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Signer looking ahead to political future


I caught up yesterday with Mike Signer, and realize even more now what I like about the guy who I endorsed in his unsuccessful bid to become the Democratic Party lieutenant-governor nominee.
“I’m just calling to say thanks for all of your hard work, and to get your input on what you think I ought to be doing next,” said Signer, who told me that he’s planning to get involved with the Creigh Deeds gubernatorial effort this fall as one way of staying busy, but as for his next step, well …

It sounded to me that he’s had some people putting a bug in his ear about running for State Senate, which would definitely be one way he could tap into the energy that he had behind his effort in what became a two-way race with eventual nominee Jody Wagner, who ended up winning the nomination pretty easily, picking up more than 70 percent of the vote on her way to the general election.

But Signer’s 20 percent-plus showing shouldn’t be easily dismissed, considering the 37-year-old was making his first run at public office against a candidate that had been the odds-on favorite even before she formally entered the race for the nomination last year.

I look at what Signer was able to accomplish this spring on a shoestring budget and think that he could be the early favorite for the LG nomination heading into 2013 were he interested in building toward another run at the #2 job in state government. I say that assuming that Wagner either wins the general election and thus enters ’13 as the presumptive frontrunner for the Democratic nomination to run for governor or she loses and then Republican Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling makes his run for governor and leaves the open seat behind for the taking.

I can see Staunton Republican Del. Chris Saxman in the mix for the GOP nomination in ’13, of course assuming he’s able to fend off the challenge of Democrat Erik Curren in the 20th House District this fall. Mount Solon Republican Sen. Emmett Hanger would have to be a player in the LG sweepstakes as well.

On the Democratic side, maybe we see Chap Petersen rising to the fore, assuming that he’s not making a run for the gubernatorial nomination. I’m not sure who else would be on the bench looking for some PT at this far-out stage.

I shared this insight, such as it is, with Signer, and told him that I hoped he’d keep the door open to making another run even with the sting of the defeat in the primary still resonating. And from what I heard back from him, his head is definitely there, with ideas toward leading efforts in the areas of party-building on the one hand and policy discussions on issues that he advocated for during his campaign in the realms of voting rights and nonpartisan redistricting on the others coming up in our conversation.

The very fact that we were talking was another indication as to where his head is.

It’s little things like talking up the people who stuck their neck out on your behalf and thanking them for their time and trouble and inviting their advice for the future that builds the political coalitions of tomorrow.

It also happens that these same skills are those that make for the most effective leaders.

We’re going to see more out of this Mike Signer guy, no doubt about it.


– Column by Chris Graham



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