Looking out into a crowd of about 100, Kaine remarked about the turnout and said with a smile, “Will you come to some more events with me over the next year?”
“I will have done 50-plus events for candidates from the middle of summer through Tuesday — so yeah, you learn a lot along the way,” Kaine said after the event. “There will be some changes next year. Sometimes an election goes one way one year, and then the next, they go differently. We see that. But I do think we’ll learn something about Virginians’ desire for balance.”
Democrats in the state are coming off two straight years of losses, including a GOP sweep of statewide offices in 2009 and a pickup of three Congressional seats in 2010. Party members at Sunday’s rally were cognizant of the possibility of losing the state Senate but remained cautiously optimistic they could hold on.
The source close to Allen’s campaign said the state Senate elections have offered “very valuable face time” with voters and were something the campaign built into its strategy this year. The source also said he’ll look at Tuesday’s results in the context of the last few elections.
“Really, the story line is whether what we saw in 2010 — built off 2009 — is there, remnants of that momentum still there,” he said. “What we’ve seen is [that] there is.”
Joining Kaine at Sunday’s event were Sen. Jim Webb — whom he is running to succeed — and former Rep. Tom Perriello, who lost his Charlottesville-based seat last year. It was part of more than a dozen events featuring the state’s top Democrats during the past four days along the I-81 corridor, east on I-66 toward Washington, D.C., and then south along I-95.
Along with Sen. Mark Warner (D) and Rep. Gerry Connolly (D), they all also appeared at a rally Monday at George Mason University in Fairfax to help wake up voters about the state’s “off-off-year” elections, as they were called Sunday.
Webb made headlines last week for hesitating when asked if he would campaign for the president next year. But he was charged up on Sunday, vociferously denouncing a Halloween-themed mailer from the Loudoun County Republican Party that portrayed a zombie-looking Obama with a bullet hole in his head.
That may have been one of the few mail pieces in the state that featured the president. Republicans have taken note of the lack of Democratic candidates that have aligned themselves at all with Obama.
Far more prevalent are Democratic mail pieces featuring a Democrat embracing Gov. Bob McDonnell (R), who has an approval rating above 60 percent. That includes state Sen. George Barker (D) in Fairfax and Prince William counties, whose mail included such a picture along with a quote attributed to McDonnell that read, “I’ve enjoyed working with you on technology and education issues.”
According to the state GOP, that message came off a birthday card, something McDonnell sends to all state legislators.
State Sen. Phillip Puckett (D), another vulnerable incumbent, went so far as to say he would not vote for Obama next year. But that hasn’t stopped the Republican State Leadership Committee from spending $166,000 on TV ads against him, according to the Virginia Public Access Project. One ad featured cutouts of Puckett and Obama next to each other for the entire 30 seconds.
Roll Call has launched a new feature, Hill Navigator, to advise congressional staffers and would-be staffers on how to manage workplace issues on Capitol Hill. Please send us your questions anything from office etiquette, to handling awkward moments, to what happens when the work life gets too personal. Submissions will be treated anonymously.