Lessons from Whitbeck’s Devastating Loss

By Liberal Anthropologist

Below are the results on the Virginia State site with 100 percent reporting.


Candidate Votes Percent
DEM Party Jennifer T. Wexton 11,427 52.71%
REP Party John C. L. Whitbeck, Jr. 8,128 37.50%
IND Party Joe T. May 2,119 9.78%
Write-in 3 0.01%
Total Votes 21,677

There are lessons to be learned from this loss.  I will cover a few.  Please chime in with others.

Lessons for Democrats

  1. Don’t get cocky.  This does not represent some massive shift in the electorate.
  2. Don’t forget you have zero seats on the BOS in Loudoun County.  Until you start winning those back, it is no time to celebrate.
  3. Your stupid and false negative campaigning works.  Everyone hates it.  You lie.  But it works.  Sadly.  If Wexton comes to my door (as Herring once did), I will tell her off for the things she did in this campaign.  She is divisive.  She get’s none of my support in what she says she wants to do in her job.
  4. Your get out the vote machine is working well.  Nice turnout.
  5. You didn’t defeat the TEA party.  Whitbeck was not a TEA party member nor a TEA party candidate. He was a (bad) Republican candidate.
  6. You can lose this seat next time it is up if Wexton supports McCauliffe’s agenda and the Republicans play it smart.

Lessons for Republicans

  1. STOP with this convention/single meeting nonsense.  It was that decision (whoever made it) that handed the election to the Democrats.  The people involved should step down this week. They have lost the right to lead the party.
  2. Hold Primaries and force the candidates to be properly vetted.
  3. Do not support controversial candidates who are so divisive.  Whitbeck was so controversial and disliked in his home precincts around Lansdowne that he even lost all of them.  That’s pretty bad.
  4. May did NOT spoil the election.  His votes plus Whitbeck’s would not have beat Wexton.
  5. Listen to the parts of your party that are NOT divisive.  May was well liked and would have defeated Wexton as a Republican.  Guys like Minchew are well liked.  There are others that are widely liked in the community.  Stay away from guys like Whitbeck who court controversy.
  6. I would say improve your GOTV but my guess is that Whitbeck was the issue there.  Too many people disliked him or were not excited by him.

Lessons for John Whitbeck

  1. Your political career should be over.
  2. You do not have the temperament or talent for politics.
  3. You do not have a strong grasp of the issues and it shows in speeches and interviews.
  4. You have been so divisive that you couldn’t even win the votes of your immediate friends and neighbors.
  5. You should step down from any remaining leadership positions you have in the Republican party so we can get back to winning.
  6. You should return to being a divorce attorney. Perhaps you are good at that.
  7. You once said – In 2008 or 2009 in the midst of an HOA election that you were not a politician.  I doubted it then.  It is clear now that you were right.

I know that in this election – like so many – that these lessons should be learned.  But I doubt they will be.  The leadership of the Republican party needs to take responsibility for this loss and give us new leadership we can all get behind. Or we will lose Wolf’s seat.



  • Most important lesson – primaries, primaries, PRIMARIES

  • Not Harry F. Byrd says:

    Loudoun folks can take comfort in the fact that the 33rd was redrawn to include some not-so-favorable parts of Fairfax around Herndon. So their loss isn’t completely a result of Louduoun.

    Of course, they will likely accept the wisdom of the information above and take it further to decide that means Loudoun just needs even more conservative, purer nominees, and victory is right around the corner.

    Bottom line: divided, split parties lose. You can fit that to whatever narrative you want, but it’s absolutely true.

    You cannot win when you’re already divided your own base. Particularly when you’re in a marginal seat.

  • One other little lesson someone pointed out to me in email for Whitbeck.

    His “buddies” on the HOA board orchestrated the first ever get out the vote email regarding the special election that I have ever seen. Pretty dumb to do that given the precincts’ voting history. He helped raise awareness for Dems and might have squeaked by in his home precinct if he had not had his friends “help” him.

    It further riled up Lansdowne people and was seen by some as a partisan abuse of the HOA resources.

  • Satchmo says:

    Lessons for LA: don’t act like a whiny loser!

  • Bill Fox says:

    What a travesty. I would invite everyone, again, to take a look at Wexton’s “Issues” page on her website: http://www.wextonforstatesenate.com/node/56

    She actually won with that nonsense. The answer to our economic issues? Improving education. And how do we improve education? More pre-school. There you go folks. . .Jennifer Wexton is going to fix the economy with pre-school.

    I have no idea whether Republicans will learn the lessons you are suggesting, LA, but they’d better learn SOMETHING from this. Losing an election is always a humbling experience. Losing to a one-issue candidate this weak should be embarrassing to every Republican, conservative, Tea Partier and libertarian in Northern VA.

  • Ross Patterson says:

    LA – Lansdowne turned out a whopping 2.8% out the Loudoun votes. If Whitbeck’s friends are selling the “HOA screwed me” Kool-Aid, don’t drink!

  • Ross Patterson says:

    “Most important lesson – primaries, primaries, PRIMARIES”

    Like the one where David LaRock ejected Joe May from his H33 seat by 14 points?

  • ed myers says:

    No mention of the recent news of McD’s indictment and how that might have played to the voters. Perhaps a concern that the R’s didn’t deserve control of the government. R’s already control Loudoun and we saw how tepid their response was to abuse of office by Delgaudio. Time to clean house.

    Maybe voters were concerned that Whitbeck had the same temperament and attitude of the R firebrands in the US House and didn’t want to encourage that sort of irresponsible shut-down-the-government foolishness by putting more of those types into positions of political power.

  • Independent voter says:

    BF, Wexler did win, Whitbeck lost, BIG TIME. She wasn’t the best candidate and a MODERATE Republican could be the victor this morning.

    When is the GOP going to stop grabbing defeat from the jaws of victory?

  • NotJohnSMosby says:

    The word on McDonnell’s indictment didn’t come down until the afternoon – well after the snow had started and most voters had already left the polls.

  • ed myers says:

    NotJohnSMosby — Look at the timestamps on this blog (7:21am yesterday Dan was discussing the indictments) and then revise your comment about voters not knowing about it until the afternoon….after voting. I read the news before voting just like others, I’m sure. A shock like that might have affected voters. It is a hypothesis worth testing.

  • ed myers says:

    My apologies ..That was 7:21 pm. Maybe I was just later than others to vote.

  • Liberal Anthropologist says:

    Interestingly, these are the “lessons” that Whitbeck took away from his loss:

    “First, the Republican Party is not as united as it could be and we need to find a way to correct this very soon. There are several issues that have created factions within the Party and we need to find a way to reconcile these disagreements if we are going to maximize our success in elections. ”

    Good idea. You helped exacerbate such division with your candidacy and your activities in the party. You are divisive yourself. We need to fix it – true. But you are not capable of helping with that.

    “Second, while we are making progress, we need to expand the Republican base beyond its traditional demographics. My campaign made a very strong effort to gain the support of minority communities and our Party needs to continue these efforts if we want to win elections.”

    This is a gem from the guy telling jokes with negative Jewish stereotypes. It is also true though and why Whitbeck was such a bad candidate.

    “Third, the Republican Party needs to examine the way we campaign and improve our messaging, data gathering and overall strategy to win. My campaign tried some very innovative things that were brought to us by outside groups and the Party needs to be the one to make these improvements. ”

    Our campaigning reform begins with a return to PRIMARIES. No more small groups picking our candidates. Data gathering is not a serious issue. And overall strategy should be to put forth well known and electable folks. Joe May would have been a good example.

    The full Whitbeck email can be found here:


  • Common Sense says:

    There is no mystery here. Whitbeck is a far right Christian who wants to make abortion (all) illegal. That, and his “my religion is the only religion” cost him the race. There is no room for this
    idiocy in American culture anymore. These are individual decisions and preferences and cannot be legislated.

  • Independent voter says:

    CS: You are so right. I live in a community that is multi-cultural with many values and religions represented. Why should all non-Christians be forced to live with the beliefs and mandates of Christian legislators? This far-right intrusion into our lives just isn’t working for Republicans. I think/hope we are going to see change in coming elections. Is it too much to wish for D’s, R’s and i’s serving in elected office and working together for the benefit of all citizens?

  • Liberal Anthropologist says:

    IV and CS,

    You both couldn’t be more wrong. Being pro-life is not a Christian position. Most religions oppose abortion and many secular people do too. Atheists are amongst the pro-life.

    What you are saying is like saying that being pro-Civil rights for blacks is a Christian position. The issue of the legalization of abortion is – by definition – a civil rights issue.

    You believe in limiting the rights of some forms of humans to live and pro-life people do not. We are in favor of universal human rights and you are not in favor of them.

    I know you know this, but find it hard to accept the complexity in thinking of the other side. You choose to live in a world of propaganda instead of acknowledging the reality that people on the other side are trying to help what they see as a helpless and ignored minority.

    You are on the wrong side of history. History favors expansion of rights. You will be viewed like the slave owners were. A product of their time. Not evil. Just wrong. Your great grandchildren will struggle to understand how you could let millions of humans die every year in homicides in the US alone.

  • Eric the 1/2 a troll says:

    “You believe in limiting the rights of some forms of humans to live and pro-life people do not. We are in favor of universal human rights and you are not in favor of them.”

    You are in favor of limiting the rights of fully living human beings in favor of creating new rights for a non-living entity (and I am stretching the definition of entity here).

  • Liberal Anthropologist says:

    It is living. A simple, scientific fact. Just as a carrot is living. The term “fully living” is made up.

  • Bill Fox says:

    This is not a binary issue. It is ludicrous and insulting to conservatives and most religious folk to talk about a fetus the same way one would refer to a tumor. It is equally ludicrous and insulting to many women and liberals to pretend as if a woman has no rights regarding what goes on inside her own body. But isn’t it possible to hold that there are two competing sets of rights here, both compelling and legitimate? Policymaking should therefore be about acknowledging both sets of rights, and weighing those competing God-given rights ( or natural rights, if that’s more comfortable for you) against each other in various scenarios? Remember, just because a “right” is recognized, that does not mean that this is the trump card against the world. The primacy of a right can grow stronger or weaker depending on the circumstances and what competing rights may be at stake. This kind of policymaking is of course more complicated, doesn’t play well in a sound-bite, and you still won’t get everyone to agree with you, but at least you can go forward without insulting anyone.

  • Independent voter says:

    LA: I was not referring to abortion specifically. Believe it or not, I am pro-life but I am far more concerned about the “post-born” children and that so many of them suffer as a result of being unwanted. You and others have explored ways to take care of these kids but it isn’t happening.

    But my last comment was more about the treatment of women by a bunch of old, mostly white men. Now here’s a suggestion to contemplate: let the powers that be deny ED sufferers performance meds. on their health insurance. Without such meds, would their spouses/partners need contraceptives? This sounds like a win-win solutions.

    The availability of “free” birth control meds/devices would greatly reduce abortions, no? Personally, I would much rather pay for birth control than pay for a child on state benefits for 18 years.

  • Eric the 1/2 a troll says:

    “It is ludicrous and insulting to conservatives and most religious folk to talk about a fetus the same way one would refer to a tumor.”

    A. It is not insulting. If insult is taken, I have no part of it. B. a clump of cells is what a zygote is. LA wishes to give that zygote full rights equal to a fully, living human being.

    I think we should treat beginning of life like we do end of life. It should be based on higher brain functions. What is wrong with that?

  • Bill Fox says:

    Right. . .its a clump of cells for 9 months, then it passes through the magic birth canal and becomes a baby.

  • Ed Myers says:

    Bill, once there is a viable child you (or someone else) can adopt it. Prior to that it is trespassing and if the woman wants to stand-her-ground and protect her uterine castle abortion is consistent with self-defense laws. If someone invents an abortion gun and women claimed 2A rights to use it would that make it better for you?

    I’d prefer fewer guns and fewer abortions. Liberty interests prevail and the best we can do is find ways to reduce death when people exercise their rights to not carry a pregnancy to term or carry a gun to the Starbucks.

  • Eric the 1/2 a troll says:

    “Right. . .its a clump of cells for 9 months, then it passes through the magic birth canal and becomes a baby”

    Yes, because, that is EXACTLY what I said! Weak, Bill, very weak….

  • Eric the 1/2 a troll says:

    “The availability of “free” birth control meds/devices would greatly reduce abortions, no?”

    They have no interest in reducing abortions (which already are at below pre-R v. W rate). They are REALLY concerned with controlling what young men and women do with their own bodies. Birth control has two effects, it increases promiscuity and it reduces abortions. Their religion does not allow them to cope with the first so they ignore the second and opt for the statist approach.

    They have as much blood on their hands as anybody and it is far worse for them for they (supposedly) believe abortion is murder. Of course, careful scrutiny of their philosophy leads one to the conclusion that either they really do not believe that and simply wish to control women (or think it is all a spectator sport which is even worse) or they are horrific people who will accept the murder of children as a side effect in their battle to turn back the morality hands of time. Neither option speaks highly of their character.

  • Eric the 1/2 a troll says:

    This guy gets it:

    “The statistics don’t lie: we are winning that fight. Abortion rates have been declining steadily since the high of 1990. What that tells me is that better education, better contraception, better access to contraception, and changing attitudes towards abortion are reducing the numbers, which is what we all want to see. We may not be winning major court battles or legislative victories, but we are slowly but surely winning the hearts and minds of the American people.

    That’s how you win these kinds of moral fights. You can’t force people to comply with your version of morality, but you can convince them that your version is the right one. And the pro-life movement is succeeding in persuading millions of men and women across the country that abortion isn’t necessary and there are better options – both to prevent unwanted pregnancies and to help women if they find themselves in one.”


    I would take it one step further. It is the advance of a LIBERAL agenda that has created the progress as much as any shame-based conservation agenda. Women are opting for birth over abortion in a large part due to changing views about the American family. The (false) ideal nuclear family marketed by conservatives throughout the culture wars of the 60, 70, and 80s is finally crumbling and is shown to be the sham that it was. Women are beginning to understand that having a child, while inconvenient, does not mean the end of their entire future. If two men can be married and succeed in society then surely a single mom can do so as well.

    You would think that people who abhor abortion as murder would see the logic in this approach and would embrace things like free birth control for women, non-traditional family values, and the like. That approach pared with stronger adoption promotion programs will go further than the statist approach. Thank God it is beginning to dawn on some, however. Still a bit too much of a spectator sport aspect to the piece but there is progress nonetheless.

  • Eric the 1/2 a troll says:

    And then we have Texas where the rights of a fetus have been elevated so that a woman does not even have a right to die:


  • Independent voter says:

    Can someone tell me why four precincts reported no numbers. Is this because nobody voted in those precincts or…?

  • Liberal Anthropologist says:

    Which ones?

  • Ross Patterson says:

    The Leesburg District’s Cool Spring Precinct, for example, only had two voters in the 33rd Senate District. It would appear they both didn’t vote.

  • NotJohnSMosby says:

    4 bullshit split precincts that each had a house or three in the 33rd. Still, the Loudoun taxpayers got to pay for four precincts to be staffed all day, in the snow and everything.

    Maybe next time Republicans in the House of Delegates will think of things like that before creating hundreds of new or split precincts statewide, just to get redistricting down to the census block level instead of the established precinct levels?

  • Ed Myers says:

    How can you have secret ballot if you have a few houses reported as a single precinct? I wouldn’t vote if the stats are going to be published for everyone to see how I voted.

  • Independent voter says:

    This is total insanity. Who is ultimately responsible for this stupid redistricting? When I think of the staff who came out on Monday evening and the poll workers who came out at the crack of dawn, in horrendous weather, to have the polls open by 6:00 AM, I am nothing short of outraged. Then let us not forget the cost to the taxpayers.

    I cannot believe I have read or heard nothing about this total waste of resources. Can we ask the Board of Elections for the costs of this election?

  • Independent voter says:

    This may be a long shot but in precincts that only have a few houses, can there not be a provision for those residents to have early voting at the Election Office in Leesburg? It would save taxpayer $$$$ if those four precincts didn’t have to set up and staff polling places.

  • NotJohnSMosby says:

    it’s not an issue during a regular election, since the rest of the precinct is also voting on stuff. The small splits are effectively sub-precincts within larger precincts.

    I suppose if 100% of the registered voters were to vote early in a special election, then they could not open the poll. I don’t know the legality of that, though.

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