Virginia House of Delegates 2005 Elections

Keeping You up to date on the status of Virginia's 2005 Delegate races!

Monday, July 11, 2005

26th District Update (#5 on the Dirty Dozen)

Outlook: Leans Republican

The 26th district battle for the open seat of Glenn Weatherholtz is still heating up. Some Republicans have begun mumbling to us that Matt Lohr might be their worst candidate in the state. We disagree with that assessment. Matt's biggest problem is everytime he is quoted he is matched up against Lowell Fulk who might be the best Democratic candidate for Delegate in Virginia. So that is making Lohr come across as a lot more green then he really is.

The biggest problem Fulk has here is this might be the most Republican House district out of all 100 in Virginia. He's going to have to pull massive numbers of Kilgore votes to his side, and that will be very tough in the Valley.

But Fulk's 2003 campaign says a lot about his chances. Turnout in 2003 was a remarkable 92% of the turnout that came in the 2001 Governor's election. The difference was only about 1,000 votes. Assuming this years turnout is similar to 2001, Fulk won't need a lot of help turning out more voters. He just needs to pull about 500 additional from his 2003 campaign against the incumbent.

Given how well the campaign has gone for Fulk, we may make this a tossup after the July 15th financial reports.

Lohr will need to come up with a better attack line then his recent press conference where he critiqued Fulk for only bringing "common sense solutions" to the table.

Finally, a few weeks ago we promised you a scandal in the 26th that we would break soon. We were promised a copy of a motivational speech Matt Lohr gave where "he openly mocked JMU". To date, the tape has been "in the mail" for almost a month. Unless we hear otherwise, it's fair to assume no such tape exists. If it does show up, we will bring it to you, but for now we find Matt Lohr not guilty on the charge of JMU bashing.

31 Comments:

At 12:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fulk is a great candidate but he'll lose for one reason. He has the support of Joseph Fitzgerald, former Mayor of Harrisonburg and a hated man.

 
At 12:31 PM, Anonymous GOPHokie said...

I still wouldn't consider this a tossup. Weatherholtz won a 9 point victory in '03 and didn't do anything. Matt is going door-to-door and being more involved in community events. Another thing, Weatherholtz wasn't as well liked as some people might think. I'm not saying this is a safe GOP seat, but Fulk is still going to have to get a TON of Kilgore voters on his side (which I really don't see happening here in the valley).

 
At 12:40 PM, Anonymous Rural Not Stupid said...

I find it hard to believe that a simple endorsement would seal the fate of Fulk.

 
At 12:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

you shouldn't. This guy is hated among Democrats for going back on a promise and hate among Republicans for being a Democrat and bad councilman. Couple his open supprot with the tilt of the district and it's over. Fulk would have to win Harrisonburg City by 500 votes to win, which will be tough to do with this monkey on his back.

 
At 1:26 PM, Anonymous Not Larry Roberts said...

Anon12:45, I see where you're coming from on the Fitzgerald thing, but I think you give him too much credit. No, he's not the most well-liked individual in Democratic politics in Harrisonburg, but I doubt that his endorsement will scare away anyone.

The hardcore democrats are rallying behind him and aren't going to back away because Fitzgerald is on the bandwagin as well. Everyone else doesn't care who Joe is endorsing and aren't so fickle as to change their vote based on a former Mayor's vote.

 
At 1:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe the ex-mayor doesn't doom his campaign, but he certainly doesn't help. Lohr is young, a hard-worker and conservative. NLS is right, Fulk is the best candidate in VA among the Dems, but he's in the worst possible district.

He's going to need a lot of money to win this one.

 
At 3:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

NLS- If you don't want to look like a shill for the Dems [or alternately, like Ben Tribbett] don't say things like "Lohr was accused of this but we don't think he did it." Repeating an unverifiable charge is the reason people knock on blogs.

 
At 3:59 PM, Blogger Not Larry Sabato said...

It's a no win for us. We said something was coming, so if we just said "it didn't ever show up" people would say "What was it".

So, we said what it was, and that considering that it never came as promised we find Matt Lohr not guilty of JMU bashing

What would you prefer we say?

 
At 4:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually I think saying "Matt Lohr was accused of JMU bashing but we don't think he did it" sends the message that someone's spreading rumors about Matt Lohr to attempt and benefit Fulk, not that NLS is some Democratic shill...

 
At 4:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joe Fitzgerald is so bad that he ran for office in opposition to one single issue, and one of his first votes in office, was in faovr of that issue, a complete reversal of his entire campaign.

 
At 6:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ask many formerly loyal Republicans how they feel about Mark Obenshain and his use of slating to win the nomination battle two years ago. Now many feel that he is working to get "his boy" elected by using the same underhanded style. He has been working hard with a whisper campaign against Fulk but the problem he faces is that Fulk is better known on a personal level in much of the district than he (Obenshain) is and people are seeing his lies for what they are.

 
At 12:29 PM, Blogger Not Mark Rozell said...

If you make this race a tossup you really are nuts. What's next? Is Brian Moran going to get beat? Lohr doesn't have to be a good candidate. He just has to be a good boy. Heck, he could probably commit a couple felonies and still get elected.

 
At 1:10 PM, Anonymous saywhat? said...

Not Mark Rozell is way off base here. He must really think the voters of the 26th are dumb. Some of them are, no doubt, but not enough to elect a felon. Perhaps not even enough to elect Lohr.

 
At 1:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

But again, this is the most GOP district in the Commonwealth. A certain number of voters are going to vote a straight R ticket because they are R's and always vote a straight R ticket. Also, some of Fulk's votes in '03 may have come from voters who did not like Weatherholtz. Since voters don't really know Lohr, they have no reason to vote against him. Also, turnout for Kilgore will be massive...not so much for Kaine except maybe in H'burg.

 
At 9:53 PM, Anonymous saywhat? said...

And it's my understanding that Weatherholtz has even fewer fans now than he did during the last election. Some people, even right wingers, have said they regret not voting for Fulk the last time around. There are still a lot of knee-jerk Rs to be sure, but their numbers are shrinking, not swelling.

This election isn't Lohr's too lose. It's Fulk's to win ... not that he'll definitely do it, but it's not so cut and dried as some think. If there weren't a governor's race (or a presidential one, which Fulk should thank God there isn't), Fulk would indeed have a much better chance. He has a good chance as it is.

 
At 9:56 PM, Blogger Not Larry Sabato said...

The Governor's race will not have any impact here. The turnout was 92% in 2003 of what it was in 2001. Fulk already has faced over 90% of the voters who will vote this year. He needs 500 Republicans to vote for him that did not last time. He'll come close either way

 
At 10:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hold on NLS! The Governor's race will not have ANY impact?

Any way you look at it, Fulk will be part of a ticket led by an anti-death penalty, RICHMOND politician who is vehemenntly opposed by the NRA. How can this not hurt Fulk? How can he credibily defend his support of Tim? You don't think this will matter?

Also, remember in 2003 that Fulk was at the top of the dance card and, as such, could more easily define his candidacy on a less partisan basis. The political dynamic, as such, is vastly different this time and one that definetly is not favorable to Fulk.

 
At 10:25 AM, Blogger Not Larry Sabato said...

Here's why. Everyone already voted in 2003. The Governor's race will have impact in areas where they bring out more voters for one side or the other. The high 03 turnout helps Fulk a lot as there won't be a lot of voters coming out unfamiliar with him.

As of today, Lohr wins by 300. That's how close I think this is.

 
At 10:26 AM, Blogger Not Larry Sabato said...

To be a little more articulate, do you think Fulk voters from 03 will go against him this time because of Tim Kaine?

 
At 11:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are overthinking the political calcualtions and memory of the typicial voter.

Again, the political dynamic is VASTLY different this time and Fulk will have to address questions and issues he did not have to address last time.

It will be a much more partisan vote this time than in 2003 -- that's just the reality of the situation.

So, in answer to your question, yes, a number of voters who voted for Fulk in 2003 may not do so this year becasue he will be a member of the Democratic ticket -- a ticket headed by someone whose views on many key issues are vastly different from their own.

One more thing: I'm not from the district, but I would suspect that the 2003 turnout was so high because of local elections. People were, most likely, primarily coming out to vote for a Sheriff or Board member and their Delegate vote was secondary. As such, much of Fulk's 2003 vote total may be softer than you think.

But let me turn your question back on you: Why should any of the 55% of the people who voted Republican last time, change their views 2 years later and vote for the man they voted against last time?

 
At 11:56 AM, Blogger GOPHokie said...

I live about 10 miles from the district so I know alot of what is going on. The main thing that drove turnout up was the sheriff's race. Don Farley, a GOP-leaning independent ran against Buddy Farris (who got the GOP nod). Farley wanted the the GOP nod but Farris knew the right people and he beat Farley out for it. This pissed alot of Reps off. Farley won the election, but it was a very competitive contest. Also, Weatherholtz ran a half-ass campaign. He didn't give Fulk a chance.
These 2 things contributed to Fulk doing so well.

1. Weatherholtz is not as well liked as most politicians here in the valley.
2. After the "raw deal" that many people think the Reps gave Farley, they voted for Fulk in retaliation.

Weatherholtz hasn't really ticked anyone off in the last 2 years any more than any other time. He would probably have gotten 55% regardless of who he was running against, because of the Farley situation and people's dislike of him. Matt is not writing off the election and he is not disliked. He is going door-to-door and making appearances at community functions. He is doing what he has to do to win. Also, as anon pointed out, Fulk will be hurt from the people above him on the ballot. Most voters are going to start voting GOP with Kilgore, and keep voting that way all the way down the ballot.
As to the endorsements, Fitzgerald is hated by alot of people in H'burg, but I doubt it will have much effect. Farley has donated to Fulk's campaign but I don't think he is going to become very vocal about his support for Fulk so I don't that will have much effect either. If he does become vocal, it would make some difference. I still think Lohr wins either way though.

 
At 3:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

GOPHokie,

Actually, the total vote in each precint where there was overlap between Obenshain/Eagle, Farley/Farris, and Weatherholtz/Fulk would indicate that there was greater interest, by just a bit perhaps, in the Weatherholtz/Fulk matchup. Most precints show more votes cast in that contest than in either the Senate or the Sheriff's race.

The conclusion that Weatherholtz is widely disliked is incorrect. Among those who dislike him the feeling runs very strong indeed, but they are not the majority.

The treatment of Farley and the slating by Obenshain of his opponent for the nomination joined by the budget fiasco in 2004 have left many once loyal Republicans in doubt about their party's direction. Fulk may lose a few who voted for him in '03 but he is picking up far more.

The increasingly desperate tone of Lohr and his supporters as they ramp up the attack on Fulk will be interesting to watch for effect.

To call Fitzgerald "hated" is giving him far more weight in people's awareness than he warrents. Most in Harrisonburg simply don't care. If you remember, all three "change" candidates lost. People simply wanted the bickering to stop.

 
At 12:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Funny thing: As Lohr, Elledge, and Obenshain work hard with their whisper campaign against Fulk on things like abortion and gay marriage, there is a real and spontaneous surge about a real scandal, within Lohr's family, that threatens to totally debunk and discredit Lohr's claim to "family values"... And the interesting thing is that the Fulk campaign has nothing to do with it, don't even think they know about it. It's just happening...
It will be interesting to watch and see if Obenshain/Elledge/Meredith/Runion can contain this one as well as they did the last one... Coercion can only go so far............

 
At 8:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Get real; no single endorsement will make a difference. For every Ben Fordney out there whining about Fitz you can find someone else who respected his decision, mostly the kind of people who don't need to engage in public political weenie-wagging. And the recent antics of our current deja vu golf course council(leasing the high school, eminent domain and Kenny Kyger's place, land speculation deals on Port Republic, etc.) makes people remember the done-deals of the 90's, not the golf course vote. Fulk has the endorsement of 3 of the last 4 mayors of Harrisonburg, not just Fitz.. lots of people ain't too happy with Larry or Rodney, either. Don Litten just gave the guy $1000. Repub councilman George Pace gace Fulk money, too. November's a long way away.

 
At 9:40 AM, Anonymous saywhat? said...

Didn't Pace give Lorh $, too? What other former Hburg Mayor, besides Fitz & Larry, endorses Fulk? This race is so exciting! What does it say about how the Valley's changing if Fulk wins?

 
At 9:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was at the Bridgewater Parade and Lawn Party and Matt Lohr wasn't there. Lowell Fulk was there, people with Lohr balloons were there. But no Matt Lohr. Lowell Fulk came up and stood my hand and his volunteers came me candy and a sticker. I know Bridgewater is just out of the 26th but guess what I'm a voter in the 26th. Where was Matt Lohr?

 
At 10:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Friday, July 8, Fulk volunteers wearing green "Incredible Fulk" t-shirts were at Fridays on the Square, the concert series in downtown Harrisonburg. I didn't notice a Lohr campaign presence. I'm not sure how much it matters.

 
At 10:30 PM, Anonymous R. S. said...

Is there any truth to the rumor that Lohr is ready to change campaign managers?

 
At 7:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

He could save some money if he let her go. John Elledge is running the campaign anyway.

 
At 9:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw her the other night and she seemed pretty confident, didn't look like she was about to lose, but from people seeing Matt recently he is not looking so confident. He's the one who makes the call.

 
At 1:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What I find strange about Lohr's running for Delegate against Fulk is that Lohr endorsed Fulk and supported him when Fulk ran last election. Why Lohr decided to run against Fulk is a question to me! Fulk hasn't changed his stance on things that need to be done in Richmond. Fulk also hasn't changed what he's going to do in Richmond when he gets elected!

I find Lohr's running as a chance to get known and recegnized by Richmond. I think that Lohr should step aside and let Fulk, who's more experianced for this seat, go to Richmond to get things done for the 26th district!

Currently it seems like Fulk has gained votes rather than lost any this election. I think Fulk has a great shot of winning this time and going to Richmond! I wish Fulk the best of luck!

 

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