Winners and Losers column by Chris Graham
Give ’em credit – it’s due, finally.
Democrats have not fielded a candidate for the Sixth District seat in the United States Congress since 1998 – yes, a decade ago. But now they have two in Sam Rasoul and Drew Richardson, and though neither is exactly a shoo-in to beat Republican incumbent Bob Goodlatte, well, you have to be in the race to be able to win.
The last time the Dems ran somebody against Goodlatte, back in ’98, at the height of the Whitewater-Lewinsky era of divisiveness in Washington, they had a person who seemed to be poised to pose a strong challenge to the congressman in Roanoke mayor David Bowers, who as the mayor of the biggest city in the district was thought to be someone who could actually unseat Goodlatte at the outset.
So that the party shied away after Goodlatte beat back Bowers with 70 percent of the vote, nah, that wasn’t all that much a surprise.
But then Goodlatte’s two independent opponents in 2006 picked up an equally surprising 25 percent of the vote barely lifting a finger between them – which left me wondering, if no one else, what would have happened that November had the Democrats run a serious candidate.
And now we have to wonder some more …
Can a Democrat do it in ’08 – with a national race at the top of the ticket that will feature a GOP candidate in John McCain who won’t exactly stir up the conservative masses in the Valley, and a Senate race featuring Dem Mark Warner, who has historically had a lot of support in the Valley and the Roanoke and Lynchburg areas?
We’ll have to wait and see on that one – which for Dems up and down the Blue Ridge is good news.
Chris Graham is the executive editor of The Augusta Free Press.