As “Bloom County”’s Opus once lamented, “Who put Election Day so close to Halloween?” Between last night’s festivities and the costume-rich rally on the Mall Saturday, the local media was full of funny pictures this weekend, but has less to say about tomorrow’s elections. We’re into the calm before the storm.
So what will happen tomorrow? A week and a half ago, I continued my old tradition of guessing the results. I said the Republicans will gain eight seats in the Senate, to finish short of a majority, but net 53 in the House to take control. (You can see the full breakdown here.)
In the DMV region, incumbents should have an easy go. While I have a feeling Republican Keith Fimian will eke out a win in Virginia’s 11th District, folks like Barbara Mikulski and Jim Moran shouldn’t be too worried.
In D.C., Vincent Gray will finally be elected for real, and all the Council incumbents can be expected to win, despite very strong Republican challenges in Wards 1, 3, and 5.
Elsewhere in the DMV:
* Martin O’Malley, who should win a second term in Maryland tomorrow, got a strong endorsement from the Baltimore Sun over the weekend, though the state’s leading paper said both O’Malley and Bob Ehrlich have “the proven stature and experience to serve as the state’s chief executive” and that “a strong case can be made for either one.” The Salisbury Daily Times backs Ehrlich, saying he would be better at creating jobs. The conservative Washington Times unsurprisingly endorses Ehrlich, saying O’Malley is trying to “flamboozle” and “swindle” voters into thinking Ehrlich would raise taxes.
The Washington Post says O’Malley campaigned “at a breakneck speed through the weekend, making 20 stops and launching a series of final television ads.” But the Gazette says Ehrlich remains confident, predicting wins everywhere but Montgomery and Prince George’s counties and Baltimore City, with margins large enough to win the election. That would mean Ehrlich would have to rack up a lot of Democratic votes. Maryland Politics Watch takes a look at how realistic that is, while the Post says the state’s huge Democratic advantage will make it a challenge.
* Fimian’s 11th District race against freshman Democrat Gerry Connolly is the most competitive race in northern Virginia tomorrow, and it’s going down to the wire. It’s likely to follow national trends -- big GOP gains across the board would help Fimian, but if Democratic losses are fewer than expected, Connolly could squeak by. The Washington Examiner says the district “looked liked secure Democratic turf in the face of a national Republican onslaught” just a couple of months ago, but now Connolly “faces the very real possibility of being ousted.”
A late misstep could hurt Fimian, though. He has faced criticism since saying that the Virginia Tech massacre might have been ended quickly if a student was “packing heat.” After apologizing for the comment, WAMU reports, Fimian was confronted by Peter Reid, whose daughter was murdered during the 2007 rampage. Reid asked Fimian to pledge to support a bill to force background checks at gun shows, but Fimian remained noncommittal.
* In the District, Gray’s victory tomorrow is assured, but it’s fun to speculate about just how many write-in votes Adrian Fenty will receive. The Post’s Tim Craig says the Write Fenty In die-hards “have little chance of stopping” Gray, but they are working hard, and movement leader Josh Lopez says an upset win is not impossible. Others are less enthusiastic. Tony Bullock, who worked on Mayor Tony Williams’s 2002 write-in primary campaign, said of the Fenty push, “I would be somewhat astonished if the write-in campaign yields more than 1,000 votes.” But the Gray campaign is taking nothing for granted, running ads and doing robocalls just in case.
Gray supporter Peter Rosenstein writes in the Washington Blade that those “who think they are making a statement” by writing in Fenty may actually be hurting their man by “turning him into a two-time loser and that can’t be good for his future. Whether Fenty gets 1,000, 2,000, or 20,000 votes as a write-in candidate is irrelevant since he won’t beat Vincent Gray.” My guess is that write-ins could reach 20 percent of the overall vote -- but that would still mean a landslide for Gray. On her website, Jonetta Rose Barras says “write-in organizers still could claim victory” if Gray is “denied the political mandate he wants.”
D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics chief Rokey Suleman told the Post that the precise number of Fenty votes may never be known. The Board announces the overall number of write-in votes, but only tallies them individually if there are enough to possibly make a difference -- which is why they were counted in the Statehood Green mayoral primary, for example, but not others.
So if not Fenty, who will get write-in votes? The GW Hatchet reports Petworth resident Ryan Hutcherson, who worked on the 2008 Obama campaign but who says he is an independent, is running a low-profile write-in campaign to become D.C.’s first gay mayor. Hutcherson said, “The District needs a young leader who is in touch with young people’s issues, who speaks candidly and someone who is open to talking about clarity.”
* In the Examiner, Barras praises At-Large Councilmember David Catania, an independent who should win easily tomorrow.
* The Post has a story on the surprisingly competitive races for unpaid Advisory Neighborhood Commission seats across D.C. Borderstan writes about why ANC races matter, while Greater Greater Washington has made endorsements in ANC races across the city.
* Ward 5 Republican candidate Tim Day has been enjoying a surge of support since incumbent Harry Thomas Jr.’s nonprofit group Team Thomas started coming under fire. On Friday, Day slammed Thomas for his “refusal to comply” with a subpoena from D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles. Day said, “It is no longer possible to give Harry Thomas the benefit of the doubt. I had hoped that we would be able to put this perceived misunderstanding behind us and get on with giving the residents of Ward 5 an honest election, based on issues that affect their everyday lives.”
But Ward 5 ANC member Gigi Ransom isn’t having it. She says Thomas “has a right to due process” and that Day is pushing the issue for political reasons. She says in D.C. Watch’s TheMail, “Tim Day and I are both elected commissioners on ANC 5C, and I know Tim’s character, skills, and demeanor up close and personal. I can say without hesitation that Tim Day is not the one for this position.”
* The Georgetown Dish opposes electing D.C.’s attorney general.
* Fenty sighting! Actually, it’s ex-D.C. Youth Mayor Markus Batchelor in Halloween garb.
Follow P.J. Orvetti on Twitter at @PJOinDC