A Republican Attorney General popular with the social conservative movement bests a Republican Lt. Gov. rooted in the business community for the GOP gubernatorial nomination. A multi-millionaire Democrat nominee for governor with no elected experience and a questionable history about how he made his money. An unexpected Republican nominee for Lt. Governor popular with the grassroots, but woefully underfunded. A major national event that freezes the race for weeks.
If you guessed these were Ken Cuccinelli, Bill Bolling, Terry McAuliffe, E.W Jackson, and the government shutdown, you’d be right.
If you guessed these were Mark Earley, John Hager, Mark Warner, Jay Katzen, and 9/11, you’d be right, too.
Everything old is new again in politics. Everything is cyclical. In retrospect, the dynamics at work in 2013 were extremely similar to what happened 12 years ago in so many ways. About the only difference was in the Attorney General’s race which more resembled the 2005 election where a Republican member of the General Assembly, Bob McDonnell, narrowly defeated a Democrat state senator, Creigh Deeds, by just a few hundred votes. (Even there, we had a Mark vs. Mark race like in the 2001 gubernatorial election.)
So, what forces are at work now and what past election year will 2014 be like?
A president in his second term. A deeply unpopular policy considered to be the signature one of his presidency. A popular Virginia U.S. senator (and former governor) from the same party as the president considered a major contender for president himself in the next election who voted for that policy. No big name contenders from the other party in the race against said senator.
If you guessed George W. Bush, the Iraq War, George Allen, and Jim Webb / Harris Miller, you’d be right.
The 2014 election is tracking to be almost exactly like 2006 with Barack Obama, Obamacare, Mark Warner, and a still evolving GOP field as the players this time around. Something to consider for any Republican with an interest in jumping in the senate race next year. My advice to whoever may be on the fence — get in the race. You don’t want to wind up kicking yourself for passing on it the way so many Democrats did after Jim Webb beat Allen. Just make sure that you hammer Warner continuously for having cast the 60th and deciding vote to enact Obamacare and how that decision has hurt the American economy and destroyed full-time job creation in this country. At the same time, have a message of your own about what you want to accomplish as one of Virginia’s U.S. senators. If you do those two things, you can win.
UPDATE: Virtucon friend Ben Marchi has floated the name of Brig. Gen. Bert Mizusawa (USAR) to play the Jim Webb role in ’14 against Warner’s Allen. Very interesting indeed.