House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) was recently asked how many House seats his party can pick up in the Old Dominion in 2010.
I think we at least win back two, he said first.
But upon further reflection he revised that answer You know what, I will say three.
The seats Cantor was referring to are the three districts that Republicans lost in the 2008 cycle. They are the Virginia Beach-based 2nd district of Rep. Glenn Nye, the Southside Virginia-based 5th district of Rep. Tom Perriello and the suburban Washington, D.C.-based 11th district of Rep. Gerry Connolly.
It was a bold prediction for the GOP Whip, especially since most Republicans in the commonwealth are just focused on knocking off Nye and Perriello in 2010 (and fighting off the possible Democratic push against 10th district GOP Rep. Frank Wolf in Northern Virginia.)
Were not getting the 11th back, one Virginia Republican strategist remarked this week. It would be near-impossible.
The Fairfax County and Prince William County-based district has only become more ethnically and racially diverse since former President George W. Bush won it by a little more than 2,000 votes in 2004.
In November, President Barack Obama won the district by 15 points, and Connolly cruised to a 12-point victory.
But Cantor, who admits that the 11th would be the toughest of the three to win this cycle, sees hope in a potential rematch featuring wealthy Republican businessman Keith Fimian.
That guys the real deal, Cantor said of Fimian. He did pretty well last time around in one of the worst political years that I can remember.
Fimian isnt an official candidate yet, but he said this week that hes likely to run again. He said he will release an official announcement of his 2010 plans early in the third quarter.
If he does run, Republican insiders expect the state and national party to rally behind him. Fimians deep pockets would certainly be an asset in a district that isnt likely to rise anywhere near the top of the National Republican Congressional Committees target list.
Fimian loaned his campaign some $325,000 last cycle. He said this week that hed be prepared to put in whatever resources it would take to win in 2010.
Since his defeat last fall, Fimian has gone back to running U.S. Inspect, a residential and commercial property inspection company he founded. Fimian said this week that he still believes that smart, savvy, experienced businesspeople are needed in Congress to help the country dig itself out of its current financial crisis.
Another possible rematch could be brewing in Perriellos 5th district where Cantor said former Rep. Virgil Goode (R) who was defeated in one of the biggest upsets of 2008 is close to making a decision on whether hell try to win back his old seat.
Reached on Tuesday, Goode would only say that he hopes to make a decision in the not too distant future, but most Republican insiders expect hell eventually join the race.