Lust, Power, and Politics

June 8th Primary Day - breaking down the finance reports.

Moderna Round Two has won the short week. Back to full strength Monday.

Good luck to everyone who entered the nomination arena this year.

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Folks back in my district used to ask me, “What is politics really like?”

I would answer dryly, “It’s like high school trending towards middle school.”

They would laugh then reply, “No, seriously. What’s it like?”

“No. Seriously. It’s like high school.”

Yesterday, rather than push my luck with Moderna II, I went over and through the most recent campaign finance reports and then knocked out half of John Boehner’s new book On the House - A Washington Memoir. Recommend the book. Good, quick read. Fun and informative.

As I reflected on the nature of power and politics, an absolutely hilarious scene from the 1985 movie Heaven Help Us popped in my head. Heaven Help Us is about a Brooklyn private Catholic boys school set in the mid 1960s. The movie was described by one of its stars, Andrew McCarthy, as:

a very lovely movie that twelve people saw

and

my favorite and/or the best movie I did in that whole era of those movies.

The scene that popped up is when the short, lisping priest Father Abruzzi, played brilliantly by Wallace Shawn, warns the girls of the Virgin Margaret School and the boys of St. Basil’s about the dangers of lust prior to the beginning of their dance mixer.

As you know, these dances are designed to for you to learn to interact with each other in a way befitting young men and women of a strong moral fiber.

Father Abruzzi then goes on a marvelous screed about the inherent dangers of said “interaction with each other.”

Never confuse love with the deadliesst of the seven deadly sinss - lussst. There is a beasst living within each and every one of you. A filthy beasst whose name is Lusst!

The beassst that wants to casst your soul to the eternal firesss of hell! Where for all of eternity your flesh will be ripped from your body by grotessque sserpentss with razor ssharp teeth and for all eternity your blood will boil and your boness will burn and your marrow will be reduced to a putrid black SSSLIME!

And for what? For a few minutes of weakness that led you to admire the sshape of someone’ss buttockss.

Any questionss? Very well then. Have a nice time and enjoy the dance.

The hilarious fire and brimstone speech, of course, failed miserably.

The whole scene is almost exactly how we treat our elected officials.

First we believe that our current crop of elected officials are unredeemable sinners and that we need better people to run for office. But where oh where will they come from? Who will save us from the people for whom we voted to represent us? Oh me, oh my! What ever are we to do!

<Enter young idealist>

<A hand is raised>

Yes! Will you run? Will you save us from our previous voting mistakes? (without an acknowledgment of just how long their unbroken streak actually is - Hint - it’s longer than Virginia Tech’s futile attempts to win a national team championship in a sport not called Bass Fishing)

Holy Guacamole, Batman! That long??!!

We go out of our way to encourage good people to run. Editorials are written. Lamentations follow.

Then the idealists start to think about it but raise the fact that they have to raise the funds to raise our hopes of winning to a mere possibility. Then it’s on to probabilities and polling. Damn the polls! Send out the fundraising emails with zero basis in fact! NOW DAMN IT.

Yes, the possibility of making things better. More perfect should our union be. To dream the impossible dream.

Oh don’t worry…”we’ll help you”, says the crowd.

But just as soon as you raise money? The crowd lowers the BOOM of judgment.

“J’accuse! J’accuse!” It starts out.

Then the plural form appears, "Nous accusons!”

HOW DARE YOU take money from this person or that group or this business or that PAC! Clearly you are corrupt. You have seen the devil - buttocks disguised as its lusty twin greed! Too late. Eternal damnation awaits. Your marrow starts down the path of putrid slime.

Maybe if we encourage wealthy/successful people to run who can fund their own campaigns so that they won’t be sullied by the corrupting nature of raising money.

Then we decry those who actually spend their own money trying to win political campaigns - but only if they are in the other party. Bloomberg good. Youngkin bad. Polis good. Pritzker bad. Scott good. Trump bad.

All of these accusations then require even more money to defend. Rinse and repeat ask shampoo manufacturers. Why? It’s a volume business.

Talk about a set up job.

With that back drop, let’s move to the Democratic and Republican nominations that will be settled this coming Tuesday. Thanks again to VPAP for providing all of us Election Nerds nerdling here in Election Nerd Disneyland for the magnificent campaign finance data. Nerds all praise you!

Democrats

So far, 83,000+ early ballots have come in the Democratic primary and it’s always hard to gauge who’s leading at this point or how many votes will be cast by Tuesday. 39,000 voted in person early and 44,000 have voted by mail with 46,000 Absentee Ballots still out there. The early voting dynamic changes a lot strategic planning and tactical executions for Virginia campaigns. Total turnout will be an important metric for nerdling out the fall turnout models.

Governor - Terry McAuliffe is in excellent position to win the his party’s nomination - again. He has $3.2MM Cash On Hand (COH) and spent almost twice as much as the rest of the field in the last period. Jennifer Carroll Foy, if money determines these outcomes, should finish second over Jennifer McClellan. But I am not placing any bets there. Some suggest that McClellan needs to finish second in order to be in position to run again in 2025. Hogwash. She would be able to easily take much of the lane currently occupied by former Governor McAuliffe. Especially since that ‘25 field will be more crowded than this one is.

Lt. Governor - If Hala Ayala is the choice of the Democratic establishment, it didn’t show up in her fundraising reports. All of those big endorsements might have come too late in the cycle. Sam Rasoul keeps putting up big numbers and got an absolute political gift during last week’s debate when he was asked about his religion and sources of money. Rasoul handled that well, but it would have been political malpractice not to do so. One has to mention the amount of money Mark Levine has loaned his campaign - it’s a lot, but probably won’t be enough. Andria McClellan and Sean Perryman have put up spirited campaigns and in a world of You Never Know, either could pull an upset. It’s just not likely at this point. No one had a breakout performance during the debate and several came off poorly owing to really bad camera angles. With his post debate wrap up, better fundraising, and Washington Post endorsement, Sam Rasoul looks the strongest down the stretch.

Attorney General - This Upset Alert Special might have peaked. Incumbent Mark Herring is well ahead of Jay Jones in every fundraising category and looks to be headed for his third Democratic nomination in a row. Again, not counting before the hatch - but if you follow the fundraising numbers, Herring should win comfortably and the WAPO endorsement might have sealed the deal.

House Democrats.

Oy.

There are a LOT of primaries going on here. Some of the Democratic donors have broken the code that if you want to have more influence in politics, you have to play in primaries.

The amount of Democratic incumbents being primaried is astonishing and that will have a longer term impact in that incumbents probably will be much less likely to stray from the increasingly leftward march of the progressive flank. Then again, if it looks like you are going to get primaried anyway, you might as well vote how you want and campaign more towards the middle depending upon your district.

Always hard to know how these things are going but…

Bold Indicates not competitive in fall. Italics competitive.

HD 2 - Pamela Montgomery has out raised incumbent Candi King, but King has more donors along with support from the House Democratic Caucus. This will be close, but given the amount of resources Montgomery has received one has to think she has the edge.

HD 31 - Elizabeth Guzman dropped out of the LG race to try to hold her seat. She has put up solid numbers here over challenger Rod Hall and should win with a plurality, but not majority of the vote in this five way race. Had the choice been binary, then Hall would have had a better chance. It would be remarkable if Hall wins here in a five way against an incumbent.

HD 34 - Kathleen Murphy doesn't seem to be in too much trouble as she has 222k COH. If she were in trouble that number would be much lower.

HD 36 - Ken Plum’s report clearly shows his strong position to win the nomination.

HD 38 - Kaye Kory could have a real race on her hands, but outspent her opponent 2 to 1 last period. Kory should win, but an upset would not surprise.

HD 45 - Mark Levine stayed in the LG race and the House race hoping to catch both rabbits. Rumors are that he’s in real trouble of not catching either rabbit and that Elizabeth Bennett-Parker might pull off the upset.

HD 49 - Alfonso Lopez has out raised and out spent his socialist challenger Karishma Mehta, but her strong showing in number of donors under $100 gives one pause in handicapping this finish. Lopez had one of the more interesting reports of the period.

HD 50 - Lee Carter, like Mark Levine, might also come up empty in his pursuit of the Confucian rabbits. Michelle Maldonado could pull the upset here. She has better but not great numbers.

HD 66 - Katie Sponsler has the much better financial report that Linnard Harris for the seat of retiring Delegate Kirk Cox. She probably wins, but low turnout advantages Harris.

HD 68 - Dawn Adams looks like she had a poll conducted by the House Democratic Caucus in late May and has $215k COH. If you poll that late, something is up. Challenger Kyle Elliott is a strong, polished candidate who had solid numbers this report. Don’t be surprised at all if this nomination goes to Elliott.

HD 71 - Jeff Bourne should win easily

HD 74 - Lamont Bagby will win and has a good amount of COH to help his colleagues in the fall.

HD 79 - Steve Heretick also had a poll done in late May by the Caucus and has a well funded challenger in Nadarius Clark who raised over 500k this report. All signs point to a Clark upset win over Heretick.

HD 84 - This is a pretty competitive nomination between Kim Melnyk and Tracie Liguid. Winner goes up against Glenn Davis. Melnyk’s numbers are better and she should win. But…

HD 86 - Ibraheem Samirah is in real trouble here vs challenger Irene Shin. Shin has out raised and out endorsed the incumbent Samirah. My money is on Shin.

HD 79 - Jay Jones will win here and if he comes up short against Herring for AG will be in a very strong position for the AG nomination in 2025.

HD 99 - Linwood Blizzard looks to be in command of this nomination given the finance numbers. Margaret Ransone is the Republican incumbent.

Republican Nominations

HD 9 - Charles Poindexter comes from the more populous Franklin County part of the district and will likely win. Rural legislators are usually well known and well liked by their communities which don’t like negative campaigning. Wren Williams has put up an energetic campaign but comes from the less populous area of the 9th. Advantage Poindexter.

HD 22 - Kathy Byron has out raised and out spent her opponent by 10 and 9 to 1. She looks to be in strong position here.

HD 24 - Ronnie Campbell and his challenger spent a total of $476 in the last period. At least the race made Campbell raise money to help his caucus mates.

HD 51 - Jeff Dove leads fundraising over Tim Cox but neither is setting the race on fire. Dove’s stronger report indicates a lead.

HD 68 - Mark Earley, Jr. has a strong lead over Mike Dickinson but is well behind the Democrats in the money race. This is the seat once held by Manoli Loupassi. Might be more competitive in ‘22 after redistricting. Then again…maybe not.

HD 72 - For a relatively competitive seat, this nomination sure is quiet. Christopher Holmes looks like he has gotten a little money from Middle Resolution PAC folks while his opponent Tom Gardner has spent less than 2k on the race. Holmes likely wins and adds more diversity to the GOP brand.

HD 82 - This looks to be a mass meeting election Saturday in Virginia Beach. The race to replace Jason Miyares is leaning towards Anne Ferrell Tata over Kathy Owens. Tata has a 3 to 1 raised and spend lead as well as a 4 to 1 COH advantage. Former Congressman Scott Taylor endorsed Owens and is helping here. Competitive district that leans Republican.

HD 83 - Chris Stolle wants a rematch with incumbent Nancy Guy and had a stronger fundraising report than his primary opponents Tim Anderson and Phil Kazmierczak. In a three way, logic would have Stolle winning over a divided opposition along with the strong Stolle political operation at the Beach.

Any questions? Very well then. Have a nice time and enjoy the dance.