Another election season that’s starting to get underway is in Manassas City, where Council members Steve Randolph, Andy Harrover and Marc Aveni are seeking re-election. So far the Dems haven’t made any noise about running candidates, while Republicans Harrover and Aveni have announced they’re going to run a joint campaign, which may discourage anyone else from jumping in. By the time this election actually happens in May, it’ll have been long decided.
Last time, Harrover and Randolph were the top vote getters and Aveni came in third out of four candidates. Harrover was very popular as a new candidate, and should be even more popular now with the record he’s amassed. Aveni has been the darling of the conservatives and would perform strongly even if he got a challenge, and the joint campaign of the two is only going to help them both. One, it will keep out convservative challengers who won’t want to run against Aveni, and it’ll keep out challengers from the business community that wouldn’t want to run against Harrover. This move locks down the Republican side of the aisle.
Randolph has been and remains very popular as a Republican-leaning independent who even goes so far as to show up as a voting delegate at the Republican conventions (strangely enough) that essentially determine who the winners are going to be. Since he’s likely to run in the top-middle of the pack if there’s a contested election, targeting him is pointless and pretty much impossible. No independent could knock off Randolph or either of the Republicans, so Randolph is safe in this seat.
If Democrats wake up from their long slumber and run someone in this election, the only thing resembling a target for them would be conservative Marc Aveni, who would be a really difficult target to hit. Aveni could easily mobilize an army from the large and active pro-life crowd that would swamp the polls in this typically low-turnout election, and now that he’s got Harrover covering his flank that job only gets harder. In order for a Democrat to even be competitive in this race, they’d have to put together a plan where the math would make the Democrat the top vote-getter, and that’s an effectively impossible task. There are no Democrats in the city with that kind of draw, there’s no issue they could realistically raise that would cause their voters to flood to the polls, and none of the incumbents have done anything that would motivate people to vote against them. The math isn’t there.
That’s not to say that in other elections there won’t be potentially interesting dynamics. Harrover, Randolph and Aveni are probably the three strongest elected officials in the city in terms of the support they have, so this election cycle in the city is the most difficult for any challengers. Challengers are far more likely to find their way on the council when there’s a mid-term vacancy and are appointed into a position without having to run a campaign such as was the case with Cheryl Bass most recently. It takes patience to wait for these opportunities, but they happen with fair regularity and clearly there are a lot of people who would rather interview for the job than run for it in an election. The council regularly gets more than eight applications from people to fill a single vacant seat, but the Board of Elections rarely gets more than one or two applications at most from challengers trying to win a seat in an election. Sometimes they get none.
That kind of dynamic, especially when the incumbents running for re-election are rather strong as is the case here, makes for a pretty quiet municipal election. I’m calling this one early.
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