Democrats Screw Up a Big Opportunity in Virginia’s 2nd District

I missed this story from a couple of weeks ago but, late or not, I feel the need to share this.

In a stunning display of incompetence, the Democratic Party failed to recruit more than one qualified candidate to run in Virginia’s second congressional district before the filing deadline, which fell on March 31. As a result of this, no primary will be held and the only candidate who will appear on the ballot in November is someone by the name of Shaun Brown.

Ms. Brown is someone who always runs for office, yet never comes close to winning. She has run for the Newport News City Council four times and has lost each time; most recently in 2010 when she finished in fourth place, out of four candidates.

And yet, she was the only candidate to file signatures with the party’s district committee before the deadline. How in the world does something like this happen?

Bear in mind, this is not some safe GOP district where Democrats do not stand a chance. Virginia’s 2nd District, vacated by two-term Rep. Scott Rigell, is a swing district Mitt Romney only carried by a 51% to 49% margin over Obama in the 2012 presidential election. Cook Political Report rates its “Partisan Voting Index” at Republican +2; which measures how strongly a district leans towards democrats or republicans compared to the country overall.

In a year where either Donald Trump or Ted Cruz will likely be at the top of the GOP ticket, this is a district Democrats should be able to win. And this is the kind of district they will need to win in order to cut into the GOP margin of control in the House of Representatives.

They won’t take back the House this year, but they can sure get a nice head start heading into 2020; the election cycle party officials are targeting as the year they take back the House and several state legislatures to gain control of the redistricting process.

Seriously, how does this happen? They couldn’t find one viable candidate for this seat? How, after the debacles of 2010 and 2014, can the Democratic Party still be so bad at these down ballot races?

Instead of a potential pickup, this seat will likely remain safely in the hands of the GOP. Once again, the Democrats never cease to amaze.

6 thoughts on “Democrats Screw Up a Big Opportunity in Virginia’s 2nd District

  1. Virginia Beach Democrat

    The major failure here was to select a primary. In Virginia, a primary is only held if the district party committee submits a request to the state board of elections. If you do not request a primary, then a nominee can be selected by any other method up until June 14 at 7 pm (when polls close on primary day). What usually happens is the party selects a primary if you have an incumbent running (unless they request otherwise, like GOP Rep. Dave Brat did in VA-07 this year) or if the district knows there are any legitimate candidates planning a run. Otherwise, a primary is not selected. This allows more time to find the best possible candidate, and ensures you can prevent a trainwreck candidate from filing at the last second and automatically being nominated.

    I have no idea what is wrong with the 2nd District Democratic Chair, but she selected a primary for VA-02. She knew there were no candidates looking at running at that point. And the problem is there was misinformation put out- several local Democrats were under the impression they reversed the decision and would hold a convention at a later date. So some potential candidates did not bother, waiting to allow more time for a top tier candidate to be recruited.

    Shaun Brown is a poor candidate, who lives in the 3rd district and was originally planning to run for some bizarre reason a primary challenge against the popular Democratic Congressman Bobby Scott. She only filed for the 2nd because nobody else had so she saw an opportunity to win the nomination by default. To see what a joke she is, check her website koolbeansbrownforcongress dot com. If the chair had just not selected a primary, this could not have happened. Now the only way it is possible, even in the biggest of waves, that the Democrats win this seat is if Shaun Brown gets replaced. So while the national Democrats may have done a poor job recruiting someone, this is a case where local Democrats really ruined things by doing everything wrong.

    1. David Asche Post author

      It’s baffling to me. Good point about the local party being the main culprit here. I probably should have specified that a little more.

      But even to that point, shouldn’t the national party be on the local party to do their job? Like I said, and as you know since you live in the state, this is a swing district. One the national party should be focusing heavily on anyway.

      It was a failure from top to bottom and it shouldn’t give us any confidence that the party has a coherent plan to rebuild at the state and local level.

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