Virginia House of Delegates 2005 Elections

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

Saturday, July 09, 2005

67th District Update (#6 on the Dirty Dozen)

Old Outlook: Likely Republican
New Outlook: Leans Republican

Sometimes it seems like the Republicans are determined to get a Democrat elected in Western Fairfax.

In this district which has not gone for a statewide Democrat in decades, the GOP nearly gave it away in the 1990's. With his legal problems former Delegate Roger McClure just barely hung on in both of his challenges by Jim Mitchell winning his last race in 1999 by just 230 votes.

When McClure stepped down School Board member Gary Reese won his seat with over 60% of the vote and this seemed to be back in the safe GOP column.

But this year Republican primary voters routed Reese out of office for 26 year old substitute teacher Chris Craddock. Democrats responded by bringing back 1980's School Board member Chuck Caputo to serve as their nominee.

This race is all the buzz of Richmond insiders who are putting their money on a Caputo victory. While we see this race as very competitive, we are far from ready to call this for Caputo.

Even if Gary Reese endorses Caputo, this district is solid Republican. For the Democrats to win hundreds of people voting for Kilgore/Bolling/McDonnell will have to decide that Chris Craddock is too conservative for them. We just don't see any difference between Craddock and his statewide ticket.

While this race will be hotly contested, and closely followed this race reminds us of the Cuccinelli-Belter race in 2002. A young very conservative Republican against an older Democratic moderate from the neighborhood for decades. The Richmond establishment knew Belter would win big. In the 67th, Cuccinelli won every precinct and of course went on to win big.
What can Caputo do to win this election? He has a shot if he can run without sounding like a Democrat. The next race we are covering, the 26th district should serve as a good example of what he has to do. We'll follow this one closely to see if Caputo is really pulling enough GOP votes to pull this off.


At 5:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is Caputo back from his post-primary trip to Europe yet? Or is he still re-charging his batteries from the non-primary he faced?

At 5:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I doubt Caputo will be able to draw many Republicans to his side. This spring was all about getting rid of Reese for his liberal leanings. If you have any doubt on Reese's true beliefs, just look at his quotes since his loss in the primary. The man definitely had some disagreements with the grass-roots in his district.

That said, I have to agree with your analysis in the district leanings for this one overall

While Cuccinelli was young, he was in his early 30's when he ran against Belter, had a long history in the local Party, and actually can speak well to the issues. Craddock's biggest liability in this campaign will not be his stance on the issues. He's basically in lock-step on those with others in the area (Cuccinelli, Hugo, O'brien), and this has proven to be a winner in this area, especially in the 67th.

What the difference will be here is if the voters can support a 26 year old Delegate, regardless of his positions on the issues. If Craddock has mastered the issues and can speak to them effectively, he will win (to do so he should take the lead from the three neighboring members of the GA I mentioned above). However, if he does not, and Republicans in the district end up doubting his abilities on election day, some Republicans may just not vote for delegate. If enough of these don't mark the box and Caputo can possibly come across as a moderate (granted this will be difficult with his long local record), he could pull out a victory in November.

As for Richmond thinking this one is in the bag for Caputo, as you mentioned they have been wrong before. They have no idea what motivates voters in the 67th and conservative values do.

Craddock needs to come across mature for his age and speak with confidence if he is to convince most of the voters. I saw him speak on the 4th of July and while it was impromptu and he came across as a nice guy, I did not get the feeling he was there yet. He cannot afford the "deer in the headlights" look. If he cannot deliver on this, some might be willing to wait it out two years with a liberal representing them and come back with a more mature candidate in '07 to elect for the long run. Since the HoD is not really in play, this would actually be a logical argument. As it's been said previously it's difficult to get established candidates to come out against an incumbant in the party. Craddock, win or lose this fall, has accomplished his task for the party faithful already.

At 6:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This bullshit. I can't believe you're ranking this race above Werkheiser Albo. God you're dumb.

At 10:39 PM, Blogger Not Virgil Goode said...

nobody ever thought Belter would win big

At 12:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chuck has been in Fairfax campaigning and might have a decent shot.

At 10:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i am a big democratic supporter... I just went to the Caputo website... it was attrocious... someone get that man to put some money into the site so it isnt an embarassment to him anymore...

I wonder if he was even planning on runing for real before the primary...

At 12:26 PM, Anonymous Ron said...

First of all, Chris Craddock's profession is not "substitute teacher."

Second of all, he has certainly gotten better about addressing voters and issues. I think a lot of the Republican Party establishment snubbed him (to put it charitably) before the primary. I note that Reese did not take this primary seriously, and his "blame the voters" attitude just shows it.

Craddock does have people who have worked other campaigns successfully around him, and his crowd of suppporters are also very well-informed on issues. Now that he has won the primary, more people are coming out to support him.

The voters in the primary are pretty intense people (and were 65% of the primary vote). Some of the sourpuss Reese supporters may stay home or vote for Caputo, but I don't think they number greatly.

Caputo may be back from Europe, but if he is, he's still jet-lagged. He's been dropping vague materials at our mailboxes, and his website does not show where he actually stands on issues. Aha! You are right! If he did take a stand on an issue, he would sound like a Democrat, and therefore not be able to win the 67th race at all!

This Caputo does not seem like he even wants the job. And what kind of candidate gets his daughter to write letters to the editor for him (in the Chantilly Times)? How would it look if Chris Craddock got his parents to write such a letter?

At 12:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

NLS - Richmond does not think this one "is in the bag" for Caputo. Lousy sources you have.

At 1:47 PM, Anonymous Rural Not Stupid said...

the argument that will win this race is "Craddock is a nice young man, but I'm afraid hes just not ready to be a leader for virginia." If caputo stays positive, and doesn't trash talk craddock, then the age factor alone will be enough for him to pull this one out.

At 9:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

RNS I agree on your position halfway. Caputo must take your approach to win, but in addition to that Craddock must also come across as not mastering the issues and Caputo must completely avoid talking about his own position on the issues. This part will be much more difficult.

At 9:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is this the same Chuck Caputo who didn't think Mike Frey should be Supervisor in 1991? Didn't he say Mike was too young then? What does this jerk have against young people?

The fact is this. Mike Frey is a great Supervisor. Just as Chris Craddock will be a great Delegate.

Add it up with Caputo's long record of supporting far left candidates- and never once carrying his precinct for them and I say- Three Strikes and Chuck is OUT!

At 11:30 AM, Anonymous Not James Carville said...

Hmm...which anonymous moron to respond to first?

Anonymous at 9:28 said:
"...Caputo must completely avoid talking about his own position on the issues"

Say again? Caputo kills him on the issues, unless of course your issue is abortion (forget for the moment that in terms of policy, a state delegate has NO IMPACT on this issue; if this is your issue, you were never going to vote Caputo anyway) or taxes (if you're truly anti-new taxes, then please no crying about your commute or lack of green space in your neighborhood. Your position presumably is to develop every last acre of land.) The short of it is, if you consider issues that are addressable by a delegate (budget, transportation, education), Caputo has vastly more experience in these areas, and it will be his appeal to those who are not demagogically tied to issues where he will make inroads.

Now, I grant you the 67th is so far right that if you put a hand puppet on the ballot and had it say "abortion bad, taxes bad", it would probably win. But if voters look at who will be the more effective legislator, this is truly a no-brainer.

As to anonymous at 9:42, who said:
"Add it up with Caputo's long record of supporting far left candidates..."

The candidates that he has supported could only be considered "far left" in the ultra-right 67th. Please. For you, probably Mike Frey is too far left, because he doesn't fall all over himself with anti-abortion and anti-tax rhetoric.

As much as I am pro-Caputo in this race, I have no illusions. To win, Caputo must make an issue of Craddock's inexperience generally and with the political process specifically, he must force him to admit that he is pro-congestion and anti-park, and he must co-opt his perceived advantage in the traditional values vote. We know the right-wing base will turn out for Craddock; this election hinges on how many moderates hold their nose and vote Caputo. Trouble is, you may be able to count the moderates in the 67th on one hand.

At 2:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

NJC Your last paragraph belies the logic of the rest of your post. The point is that in the 67th the issues you brush aside as unimportant to a legislator are in fact what will matter. This is why Caputo cannot run on his own beliefs. That said, your last paragraph pretty much is correct with the exception of the pro-congestion/anti-park stuff. If fairfax county buys up any more land in the district there won't be ANY worry of development. Being anti-new-tax does not make one pro-congestion. Bottom line the issue will be experience and believability. If people in the district believe Craddock is up to the task they will vote for him because by-and-large he agrees with most voters in the district on the issues.

At 7:32 AM, Anonymous Not James Carville said...

anon 2:22 -- you may have missed my point, i.e., "The point is that in the 67th the issues you brush aside as unimportant to a legislator are in fact what will matter"

I'm not "brushing aside" these issues: they are both extremely important and, of course, have been for years (in the case of taxes, at least a couple hundred). The point is, is that on the one issue (abortion) it matters only philosophically what the candidate's position is--and if you're opposed to him on that now, the campaign is not going to change your vote. From a policy perspective, the issue is moot. On taxes, there are obviously practical policy implications. It is those implications that would define the different approach that Caputo and Craddock would take. If by keeping all options on the table (yes, even new taxes) to improve the community means that Chuck Caputo doesn't get the 'no-new-taxes' vote, and thereby loses the election, then the 67th will have the delegate it deserves.

At 12:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

BTW I believe many misrepresent and/or misunderstand the "anti-taxers". It's not that they don't believe in any taxes,any new taxes, or different ways of taxing. It basically comes down to tax burden. "Anti-taxers" believe that our current tax burden is too high for the services we get and that reprioritization of how our current funds are spent is the way to meet these critical needs. I also think many "anti-taxers" would support a change in the tax structure to a more equitable and efficient method, so to say they are "ant-tax" or "against new taxes" is really innaccurate.

They also have a philosophical difference on the level of government involvement in certain areas of our lives and therefore a difference of opinion on the level of funding for those areas. Unfortunately, many in the legislature have given up on actually looking at wholesale changes to our funding of programs and efforts that the government need not be involved in. If they would consider this kind of fundamental change, perhaps government could fund the really necessary basic services without asking for more and more money.

In Richmond as most of the time in government, pork comes before necessity and therefore new taxes are then needed for the necessities.

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