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O’Brien Drops Out

By Greg L | 28 May 2010 | 39th VA Senate | 8 Comments

Close on the heels of a bizarre story in the News & Messenger that suggested that Jay O’Brien would drop out of the race for the 39th Senate District, O’Brien has sent out an email to his supporters announcing he would withdraw from the race because of work demands.  This is depressing news, as Jay is a great candidate and would be immensely superior to the current representative, George Barker.

The article in the News & Messenger seemed rather absurd — Jay was in Clifton’s Davis General Store and saw some fliers for his primary opponent.  He apparently asked if he could take some, and the folks at the store refused.  He took some anyways.  I can imagine screaming in a headline that there’s a huge scandal if O’Brien was personally and systematically removing all Scott Martin’s campaign materials from stores in Clifton, but taking a few fliers — even if the store’s employees don’t seem to like it — is so infinitely a snoozer of a scandal.

This afternoon, Jay sent out this email to supporters, and there’s an entirely different story going on here:

After much thought and prayer, I have decided to withdraw my candidacy from the 39th State Senate campaign for 2011.

Unfortunately, recent developments in my business will require more of my attention than I had previously anticipated. It is clear to me that I cannot continue a campaign for office without the full concentration it deserves.

I cannot begin to thank all the supporters who have assisted me over the many years I have served in public office; I am grateful to them beyond words. As I begin a new chapter in my life, I will never forget the friends and colleagues who have devoted themselves, often at great sacrifice, to make Virginia and America a better place.

If something actually scandalous happened, at least Jay O’Brien had the moral courage to do what is right.  That is painfully, painfully rare in politics.

In the end we lose a great candidate, someone of great conviction and character, and I feel a bit robbed.  Hopefully we’ll see Jay back on the campaign trail soon as he is a tremendously appealing alternative to what passes for elected “leadership” in that neck of the woods.  Hopefully Scott Martin will be able to carry the fight forward in the 39th District and deliver the kind of redemption it so sorely needs and deserves.

UPDATE: NLS has more, and suggests this could mean the difference between Democrats retaining control of the Senate.  Ouch.

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  1. Loudoun Insider said on 28 May 2010 at 5:40 pm:
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    This is weird, and if O’Brien was indeed dropping out due to work demands, why was he gathering opposition research materials on his at this time? O’Brien’s stated reason seems thin.

  2. Ronald said on 28 May 2010 at 6:48 pm:
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    its a total BS reason… there has to be a 2nd part to this story. He must have done something stupid that was caught on tape, like shoving a woman or something. Taking a couple fliers is not a scandal.

  3. Anon said on 28 May 2010 at 10:17 pm:
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    Jay’s reason definitely sounds bogus, and I read the News and Messenger article much differently than Greg. From the article it sounded like Jay didn’t just take a couple of fliers, but the whole stack or most of them, and that when he was called on it by the store owners just left the store with all that he had picked up. I know Greg likes Jay, and that he has been a solid Republican Senator, but he does have a petty streak, and I can see him doing this sort of thing. I also think he would have denied it completely if he did not know it was caught on tape. The smart thing to do would have been to just return all but one of the flyers. I suspect that a review of the tapes, however, will show that Jay has done this more than once, and create the impression that he came in consciously to swipe the flyers. In the end his ego probably just could not take the idea of being exposed publicly as acting so juvenile. By dropping out, the story dies and he probably convinces the store owners and his opponent not to send the tapes all over the internet. Then again, I could be wrong.

  4. NoVA Scout said on 28 May 2010 at 11:35 pm:
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    It’s essentially the same thing as stealing yard signs. Any candidate caught on tape doing that, even though it is a kind of juvenile vandalism, would be dead meat in an election.

  5. Big Dog said on 29 May 2010 at 10:30 am:
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    Anon, I think you are on target.

    NoVa Scout, No, it isn’t the same as stealing yard signs -
    that is wrong from the first incident. O’Brien could have taken
    one of two fliers and that would have been fine since they
    were clearly for distribution to the general public. The rub
    is he apparently took a whole stack more than once.

    Another case of brain lock and hubris from a smart experienced
    politician who wasn’t able to mentally ask himself at a crucial
    moment - What the hell are you doing? A lousy way to end
    a career.

  6. NoVA Scout said on 29 May 2010 at 10:54 am:
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    The fact that he took the whole stack makes it like stealing yard signs, BD. You’re quite right that he would have been absolutely within his rights to take one leaflet, but his motivation in taking all of them was precisely the motivation of someone who steals one or a dozen yard signs. He was trying, in a silly and ineffectual way, to keep his opponent from accessing public opinion.

  7. Philrodo said on 31 May 2010 at 2:37 am:
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    O’Brien a great candidate? Are you serious? Do great candidates get caught repeatedly on surveillance video stealing their opponents’ literature?

    O’Brien voted for Hb3202 which was found unconstitutional by a unanimous VA Supreme Court and supported the traffic abuser fees. He was also a great proponent of red light cameras. It’s indeed ironic that a surveillance camera was his undoing.

    Anyone that thinks O’Brien was a great pol, is simply uninformed. O’Brien talked a good game, but was a lousy legislator…

  8. Anon said on 6 Jun 2010 at 10:18 am:
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    He couldn’t even win his own reelection. That would not bode well for the future. If he couldn’t win when he had all the advantages of being incumbent, how can he win being a challenger.

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