After months of speculation and rumors about Pat Herrity considering a Congressional bid, he announced this morning that he would be seeking the Republican nomination in the 11th District. Now the timing of this announcement is very interesting because it comes the day after a special election in which the Republican candidate was expected to win. When you consider that this would have been another victory for Republicans during a slew of elections that they have performed well in, it’s very easy to see how Herrity was probably hoping to take advantage of the momentum Republican would have likely gained if Steve Hunt had won. This is especially the case when you factor in Herrity leading a telephone town hall for Steve Hunt just a few days ago and that the 37th Senate District is in the heart of Herrity’s base of support.
The fact that Herrity wasn’t able to help push his fellow Republican to victory can therefore only be seen as a huge blow to his candidacy. This can’t escape the attention of the Republican base who have to wonder about Herrity’s ability to win now as he’s heading into his third campaign in three years (it’s worth noting that each time was for a different office too). What compounds the situation is that Herrity lost another low turnout special election in 2009 during a time when Republicans were doing extremely well and gaining a lot of momentum. If he couldn’t take advantage of very favorable conditions in the special election for Chairman of the Board of Supervisors, people have to wonder about how he’ll do in a federal campaign.
The blow to his campaign that was delivered by a Marsden victory last night and his history of not being able to take advantage of favorable conditions are not experiences Herrity wanted to take with him into a primary battle that is likely going to get extremely bloody. Keith Fimian has already become the darling of the tea party in hopes of having their support in the primary, but Herrity’s actions on the Board of Supervisors recently has also made it clear that he is going to be engaging Fimian in a race to the right. In fact, there are a variety of people who closely follow the Board who have pointed out that Herrity is the most partisan member of the board that they can remember serving in all their years involved with County politics. At a time when voters went to the polls yesterday to make it clear they support candidates who focus on solutions and good ideas, this race to the right means that whoever wins the Republican primary will be so out of touch with Northern Virginia voters that they are going to have a hard time gaining credibility in the general election.
The difficulties of the race to the right will also be difficult for Herrity as it will cost a lot of money. With Fimian able to self finance his campaign, Herrity was already going to be at a financial disadvantage but his challenges will be furthered by the fact that he has never had to raise money with the restrictions in place for federal elections. When you combine this with the fact that donors might be hesitant to donate to his campaign during an economic downturn when they’re not even sure if he’ll be able to win the primary, Herrity is going to be struggling right from the get go. And as I pointed out in the beginning of this post, now he’ll have to do all this while suffering from the devastating blow that was delivered to him and the Republican Party during yesterday’s special election in the 37th Senate district.