For a while there in 2012 it seemed that if you randomly tossed a rock in Virginia it would likely hit someone either running for US Senate, or considering a run. The experienced, the known, the inexperienced and people no one had ever heard of all decided to run in that race. This year the same will almost certainly be said about candidates for Lieutenant Governor, and that list just keeps on growing. For you folks having some difficulty trying to keep score at home, here’s a quick primer on the Republican field as it looks in November, 2012:
Corey Stewart: Corey announced early and seemed to be an odds-on favorite when he had no other competition from Northern Virginia. Then the NoVA field of candidates exploded, Corey got all sorts of truly awful press about what was happening on the Prince William Board of County Supervisors, and whatever advantage he had entirely evaporated. Matters weren’t helped much by Corey’s selection of some of his campaign staff, who were rumored to have gotten caught previously trying to shop voter lists from the Cuccinelli campaign around and stealing mobile phones. Holding campaign fundraisers late in the 2012 cycle didn’t help either, especially after being pretty scarce for nominees in 2012. It’s uncertain whether this campaign will manage to limp it’s way to the convention before it simply bleeds out.
Steve Martin: Martin has been one of the so-far-few Richmond-area candidates to emerge in this race, and for that reason is likely a contender. His record in the Senate of Virginia is pretty lackluster, he’s not known as a dedicated campaigner, and although he has a very pleasant tenor voice his people skills make one wonder how he ever got elected to office in the first place. The establishment probably will like Martin, but the grassroots who tend to have the pull in a convention may not be quite as excited.
JeanneMarie Devolites Davis: NoVA remembers all too well Davis bringing New York Mayor and dedicated gun-grabber Michael Bloomberg to campaign for her during her debacle in 2007 as she tried to run to the left of Chap Peterson on Second Amendment issues. Having her on the ticket is a long awaited opportunity for the rather politically muscular Virginia gun rights advocates to exact all of the revenge on Davis that they didn’t have a chance to fully dispense back then, and it doesn’t seem like they’re leaving anything left in the cartridge box on this one. Hopefully Davis will remain in this race long enough for them to finally vent all of their bitterness to completion, which might be the only positive outcome of this bizarre campaign. I have no idea what sort of psychosis Davis is suffering from to make her think this was a good idea.
Scott Lingamfelter: With a very good, longstanding record from the General Assembly where Lingamfelter sponsored and saw passed plenty of conservative initiatives and strong connections with the VMI crowd, this is a candidate with solid conservative appeal and a decent connection to influential pockets all across the Commonwealth. Lingamfelter is a real hunter (not just someone who parades around in a brand-new outfit from Cabella’s and doesn’t know how to carry shotgun), a combat veteran, an experienced legislator and one of the very best orators in Virginia. His challenge is building a lot of support outside of NoVA and showing us he knows how to fundraise more than he’s shown us in the past. If he meets this challenge, he might well be the favorite in this race.
Susan Stimpson: Chairman of the BOCS in Stafford County and a relative newcomer to elected office, hardly anyone expected Stimpson to run for state-wide office. She has a decent record in Stafford, but no experience in fundraising, few contacts outside of her county, and isn’t well known even in NoVA. There’s some chatter among the political activists interested in Stimpson, but a lot of that is people trying to figure out who the heck she is and what the real story about her might be. I am hearing a lot of very conflicting information about Stimpson, so I expect her to be put on the defensive during this campaign — a lot.
E. W. Jackson: Recently rumored as a candidate (Update: he’s now announced), Jackson’s entre into Virginia politics was running for Senate in 2012 where he demonstrated that he couldn’t raise money or build an effective campaign organization. Still, Jackson is arguably the best orator in Virginia, has an incredible personal story and is someone who absolutely should have a very meaningful career in Virginia politics if he manages to pick the right races to run, and builds some credentials and experience as an elected official. As much as it utterly pains me to say it, this is not that race. My fear is that if Jackson picks enough races to lose, in his political career will be over before it begins which would be a tragedy to not only the Commonwealth but the country as a whole. He needs to pick one he can win to start out, and Lt. Governor is not the entry level in Virginia politics.
Other names mentioned:
Jeff McWaters: Apparently this Virginia Beach Senator has said he’s out, but with his ability to come up with cash for a campaign he can’t entirely be counted out.
Keith Fimian: He said he wouldn’t run, which is probably a wise choice for him given that he hasn’t ever been elected to office and lost his two tries to unseat Gerry Connolly amidst some pretty embarrassing campaigns.
Jaime Radtke: After spending a lot of her own money running for Senate in 2012, she’s probably figured out that her best path for future office leads through the General Assembly after a little time to recover from this last campaign. She’ll be back (hopefully) but somewhere she is more likely to get her first win.
Pete Snyder: After the debacle of the 2012 Romney campaign I don’t see Snyder having much of a narrative to run on, especially since he hasn’t been elected to any office before. A good guy, but without any compelling reason to offer for running. I don’t see him announcing. UPDATE: Snyder has announced he’s in.
Artur Davis: Being a Democrat turned Republican might work in the 11th Congressional District against Connolly during a mid-term election, but not state-wide at a Republican convention where conservative bona-fides are important. If he’s smart, he waits a couple years and takes on Connolly.
No one has more of an interest in who the nominee for Lt. Governor will be than Ken Cuccinelli, who has proven as adept at making things happen in Virginia as Stonewall Jackson was during his Valley Campaign. If Cuccinelli manages to put his hand on the balance as these candidates are being weighed at a convention, that will almost certainly determine the outcome. If he manages to do that quietly before the convention, I would not at all be surprised to see this field narrow considerably. He may decide not to do that at all.
I’m still going to watch very carefully which of these LG candidates spend the most time with Ken, though.
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