With the retirement of Watkins can we keep the Senate Red?

As the rumors first reported by the Virtucon that Senator Watkins won’t run again have been confirmed, the question becomes: Will Republicans find a candidate to retain his seat beyond 2015? Unlike Steve Martin’s 11th Senatorial District that would certainly stay red if Martin were not the candidate, Senator Watkins’s District 10 is far from a sure bet for Republicans to retain as an open seat.  It will take an optimal candidate to keep the seat.

The district was redistricted in 2011, so we will examine the district as it stands today. In 2009, the district (as outlined today) as was strongly conservative as the Republicans swept the state with McDonnell and Cuccinelli winning 59% of the vote, and Bill Bolling taking in 57%.  Since then, the district has changed remarkably.  In 2013, Ken Cuccinelli lost the district to Terry McAuliffe 42% to 47% with Sarvis taking 10%.  Mark Obeshain lost 51% to 49% while E.W. Jackson was crushed in the district 60% to 40%. Obama won the district 51% to 47% in 2008 and 50% to 48% in 2012. Warner crushed Gilmore 64% to 44% in 2008, while Kaine won  53% to 46% in 2012. While the numbers haven’t been published on VPAP yet, an analysis of the relevant precincts shows Warner defeated Gillespie 49.7% to 46.6% with Sarvis stealing 3.5% of the vote.

The only Republican to win in the district since 2009 is Senator Watkins. Watkins, a prodigious fundraiser, outspent his Democratic opponent in 2011 $1,200,723 to $505,032 and won the election handily 56% to 43%.  With the 10th District likely getting state wide and even national attention as it may swing the senate in 2015, it is unlikely that a the spending split will be as large as it was in 2011. This district will be in play, and it will take the right kind of candidate for the Republicans to win.

Looking to the recent races what sort of candidate will be the most competitive for Republicans in the 11th? I would say that we need a Chesterfield County based candidate that is issue focused, small government, anti-tax, business friendly,  and conservative while not being a firebrand on social issues.

The optimal candidate would be from Chesterfield County because, despite being called the Powhatan Seat, the district’s voting population divides up 49% Chesterfield, 37% Richmond, and 14% Powhatan County.

The optimal candidate would be issue focused because that’s how Ed Gillespie derailed Warner’s campaign enough to almost score a win.

The optimal candidate would be small government and anti-tax because Watkins is leaving the seat for the sins of supporting Medicaid Expansions and McDonnell’s unpopular transportation tax-hike package.

The optimal candidate would be business friendly, because fundraising will be a key part of this race and Watkins made the district happy for a long time with his business friendly policies.

And the optimal candidate will not be a firebrand on social issues due to the illustrated disparity between Obenshain and Jackson in the 2013 election and Gillespie’s successful parries of Warner’s attempts to paint him as extreme on social issues.

So… any ideas on who this optimal candidate may be?


15 thoughts on “With the retirement of Watkins can we keep the Senate Red?

  1. Kay Cole James, although I don’t know if she lives in the district right now.

    African American woman with powerful experience and credentials.

  2. I would have expected the seat to be safer considering that Watkins redistricted it! Wow… Are we going to lose the Senate after one year?

  3. I predict this seat will be lost along with 2 more. Watch RPV elect a extremist as Chairman the cookie will crumble very fast. The Democrats are jumping on this fast check out Blue Va.

    1. So the key to keeping the seat you think, is to nominate a Bob Dole, Gerald Ford, Mitt Romney, John McCain, type?

      With their proven track records, who could argue with that?

      An effective sales person sees that a prospect is using the competition’s products and persuades the prospect to CHANGE and become his customer.

      The RPV sees that people have voted for a Democrat in the past, and decides to become a Democrat, too.

      If politics is not about persuading people to your point of view, then what is it about?

  4. You can easily elect a far right candidate in a far right leaning district. This district isn’t that type district. That ALL I’m trying to say. That fact will be ignored by many with a sad result.

    1. The truth is that EVERYTHING is important in a winning campaign, who the candidate is and also how the campaign is run.

      Too many people, especially, moderate Republicans, ignore HOW a campaign is run, and imagine that a candidate just auto-magically wins based on who it is. Conservatives can start to think this way, too.

      A better candidate is better and a worse candidate is worse, obviously.

      But you cannot ignore HOW a campaign is run, not just WHO is running.

      Moderate Republicans — they don’t have to, but they do — don’t run an actual campaign, they just think that people will auto-magically vote for them because they are pandering to Democrat policy positions.

      They ignore the fact that if the voters like Democrat policies, why not just elect a Democrat?

      If you like Coca-Cola, why not buy Coca-Cola instead of a cheap knock off like “Chek Cola” the Winn Dixie ?

      Moderates do not have any answer for the key question: Why should I vote for a Republican acting like a Democrat when I can just vote for the Democrat instead?

      Why can’t I have the original, instead of a knock-off?

      In earlier campaigns, Ken Cuccinelli ran a persuasion campaign.

      In 2013, Ken Cuccinelli listened to all the establishment consultants and advisers and ran a Mitt Romney style campaign.

      A Mitt Romney campaign doesn’t work whether you are Mitt Romney or Ronald Reagan.

      A pandering, content-lite, insider mindset campaign will almost NEVER work.

      Therefore, moderate Republicans fall back on trying to look like Democrats because THEY DO NOT KNOW WHAT ELSE TO DO.

  5. So KC lost because he was pandering to the left and listening to establishment consultants ? Did MO and EWJ lose for the same reasons ?

    Maybe they all lost because of the failures of RNC,RPV, and the SCC ?
    Why did MO get more votes than KC ? Surely everyone would agree KC would be seen as more conservative than MO.
    KC got more votes than EWJ. According to KC EWJ was more of a extreme candidate than he was.
    I’m just not following your logic.

    Please tell me where I’m missing the boat.

    1. I did not say and I would not say that Ken Cuccinelli pandered to the Left.

      Some rather typical “black or white” / “all or nothing” thinking there.

      But he did not run a conservative campaign the way he did when he won Attorney General or the State Senate in 2013.

      Ken Cuccinelli ran a “play it safe” passive campaign the way Mitt Romney did in 2012.

      That does not mean he took liberal positions, but he did not run a conservative campaign, persuade voters why they should vote for him. He ran a campaign to simply avoid mistakes (which is itself a mistake) as the ivory tower consultants advise.

      Remember that the qualifications for being a Republican campaign consultant loved by the establishment is to have a consistent record of LOSING elections. The more elections a consultant loses, the more certainly he will be recommended by the RNC and other GOP institutions.

      So for those who are always wrong, who always lose, they have their theories that they will never let go of until their dying breath.

      You write “Maybe they all lost because of the failures of RNC,RPV, and the SCC ?”

      Trying to isolate one issue as if the others don’t matter is one of the mistakes we keep making. It is like asking WHICH hole sunk the ship? ANY weakness will make the campaign weak.

      So the answer is “Yes, all of the above.”

      You write “Why did MO get more votes than KC ? Surely everyone would agree KC would be seen as more conservative than MO.”

      No, I don’t agree, because the voters — most of whom are not paying attention — only know what you tell them.

      Barack Obama ran to the right of John McCain on some issues. That was a scam, but that’s the impression he gave, as being more responsible.

      The vast majority of voters don’t follow politics the way we do, and don’t know any of these people.

      Mark Obenshain “ran as” — that is gave the impression to voters only tuning in just before the election — as being more conservatie than Ken Cuccinelli. I don’t mean that is reality. I mean that is the impression presented to the voters by the campaign.

      Following the “play it safe” bad advice from GOP campaign consultants, Ken Cuccinelli pulled back on the gas, while Mark Obenshain ran a powerful issues-based, conservative campaign.

      If someone didn’t follow politics, and they tuned in 2 weeks before the election, and knew nothing about Cuccinelli or Obenshain, they would have gotten the impression that Obenshain was the conservative and Cuccinelli was the Bob Dole moderate.

      That’s what Cucinnelli running a Mitt Romney campaign means.

      Following Mitt Romney’s strategies didn’t work for Mitt Romney and they didn’t work for Ken Cuccinelli, either.

      But now you answer some questions:

      Why is it that when Ken Cuccinelli ran as a tough conservative for Attorney General and State Senate he won, but when Ken ran as a warm and fuzzy Mitt Romney moderate, he lost?

      SAME GUY. Different campaign approaches. Ken the conservative won. Ken the “all things to everyone” moderate lost.

  6. It is unfortunate that a great many Republicans do not actually believe in the free enterprise system or the free market. Ironically, those who claim to be fiscal conservatives (primarily or only) or libertarians often seem to be the most totally opposed to free enterprise.

    For example, can you imagine any Republican furious that fund-raising companies get paid for their work — and for taking risk? Probably 50% to 60% of the fees go to the U.S. Postal Service for POSTAGE, and much of the rest goes to buy stationery, for printing costs, for the people or company that folds the letters and stuffs the envelopes, the people who open the envelopes and process the checks and enter it all into a database, etc. And the fund-raising company places all that money at RISK, and may lose its shirt.

    Establishment campaign consultants get paid whether their candidates win or lose. Consistently losing elections is the #1 qualification for campaign consultants that keep getting recommended again and again by the GOP institutions. Fund-raising companies lose their shirts if they fail. They get rewarded only if they succeed.

    So let’s say you open a restaurant in a small rural town, like MOSELEY, Virginia, where there is only 1 small post office, a gas station with a burger grill carry-out café, 2 churches and a railroad track.

    Do you:

    A) Open exactly the same kind of burger grill, because that’s what people are eating at now?

    or

    B) Open a DIFFERENT kind of restaurant to offer people a choice and a change of pace from what they have now?

    Establishment Republicans believe that the only way a Republican win election is by offering exactly the same thing that the voters already have.

    If they already have 1 Democrat running in the election, what for do they need 2 Democrats running for office?

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