has a surplus.
surplus, that is, of former high-level politicians
who might be contemplating a return to the center
of Virginia politics as governor, perhaps as soon
Allen, former Governor and former U.S. Senator and
former Gov., is
sounding out potential campaign staffers for a
potential gubernatorial run, according to Richmond
Times-Dispatch columnist Cordel Faulk. Also, Faulk
believes, former Gov. Mark R. Warner might be looking more
closely at a return to the executive mansion,
which he described as the “coolest job he’s ever
had.” And don't count out former Gov. Jim
either of these past heavyweights decided to
become candidates in 2009, it would generate good copy. It would also scramble what already
seems to be a fairly settled 2009 field, with
Creigh Deeds and Brian Moran running on the
Democratic side, and Bill Bolling and Bob
McDonnell for the Republicans.
new stories for such a match-up practically write
themselves. And God help the forests of North America if Jim
Gilmore, who dropped out of the race for the U.S.
presidency over the weekend, throws his hat into the ring, too.
But would any of these retro-candidacies be good
for Virginia? Probably not. As Faulk noted
in his op-ed, the only previous Virginia governor
to serve a second term, Mills Godwin, had a
lackluster second term in office, particularly
compared to his first. And in the case of
both Allen and Warner, the reasons for running
again are less than compelling – redemption for
Allen, coolness for Warner.
Those are very thin reeds upon which to build
a successful candidacy – or even a worthy
Warner would arguably have the easier time of
claiming his party’s nomination. He left
office on a high note (thanks in no small part to
the Republicans in the General Assembly). And he
could, no doubt, cobble together a vague,
feel-good platform that would energize the still
rapturous faithful enough to make him a the
favorite in the general election.
For Allen, however, the story is entirely
different. His Senate defeat was close, to
be sure. It was also stunningly inept, to the
point where it makes the Mary Sue Terry campaign
of 1993 look positively Reaganesque.
But recent Allen forays into local legislative
races have soured many conservatives on him.
He, along with his protégé, Jerry Kilgore,
supported incumbents facing primaries against more
conservative challengers. In the
Senate race pitting Senate Majority Leader Walter
Stosch against Henrico attorney Joe Blackburn,
Allen lauded Stosch as a leading exponent of
Jeffersonian conservative values.
Given Stosch’s tax-phillia in the last few
years, one can only assume Allen was comparing
Stosch to George (not Thomas) Jefferson.
may have made sense for Allen to endorse
those incumbents who most likely would return the
endorsement favor for him if he decides to run in
2009. That’s politics. But in doing so, Allen alienated
conservatives. And if conservatives are known for
anything, it’s their preternatural ability to
hold grudges for even the smallest of slights. When when the slights are big and public, those
grudges usually turn to enduring anger.
While a second run for the governor’s mansion
might make George Allen, Mark Warner or even
Jim Gilmore feel validated, and while the press
would dearly love to have such candidacies to
write about every day, the pay-off for Virginians
we want to keep Virginia “moving forward,”
the best way to do that is not through re-runs,
but through fresh faces and new ideas.
another famous Virginian, George Mason,
once said, “Nothing so strongly impels a man to
regard the interests of his constituents as the
certainty of returning to the general mass of the
people, from whence he was taken, where he must
participate their burdens.”
Warner and Allen have returned to private station
(promoted to it, as Benjamin Franklin observed).
Let’s keep them on our side of the political
fence to share our burdens… and leave the
politicking to others.
July 16, 2007