My legendary, world renowned and highly coveted political predictions are based on the following criteria: total hearsay, unconfirmed rumors, conspiracy theories, pure innuendo, personal insight, moles who feed me off the record scoops, my high-voltage tin foil hat, cell phone polls with no scientific relevance, pure instinct…and my secret sauce.
It all adds up to a nearly flawless track record! I’m right a whopping 99 percent of the time.
Rather than waste hundreds of words on all the races I got right, I’ll start with the only two I got wrong: I missed Amanda Chase’s primary upset this year in SD 11 and E.W. Jackson’s ’13 LG convention romp. Didn’t see those coming!
So here we go:
Four weeks ago Virginia Democrats had the state senate all but won.
The Godfather, Senate Leader Dick Saslaw (D-Fairfax) was on easy street, needing only one senate seat to flip for control. They had three races in serious play and just needed to win two of them.
The Democratic senate caucus was banking on a revitalized Democratic Party of Virginia that re-branded itself as VA-DEMS, hired top executive talent in political director Brian Zuzenak and communications guru Stephen Carter and gained a huge financial advantage with cross funding from Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s Common Good Virginia PAC.
McAuliffe’s PAC pumped in $250,000 per month to fund an 80 person paid full-time ground game staff targeted in six senate districts.
Their token opposition consisted of a near bankrupt Republican Party of Virginia with a handful of contractors and a few employees in Richmond.
It was a miss-match of Godzilla like proportions.
The only thing the GOP had going for them at the state level was Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment’s two top caucus political honchos: Jeff Ryer and Michael Young. They matched wits with Zuzenek and Carter, going toe to toe on strategy. But they were outgunned and out manned. Even General Patton can’t win without boots on the ground.
Then along came Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety PAC. They dumped $2.2 million on a TV ad campaign starring Andy Parker, the father of the Roanoke television newscaster who’s daughter was gunned down in cold blood during a morning broadcast in August.
They focused their millions on two key senate races: Districts 10 and 29, both must-wins for the Democrats.
But this changed the Dem’s closing message from jobs to guns. Then Andy Parker threatened a sitting state senator, Bill Stanley (R-Franklin) on social media with violent retribution for his pro-gun stance and all hell broke loose. Outcome: message lost for Democrats.
That was bad enough. Then Republicans dared the governor to disavow a crazy $17.00 round trip toll scheme on I-66 two weeks ago – to fund bike paths. McAuliffe, under fire, doubled down in lieu of abandoning the hair-brained idea and attempted to explain it – rather than deep six it. Explaining something in the final days of a campaign is never a good thing.
So its guns and tolls for the Democrats…their closing message somehow hi-jacked by environmental and guns legislation extremists in swing districts at the final hour.
The end result: roses for Republicans tomorrow.
State Senate – Republicans gain one seat – 22-18
Key State Senate Races
Senate District 6
Lynwood Lewis (D) – 4 over Richard Ottinger (R)
“Landslide” Lewis wins again, albeit this time by more than 11 votes. Ottinger has run a spirited race, and he’s closed the gap, but the Eastern Shore will stick with Lewis one more time. A huge blowout by Delegate Rob Bloxam (R) helps narrow the margin from eight to four.
Senate District 7
Frank Wagner (R) -8 over Gary McCollum (D)
I knew McCollum’s goose was cooked when my wife Anne – The Fräulein – saw a McCollum sponsored negative TV ad showing a picture of a young, smiling windblown Frank Wagner on the beach –and said, “Look honey there’s Frank on TV…awe, he was so cute back then, wasn’t he just adorable!”
I’ve heard Wagner called a lot of things in my day…but adorable…?!
Senate District 8
Bill DeSteph (R) -19 over Dave Belote (D)
Note to Belote: Don’t run against DeSteph in an off-year election. The guy is a one-man juggernaut.
Senate District 10
Glenn Sturtevant (R) -3 over Dan Gecker (D)
The Democrats never, ever should have lost this race.
But they’re doomed on Tuesday.
The anti gun message is a disaster for Gecker, an otherwise sober and moderate candidate. The bulk of the district is in Chesterfield and Powatan counties. Residents in Chesterfield and Powhatan don’t own a gun. They own guns. Lots of them.
Plus there’s a four-person sheriff’s race in Powatan. Mike Young taught me that sheriff races in rural Virginia counties are like the world series of politics: everybody turns out. And those voters are not going for Gecker and Bloomberg. They’re voting for Glenn.
Senator John Watkins (R), who is retiring, said he’d be the last Republican to win this seat. He’s right. The Democrats are going to lose it.
Senate District 13
Dick Black (R) – 10 over Jill McCabe (D)
Never bet against an incumbent who left his blood on a rice field in Vietnam fighting against communist aggression.
Senate District 21
John Edwards (D) – 5 over Nancy Dye (R)
This is by far the best race the Democrats ran this cycle. The Republicans have a great candidate in Dr. Nancy Dye, and with another Democrat in the race acting as spoiler (Roanoke Commonwealth Attorney Don Caldwell) this looked like a real possible gain for the GOP.
But Caldwell fizzled, Edwards re-energized late, and he’s still well known and liked in this overwhelmingly Democratic district.
Dye’s campaign was overly cautious, and her decision to come out against the pipeline didn’t help her pro jobs message. You can’t play not to lose when down by 10.
Dye will be back, and will be tougher the next go around when Edwards will likely retire.
Senate District 29
Hal Parrish (R) – 1.5 over Jeremy McPike (D)
Hal Parrish, mayor of Manassas, has run the greatest state senate race in a Democratic district in Virginia history. That plus a big bounce from Prince William county vote getter Corey Stewart, running for re-election for Chairman of the Board of Supervisors seals the deal. Do you know that President Obama won this district with 63 percent? Stewart and Parish. Parish and Stewart.
House of Delegates – Republicans gain 2 seats – 69-31
The I-66 toll is an unmitigated catastrophe for minority House leader David Toscano (D-Charlottesville). Democrats should have gained three to five seats. Instead they’ll lose two. Unbelievable.
GOP House Gains/Losses
House District 2
Mark Dudenhefer (R) over Joshua King (D) – GOP pickup
Can’t beat the Colonel twice.
Craig Parisot (R) over Kathleen Murphy (D) – GOP Pickup
I like Kathleen Murphy. But I live in Chesapeake so I can’t vote for her. Plus I’m nowhere near I-66, but what about those mid-town tunnel tolls? I decided I hate all tolls. So do NOVA’s. Parisot wins.
House District 86
Danny Vargas (R) over Jennifer Boysko – Wash
Vargas is a big-time candidate who’ll win a big time race.
House District 87
John Bell (D) over Chuong Nguyen (R) – Democratic Pickup
Three times a charm for Bell. David, we miss you already.
House District 93
Lara Overy (R) over Monty Mason (D) – GOP Pickup
My upset special. Chicks rule the Peninsula.