The list of possible candidates for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate in Virginia gets longer and longer.
While national Democrats are hoping ex-governor Tim Kaine will get in the race, fans of other contenders -- and in some cases, the contenders themselves -- are speaking up.
Rep. Gerry Connolly, who won a tight re-election race last fall, told Roll Call that it is “too early to rule anything in or anything out,” and said he would need to raise at least $25 million to run a credible race.
Virginia has two other Democratic congressmen -- Jim Moran and Bobby Scott -- but neither seems likely to run. But three who lost their seats in November -- Rick Boucher, Glenn Nye, and Tom Perriello -- are all said to be considering the race. State legislators David Englin, Donald McEachin, and Chap Petersen could run. Others mentioned include former lieutenant governor Don Beyer, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova, former gubernatorial hopeful Terry McAuliffe, and two 2009 candidates for lieutenant governor: Michael Signer and nominee Jody Wagner.
The wide-open field and the lack of a single big draw will make it easier for Republicans to retake the seat, even though they face their own primary.
Gov. Bob McDonnell said at a Thursday news conference that Sen. Jim Webb’s retirement works to the GOP’s advantage.
“When you’re not running against an incumbent, I think it generally gives you a better shot,” McDonnell said. “It’s not only a competitive state, but it’s back to being a right of center state.”
The Washington Examiner reports Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart, who was already a likely candidate, says Webb’s retirement “makes it a much more winnable race for a Republican candidate -- and that he’s now more likely to throw his hat into the ring.” But for now, Stewart says he is focused on his re-election race this year.
Elsewhere in the DMV:
* The Examiner’s Freeman Klopott saysMayor Vincent Gray “appears to have lost control of two pressing stories in the media.” First, Gray and interim schools chief Kaya Henderson have yet to say whether they will appeal an arbiter’s ruling that requires the District to hire back 75 teachers fired by Michelle Rhee. They “lost control of the story, when Rhee announced that they would.” Second, Attorney General Irv Nathan “dove into a bunker” after reports that he “as been dropping drunken driving cases for the past two weeks.”
Klopott warns that while Gray “has been described as a process-oriented leader,” in order to keep up with “today’s fast-paced media,” he may need “to be a bit more proactive or risk having the story of his administration told for him rather than by him.” And if that’s not enough, the Washington Post’s Mike DeBonis says that while Gray “admits the city has big problems: a chronically high unemployment rate, an education system that’s still a long way from leaving no child behind and a massive budget deficit,” in the “first 40 days of his administration, it’s hard to point to what Gray has done to address any of them, aside from acknowledging their existence.”
* Veteran Ward 8 political activist Phillip Pannell says Gray needs to bring more people from east of the Anacostia into his administration. Pannell told the Washington Informer, “There are some Democrats that think he does not want them in his administration despite the fact that he has close friends in the ward. Cabinet positions and executive staff are highly visible positions and some people think that there is the perception that there are no qualified people to serve in the upper echelons of government.”
* The Washington Times previews the At-Large D.C. Council special election set for April 26, saying “Gray will get an early test of his political capital” in the contest, in which he has endorsed interim Councilmember Sekou Biddle. Republican Pat Mara “could benefit from being the lone Republican in a multi-candidate field, with Democrats fighting among themselves for votes.” Mara told the Times, “This isn’t an election about Democrats versus Republicans. It’s about face-to-face meetings with all voters and getting them to the polls.”
Oddly, the Times talked to just two of the dozen Democrats in the race, Joshua Lopez and Jacque Patterson, while spending a lot of time on former mayoral candidate Leo Alexander, who isn’t running. Alexander told the Times, “Democrats aren’t the only voters sensing a power play by the black political establishment. … I’m not voting for any black political candidate the establishment has endorsed, because their motives are strictly about power.”
* The Post’s DeBonis says a “racially charged” mailer “that helped take down Mayor Adrian Fenty” won a “prestigious Reed Award from Campaigns & Elections magazine” this week. The mailer, which capitalized on “perceptions among black voters that Fenty wasn’t serving their interests,” was “largely funded by megadeveloper R. Donahue Peebles,” who considered running against Fenty before Gray got in the race.
* Gavin Holland received the most votes for an active candidate in his advisory neighborhood commissioner race last fall -- he got four of them -- but he lost to no one. His friend and neighbor Kat Skiles was the only candidate on the ANC 1A11 ballot, but though she had officially withdrawn by Election Day, she received 253 votes. There were 23 scattered write-ins, with Holland receiving more than anyone else. The D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics declared Holland the winner in error, since under D.C. law, if a top vote-getter has withdrawn, the seat remains vacant.
Now, Holland is running in the special election to fill the seat he believes he won. But this time, he faces Dotti Love Wade, a former State Board of Education member and ANC 1A chair. In a statement, Holland said, “My opponent is a career politician who embodies the ‘old way’ of D.C. politics and has produced scant results in her time in office.” The vote will be held on Feb. 28.
* The Post reports the Virginia Senate “has embedded an item in the two-year state budget approved Thursday that would require the attorney general to adopt a new time-management system to track how his staff members are spending their time.” It is “one of a series of efforts that the Democratic-led chamber is undertaking to try to curb the power of controversial Republican Attorney Gen. Ken Cuccinelli.”
The Examiner says the Senate budget also “increases spending on K-12 by about $100 million” and “restores about $105 million for Medicaid providers and servicers,” while the budget passed by the Republican-led House of Delegates is tighter. The differences will be hashed out in the weeks to come.
Follow P.J. Orvetti on Twitter at @PJOinDC