“Vulnerable” NoVa Republicans

By VA Blogger

Isn’t the term “vulnerable Northern Virginia Republican” a tad redundant? Nonetheless, guys like Tom Rust and Tim Hugo are all-star legislators who have made their mark, in Richmond and in NoVa, by being responsive to their constituents and by winning in races no one expects them to.

Lowell is giddy because Obama (surprise!) carried Northern Virginia, and for some reason has deluded himself into believing that matters for 2009 races. He lists three examples: Tom Rust, Dave Albo, and Tim Hugo, all who represent districts Obama carried. Where have we heard this before?

HD-86 (Rust): Webb 57%, Kaine 57%
HD-40 (Albo): Webb 55%, Kaine 55%
HD-42 (Hugo): Webb 50%, Kaine 52%

Yes, these three delegates are vulnerable; however, they knew this before Obama carried their districts last Tuesday, and the reason they remain in office is because they gear up for tough campaigns as soon as the last one ends. Sometimes, it helps to look just a little beyond the surface.


  • RichmondDem says:

    It was more of a shock to see Speaker Howell’s district carried by Obama than any of those above.

  • Obama was a phenomenon that probably will not carry well into the next round of local elections. The libs are also saying this means Bob Marshall is vulnerable. They’re out of their minds on that one, as well as many of their other assumed pick-ups.

  • jjb says:

    As a piece of counter-evidence, I think it does say something that Obama carried these districts by big margins against John McCain, the moderate, maverick, as opposed to losing them when hard right conservatives Kilgore or Allen were running.

    In any event, I don’t think that RK is trying to say that Hugo, Rust and Albo are necessarily going to lose, just that they are vulnerable to strong challengers. In 2007 none of these guys got really strong Democratic opponents, so good candidate recruitment by the dems could make a huge difference here. But obviously, these three are appealing to their districts and they would have to be favored.

  • Chris says:

    You cannot base state elections on national ones. Different issues, different personalities. There are thousands of examples all across the country of national elections going one way while state and local elections go another.

  • J.D. says:

    Lowell is delusional if he thinks he will get even remotely the turnout in 2009 even in his precious little Arlington/Alexandria corridor. I firmly expect the urban centers, without the motivation of an Obama on the ticket to drop back to 50% or less turnout levels, whereas if the State GOP actually gets its act together and remains engaged could actually keep the stronger GOP areas above average in turnout if the economy keeps sliding during Obama’s first eight months and Kaine continues with shortfalls here in Virginia. Remember, many localities are being pinched by Kaine and the budget shortfall and will be getting alot less from Richmond in terms of funding.

  • VA Blogger says:


    Of course they’re vulnerable to strong challengers. If Ken Cuccinelli had a strong challenger, he wouldn’t be a Senator right now. However, their vulnerability has next-to-nothing to do with the Presidential results.

    Lowell has dedicated at least three posts to saying what everyone already knows and backing up using specious logic.

  • Rick Smith says:

    What will be even more fun to watch than the general election in these districts? Watching these three get challenged from the right in primaries due to the inane logic that those districts went blue because McCain wasn’t “conservative” enough.

  • Lowell Feld says:

    A few points.

    1. I’m not “giddy, “in fact I almost never get “giddy” when it comes to politics. “Realistic,” yes, “giddy,” no.

    2. The only way I think Democrats will win potentially vulnerable seats in NOVA or elsewhere is by running strong, well-funded campaigns with appealing candidates. Candidates like Greg Werkheiser, for instance, who has a great shot against Dave “Abuser Fees” Albo.

    3. The numbers I presented are simply numbers, you can take from them what you will. What I take from them is POTENTIAL vulnerability for Republican incumbents in those districts, POTENTIAL opportunity for Democrats in 2009. We’ll see if that potential is actualized or not.

  • Aimee says:

    The fact that there were so many write ins against Albo last time he ran (unopposed) means the Dems can run a monkey for the seat and win.

  • VA Blogger says:

    Thanks for stopping by, Lowell.

    The way most campaigns are run are with strong, well-funded campaigns and appealing candidates. I’ll use your former employer Judy Feder as a great example of this.

    Pointing out that three Republican incumbents in districts that have voted for Democrats are potentially vulnerable to a strong, well-funded challenger by an appealing personality isn’t exactly “news”, nor is it exactly “analysis”. It’s basically common sense, and the operational assumption already made and known by each of the incumbents you’ve targeted.

    However, based on the comment thread this post has taken, I do want to clarify that my post was not intended to be simply a rebuke of whatever crap you throw on your front page; it was intended to point out that two of these three (Rust, Hugo) ran and won against good challengers a year after Jim Webb carried each of their districts. And all three ran and won the same year that Tim Kaine was on their ballot and carried each of their districts.

  • Not John S. Mosby says:


    Jay Donoghue is a great guy, but he never had any money and was a bit ambivalent in general about running. Yet he came real close to beating Rust – 5 points if I remember correctly. He was underfunded and had a late start, and still did very well. Rex Simmons, I would argue he wasn’t that great of a candidate. He made a lot of mistakes in his campaign. As far as Albo, he lucked out last time, and is proof positive that regardless of how good a candidate is or how well funded, have someone on the ballot in every race every time. Plenty of politicians get in simply because the other guys screws up, and while hard work is great, it doesn’t always win.

    Look at Goode going down to defeat this year. A better example is up in Minn, where that witch Bauchman was up by a huge margin, then let everyone know how she really felt on national TV and ended up just barely winning. The Democrat came from nowhere with no money to almost taking it, and another week of campaigning would have done it. Last year, I think it would have taken a bit more than a monkey with a D next to his name to have beaten Albo, but Werkhouser certainly would have taken the day. He will next year.

    So it may be common sense to say “find a winnable candidate and give them money and a good campaign infrastructure”. Easier said than done a lot of times.

  • VA Blogger says:


    Absolutely it’s easier said that done. If the GOP didn’t have poor recruiting in 2006 and 2008 (Jim Oberweis, Woody Jenkins, Mike Erickson, Tim Bee, Dean Andal, Chris Myers, Bob Straniere are just a few examples) we wouldn’t have had nearly as many losses.

    I just feel it’s usually one of those things that go without saying. Candidate recruitment is, for my money, the most important things any political organization can do.

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