Column by Chris Graham
Does David Cox have what it takes to win in November?
Local Democrats will be asking themselves that question tonight as they assemble for a mass meeting in which they will be charged with the responsibility of nominating a candidate to run for the 24th District seat in the Virginia Senate.
And with the Republican side of the ticket very much up in the air right now – and candidates Emmett Hanger and Scott Sayre so much at each others’ throats that they can’t even say publicly that they will throw their support to the other should they win their party’s June 12 primary – the answer that 24th District Dems decide upon is crucial to their chances of being able to steal away a seat from the Republican side of the ledger.
We could call Cox the local Democratic Party race’s Hillary Clinton – in that his positives in terms of organization and demonstrated fund-raising capabilities are obvious from a look at his 2005 race for the 24th House District seat against Ben Cline, in which he was able to outraise and outspend the incumbent by a significant margin in a district that former House speaker Vance Wilkins designed for himself to be the safest of safe seats.
But just as obvious are his demonstrated negatives – chiefly among them that he comes across as being a moderate to liberal on social issues in a part of the state where even moderate conservatives have a hard time winning votes.
Perhaps that is the key reason that Cox was trounced at the polls in ’05 by Cline – by a 62.4 percent-to-37.5 percent margin.
A quick look at the local results showed Cox trailing behind the vote totals of Democratic Party gubernatorial nominee Tim Kaine by 5 to 10 percentage points across the board on Election Day in November 2005.
Time will tell if a Senate candidate Cox would be able to reach out to those voters who pulled the lever for Kaine but didn’t follow suit down the ticket.
Time will also tell if Hrovat, a political neophyte, has anything more to offer should he be nominated.
And of course there is the uncertainty on the GOP side of the ledger – and the expectation that whoever wins, Republicans could be divided enough as the spring turns to summer and then to fall to give Democrats a fighting chance come November.
It’s safe to say only that the next few weeks will be interesting politically here in the Central Shenandoah Valley – and the hands start getting played tonight.
(Originally published 05-29-07)