Post-Election Thoughts: The Future, and a Bitter Pill

By VA Blogger

Well, we gave it our best and we lost. For my money, I’m not sure there’s anything much the campaign could have done to make up those 1200 votes. The independent candidates (particularly DeCarlo, who targeted Republicans) didn’t cost the election. The Republican ground game was clearly superior to Sharon’s, and outworked her campaign across the County; Sharon won on by running on her party label and, as Ben said, bringing Braddock District out in force.

Bulova’s distortion of Herrity’s position on Dulles Rail probably hurt, though there’s a limit on how much time a campaign can spend on persuasion and counter-persuasion in a short campaign like this. And as Bwana argues, the amazing result in HD-46 probably hurt as well, particularly with the absentee ballot program. It’s painful that a candidate can run on their party label and offer no agenda or platform to voters, and be rewarded with a leadership position. Regardless of my thoughts, however, Sharon Bulova will now be the Chairman of the Board of Supervisors.

She ran her campaign asking voters to trust her years on the Board as suitable experience, while taking absolutely no responsibility at all for the obvious problems that currently exist in the budget. While during the campaign she adamantly refused to take a specific position on any issue, hopefully now that she can’t be held responsible for three years, she’ll begin to make public her thoughts on how to address the $650 million shortfall.

The one thing Bulova cannot do, however, is pretend as if business is usual. Only seven more votes were cast for her than against her, as she was running as the status quo incumbent. She has no mandate to operate the County as it has been for the past decade; indeed, there is a strong mandate for at least some change. And if Sharon is truly the “consensus” politician she portrayed herself as, she will follow suit. Pat Herrity offered many good solutions to our fiscal, transportation, and education challenges. I would expect to see them at least partially incorporated into the upcoming agenda.

The Future of the Board of Supervisors

Meanwhile, while Gerry Hyland is probably the safest (and therefore most likely) choice for Vice-Chair, I think Jeff McKay of Lee District is a better choice. McKay is a charismatic voice and has a pragmatic brand of leadership, and unlike Bulova, knows the difference between truly working with the Republican minority on the Board and force-feeding them an 8-2 agenda.

It’s also unlikely that Bulova will remain Chairman of the Board and Budget Chairman at the same time. I don’t have a clue who the favorite is for that post, but if Bulova wants to prove that she is the candidate of consensus, she could reach out to the 49% that voted against her and make the only Supervisor with a business background the new Budget Chairman.

Speaking of Pat Herrity, expect a more visible role on the Board of Supervisors, as he received a large mandate from the voters to continue to play a leading role in shaping County policy. In one day, Herrity went from representing one-ninth of the County to one-half; that’s not minor. With a strong showing, Herrity also put himself as a, if not the, leading elected Republican in Fairfax County.

That leadership will be put to the test in a little less than five weeks, as the race for a new Braddock District Supervisor gets underway. While Braddock turned out big for Bulova, it is arguably the third most-Republican district in Fairfax, and is a great chance for Republicans to increase representation on the Board. John Cook is a great candidate with a great resume, and working Braddock District fervently for the past month for Pat Herrity gives him an excellent jumping off point.

Looking Ahead to November

I’m not sure this changes much for the statewide candidates. Bob McDonnell has already made Northern Virginia a focus of his campaign, and while a victory in Fairfax would provide momentum, a loss (especially one this close) doesn’t hurt him one bit.

As for the local races, Ben has done a service by listing the results by House of Delegate districts. Notably, Herrity carried all three Republican incumbent districts: that of Albo, Hugo, and the Fairfax-portion of Rust. Rusts’s Herndon-based seat is probably the most vulnerable of the three, but Herrity actually carried Herndon #2 and Hutchison in Dranesville and carried 2 of 4 precincts in Hunter Mill (and lost a third by 3 votes).

Even more interesting are the recent Democratic pick-ups in the 34th, 35th, and 67th, with Pat carrying them all. Margi Vanderhye is probably the most vulnerable in this group, with Herrity’s strong performance in North County and the recruitment of Barbara Comstock, who is guaranteed to raise a lot of money. Herrity ended up carrying 75% (12 of 16) of Dranesville precincts in the 34th.

Chuck Caputo has much to fear as well, as Herrity carried all but one Fairfax precinct in the 67th (one more sits in Loudoun County), on his way to carrying all but one precinct (a different one) in the whole of Sully. Jim LeMunyon has been gearing up for a while, and Caputo may not survive a second-straight cycle of being outworked on the ground while resting on his incumbent status.

Finally, the most surprising of those results is Steve Shannon’s district in the 35th, which would surely not be competitive if Shannon were not running for Attorney General. While Shannon’s Vienna-based seat leans Democratic, Herrity provided a gameplan for victory: hold the line in Vienna, run up big totals in the Republican West, and do the best you can elsewhere. Herrity actually won 11 of 18 precincts in the 35th, including two of three in Springfield.

A Bitter Pill to Swallow, with a Silver Lining

Despite losing, there is a lot for Republicans to look forward to based off these results, not the least of which is an active party committee, which sponsored some staffing, the campaign’s AB program, and the $650,000,000 yard signs recently profiled by the FCDC. John Cook’s race will be uphill, but it is doable. McDonnell gained valuable groundwork, while the local House candidates have a chance to put Democrats on defense.

In the meantime, the County is in the hands of Chairman Bulova, who said repeatedly that she has the experience to lead us out of this shortfall. Let’s see what she’s got.


  • Not John S. Mosby says:

    Dude, losers don’t get mandates, especially from a low-turnout special election. Do you think Republicans have a mandate in Alexandria for coming close in that special election?

  • VA Blogger says:

    Big difference: The seat in Alexandria is one of a hundred in Richmond. I don’t expect the Democratic Caucus to treat the HD-46 results as a mandate; however, if the House GOP Caucus in 2009 (or, for example, the Democratic Caucus in Congress) were to lose multiple seats while retaining the majority, it would certainly be a mandate to change their ways partially.

    With the emphasis that Bulova placed on consensus, it should naturally be expected, I would think.

  • Not John S. Mosby says:

    Except that she and the Democrats on the board 1)personally don’t like him and 2)professionally, don’t respect him. There’s no chance of him getting vice-chair or budget chair. He’ll remain where he is, in the 8-2 minority.

  • Va Blogger says:

    I never said he should be Vice-Chair, though that would be cool. He is a natural fit for Budget Chair, though, and he just won 49% of the vote; if Sharon truly believes in working across the aisle and finding a consensus, then it seems like an obvious move. It’s possible that was all just campaign speak, though.

    Also, I wouldn’t be so quick to say that all the Democrats don’t like him, and especially that they don’t respect him. Foust and McKay get along with Herrity pretty well. And given the shitstorm that the Democratic majority has led this County into, I’m not sure why anyone would care, least of all Pat, who they don’t respect professionally.

    Finally, it’s a 7-2 majority until March 10th. We’ll see what happens then.

  • Dorothy says:

    Since when have the Democrats liked or respected anyone not a Democrat? Greed and power is all they like…look at Connelly and how much he has cost the taxpayers of Fairfax with his personal greed. We have to pay for the special election with more to come.
    God help the residents of Fairfax County for
    we will need all the help we can get.

  • Not John S. Mosby says:

    Losers don’t get promoted. Simple as that. As for Dorothy’s drivel, it seems to run both ways, right? On a national level, Democrats lost any faith in Republican efforts at bi-partisanship after the 2002 elections, when Republicans -including Bush – used 9/11 as a campaign tool against Democrats like Max Cleland.

    Simple matter is, Herrity has been on the board a year and hasn’t done a particularly good job. He’s in no way more qualified to run the budget than someone with more experience.

  • edmundburkenator says:

    Surrender Dorothy.

  • Dorothy says:

    Not on your life. I want to learn to hate like Conyers. What does he eat that makes him so full of hate?

  • Moderate R says:

    NJSM – of course losers get promoted. Look at Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden.

  • Not John S. Mosby says:

    Same party, guy.

  • So, to follow some of the GOP’s logic, a loss with 49 percent gives a local Republican candidate some sort of mandate, and bi-partisanship should be honored by giving him a vice chairmanship and carefully considering and probably passing all his legislation.

    But at a national level, a Democratic victory of 53 percent, with a landslide in the electoral college is no mandate and Republicans should block all that winners’ legislation.

    That’s because only the Republicans are always right and the hell with the actual will of the voters.

  • Va Blogger says:

    NJ: Your comment that Herrity hasn’t done a good job is your own opinion. Others, like the South County Chronicle and Herrity’s own constituents, disagree. Even the Washington Post appreciated the fact that he asked tough questions and challenged the echo chamber in charge.

    Unlike the rest of the Board, however, Herrity is a CPA and has a business background. He balances budgets for a living, while protecting the priorities of the company. Say you don’t like him, say you hope he’s replaced, say you hate the color of his tie, but don’t say he’s not qualified.

    AIAW: I know you better than that– I’ve not said a single word about national legislation. I’d appreciate if you directed comments towards me at things I’ve actually talked about.

    I’m not the one who thinks bi-partisanship, or more accurately, “consensus building” is such a priority; Sharon Bulova is. It was one of her major campaign planks (in leiu of actual policy proposals). Hell, you yourself defended her as being able to work across the aisle. Was that just bluster to get her elected? Or is she (and you) serious about following through on that?

    Secondly, I never said that the Board should pass all of his legislation (though I certainly wouldn’t mind if they did). I said that Herrity put forward a number of solutions to various issues facing the County, and they apparently resonated with half of the voters. Since Sharon hasn’t put forward any solutions towards anything, and since Pat’s solutions have support and make sense, why shouldn’t they be partially incorporated?

    In fact, they already are. Two weeks ago, Herrity proposed upping the amount for school construction. Bulova quickly seconded the motion.

    Months ago, Herrity proposed increasing County transparency by putting the County checkbook online. It passed unanimously, but they’ve stalled in following through with it. Maybe now that we have a new Chairman, she can take care of that.

    Herrity proposed, and it passed unanimously, restarting the EIS to further along long-term solutions for the I-66 corridor. Restarting the EIS is the necessary first component to furthering solutions, including seeking funding from the private sector. Herrity will continue to push for it, and hopefully Bulova will be on board with it.

    These are the kind of solutions that Herrity ran on, that I hope Bulova includes in her agenda. Is there anything I listed that you have a specific objection with, other than the letter beside the name of the person who proposed them?

  • Not John S. Mosby says:

    So being a CPA with a year’s legislative experience qualifies you to more or less devise the budget for a government representing 1.1 million people? Being CFO of a small business means you know how to be CFO of a small business. Governments are not run like small businesses, no matter how much Republicans wish they were.

    AIAW is correct. I’ll tell you what a mandate is – hold an 8-2 majority in a legislative chamber. The ones with 8 in the majority have a mandate. 80%-20%. Not the guys with the 20%.

    Also, as long as we’re doing math, 49% is not bigger than 50.1%. So, again, losers go back to what they were doing beforehand.

  • Alter of Freedom says:

    Could you imagine the turf/ego war if your board selected its own Chair like so many other localities across the State.

    The more I read the more I realize you guys got some pretty big egos up that way. Jes.

  • Va Blogger says:

    I’ve been involved in politics on a multitude of levels for the better part of the last decade, and I can say definitively that business experience is far more useful than legislative experience.

    Sharon Bulova had four years of legislative experience with absolutely no experience elsewhere when she became Budget Chair… would you have opposed it then? Or is there a magical line of demarcation between one year and four years that is the difference between “qualified and has my undying support” and “unqualified and a total shitbag”?

    I don’t see the harm in running government like a business. You set priorities, you establish your limits, and then you find the most cost-effective way of meeting your goals. I think government would be a lot better if elected officials didn’t treat taxpayer money like an unending source of revenue to pull from. Apparently, you’re opposed to efficiency and openness in government, which makes me unsurprised that you supported Bulova.

  • K Street Mole says:

    Who is running as a Republican to replace Steve Shannon? This is an opportunity not to be squandered.

  • Not John S. Mosby says:

    I have no problems with efficiency and openness, but the object of a business is to earn a profit and maximize profits. That isn’t the job of a government.

    It’s a moot point anyways. I understand that Republicans are grasping at straws and looking for anything that even approaches a victory. But some of the stuff I’ve read in the last 24 hours – “mandate for change” especially – seems, well, delusional. You lost. Bottom line. You may very well win in the future, but not now. Now, you lost. Thus, you don’t dictate terms nor claim mandates.

    Republicans have to understand a very simple fact. At this point in time, a majority of people in Fairfax simply disagree with you and your positions. There’s not much else to it. You haven’t won anything in Fairfax that was Democratic a day before in quite some time. Certainly not the last 4-5 years. The majority of the population of the county has decided to go a different direction than the one you want. Live with it, or move to Fauquier or Shenandoah counties, or somewhere that is heavily conservative Republican.

    So yes, Herrity did articulate his position. And a majority if voters yesterday decided they didn’t want it. Simple as that. He didn’t pass the smell test.

  • edm says:

    Re: 11 –

    Begging your pardon, but as you noticed, the American people gave the Democratic Party the Presidency and sweeping majorities in both houses of Congress. The notion that, somehow, the minority party collectively voting “No” will somehow impede this legislation is laughable on its face. The GOP is simply rabble-rousing in the media, which is about the only thing a party in their position can do.

    The Democrats now have the capability to put whatever they want into law. Man up (pardon the expression) and go do it. But, don’t expect the Republican Party as a whole to give the cover of bi-partisan approval to what is, to coin a phrase, a crap sandwich of a bill.

  • Moderate R says:

    K Street Mole – Jim Hyland is planning on running.

  • Va Blogger says:

    Not John:

    The fact that, by seven votes, half of the County voted for a new direction means *nothing* to you? Yes, you won the majority of the vote; that means the wishes of 50% minus 7 votes of the County are absolutely worthless and should be tossed in the trash?

    It’s called tyranny of the majority, and it’s not the way to run a government. If you want support for that, look no further than the candidate you’ve spent the last month supporting, Sharon Bulova, who time and time and time again, portrayed herself as the consensus candidate who works across the aisle.

    If there was *ever* a time where working across the aisle seems like a good idea, it would be when the County is almost exactly split on which direction to go in.

    We’re just going around in circles here, with you desperately clinging to a 1% victory margin as overwhelming validation, so let’s move beyond what the extremely narrow margin of victory means and how about you answer this simple question:

    When Sharon Bulova cast herself as the candidate of consensus and reaching across the aisle, was it just a bald-faced lie intended to be discarded the moment she won?

  • Alter of Freedom says:

    #17- Really? “that isn’t the job of government”–I don’t think alot of people up on the Hill calling themselves progressives these days would agree given the rush to nationalize and the premise behind card check iniatives. Apparently they think government can certainly run like a business given they seek to control them.

    There is certainly a wave of arrogance in the air, but we shall see if any solutions surface with the Leadership.

    Asking those of differing ideals to leave the County would simply do wonders for your economy and frankly should not a Democrat been the logical choice in this current political climate? I mean would it not have been a bigger story if Herrity had won? Just asking.

  • Matt says:

    I get the sense that Not John isn’t used to being on the victorious side of things. Since I started reading this blog awhile back, it seems like the only thing he can ramble about is Republicans losing. Hey Not John, if that is what gives you purpose to wake up in the morning and contribute something to society, well, you are playing your role. As for others, Bulova won the election and will now need to make tough decision and work hard to be successful. Democratic political ops will review what worked in their campaign and what didn’t and try to make the appropriate adjustments. GOP candidates and ops will do a similar task. As for Not John, I’m sure he’ll wake up in morning, log on to his computer, and bitterly type comments on blogs that show his disdain for the GOP. I guess we really aren’t ready for the change that we were all seeking…

  • Former LCRC Member says:

    I’m OK with a 9.5% swing towards Republicans in Fairfax County in just three months since the general election. I thought Pat and team did a nice job, and as long as we recognize this is a step instead of the finish line, it’s no big deal.

    Not John, yes we lost. Now you have to govern. Shut up and do it.

  • Not John S. Mosby says:

    My point is simple. The Republicans were a small minority on the Board. They are a small minority today. Nothing has changed since Monday. If you expect something to change, I don’t understand why. Democrats have been narrowing the gap in the House of Delegates for 4 years now, but nothing has changed. Why? Because there’s still a sizable gap. While there are a lot more Democrats percentage wise, they’re still the minority by a lot.

    On the Federal level, I didn’t see many Republicans back in the 02 an 04 election cycles saying that they should give up the Senate or House to Democratic control to create a more balanced government. Of course, now that you guys are losing more than winning, that sounds like a great idea, but it certainly wasn’t thought so when you were on top.

    So, what you guys need to do is start winning a few elections, then win a bunch more. Places like Fairfax have flipped from Republican-majority to 50/50 to Democratic majority to strong Democratic majority for a lot of reasons. Some of them have been because of Democratic ideas that have been embraced, others because of Republican ideas that are no longer popular.

    I seem to get a very constant feeling that a lot of Republicans have not come to grips with losing ground. At least in Virginia, 2001 was the high mark, with all three statewide posts, big majorities in state Senate and Delegates, 8-3 majority on US Reps, voting for Bush big time, and still running the show at the county levels in PWC and Loudoun. Fairfax was probably still nominally Republican then, although the BoS was Democratic.

    You’ve lost a lot of ground in 7-8 years, on every level. It’s legitimate. No one is stealing elections, or brainwashing voters, or anything of the sort. The people have adopted a different opinion, at least for now.

    Nothing more, nothing less. So yeah, 50% does beat 49%, and the person who wins is in charge.

  • VA Blogger says:

    Not John:

    We’re just going around in circles here, with you desperately clinging to a 1% victory margin as overwhelming validation, so let’s move beyond what the extremely narrow margin of victory means and how about you answer this simple question:

    When Sharon Bulova cast herself as the candidate of consensus and reaching across the aisle, was it just a bald-faced lie intended to be discarded the moment she won?

  • Not John S. Mosby says:

    I think she and the rest of the Democrats will give Herrity every opportunity to participate, the same as Frey. Beyond that, what do you want? Springfield is 1/9th of the county, and the fastest growing area as well, so it already gets a fair amount of attention from the board as a whole. But as far as giving Herrity a position such as budget chair, absolutely not.

  • VA Blogger says:

    Even if Herrity doesn’t get Budget Chair (which I will admit is highly unlikely, despite him being overwhelmingly qualified for the post), do you not see any reason for the Board to consider the fact that 49% of the County voted for a new direction?

  • Not John S. Mosby says:

    Not really, in a 16.1% turnout election. 8% of registered voters doesn’t signal change to me. If people were pissed then more would have come out and Herrity would have won.

  • VA Blogger says:

    So the 8% that voted for Bulova doesn’t matter either, right? Only 16% turnout, nothing matters?

    Bullshit. Decisions are made by those who show up. Bulova won by 1% of the vote. Try as you might (and you’re trying desperately), the last thing she can do is pretend that everybody wants to continue as is.

  • novamiddleman says:

    VA Blogger just give up. Not John is a partisan D nothing you say will change him he is just a troll ignore him. He is in the same category as Doug in Mount Vernon for me. Also AIAW is in the same boat. Bascially they are Ds they won’t change no matter what arguments you make. You are just wasting time.

  • Not John S. Mosby says:

    I agree, the 8% that voted for Bulova doesn’t mean much either. Special elections, in general, don’t mean much.

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