| From Tim Craig:
The first battle of the 2009 general election campaign for governor will take place next week when voters in Fairfax County go to the polls to elect a new board chairman.
Emboldened by the near victory of a GOP House candidate in heavily Democratic Alexandria earlier this month, Virginia Republicans are hoping Fairfax Supervisor Pat Herrity (R-Springfield) can defeat his Democratic opponent, Supervisor Sharon S. Bulova (Braddock), in the chairman's race.
In effort to lay the groundwork for his own campaign this fall, Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell (R) has dispatched paid canvassers and volunteers to help Herrity. By the end of the weekend, McDonnell's staff estimates they will have knocked on more than 15,000 doors. McDonnell plans to campaign with Herrity on Monday.
Not to be outdone, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe is turning his Mclean headquarters into a daily phone banking center in support of Bulova. While much of the work will be done by volunteers, McAuliffe plans to man the phones on Saturday.
Dems Brian Moran and Creigh Deeds are also offering their assistance to Bulova. In a way, it may be Moran who has the most to prove. The Alexandria race Craig refers to in the second graf was actually a special election to fill Moran's own seat in the House of Delegates (he resigned to campaign full time). As Craig explained in an earlier post, the Dems' 16-vote narrow escape was a real embarrassment given that the district had voted 75% for Obama.
The Fairfax chairman post, meanwhile, was held by Gerry Connolly, who of course just entered the U.S. House of Representatives. Connolly has started asserting himself early as a member of Congress, whipping freshmen to support Henry Waxman's ouster of John Dingell as chair of the Energy & Commerce committee, so this race probably means a good deal to him as well.
If the Dem wins, I expect we'll see all kinds of competing claims over who deserves credit. Of course, the GOP will just say that the Dems should have won, and they'd be right - Fairfax went 60-39 for Obama. On the other hand, a loss or even a close call will lead to predictable recriminations and give Virginia Republicans a dose of momentum they certainly don't deserve. Regardless of who wins our gubernatorial primary, that's something the Dems can't afford.