The Gainesville Times has an amusing letter to the editor from James Walkinshaw, who is the Gainesville chairman of the PWCDC and Jeff Dion’s former campaign manager. Clearly concerned about public perceptions of disarray and confusion within the county democrats, he stretches long and hard to try to reassure his demoralized fellow travellers and gloss over the challenges that the PWCDC is faced with, but apparently doing little to address. While Walkinshaw chides the Gainesville Times for not doing enough research on the local political landscape and coming to a conclusion he disagrees with, the source material for his rebuttal seems to have come from “The Brother’s Grimm”.
First Walkinshaw claims that for the first time in memory Democrats will challenge every Republican office holder in the county. While that might conceivably happen, I’m not hearing much in the way of challengers for county constitutional offices such as Sheriff and Court Clerk, nor does there seem to be movement in finding challengers for county supervisors or school board other than in Gainesville. Perhaps Walkinshaw is personally managing these campaigns, which would explain why there’s been so little visibility on these candidates. Walkinshaw’s claim is absurd. Only in fairyland can there be found enough volunteers for political martyrdom sufficient to run credible Democrats in all of these races — the effort a frog hunt like this would require would be truly extraordinary.
Walkinshaw then goes on to discuss several races where in his fantasy world the Democrats are in good shape. Chuck Colgan, if he succumbs to the pressure to go for another term from the DPVA instead of retiring with his $20 million in proceeds from the sale of Colgan Air, faces a strong challenge from Bob Fitzsimmonds. This is the race where Democrats have the best chances for success, where their candidate doesn’t even want to run for the office. Bruce Roemmelt and Jeanette Rishell are trotted out as encouraging challengers even though they’ve failed pretty badly before as far-left “social justice” crusaders against well-financed and popular incumbents. Then the unknown and inexperienced Corey Riley is revealed as a challenger to Supervisor John Stirrup, which seems to give Walkinshaw cause for optimism. If running folks from the communist wing of the PWCDC who have never served in elected office against popular incumbents gives Walkinshaw cause for hope, his trek down the yellow brick road will certainly be long and fruitless.
Walkinshaw’s misplaced optimism is hardly a novelty. Recently he’s been campaign manager for Jeff Dion (thumped 57-43% in ‘07), Andy Hurst (crushed 55-44% in ‘06), and Bruce Roemmelt (whipped 56-44% in ‘05), all races where he regaled the press with his convictions that victory was certain, and that the Walkinshaw magic was certain to deliver a historic upset. Instead he’s delivered nothing but failure, which has somehow made him the “golden boy” of local Democrats who just can’t seem to get it through their skulls that this guy is nothing but a perennial loser.
From the unremarkable heights of his chairmanship of the Gainesville Democrats, James Walkinshaw has regaled us with a wonderful tale that lacks only in the requisite opening “once upon a time.” If Democrats are serious about mounting serious challenges to Republicans in the future, they’re going to have to find someone offering more than fairy tales to help them do it.
UPDATE: Not Larry Sabato adds that Walkinshaw apparently got hired by Gerry Connolly and will bring his considerable talents and skills to Fairfax. No word yet on when the celebration will be held at the FCRC…
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