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Notable Arlington Dem Calls for Party Leaders to Resign

by ARLnow.com November 10, 2011 at 11:15 am 3,807 32 Comments

On Wednesday, most of the Arlington Democratic establishment gathered at Nam Viet restaurant in Clarendon for the party’s annual post-election lunch.

Democratic officials and operatives shared stories from the campaign trail, exchanged thank yous and congratulations, and started looking forward to the races upcoming in 2012. It was an upbeat affair, following yet another perfect showing for Democratic candidates in Arlington.

But behind the triumph was a new reality: the very real possibility that Virginia Democrats may have lost their fragile grip on the state Senate, thus empowering Republicans to pursue a conservative social agenda unencumbered by the need for Democratic cooperation.

In conversations at the lunch, Democratic officials blamed the party’s statewide losses on a number of factors. Some said the races lost hinged mainly on local issues, and cited voter turnout as an area that could be improved. Others said recruiting more quality candidates and running better field operations would have helped. Nobody we talked to seemed interested in assigning blame to any particular individuals.

But former Arlington County Democratic Committee Chair Peter Rousselot, who wasn’t at the lunch, is pointing the finger squarely at state Democratic leaders. In an analysis of the election he wrote for the local Democratic blog Blue Virginia, Rousselot concludes that two of the state’s top Democrats should resign.

Among the resignations he’s seeking: Democratic Party of Virginia Chairman Brian Moran, who beat out Rousselot for the top DPVA position late last year.

An executive summary of Rousselot’s lengthy essay is reproduced with permission, after the jump.

These losses cannot be explained away as the result of “unique local circumstances”, election cycles, the Tea Party, the “Republican money machine”, or President Obama’s current poll numbers. To the contrary, these losses were caused by a series of very avoidable strategic mistakes that certain Virginia Democratic leaders made.

One year ago, because of my concerns about the defeats Virginia Democrats suffered in 2010 and 2009, I ran for Chair of the Democratic Party of Virginia (DPVA). I am not interested in running again for that job, but I am much more concerned about the state of the Democratic Party in Virginia today than I was one year ago. In order to help us get to where we need to be, I present this analysis of what has gone wrong and what should be done to fix it.

The biggest strategic mistakes Virginia Democratic leaders made in 2011 were their adoption of a flawed, hyper-partisan Senate redistricting plan combined with very poor candidate recruitment for both the Senate and HOD.

Virginia’s Senate Democratic leaders, including Dick Saslaw and Mary Margaret Whipple, stubbornly insisted that the only way to retain a Democratic majority in the State Senate was to adopt a hyper-partisan Senate redistricting plan. Their plan was badly designed, and was combined with very poor candidate recruitment. They only recruited 3 Democratic challengers to Republican incumbent Senators while the Senate Republican leaders recruited 16 Republican challengers to Democratic incumbent Senators. The combination of these two mistakes unrealistically required Democrats to “run the table” and win every close race. We couldn’t and we didn’t. Moreover, as part of the price we paid for their flawed plan, Saslaw and Whipple agreed to give HOD Republicans free rein to draw the HOD district lines, virtually guaranteeing GOP HOD control for a decade.

As for the HOD, Brian Moran promised during his campaign for Chair of the DPVA that he would recruit Democratic candidates to contest every HOD race, making use of the contacts he made as HOD Democratic Caucus Chair and as a candidate for Governor. In fact, Democratic candidates contested only 54 out of 100 HOD races while the Republicans contested 73. Because of Brian Moran’s stunning HOD candidate recruitment failure, 46 HOD Republican candidates (only 5 short of an outright majority) had no Democratic opponent, but only 27 HOD Democratic candidates had no Republican opponent.

I conclude this diary with a detailed explanation of the reasons why we need to take the following critical steps to launch a Virginia Democratic resurgence: Dick Saslaw should resign as leader of Virginia Senate Democrats; Brian Moran should resign as DPVA Chair, and all Virginia Democrats should collaborate to be sure we achieve major reform of the DPVA.

Update at 11:25 a.m. — Brian Moran just sent the following email message to Virginia Democrats.

Dear friend,

As the dust settles from the 2011 campaigns I want to offer you my gratitude for your unwavering support of our Democratic candidates and the causes that bring us together as a party. Having driven about every inch of this Commonwealth over the last several weeks I had a chance to witness first hand just how hard you were working right up to when the polls closed on Tuesday.

As we speak, the fate of the Senate is still undecided. The race between a respected public servant Senator Edd Houck and his opponent Bryce Reeves remains too close to call as officials continue to work on a canvass of the vote.

While we wait for the final conclusion of that race there are many reasons for Democrats to be proud. Prior to Tuesday’s elections prominent Republicans were going on the record stating that Democrats would lose between 5 and 9 seats in the State Senate. Despite facing down millions of dollars at least 20 of our 22 Democratic Senators earned another term. That is a remarkable achievement considering the difficult environment of the past two years and the enormous effort the Republicans made to discredit and tear down effective Democratic leaders like Phil Puckett, Dave Marsden, George Barker, John Miller, Toddy Puller and others who stood tall and persevered.

In addition to our Senate victories, Democrats from around the Commonwealth won local offices that will empower them to make a real difference in the lives of the families in their communities. Each of our candidates for local office deserves our thanks and congratulations, but there is one I would like to mention. Shannon Taylor joined the race for Henrico Commonwealth’s Attorney very late and she was up against the full might of Eric Cantor’s political machine. Few people gave her much of a chance against such long odds but despite all that she prevailed and will be a phenomenal chief prosecutor for Henrico. Shannon’s victory is a testament to the Democratic Party of Virginia’s commitment to doing more for local candidates and we will continue that commitment in 2012 and beyond.

There were also reasons to be disappointed. As a former House member I am distressed at the composition of the House. We need to rebuild just as we did last decade when we held as few as 34 seats but worked over three election cycles to be within striking distance of the majority. We start today recruiting and developing candidates to run in 2013. On a personal note, my good friend Ward Armstrong fought valiantly after being redistricted into a heavily Republican area but was ultimately unsuccessful in his bid to return to the House.

If indeed we end up with a tied Senate it will be more important than ever for us to work together. We must fight for an agenda that creates opportunity for every person. I hope you will take a moment and reflect on the enormity of the challenges we faced together this year and the many reasons for Democrats to be energized and optimistic heading into the future.

Many people have asked me what this election means for 2012. I sincerely believe that we will prevail next year. Despite Governor McDonnell pouring millions of dollars to attack our Democratic incumbents our grassroots community of Democrats stepped up and answered the call to mobilize Democratic voters. Next year we can increase voter turnout by more than two fold giving Barack Obama and Tim Kaine the support they need to once again win in Virginia.

Let’s resolve to take the energy created during this election cycle to power on to 2012 and make Virginia a better place to live, work, and raise a family.


Brian Moran

  • Captain Obvious

    I have liked Brian personally for a long time, but he is an embarrassment to the Dems on many levels and needs to be replaced.

  • Rob G

    Perhaps the Democrats should instead resign themselves to the notion that less and less people like or appreciate their ideas and policies. If all else fails, move to Maryland. Things are going much, much better over there.

    • drax

      Your post contradicts itself.

      • Rob G

        It does if you’re a rube.

  • novasteve

    Read plenty of comments in the Wapo and WTOP from liberals saying Nova should secede from VA. How mature… In a way, I wish they would, so long as it’s only say Fairfax, alexandia and arlington and doesn’t go much further, I wouldn’t want to have that long of a commute, but would love to live in a place not dominated by liberals.

    • Don’t let the door hitcha

      Last I checked the Arlington border guards were all in line for their government cheese handouts. If you leave now I’m sure you’ll be able to break free with a minimum of fuss. Go! Go! Go!

    • ClownShoes

      The secessionists are so pathetic. I would like to seem them try though. The epic failure would be sweet and crunchy goodness.

      Welcome to a Red Virginia.

      • Zoning Victim

        I wouldn’t be so smug; the Democratic Party has dominated Virginia politics forever. It won’t take much stupidity on the part of the Republicans to ensure the Democrats a return to dominance in the next election. Unfortunately, the Republican Party has made stupidity a specialty in recent history when they’ve had the majority, at least on the national level. I hope the newly empowered Republican Party of Virginia is actually fiscally conservative.

        • ClownShoes

          I will grant you parts of that. Democrats pretty much owned the HoD for the whole 20th century. That has changed. Republicans ushered in the 21st century by taking over the HoD, and the steps have culminated in the balance of power today, which is tipped entirely one way. Progress has gotten us here.

      • R. Griffon

        A Red Virginia without NOVA would be just like a lot of other Red States – sucking in more federal dollars than they contribute, and relying on the output and prosperity of others for their government handouts.

        Oh the irony.

        • ClownShoes

          Tell that to the Occupy freaks. They seem to think the most prosperous should be sharing money with the rest.

          • R. Griffon

            I wouldn’t have to tell them, because I’m sure they’d already know. The message that Red States decry gov’t spending while simultaneously taking more than their equal share of government handouts typically originates from the left. And how could it be any other way – it’s actually a really embarrassing statistic for the right. And what’s more, most liberals don’t even mind it. They typically don’t mind those who are more productive (and Republicans would say “harder working”) helping those who maybe can’t help themselves. It’s the hypocrisy that they mind.

            Also, raising taxes (say, maybe back up to Reagan-era levels rather than current Obama lows) is a pretty minor message of the movement. The core message is to eliminate the influence of major banks and large corporations in American politics, and full investigations and prosecution of any wrongdoing in bringing about the recent collapse.

        • Smoke_Jaguar4

          The Seccessionists have it all wrong.

          Being a liberal enclave in a conservative state is the secret to NoVA’s success; it’s what separates us from the People’s Repubic of DC. From liberals we gain a vision that focuses on quality of life for all citizens, while from conservatives we inherit fiscal constraint. While not perfect, it’s what makes Arlington a great place to live, especially compared to DC or southern VA.

  • GreaterClarendon

    I’m very happy about the republican victories – but as a moderate republican, I am also very concerned about the republicans trying to enforce their social agenda on all of us. I’m pro-choice, I think some gun control would be acceptable, I’m very pro-immigration (I want to avoid the death spiral of developed countries with shrinking populations) – but want immigrants from where ever they are from to be educated and/or at least self-sufficient as my boat riding ancestors were – they survived without a welfare state. So I plead to the republicans in VA to be moderate and not to overreach like the federal democrats did these last 3 years.

    • drax

      You sure sound like a Democrat to me.

      • Reasonable

        They sound like a reasonable and open minded moderate. If only more people stopped taking such extremes and considered each issue independently like GreaterClarendon….

        • Arlington, Northside

          They sound like a Reagan voter in 1980.

      • GreaterClarendon

        Not a democrat, and my friends would laugh if they heard you say that. I’m very much against a big federal government – particularly when it has to borrow money to pay entitlements.

        • R. Griffon

          How about when it has to borrow money to fight an unjust war?

      • Ben

        I would say more Libertarian – but people hate that word……

      • R

        No, I think GreaterClarendon sounds like myself and like many of my friends who like me also classify themselves as Republicans. Unfortunately, it is the people on the far right who have the loudest megaphone in the party, and Democrats and those in the media that want to portray anything Republican as “far right extremist”.

        • Mike K

          Very well said. Good point, R.

    • Zoning Victim

      Most people are pro-immigration in the sense in which you describe it here. I’m not sure why anyone other than someone who is very liberal would insist on falsely characterizing the Republican Party’s anti-illegal immigration stance as anti-immigration. No one I have ever spoken with is truly anti-immigration.

      • Arlington, Northside

        Sadly I have talked to Union Members on the Left and TeaPartiers on the Right who were truly anti-immigration. 🙁
        This Republican is afraid that some of those forces will come together and cause problems in Richmond.

    • Cate

      There need to be more Republicans like you.

  • charlie

    what a cry baby.
    yeah Moran (all of them) are embarrassing.
    but so is Rousselot

  • KalashniKEV

    KalashniKEV likes this.

  • TGEoA

    Real possibility? If the election results hold up, it’s a done deal. There will be no power sharing.

  • Landshark

    How will red Va. would manage without blue Va.’s funding?

    Mississippi will be able to say: “at least we’re not Virginia”.

  • BlueLoom

    And we’re supposed to believe what Peter Rousselot says about Brian Moran, when Moran has the job Rousselot wanted? Puhleeze.

  • Arlwhenver

    Rousselot is hilarious, acting like the Democratic Party of Virginia snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in the contest for control of the Senate, when the Democrats succeeded in retaining half the seats in the upper chamber, even though Republicans picked up 61 percent of the popular vote in Senate races statewide.

    Then Moran pats himself on the back for his strong achievements and predicts victory in 2012 when statewide his party wasn’t able to garner even 40 percent of the vote for either legislative body, with the R’s stomping the D’s even more so than in the McDonnell, Bolling, Cucinelli 2009 landside.

    It’s fun watching the D’s engage in wishful thinking and internecine warfare based on false premises, almost as much fun as it will be to watch what happens to Barbara Favola when she brings the Arlington Way down to Richmond.

  • Vic

    Peter’s right,

    Saslaw is not a progressive, he’s a slick weasel who’s in it for himself. I stopped sending him money since he became purple than turned red. Whipple’s gone now.
    If only Brian were more like his older brother……..
    Anyway, Brian needs to resign and Dick needs to be voted out.


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