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My Thoughts On The Fimian Campaign

By Greg L | 9 November 2010 | Keith Fimian | 16 Comments

So after looking for every potential avenue for optimism and finding none, Keith Fimian has done what Democrats rarely do and conceded the election even though he could have legally called for a recount.  Although we wish the outcome was different, we can take comfort knowing that we nominated a candidate with the class to demonstrate the quality of his moral character more than political ambition and a win-at-any-cost attitude.  For fighting well and coming so very close to winning against a very worthy political opponent, Keith deserves our thanks and respect.

Although I have no inside knowledge of his campaign, it was pretty clear Keith’s road to victory in the general election would be the same road that won him the primary - fight close in Fairfax and run up the numbers in Prince William County.  Keith spent a lot of time in PWC, especially before the primary, and clearly built a large and fired-up organization that gave him a whopping 75-25% victory in the county over Herrity.  Hoping the momentum of that organization would keep strong, Keith then focused on making sure he was competitive in Fairfax where two-thirds of the votes in the district are.  It didn’t, or at least not enough.  In the end, Keith ran competitively in Fairfax but Prince William County just didn’t come through for him.

Gerry Connolly’s get out the vote effort was almost entirely focused on Fairfax County, which makes a lot of sense for him since it’s his base and it’s where most of the votes are.  As a result turnout in strong Democrat precincts in Fairfax were rather respectable for a midterm election.  Turnout in Democrat precincts in Prince William County were about 20-40% lower, leaving the opportunity for Republicans to crush for Fimian once again, but for some reason that didn’t happen especially outside of the Gainesville and Brentsville district precincts in the 11th.  In the other districts it’s as if a lot of folks forgot there was an election and the turnout numbers are the lowest in the entire 11th Congressional District.  Connolly and Fimian ran about even outside of Gainesville and Brentsville, and neither side seemed to fight for the Eastern side of the county a whole lot.

In a close victory, everyone gets to “own” it. Same with close defeats.  There’s that one little bit that was left undone by a whole bunch of people who potentially could have done more, and a very small number of them could have made that 900 vote difference.

The first person responsible is always the candidate himself.  Keith could have done better discussing issues outside of spending and taxes and avoided the quite reasonable conclusion by some folks that he was entirely unqualified for the job.  His debate performances were appalling, and for the life of me I can’t understand why Connolly didn’t simply air clips of Fimian floundering for answers to unexpected questions rather than run negative ads.  It would have been devastating.  I was bitterly disappointed in Keith’s debate performances, and I have to expect that had an impact, and the same lack of preparation was behind the pretty pointed words directed at him in editorials.  Those sure didn’t help much.

The campaign also seemed to be somewhat disjointed.  Fimian’s staff before the primary was a little disorganized, but they returned phone calls and emails and they tried to coordinate things with local activists and bloggers.  After the primary that pretty much stopped, and nearly the only communications I got from them from then on were press releases.  Of course there are more important things for a Congressional campaign to do besides Tea Party activist and blogger outreach, but I know if I called James Walkinshaw (Connolly’s campaign manager) he’d call me back in a few hours if for no other reason than pure amusement at the notion I’d want to talk to him.  It makes little sense to keep your allies in the dark.

Could some of the Prince William Republicans made a difference?  You bet.  Once again we had some elected officials go AWOL during the campaign, and their non-support could have made the difference.  Could Herrity’s active support have made a difference?  Unquestionably.  Could the Fairfax and Prince William Committees done more? Perhaps, but from what I saw they were working pretty hard, and I don’t see a whole lot they left undone.

Despite all this, we saw once again Keith is a real fighter who worked so hard the DCCC had to pour almost two million dollars they desperately needed elsewhere into Connolly’s campaign.  Keith’s loss probably helped ensure Republicans elsewhere won, because no one expected him to run so close and the late revelation that Connolly was in trouble forced Democrats to redirect resources to protect Connolly instead of other incumbents. Sometimes the tactical defeat in one spot helps support a strategic win, and arguably that’s what happened in the 11th District.  Connolly got a bigger fight than he expected, got in trouble, and had to start begging for help.

It wasn’t a perfect campaign, as they rarely ever are.  Keith wasn’t a perfect candidate, but there’s pretty much no such thing as a perfect candidate.  Eighteen months ago when Keith started running against Connolly again few thought he had much of a chance, and he proved the naysayers wrong.  When he won the primary, naysayers thought Connolly was going to easily defeat him, and he proved them wrong as well.  Given all the reasons why Keith Fimian shouldn’t have won, he came a heck of a long way with little more than his own determination and tireless effort, and for that he deserves enormous credit.  I’ll forgive him any shortcomings for that, and I think others should as well.

Good job, Keith.  Well done.

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  1. Anonymous said on 10 Nov 2010 at 6:01 am:
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    Fimian has ALL of the dignity/integrity/blah-blah (insinuating Connolly has none)…and he still lost. He seems more gracious than most around here. I bet he congratulated the winner.

    and he was right in his comments about Virginia Tech and “packing heat”.

  2. Shownuff said on 10 Nov 2010 at 8:23 am:
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    Um..from what I took from his statement is that he’s holding out for official results. Nothing happens until then anyway. They still have to go through the process of certification which doesn’t happen until 02 December. But when certified and he still is behind he does not plan to ask for a recount.

  3. park'd said on 10 Nov 2010 at 8:24 am:
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    And the moral of this story is: never underestimate the stupidity of the majority of your fellow American citizens to vote for the worst possible person to ‘represent’ them. As the old saying goes: the people deserve the government that they get. Saw this one coming a mile away. So did Connolly. Now he will remember who screwed him and PWC will continue to pay the price as he so eloquently threatened mere days before the election. A fitting metaphor to this situation would be Babe Ruth pointing to the right field bleachers as he steps up to the plate.

  4. O. P. Ditch said on 10 Nov 2010 at 8:58 am:
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    “Prince William County just didn’t come through for him.” I wonder if Keith would have acknowledged Sarah Palin’s endorsement and publicized it, that might have helped buck up some in PWC and FFX (including some Tea Party folks) to do more? IMHO it could have made up the 900+ votes he lost by. From my new perch in MD, it looked like Keith moved more toward Tom Davis’ Moderateness than to the Tea Party’s Righteousness after the primaries.
    I’m just sayin…

  5. VA_Magoo said on 10 Nov 2010 at 9:32 am:
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    I thank Keith for all his hard work and effort, it can not be easy to become a public figure and be subject to every kind of investigation and attack known to man. I know for a fact my past would never past the scrunity. My hopes and prayers are that a new candidate will step forward to attack the monster that Connolly truely is. Connolly (IMHO) is nothing more than a Pelosi puppet and will do what ever his master demands. He has absolutely no respect for the will of the people in PWC. For the first time in my 30 years living in PWC I got involved in a political campaign simply to see Connolly defeated. I will not stop now, I will continue the fight against this man. I am happy for the victories that the “conservative” republicans were able to win, but the war is not over folks. Connolly has already stated he will not vote against the “Health Care Bill” that he voted for. He must be replaced.

    I can tell you that for the next two years he will know me for the many emails and phone calls I will be making to his office. He never listens to me or takes my opinion seriously, but he is very responsive with his template email answers.

  6. Woodbridge said on 10 Nov 2010 at 9:47 am:
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    The eastern side of PWC cost Keith a lot. Connolly (and his buddy Supervisor Principi) did virtually no campaigning here because they didn’t have to. Looks like it’s time for the PWCRC to step up the fight!!!

  7. Chris said on 10 Nov 2010 at 10:57 am:
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    From the people I know in Camp Fimian - Connolly did exceptionally well in Woodbridge - so well that they weren’t expecting it to go that well or they were hoping to do better elsewhere.

  8. Casanova Frankenstein said on 10 Nov 2010 at 11:08 am:
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    “Could some of the Prince William Republicans made a difference? You bet. Once again we had some elected officials go AWOL during the campaign, and their non-support could have made the difference.”

    Name names, Greg. Name names.

    A flip of just 451 votes from Connolly to Fimian would have changed the outcome of the race. That’s only about 150 votes swaying from D to R in the three Dumfries precincts of Pattie, Montclair and Henderson. Gee, which elected Republican representing those precincts was AWOL? Hmmmmm?

  9. Frank Principis Vagisil Tube said on 10 Nov 2010 at 11:18 am:
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    No GOTV effort at all in Eastern PWC. Huge number of precincts without even poll workers. PWCRC and Fimian campaign conceded about 25 precincts using “hope” as a strategy that Dems didn’t care and Connolly wasn’t important to the Barg/Principi/Earnestine Jenkins socialists. Dumb.

    Of course it didn’t help to see Keith saying stupid things like how illegal aliens should “register” at a debate at a PWC mosque. Is this amnesty? Or is it just utter stupidity that we’re going to tell illegals to register their illegal status with the government? I’ve never seen a more ill informed poster child for how college athletes who coasted through on scholarships have no business being anywhere near public policy matters.

    Amazing that despite all this sheer incompetence Fimian nearly beat one of the most competent campaigns in NOVA.

  10. Casanova Frankenstein said on 10 Nov 2010 at 11:33 am:
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    Don’t forget, a lot of Eastern PWC (11 precincts) is in the 1st District, not the 11th — From Quantico up to Rippon.

  11. Woodbridge said on 10 Nov 2010 at 12:16 pm:
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    Casanova, true, but Republicans continue to get CRUSHED in the majority of Woodbridge. It’s very frustrating when part of the 11th (western PWC) can high-five and slap each other on the back because they won those precincts and all Woodbridge can do is hope the whipping isn’t as bad as last time.

  12. Anonymous said on 11 Nov 2010 at 11:31 pm:
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    I would assume that the vast majority of peoplr voted for there jobs people. You show me one ,I mean one republican who will take on for the gipper and go silently when he loses his job due to a DEFENCE spending cutback. All of you ideological republicans of the free market system think we do so well here because of our labor laws , etc. We do well because every one dollar of federal money spent ten cents of it gets spent in nova. PERIOD. Mom and pops cleaning buiseness cant do well no matter how many tax breaks there are for them if there are no private goverment contractors occupieing them.

    I cant wait to relish how nova will feal like hampten roads when a white collar welfare goverment program is deemed unnecessary.

    ARE YOU READY to take ONE for the Gipper?

    I bet not.


  13. Mr. Anon said on 12 Nov 2010 at 11:18 am:
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    I for one am going to support Connolly. My first act is to dig into my pocket and contribute to the fund he has established to have his lower teeth capped so they are the same size and thickness as his massive upper choppers.

  14. Pat said on 12 Nov 2010 at 11:27 am:
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    if Keith could not get in on the coat tails of the rest of the Republicans, I do not think he can get in at all.

  15. Lisa said on 12 Nov 2010 at 5:29 pm:
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    Hmmmm.. I voted for Fimian in the primary because he was was a better candidate than Herrity. During the primary Fimian did a much better job articulating who he was and what he would do for the 11th District. He lost that message and began running against Pelosi. Bummer because I thought he was running against Mr. Connolly. As a result, I didn’t vote for either of them. I wrote in none of the above. I am in pwc and I couldn’t waste my vote on a man who couldn’t articulate why he deserved my vote. He spent too much time on why Connolly didn’t deserve it… In the end. Neither of them got it.

  16. Casanova Frankenstein said on 15 Nov 2010 at 4:36 pm:
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    The Washington Post
    Caddigan’s Loyalty To GOP at Issue; Her Support of Seefeldt Causes Rift
    December 1, 1999
    By Lisa Rein

    During the fall campaign, Caddigan, a former School Board chairman, openly endorsed Seefeldt with a mailing to voters in the Montclair development where Caddigan lives. The flier pictured both women fighting for a new high school scheduled to open in the district next fall.

    Would it have killed her to do that for Keith Fimian? Flipping 450 votes would have swung the election from Connolly to Fimian — that is only 150 votes in the three Dumfries precincts located in the 11th Dist.

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