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.