A look at the 2009 Democratic Primary

You’ve seen the signs hanging out on street corners around town for past few weeks. Perhaps you’ve seen their annoying bigger brothers on the television, the back-to-back-to-back campaign adverts that attempt to differentiate this particular older white guy from that other older white guy in the race for governor. Thankfully all of the hubbub will be over for a little while come Tuesday. Here is what you probably ought to know if you’d like to a part of the process…

You’ve seen the signs hanging out on street corners around town for past few weeks. Perhaps you’ve seen their annoying bigger brothers on the television, the back-to-back-to-back campaign adverts that attempt to differentiate this particular older white guy from that other older white guy in the race for governor. Thankfully all of the hubbub will be over for a little while come Tuesday. Here is what you probably ought to know if you’d like to a part of the process.

The Democratic primary will be held on Tuesday, June 9th. The purpose of this election is to nominate political party candidates to be on the ballot in the November general election. Voters across the city will select candidates for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Richmond City Sheriff. Some voters will also be choosing a candidate for the Sixty-Ninth District House of Delegates seat. Any voter registered in Virginia can vote in a primary election. You vote at your regular polling place.

While all of the races are important in some way or another and the statewide races are getting the money and media attention, the local races here are really the more interesting. The local candidates are the ones that will be making decisons more likely to affect your day-to-day experiences and the ones most likely to show up at your civic association meeting or respond to your call or email. A matter of tens of votes will probably separate the winner from the loser in these elections, so your participation will make a difference.

Richmond City Sheriff

Mention this contest and the inevitable question is “what does the sheriff do, anyway?”. If you’ve read this far, here is your reward: The Richmond City Sheriff oversees the city jail, the serving of civil documents, and security for the city courts. Go forth and sound knowledgeable.

Major Antionette Irving, a resident of the city’s East End, is challenging with a campaign emphasizing an impressive career with the Henrico Sheriff’s office, a record of community involvement, and a desire to “[raise] the standards of the Sheriff’s office”. Don Coleman, School Board 7th District representative, said of Irving’s community service that she “is a true citizen […] her sincere concern and actual participation in serving young people through her foundation are to be commended”.

Sheriff C.T.Woody is running for re-election on a platform of promises kept, and a record of “improved jail security and fiscal responsibility”. Woody has about every local politician of note endorsing him, including all of the members of Richmond City Council.

Perhaps unique in a local election, the race for sheriff boasts two eminently qualified candidates. Woody has made genuine progess putting the house in order in the Sheriff’s Department in his first term, and seems poised to build on this given more time. Irving would bring perspective and experience from one of the few jails accreditated by the American Corrections Association.



House of Delegates 69th District

All three candidates for this position are running on similar platforms that include improving public education, economic development, and public safety. You’ll need to choose instead between steady experience, youthful desire to be a part of the process, and naked political ambition.

One-time schoolboard candidate and blogger James River Maven hits the nail on the head for Carlos Brown in Carlos Brown, Where DOES He Live?. Brown has a history of moving into districts so that he can run for office. Back in December he moved to the 70th District, but lost with 17% of the vote. When Delegate Hall accepted Gov.Kaine’s appointment to the ABC Board, Brown moved yet again so that he could run for the seat in the 69th District. Given Brown’s naked desire to be in office *somewhere*, his endorsement by Mayor Jones, Senator Henry Marsh, and Senator McEachin only further underscore the blatantly political (as compared to civic) nature of his run.

Betsy Carr is a current Richmond Schoolboard member, having represented the 5th District since 2006. Her official bio touts her service at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, her work establishing the Micah Initiative, and the fact that she is a grandmother.

In direct contrast to Carr, Antione Green is a young man (late 20s) without much of a resume, but with much poise, presence, and ambition. He is a past president of the Richmond Crusade for Voters, having taken leave from the position during his 2nd term to run in this primary. He has been endorsed by the Richmond Voice and the Richmond Crusade for Voters.

As of the weekend before the election, Brown is reporting having raised $59,130, Carr is claiming $26,383, and Green has reported $0.

The 69th House District is heavily Democratic, having gone for Obama 6 to 1 in 2008 and Kerry 3 to 1 in 2004. The district includes portions of Southside, Carytown, Byrd Park, Maymont, Randolph, the Carillon district, a small piece of Henrico County and part of Chesterfield County. Just under 80% of the district is inside Richmond City limits.

69th House of Delegates district map




Lieutenant Governor

The lieutenant governor serves as the President of the Senate of Virginia and is first in the line of succession to the governor. The lieutenant governor is usually seen as leading candidate for governor the following election cycle.

The two candidates for lieutenant governor are Jody Wagner and Michael Signer. Jon Bowerbank withdrew from the race on May 18, but his name will be on the ballot. Somebody somewhere described an essential difference between the two remaining candidates by saying that Wagner is running on her experience and Signer is running on issues, and this rings trueish.

Michael Signer says that he will make the office of lieutenant governor more of a platform to push progressive ideas. And while he is putting idea and action at the forefront of his run, Signer has an impressive resume for a man under 40. He comes across as incredibly intelligent and knowledgeable, and has in the past written both a book and for the Washington Post. Signer has worked as a legislative aide to Deeds and deputy counselor for Warner. Signer recently sat down with F.T.Rea and proudly described himself as “a Jim Webb Democrat”.

Jody Wagner is currently the Virginia Secretary of Finance and previously served as Treasurer of the Commonwealth of Virginia under Warner. Her official biography details the minutiae of her experience. Before working in state government, she was a lawyer and a small business owner. Wagner seems to be the estabishment candidate and locally has been endorsed by the Richmond Free Press, Congressman Bobby Scott, the Richmond Crusade for Voters, Mayor Jones, Delegate McQuinn, and Councilpersons Trammell, Jewell, and Squire.



The three candidates for Virginia governor are Creigh Deeds, Terry McAuliffe, and Brian Moran. As F.T.Rea put it so directly, “the choice between the three is more about style and character than it is about sharp contrasts in policies”. Deeds and Moran both stress their experience in public service and tout how they’ve worked with Governors Warner and Kaine, while McAuliffe casts himself as in the same vein as these executives with his “pragmatic, businessman’s approach to politics”.

Creigh Deeds is the current state senator representing the 25th District, a largely rural district that stretches west from Charlottesville to the West Virginia border. Deeds has served in public office since 1987, when he was elected to the position of Commonwealth’s Attorney of Bath County at age 29. He then served in the Virginia House of Delegates for 9 years and has served in the Senate of Virginia since 2001. He was a candidate in the 2005 attorney general race but lost to McDonnell by 323 votes. Deeds has a history of bipartisanship and reads as the least “liberal” of the 3 candidates — no one would argue against describing Deeds’ record as closest to the center. He recently received a high-profile endorsement from the Washington Post, something of a surpirse given the NOVA ties of his two opponents. He is also the only one of the 3 candidates to come up into the ‘hood as far as I know.

Terry McAuliffe is the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee and served as chairman of Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign. He is a businessman and Democratic Party leader from Fairfax County, but has never run for or held office before. Supporters, including the Richmond Free Press, counter that his experience working in high level political circles is meaningful and describe him as a high spirited candidate that “thinks big, progressively”. McAuliffe says that he will be “the job creator-in-chief” and wants to be seen as a leader and executive. Because of his work at the national level, McAuliffe has a different kind of name recognition than the other two candidates and has been able to bring in folks like will.i.am and Bill Clinton to help spread the word.

Brian Moran served as a representative of the inside-the-beltway 46th District in Virginia’s House of Delegates for 14 years, a seat from which he resigned to be able to raise money for this race. Brian Moran is the youngest of seven children; his elder brother Jim Moran represents Virginia’s 8th congressional district. Moran is to the left of Deeds, and as Deeds has gained the momentum, has begun attacking Deeds on his support for gun ownership. Moran had earlier come out swinging on McAuliffe, saying that McAuliffe was of the “big money and those who raise it” and not of the people. In recent days, Moran has been positioning himself as the better liberal of the three, saying that he will use the pulpit of the governorship to work to overturn the Marshall-Newman Amendment and pointing out his stands against both construction of a coal-fired power plant in Surry County and drilling for oil off of Virginia’s coast.

Interestingly, the governer’s race has split the local Democratic establishment. Senator Marsh and Delegate McQuinn have endorsed Deeds, McAuliffe has been endorsed by the Richmond Free Press and City Council 5th District representative Jewell, while Moran is supported by Mayor Jones and Commonwealth’s Attorney Mike Herring.




  • I’ve heard a location to get a photo of a Wagner sign, but too late to get the photo before I lost the light yesterday. I’ll add that this afternoon.
  • I’ve donated to the Deeds campaign, but I think that I was fairly objective above.
  • Surprisingly enough, I made it all of the way through this without calling anyone a douche bag.
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Notice: Comments that are not conducive to an interesting and thoughtful conversation may be removed at the editor’s discretion.

  1. As a Republican I won’t be voting tomorrow but I offer the following thoughts:

    – We want Moran – Brian Moran has all the political baggage of Terry McAuliffe without any of the money and none of the pragmatism of Creigh Deeds.

    – Terry’s money is scary – If it materializes. One one hand, I’m chomping at the bit at hammering him on raising more than 80% of his money from out of state (California, Chicago, New York), but on the other hand, damn, that’s a lot of money. Coupled with the Democratic Governor’s Association pouring money into a paper tiger PAC and backing him already, that could be vicious. Especially if he starts doling it out to Delegate races throughout the state.

    – Deeds record helps him – He came close in 05. Had he held ONE more rally north of the Rappahannock he could very well have been AG. He trends to the center better than either of the others, is stronger in rural Virginia where Moran and McAuliffe would have trouble making in roads, and could easily step it up in NOVA and make a play for the Governor’s mansion.

    – We want Wagner – That she quit as Treasurer in the face of one of the largest deficits in the state’s history merely to run for Lt. Gov. instead of sticking around and doing her job, well, that’s gonna be fun. Problem is, Singer’s an unknown variable, so he could be very good or very bad. Especially facing off the incumbent Bolling.

    Biggest factor to watch out for:

    The Obama machine.

    Barack Obama has kept up operations in most states and I believe Virginia is one. Yet he hasn’t leveraged his lists anywhere yet, either because he logistically can’t or because he’s waiting for the right time, and I think it’s the latter. Wait for a nominee, get through the slow summer months, August/September the text messages and calls begin. It’s certainly harder to get people riled up for a state race than federal, but if even 10% of the first time Obama folks get involved in Virginia races you’ll see a HUGE impact.

    But a lot of that depends on Obama’s willingness to utilize his operations for this, especially if McAuliffe is the nominee. He may decide to sit on it and use that leverage in 2010 instead of burning some people off this year. But that’s really the biggest shadow looming over this race and one we’ll have to wait and see the impact of.

  2. Holly on said:

    Thank you for this. I’ve been trying to find something like this forever and it’s too bad that there’s only one article like this and it’s on the day before the election.

  3. Also, new PPP poll is out showing Deeds and Wagner up huge in their respective races:


  4. My thoughts on the Dem Primary for Frank Hall’s old seat: http://www.rvafoodie.com/?p=745 In short, I’m voting for Antione Green. Thanks for doing this write-up, John.

  5. bcat on said:

    Good God those are some gerrymandered districts.

  6. Great story, thanks for the info. Jason- if you want Moran, why don’t you vote tomorrow? You don’t have to be a registered Democrat to vote in the primary.

  7. Stuart – One, I don’t believe in crossover voting. I’m more than happy to let the Democrats pick their best guy to put up against our best guy so Republicans can win fair and square. It’s only right.

    Two, I don’t want to be on the Democratic mailing lists for the rest of my life. ;)

  8. Caroline on said:

    bcat – That was my initial reaction, too! I suppose it’s the General Assembly that makes this stuff up. When’s the next redistricting?

  9. gray on said:

    Just picking here but John, one day you’ll be an older white guy. I noticed you didn’t mention the race of the other candidates.

    Thanks for gathering the information for us -this will help.

  10. The point was that on first glance all 3 candidates are fairly similar, resisting a simple delineation. Without race or gender being the issue, all of the other contests today have a more apparent set of defining features – experience vs ideas, etc.

    It is also worth noting, I think, that the 2 major parties are still only offering white guys of a certain vintage as candidates for Governor here. All of the other contests today reflect the diversity of the electorate.

  11. Jason: An honorable position on crossover voting. I’m not sure the Dems will actually pick their “best guy” today, but I KNOW that McDonnel ain’t your best guy. The campaign for Governor is going to be a mudslinging trainwreck from here to November. Not looking forward to it.

  12. slmdar19 on said:

    This was a tough choice and thanks for the site. Up until last night I was pretty sure I was going to rub the screen for McAuliffe, but somehow I found myself doing the right thing, voting for the guy, not who would be likely to win. Deeds got the vote. Couldn’t have been more surprised.

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