Tuesday, October 30, 2007

According to Jim (Hoeft That Is)

Because this isn’t my day job time sometimes gets away from me, and I don’t get to posting about something that I find really interesting or valuable until it’s almost too late. And in the world of the blogosphere, two nanoseconds can make something dated.

I’m hoping that’s not true this time because over at Bearing Drift, Jim Hoeft has up a very well thought out post, from October 29th, speculating about Tom Davis’ plans to run for the Senate in the future. According to Jim’s speculation, Davis may have decided to take a pass on the 2008 race because somebody with better name recognition than him and far less political baggage than Jim Gilmore may jump in. Hoeft is guessing that Peter Pace might be interested in running for the Senate.

I’ve heard some talk of that too. He certainly would make a good candidate for the Republicans. He obviously has the military background and to the degree that they are still pro-Iraq, he’d be a good spokesman for their position. They don’t need the military background as much as the Democrats do because the public has always perceived Republicans as more pro-military and stronger on defense and national security. We’re finally catching up and Bush’s mishandling of foreign policy has helped Democrats to make a case that they could do a better job of keeping us safe and secure than some Republicans. Still, it’s the GOP’s greatest strength and a respected military leader on the ballot never hurts either party.

If Pace gets into the 2008 race, Davis would support him far more enthusiastically than he would Gilmore. And I think Gilmore would have a hard time getting the nomination even if the convention was set up for his advantage. That was done to stop Davis as much as to help Gilmore. The dynamics change with a Peter Pace in the race.

Meanwhile, Jim Hoeft thinks it’s brilliant strategy on Davis’ part to take a pass this year and come back in 2012 to run against Jim Webb.

I’m not sure that part is so true. For starters, in a match up against Webb, Davis may have the same trouble downstate as he would against Gilmore.

To the degree that Davis is known outside of NoVa, he’s perceived as too liberal especially for the Republican base. Also, his wife has staked her career running to the left of moderate Democrat Chap Petersen and Tom Davis has been out there stumping for Jeannemarie Devolites Davis.

So, when he runs in the southern part of the state – you know the “Alabama part” – his opponent only has to run JMDD’s commercials criticizing Petersen for supporting gun ownership. Davis can be painted as pro-gun control and Webb is on record as a gun owner who has stated that he has a right to protect his family.

Unlike JMDD, Tom has run as moderate on abortion. His voting record is more conservative on this than his campaign record, but still he could be painted as too pro-choice for conservatives so he and Webb split the difference on that issue. And depending on how the economy is doing, Webb’s economic populism may be more advantageous once you get outside prosperous NoVa. It’s much easier to make a case for outsourcing, free trade agreements and globalism in an area where lots of people work for contractors in an international sector than in a place that has seen factories close and well paying jobs dry up. Davis’ Wall Street Republicanism may not do as well there as Pat Buchanan’s brand of nativist protectionism.

Finally, Webb is popular in NoVa and doesn’t run well downstate. That’s Davis’s strength and weakness too. But I think Webb would actually have an advantage outside of NoVa because he appears to be more like the voters in the southern areas than Davis does. And Democrats would replay Davis’ “Alabama” statement ad nauseum.

But all of this speculation may be moot. That’s because I don’t think the Republican base is going to let him win a nomination in a primary anyway, not just in 2008 but ever. Unless the Republican Party changes significantly, they’re in no mood for Northern Virginia’s urbane moderates.


Anonymous said...

You are absolutely right - the RPV will NEVER give Tom the nomination. Not in 2012, not ever.

AnonymousIsAWoman said...

I don't think they will give it to any moderate for a long time. And I don't think that is necessarily a good thing, although I think it will work to the Democrats' advantage as long as they claim the center.

Anonymous said...

Somewhere between 2005 and 2006 one would think some of the higherups would wake up to the winds of change but so far nothing

Democrats have some intersting decisions to make as well however. Who really is the face of the democratic party. Is it Kaine? Warner? Webb? Deeds? Moran? Each of these individuals are governed by different philsophies and rely on different coalitions.

To pause from the focus on 2007 and 2008 for a bit. The real test for the Democrats I see is 2009. The Moran/Deeds primary race should be very interesting about which way the Democratic party wants to go. With the House of Delegates propably up for grabs as well the top of the ticket will have a big impact.

Its a great time to be a political junkie in Virginia three tossup senate races within ten miles of where I live :-)


Anonymous said...

While I agree Davis would have a hard time getting the nomination in the first place, I think there's a slight miscalculation on the possible electoral math behind a Davis/Webb matchup:

Davis doesn't perform well in Fairfax County; Davis performs well in suburban/exurban areas growing around metropolitan areas, which happens to characterize Fairfax. He could also expect to be able to build bridges in suburban counties around Richmond as well as in South Hampton Roads cities and counties with a little work. Webb didn't approach Kaine's margins in these areas, and he failed to carry a statewide majority as a consequence.

Which isn't necessarily Webb's fault, it was his campaign at large. And that brings me to my real point: Davis' "Alabama" comment was tremendously ill-advised because even if you *can* win statewide without rural or small-town voters, that doesn't mean you should go out of your way to insult those voters. Meanwhile, it is just as ill-advised for Northern Virginians to think that all Virginians south of Fredericksburg live on farms and spend our weekends at pig-pickin's or the County Fair, or that we work at jobs where we have our names on our shirts. A huge section of the population of Virginia from Richmond southwards live in growing communities very much like yours and deal with a lot of the same problems.

And as someone who has lived for the better part of a decade in suburban Richmond, deals with a 30-minute taffic-clogged commute every morning and work as a government contractor, I'm actually more insulted to think that when Davis refers to Emporia or Danville as "Alabama," you automatically think he's actually talking about me.

AnonymousIsAWoman said...

Actually, as somebody who has relatives in the high tech industry in Huntsville, Alabama, and whose niece and nephew attend the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa (my niece is a grad student and my nephew a sophomore), I am insulted that he also disparaged Alabama by thinking it's the punchline to a joke about "hicks."

There are a lot of sophisticated, intelligent people who live there.

And rural people and working class people can be intelligent and educated too. That should go without saying.

In fact, even self-educated people, like my father, an immigrant who came here before the Great Depression and never finished college, can be very bright and well read.

If anybody was exploiting stereotypes, it was Tom Davis, not me.

BTW, the rest of your analysis of the general geographical election trends in last election was interesting. Good job.