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Will infighting among Sixth District Republicans have an impact on November?

republicanSixth District Republicans are at odds with each other over how they’re going to nominate a candidate to run for Congress in November. Question of the day: will the discord have any impact on the GOP’s stranglehold on the Sixth District seat?


Technically, yes, the seat is an open seat, with the pending retirement of Bob Goodlatte, who has held the seat since 1993. But Goodlatte has not been seriously challenged since first winning the seat in the 1992 election, and in recent years has not seen a Democratic opponent break 37 percent.

Goodlatte isn’t giving the seat up like many of his Republican colleagues are, out of fear that he might lose. His retirement is a function of lack of interest in moving to the back bench after what promise to be disastrous midterms for the GOP, which will almost certainly lose its majorities in the House and Senate, to a point where the question isn’t whether they will lose, but how badly.

The Sixth, which stretches from Strasburg in the north to Roanoke in the south, and jumps over the Blue Ridge to include Lynchburg, is about as safe a Republican district as you can imagine.

The general rule in politics is that cities are Democratic, and the suburbs, exurbs and rural areas are Republican. That in mind, the Sixth is mostly suburbs, exurbs and rural areas.

Donald Trump got 59 percent of the vote in the Sixth District in 2016, his second-best showing statewide, in an election in which Trump lost Virginia by five points.

The R beside the name, in other words, is the important qualifier.

Which makes the back-and-forth among Republicans about how they’re going about the nomination process … interesting, but not determinative as far as impacting November is concerned.

The candidates not named Cynthia Dunbar seem to think the fix is in, for Dunbar, and are showing rare unity in taking a joint stand aimed at ensuring a fair process at the May 19 convention in Harrisonburg.

Whatever happens now, there are going to be hurt feelings. Should Dunbar prevail, for instance, those backing her rivals may think about taking their balls and going home, in essence, sitting out the general election both in terms of their votes and, perhaps more significantly, keeping their time and energy out of the equation.

Should another candidate emerge, well, there’s no guarantee that there still won’t be hurt feelings. We’re talking about politics here; there are always hurt feelings.

In the end, even if you do see a segment of party stalwarts and volunteers peel off, it’s not going to be enough to sway things in the direction of whoever ends up getting the Democratic Party nomination.

Democrats in the Sixth have almost no infrastructure, and none of the candidates for the party nod have demonstrated any ability to build something in terms of an ad hoc campaign apparatus that can be effective in a district that encompasses more than 150 miles of Interstate 81 from tip to tip.

So, no, the Republicans are divided, but it’s not going to matter come November.

Still, it’s fun to watch, in a rubbernecking a fender-bender on the way to work kind of way.

Column by Chris Graham

augusta free press
augusta free press