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Creigh Deeds was Better as a Moderate

After Jim Geraghty wrote about the Deeds campaign doubling down on the negative campaign – and being called out in the media for it – I really started to think about why Deeds seems to be flailing so much more now than he was in 2005. Sure, there are national trends to consider, but I’m not sure that’s it. The more I think about how I would be voting if I still lived in Virginia, the less convinced I am that it is playing a huge role.

Full disclosure, I voted for Creigh Deeds in 2005. So did most other voters since he only lost by about 325 votes in a statewide election with nearly 2 million voters. At that time, he not only had the NRA endorsement, but I knew he was willing to step up as a Democratic leader for sportsmen. He was running on his own record, one that a non-affiliated, Republican-leaning, little-l libertarian, could generally get behind. I realized that we may not agree on everything, but for the issues I cared about, he was slightly better than McDonnell at the time.

By the time the 2009 primary rolled around and he had run a little left. He didn’t run far left, mind you, but a little left. Deeds threw gun controllers a bone while McDonnell had strengthened his record – a feat hard to do in the position of Attorney General where you generally shy away from policy. Deeds can’t keep it straight when it comes to tax policy.

Needless to say, this kind of stuff turns independent/crossing-the-aisle voters off. On a few issues, he has gone just far enough to the left without going far, far left to make Bob McDonnell the preferred candidate. And now, rather than being within a polling range of ~325 votes, he’s falling far behind McDonnell for Round 2 of their match-up.

The NYT believes if Democratic voters would have chosen a more liberal Terry McAuliffethat he would stand a better shot against McDonnell. I would venture to say that if Creigh Deeds stayed true to himself, history shows that he might be better off for a more competitive race. Sure, there are other factors to consider like a general backlash against Democrats, but some of those factors were in play in 2005 against McDonnell. There’s also a money game. But I do have to consider that there are people like my mom and grandmother who were willing to back Deeds in the primary, hoping for the candidate of 2005 once the primary was over, but who are now voting McDonnell because of the slight swerve to the left by Deeds and all of the negative commercials.

6 Responses to “Creigh Deeds was Better as a Moderate”

  1. countertop says:

    Ironically, I think the worst thing going for Creigh Deeds is how over the top in the tank the Washington Post is for him. Its disgusting and pretty dishonest. I don’t know to what extent its being driven by Deeds (I’ve been told by some folks at the Post that much of the info is actually coming from the DNC – which is run by Tim Kaine, our current governor and chair of the DNC) and not really the Deeds campaign inner circle.

    The info they are releasing is classic hit job material – and while it actually solidifies much of the Pat Robertson driven concern I and others have over McDonnell – its largely irrelevant to the issues in the current race and is so old as to have little impact on how either politician feels right now. Rather – it just stinks of negativity while McDonnell has run a campaign focusing mostly on the positive.

    Still – I will be voting for Deeds. I voted for him in 2005 and plan to vote for him again – as much as the current governor disgusts me (not to mention the president) and even though McDonnell has gotten better on guns and Deeds worse.

    I really really really despise Pat Robertson (full disclosure, as a young associate attorney I had to do a fair bit of work for him – he was always charming and fine in person, but I don’t like his politics) and unfortunately to the complete detriment of the Virginian Republican Party no one has been able to advance in my time living in Virginia with out having strong connections to Robertson and his Virginia Beach/Newport News crew.

    Whats more – they are the people I single handedly blame for the fact I can take my son to a strip bar on sunday and look at titties but I can’t take him to go hunting.

    Now, all that said – I wish I had a better Republican to vote for (there wasn’t even a choice this year – Pat Robertson picks ’em and the rest just fade away) – but I’m stuck with what the choices I have. I have no illusion that McDonnell is going to win, and win big. And while it will upset me that Pat Robertson is going to use that victory to further cement the heavy hand he plays in Virginia politics (and perhaps squash the opposition to neysayers like myself) – I’ll be happy, thrilled even that Obama and Tim Kaine suffer a huge loss.

  2. It’s amazing to watch the difference between the Deeds of 2005 and the Deeds of 2009. It also goes to show that his strategy of laying back allowing Moran and McAuliffe to beat up each other may not have served the party well since he did not have to articulate a reason why he should be elected. He just picked up the pieces that were left after the bloodletting of what were considered the top two candidates.

    McDonnell on the other hand had a clear path to the nomination and spent the winter and spring months developing positions on issues like transportation and creating new jobs.

    Bitter is right, running for AG is a lot different that running for Governor. Down ticket races typically don’t get a lot of attention and it’s usually the guy who gets his name in front of enough people that win the Lt. Gov and AG race. Deeds’ performance shows more and more everyday that he was not ready for prime time.

  3. Wolfwood says:

    I wish I had a better Republican to vote for (there wasn’t even a choice this year – Pat Robertson picks ‘em and the rest just fade away)

    The Attorney General is always a presumptive candidate; it’s often the Democrat Lt. Governor vs. the Republican Attorney General. This year had the potential for a Bolling vs. McDonnell primary, but Bolling seems very happy being Lt. Gov. Who else could’ve run? Allen? Goode? Davis? Eric Cantor?

    In 2005, I had a tough time between Deeds and McDonnell. IIRC, I voted for McDonnell because of something I saw Deeds do that I thought was wrong, not because of policy differences. There’s no chance I’d vote for Deeds in 2009, though. Not only do I disagree with his new policies, but he’s gotten slimy.

  4. flashman says:

    Tim Kaine proved you CANNOT trust Democrats on guns. Deeds is showing he’s willing to move left to appease the DNC and financial backers (but I repeat myself.) McDonnell may not be conservative enough for my taste, but he supported our side in Heller and his election will send a message to our “conservative” Democrat Senator and maybe even my whackjob rep, Gerry Connelly.

  5. countertop says:

    Yep

    All is true – but Pat Robertson and the harm he’s caused to the Virginia Republican Party continues to annoy me so much I can’t vote for McDonnell.

    Wolfwood, there are a plethora of suitable Republican’s in the state who could have run. None was willing to challenge McDonnell for the nomination. One of the nice things about Ken Cuccinnelli is that he defeated the Pat Robertson candidate and will not be a Pat Robertson candidate when he runs for governor in 4 years.

    On the other issues, flashman, your fooling yourself if you think you can trust a Republican on any of these issues. For your Gerry Connell I hand you back his predecessor Tom Davis (he of the call to bring Bloomberg down to campaign in Virginia).

    On the other hand, the Democrats in Virginia have given us Jim Webb. Who I trust far more than Bob “One Handgun A Month: McDonnell.

  6. countertop says:

    and for what its worth – lest you think I’m a Democrat – I was a precinct captain and member in the Fairfax Republican Party for a good 10+ years and am pretty close to all the Republican leadership in Virginia.

    I’ve been campaigning for Ken but won’t for Mr. “Let Me Monitor Your Bedroom and Ensure You Limit Your Gun Purchases”

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