Republican resurrection: Margin stuns Dems--- and the GOP

news-snow-thomasThe new faces of the GOP on the Albemarle Board of Supervisors are area old-timers Duane Snow and Rodney Thomas.
PHOTOS BY WILL WALKER

Four years ago, Creigh Deeds lost a statewide race to Bob McDonnell by one of the smallest margins– 360 votes– in recent history. In glaring contrast, his 18-point defeat to McDonnell November 3 marks one of the largest margins in a governor's race since George Allen crushed Mary Sue Terry in 1993, 58 percent to 41 percent.

So resounding is the rout, both Democrats and Republicans are scratching their heads, despite pre-election polls predicting a McDonnell victory.

"Personally, I thought it would be closer than that," says Fred Hudson, chairman of the 5th District Democratic committee and the number 3 Dem statewide. He attributes the staggering loss to an "anti-Washington factor."

"I was surprised by that," says Republican radio host Rob Schilling. "The polls were well into double digits–- 14, 16 points. I thought the polls have got to be wrong."

For Schilling, the dissatisfaction he's seen across the state comes from national politics. "It seems everyone I talked to was fed up on a national level," he says.

The shockwaves that loosened the Democratic grasp of the governorship were felt in local elections, which ousted an incumbent Dem from the Albemarle Board of Supervisors and ushered two Republicans on the board.

"Albemarle County voted at the same level it did in 2008," says Democrat Hudson. "It did not have lower turnout. Republicans were highly motivated, highly charged about getting out the vote."

And although Deeds represents part of Albemarle County as 25th District state senator, McDonnell carried the county by 337 votes.

In the Samuel Miller District, Republican Duane Snow won a three-way race, taking 45 percent of the vote against Democrat Madison Cummings, who got 40 percent and had the endorsement of retiring Supervisor Sally Thomas. Independent John Lowry came in with 15 percent.

"Duane Snow was the beneficiary of a large amount of anxiety and fear about the direction of Washington," opines Hudson.

"Duane went into this with name recognition from his garden show," says Rob Schilling. "That district is more liberal leaning. Frankly I was expecting John Lowry to take votes away from Duane."

The real upset in perhaps the most contentious county race was Republican Rodney Thomas' defeat of Dem incumbent and chairman of the Board of Supervisors David Slutzky in Rio, Albemarle's smallest and most urban district.

"Supervisor races are so personal–- sometimes they're more that than about the issues." says Paul Wright, Thomas' campaign manager. "Rodney is very personable." And like Snow, he's a native son.

Thomas knocked on 4,000 doors and wore out two pairs of shoes, reports Wright. And in the course of going door-to-door, he heard that the responsiveness of the incumbent was a big issue for constituents, says Wright.

"People said we need someone who returns our call," says Wright. "That's the thing about door-to-door–- people will tell you that."

While Wright says he always thought Thomas had a good chance in unseating Slutzky, he didn't see the 18-point spread in the governor's race.

Compared to 2008, the most significant change this year took place in the 'burbs, believes Wright. "The ones that shifted the most were suburban voters," he says. "McDonnell did very well in Northern Virginia. He did very well in rural areas I thought that were supposed to be Deeds country."

Amid the Republican carnage, Charlottesville remained resolutely Democratic, and the majority party swatted down a single-shot effort by independent Bob Fenwick to get on City Council. Fenwick logged in a respectable 3,280 votes, and in other election years, it would have been enough to get him elected. But this year, he couldn't stop Mayor Dave Norris and Kristin Szakos from maintaining a Democratic Council.

And the city's Democratic momentum elected James Brown for sheriff over independent Paul Best.

It was no surprise that 57th District Delegate David Toscano easily won reelection over independent Robert Brandon Smith, who had little money, organization or publicity. What raised eyebrows was that Smith pulled in 3,840 votes–- 21 percent.

"I was shocked," says Dem chair Fred Hudson. "I had to do a triple take on that."

In sharp contrast in the 58th District, Cynthia Neff had the backing of the Democratic Party in her effort to unseat Rob Bell, and she could only muster 33 percent.

"She worked like a dog," says Hudson. "I was very sad by that. But you've got to place that in the context of who was going into the voting booth and the fixation on Washington."

Rob Schilling thinks Neff's blog and ads that controversially compared Bell to a cheating husband were her undoing. "The strategy to go after Rob personally was a bad idea," says Schilling.

And with the Republican knock-down on November 3, Schilling smells blood in the water for 2010.

"I think [5th District Congressman] Tom Perriello is shaking in his boots, and rightfully should be," declares Schilling.

"I want to emphasize that the results of the election are not the death knell of the Democratic Party," insists Hudson. "I don't think Republicans should think the sky is blue and grass is green. It wasn't that kind of a race. It was an aberration."

Hudson is confident that the economic issues plaguing the Dems this year will have moderated by next year's mid-term elections and will "change the tone and feel of the race," he says. "I'm not very concerned about that."

But this year's race still puzzles Hudson. "It's a heck of a story," he says. "It's whole complex of weird events."

21 comments

Rodney, here is some bedtime reading, and don't miss the comments. Besides Ed Robb you may want to consult with another leading Republican Rob Schilling. Supporting flow control and this law suit may not be exactly what your constituents elected you to do. Maybe time for a few more living room chats before joining the crowd at RSWA.

http://www.readthehook.com/stories/2009/04/02/COVER-Waste-F.aspx

Rodney Thomas was on the Coy Barefoot show making, what I believe, was his first public pronouncement since the election. Sounds like the $200 million plus water plan is a no go, and that privatizing the trash business is, albeit with flow control. Is creating a monopoly trash entity with flow control, and then giving kick-backs to RSWA for leasing the land to the private entity, or for giving them the monopoly, as they did in the case with BFI ( when they exempted them from tipping fees to Rivanna and made all the other haulers pay) is this a conservative position ? Sounds like heavy handed government control to me.

I think Rodney better sit down and listen to what Ed Robb has to say about flow control.

And read all of Dave McNair's excellent coverage of the Van der Linde case before he signs onto the RSWA lawyer's talking points.

http://www.wina.com/play_window.php?audioType=Episode&audioId=4148739

A wise friend of mine says, perfectly reasonable people become complete idiots when elected to office. Sure hope Rodney doesn't end up in the trash heap.

The Dems in the city has obviously benefitted by Council's constant buying of votes. I shall sit back and be amused.

That is, while the city residents discover what the real agenda of Edwards, Szakos, and Norris is - more welfare programs at the expense of the middle class.

Stunned Dems? Please. No one was surprised.

Now...let's be sure we get all the women out of the workforce as soon as possible. Women are the reason we have this economic disaster.

Is The Devil going to run for local office again? He rocks!

Why am not surprised that someone named West Berkley would be the first to start the race baiting. The same "racist" county that voted for Obama for president. Stay in the city WBF, where you can be soothed by an echo chamber that says "Dems win because they are good people, Republicans win because voters are stupid". Let's never accept the fact that people are smart enough to know who views and values suit them best and who worked the hardest to earn their votes.

Wow, Really? Creigh Deeds: great guy, great state senator, really, really poor gubernatorial candidate. The guy ran one of the crappiest campaigns I've ever seen for such a high office, and people are surprised he was whomped in the election? This isn't a portent of things to come - unless that portent is the Democrats will stop nominating candidates because "it's their turn."

And frankly, who cares about a radio talk show hosted by a one-term City Councilor who accomplished a grand total of nothing during his term...except, of course, voting "no"? It amazes me how when people get a microphone and some air time they suddenly become "experts."

Speaking of echo chambers, when did the Hook become the print companion of Rob Schiling's radio show, where any Democratic Party victory is ignored or dismissed as "machine" politics while Republican wins are treated like the Second Coming

"And frankly, who cares about a radio talk show hosted by a one-term City Councilor who accomplished a grand total of nothing..." The oI, for one, appreciates the fact that he voted "no" to an amazing growth in the city budget. I grew 75% between 1998 and 2008 and what do we have to show for it? He voted "no" for a multi-million dollar computer system that is still sucking up a lot of tax dollars and is nowhere near finished. I assume you would vote "yes" for these things, because in your eyes, "money is no object" in Charlottesville. I hope the budget continues to rise at this rate and your real estate taxes, too.

I've attended lots of meetings where this water plan has been discussed and I almost never hear anyone defending it. What is so good about this for Charlottesville ? I need to have someone explain this as Eric has asked. Why when the dam skyrocketed in price and we knew dredging, which any moron knows is common everywhere, was far cheaper than we were told---why are the officials still talking about this dam ? Please clue me in

Why do Democrats always win in the City now that the election cycle is in November. I was at the polls all day and 1/3 of the voters didn't even know who the council candidates were. Once the well organized and abundant dem poll workers handed them the glossy expensive hand-out, with all the democrats on it, that's the way they voted. To win in the city you would need a massive organization, i.e. machine,lots of money for slick hand outs and mailers, like the one I recieived from the dems, and not be a Republican. Sad but true.

Beginning of the end for many clueless Dems. I relish the thought of little Tommy Perriello losing his job next November. He sealed his fate with his vote yesterday. Effing idiot.

good job VA in beginning to come to your senses and making up for that embarrassing move in the presidential election. The sentence should read that Charlottesville remained resolutely democrat, not democratic. That would have us thinking the party was somehow equal to or entangled with the ideals, not a balanced mistake to afford.

@ psychologist, the majority votes for the party with the biggest handouts.

Someone named Dirt Worshipper has accused the Sierra Club of being to blame for Slutzky's loss at Cvillenews. Fat chance, he accomplished this all by himself. Fears that Thomas will devastate the landscape with his pro-growth policies are just that. It wouldn't surprise me at all if he shows more concern than Slutzky has. Go look at the airport runway ext. project. They clear cut trees along a stream because Slutzky, allowed this to go thru as a driveway, lowering the level of environmental review. And this is the man that wants to destroy the park at Ragged Mt, clear cut 54,000 trees, and build an uphill pipeline tearing up the county landscape, destroying more trees, and pump water 350 feet uphill with a huge carbon footprint, forever. All this to the tune of over $200 million and who knows what electricity will cost to pump the water in the future. No, I wouldn't call him an environmental steward. I'll bet Thomas does better.

Remember the idea that they could use dirt from dredging for the airport and the director saying they would find the dirt on site. Well, talk to people in the vicinity of the airport about all the truck loads of dirt going into the site. Looks like another lie to me.

You think pumping water 350 feet uphill with electricity leaves no carbon footprint ? This would be the 3rd largest river in Albemarle County pumped uphill over 9 miles --where do you think electricity comes from ?

Rodney Thomas = environmental steward

hilarious.

thanks, that totally made my morning.

I would also like to see your math on all the carbon emissions from pumping water. Or is that simply a Rob Schilling talking point?

With 3 city councilors having affordable housing as their passion and the county electing 2 republicans, I'll bet the county cuts services to the poor and the city becomes a magnet for services for the entire region, instead of sharing the burden with other counties. Well apparently this is what the voters wanted Cville Eye, and as you've said many times they will get what they vote for and this will assuredly mean high taxes in the city. Did you notice recently they gave $200,000 to the SPCA. This could have paid for several teacher salaries. Wouldn't that be a priority given the drop-out rate. Can't the SPCA get private money thru donations and dancing with the stars ?

Why am I not surprised that Albermarle County residents voted for someone who just spent a year and a half distributing racist literature?

@Dirt Worshipper, why are you continuing to mix James spinymussel in the conversation about getting enough water to put into Ragged Mountain Reservoir?
@Victoria, I am beginning to think that the local officials are blinded by the "honor" and "distinction" of serving as a global model for The Nature Conservancy in the restoration of flows to the Moorman's that nothing else is important. If there's one thing that Chalbemarle adores is prestige.

There has been no discussion by council with the surrounding localities to come up with a plan for housing the low income residents of central VA although David Brown has asked for it his entire time on Council. I believe it won't happen because too many of Council's friends earn their living by providing "services for the poor." Funny thing about though, the poor stays poor and their service providers get to pay their mortgages and create wealth. A friend calls them "poverty pimps."
The city has already started giving money to federally owmed public housing and I suspect that pot will continue to increase. With the future expansion of public housing in the city, the school system can just forget having good State evaluations.