Wednesday, March 18, 2009

More Reaction on Gerry Connolly's St. Patrick's Day Party

There has been a lot of discussion about the straw poll results from Gerry Connolly's straw poll last night, the results of which I posted as soon as I got home from the event. As I mentioned last night, I tend to think the big news of the night was the fact that Mike Signer had a very strong showing in the Lt. Governor straw poll. His showing was the result of a growing grassroots campaign that focuses on the issues and has gotten a lot of people excited about his campaign -- including his staff who I spoke to and appear to be very passionate about getting Mike elected. Although he didn't come out on top like Webb did in 2006, I think these results were similar to that year's straw poll because they illustrate how a well qualified grassroots candidate has the potential to compete with the establishment's candidate.

Another big winner was Rep. Gerry Connolly because this once again proved to be a big event and attracted over 1,000 people to Fairfax, VA from all over the Commonwealth. As I was chatting with some of his staff members towards the end of the event, there was a steady stream of people who were coming up to shake hands and have their photos taken with Gerry. These weren't just photo ops, however, as I saw many people from various groups and walks of life talking with Gerry about the various issues people believed were important. In other words, he was taking the time to listen to everyone who had something to say and not just the top dollar donors.

While I believe Mike Signer and Gerry Connolly were the big winners of the night, most of the conversation has been focused on the straw poll results in the gubernatorial race. In actuality, most of the discussion in the blogosphere (from people who support all three of the candidates and those who are neutral) has been about how it turns out that Terry McAuliffe had his donors buy 400 tickets so that he could give them away for free to people so that he'd have a strong showing in the straw poll. The Washington Post's Amy Gardner even weighed in on the subject by writing the following:
If nothing else, the vote sprinkled a healthy pinch of fish food into Virginia's political aquarium. McAuliffe outshined his rivals in both organization and spirit at the event, arranging for donors to purchase 400 tickets for his guests, staffing the party with 60 paid campaign workers and prompting the loudest cheers when he spoke to the crowd.

Guests supporting the other candidates grumbled that McAuliffe's campaign had bought the straw poll; they also noted the number of Maryland and District license plates in the banquet hall's overflowing parking lot.
Whether or not Terry having his big time donors buy up the tickets violates the spirit behind a straw poll, I think the sad thing is that it offended enough people that the discussion has turned from the actual issues that attendees of the event and the candidates were talking about last night -- something that would be much more valuable to the candidates, the Democratic Party, and Virginians in general. I heard others express the same thing after Terry when people complained about Terry's campaign busing people into the JJ Dinner and putting over the top decorations on the streets in Richmond.

What I'd like to see come from all of the candidates is detailed plans for what they're going to do if they're elected governor. As I have covered the events on this site before, I've seen it first hand how Brian Moran has been doing that and talking about how he's going to address issues such as home foreclosures, health care in Virginia, energy, etc (I hear a detailed plan on education is on the way). I'd like to see the discussion in the blogosphere focus on these issues as this will help to strengthen our party and make sure that the candidate with the best ideas gets through the primary. With that in mind, what do you check out the speeches of the candidates from last night so that you can get a flavor of what they were discussing instead of just paying attention the results of a straw poll (Here's Creigh Deeds, here's Terry McAuliffe, and here's Brian Moran).


  1. This is such BS. You just don't want to talk about Terry having the funds to actually buy the tickets. Hide all you want behind the issues but Moran is a joke and is going to get slaughtered in June.

    You have no credibility since you support him and his piece of crap campaign.

  2. Apparently I have enough credibility that you feel the name to leave an anonymous comment here trying to discredit what I wrote.

    I also don't see what's wrong with wanting discussion to focus on the issues, so perhaps you can let me know why you'd rather have people sling attacks at each other instead of working on coming up with productive legislation.

  3. You nailed it Bryan. It is all about the isssues.

    Lost in the acrimonious aspersions is the reality that many of the candidates' camps and staffers apparently bought tickets to the event. Terry wasn't the only one. Amy should have done a bit more research and reported accordingly.

    Bottom line, you have to get people to the polls; Terry got more people who believe in him to the Connolly straw poll.