Thursday, February 10, 2011

List and Analysis of Potential Democrats to Replace Webb

With Jim Webb announcement yesterday that he'll be retiring at the end of his term, there has already been a lot of speculation about who will be running to replace him. While it hasn't even been 24 hours since he made the decision, I wanted to put out a list of people who have been discussed as potential candidates.

Tom Perriello. Perriello might have lost his Congressional seat last year, but that was largely a result of a very poor year for Democrats across the country. He is in a unique position to run statewide, however, as he does have a lot of support among grassroots activists in Northern Virginia even though he represented a district outside of the region. Since his race received so much attention in 2010 he also has good name recognition across the Commonwealth. Furthermore, he quickly became the online favorite in the initial hours after Webb's announcement. Considering how it was an online movement that was largely responsible for getting Webb into the race, it's worth noting that there are already online petitions and a twitter account specifically dedicated to getting Perriello into the race. One thing that could cause some problems for Perriello in a Democratic primary, however, is that he isn't the most progressive candidate. In fact, according to the Americans for Democratic Action Congressional scorecard, he was the most conservative Democrat in Virginia's Congressional delegation.

Tim Kaine. Tim Kaine appears to have quickly become the favorite of the establishment and much of the mainstream media has already declared him to be the frontrunner for the nomination. Of course, those declarations also come with the clarification that he isn't necessarily interested in running. Since he is currently serving as DNC chair and is close to President Obama, there are some reports that he would only run if Obama asked him personally.

Gerry Connolly. Connolly is extremely well known in Northern Virginia due to his years on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and now in the House of Representatives. While winning a second term despite the extremely tough environment for Democrats last year, Gerry has shown that he's able to put together a campaign team that really turns out the base. What's also very noticeable to me is that while he wasn't the favorite of the blogosphere during the Democratic primary in 2008, a lot of bloggers have really come around since them and seen that he is a great advocate for Virginia in Congress. His colleagues in the House also recognize his abilities as he was elected President of the Freshmen Democrats during his first term. Furthermore, Gerry has a reputation as being able to work with people on both sides of the aisle but also received a very good score from Americans for Democratic Action on their Congressional Scorecard.

Terry McAuliffe. Terry's name has been tossed out there as a potential candidate, but it's really unclear whether or not he's actually interested in running for Senate. When rumors that Webb would be retiring, McAuliffe said that he wouldn't be running for Senate. This wasn't too surprising because most of the people who know Terry well believe that he has been focused on the possibility of running for governor again in 2013. Now that Webb has announced his retirement, however, Terry's name has been thrown out there again and Lowell is reporting that "Terry McAuliffe's people" say that you can't rule out a Senate bid.

Rick Boucher. Boucher's main appeal is that he represented rural Southwest Virginia during his long career in the House of Representatives. This could be beneficial during the general election, but he is relatively unknown among grassroots activists in Democratic vote rich Northern Virginia. His ability to reach out to NoVa voters will also be hampered by the fact that he doesn't have a very progressive voting record. Plus, while every candidate deserves to be evaluated on their own merit, there are a lot of people in Northern Virginia don't want a repeat of Creigh Deeds' gubernatorial campaign and they see his rural district as a real downfall.

While most of the conversation has focused on the names above, there have also been some other potential candidates mentioned in the 24 hours since Webb's announcement. Among those are Mike Signer, Jody Wagner, Chap Petersen, David Englin, Don Beyer, and Brian Moran.

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