw voters his way. Now it looks like it’s anybody’s game — and close contests bring out the gambler in us all, don’t they?
So what are you doing sitting around reading this drivel? Get off your butt, find a polling place, and vote for somebody. Anybody! We’ve set the over-under at 350,000 voters, and if you don’t help us out we’re going to lose our prized Billy Carter commemorative beer stein to some smart-ass blogger from Bath County.
Don’t make us write an entire column about the Arlington County Board elections. Lord knows we don’t want to, but we will—believe us, we will.