McCarthy Is Out: Will It Affect Local Elections?
Floating straw looks like a lifeboat to a drowning man. Is McCarthy's ouster a sign of Republican dysfunction... or Democratic desperation?
by MARTIN DAVIS | Founder and Editor
Perhaps Gov. Glenn Youngkin knew something the rest of us didn’t when he began pushing early voting among Republicans earlier this year. Like, perhaps, the Republicans would shut down the government or oust the Speaker of the House before Election Day.
Get the votes in early, before the chaos starts.
Now that Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has been removed as Speaker of the House for negotiating with Democrats to keep the U.S. government opening — you know, just the type of bipartisan leadership voters say they want, but then consistently punish those politicians who dare act on that impulse — Republicans may rightly begin to worry that it will have a deleterious effect on local elections across the country.
As the rest of us watched and worried as Congress careened toward a shutdown, several Republican operatives we spoke with expressed concern that such an action would cost Republicans as much as 10 points in the November elections.
But does that same fear apply to the McCarthy ouster? It’s too early to say.
Democrats Hoping For Some Electoral Spark
Reached by phone, Jeremy Levinson, who serves as campaign manager for Joel Griffin, said it’s too early to decide if the events in Washington today will shape the messaging of Griffin’s race to win the Senate District 27 seat.
However, he did say that “Today’s events show what we have been saying from the beginning, that the Republican Party is a party of extremists.”
That same idea was echoed by Ben Litchfield, who lost his primary bid to run for SD-27 to Griffin in June:
“The removal of Kevin McCarthy as Speaker is characteristic of the deep divisions within the Republican Party and the stranglehold that MAGA extremists continue to have on the GOP. We see those divisions on full display in Spotsylvania with lesser characters such as Nick Ignacio, Steve Maxwell, and Matt Strickland who have no discernable principles for governance other than ‘my way or the highway.’”
The Advance reached out to Tara Durant — the Republican candidate for SD-27 — to get her thoughts, but as of Wednesday night she had not responded.
Are Republicans Governing the Way They Campaign?
For those who participate in or follow politics regularly, it’s not a stretch to connect the dysfunction exhibited in McCarthy’s firing to the dysfunction that is regularly on display outside the polling center for early voting Spotsylvania.
There, Nick Ignacio and Steve Maxwell, along with their band of sycophants, have created an environment with all the civic warmth of a Klan rally. Oversized flags. Pick-up trucks. An utterly unnecessary armed guard protecting, well, no one really seems to know.
They actively follow voters shoving bogus sample ballots at them and yammer on about conspiracy theories and ideas about what’s really happening that border, which sometimes leap over and into the delusional.
The evolutionary tree which both Congressman Bob Good (R-VA) and his “patriots” in Spotsylvania County are share apparently has no fork in it.
But will casual voters make the connection, or even care?
That’s a tougher question for which there is no clear answer.
Still, don’t be surprised if in coming days Democrats do all they can to tie Durant to the same nihilistic congressional people in Washington. Litchfield’s and Levinson’s statements to us would seem to make clear that Dems are becoming more comfortable saying this.
The Foundation for Victory in November: Bold Vision vs. Unforced Errors
Truth be told, Dems need something to spark their electorate. After all, the race for SD-27 that earlier this summer was flagged as a must-watch race has fallen off many organizations’ radars. Politico doesn’t list SD-27 as among the competitive races they’re watching. And even some Democratic-leaning trackers no longer rate SD-27 competitive.
And there are mumblings that at the state level Dems are walking back their involvement in Spotsylvania.
Of course, we’ve seen this scenario before in November 2022, when a Red Wave was supposed to wash over the state.
Election Day remains a full month away. The Spotsylvania School Board races are all but sure to turn-out higher-than-normal numbers of voters this year, and Matt Strickland’s write-in campaign may be a bust or leave a dent.
Monica Gary continues to generate both interest and attract attention, with her performance at last week’s debate elevating her profile.
As ever — what commentators and pollsters and talking heads and the governor believe will happen really doesn’t matter.
What does are voters, and which candidates can turn them out. A Washington debacle could be the extra spark that Democrats need to motivate people to go to the polls.
Odds & Ends at FXBGAdvance.com
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-Martin Davis, Editor