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Is Virginia turning blue? It's possible
So, is Virginia really turning blue?

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Date published: 12/16/2007

By Richard Amrhine

THE PRESIDENTIAL election campaign has people pondering "the bluing of Virginia." Could a Democrat claim the commonwealth's 12 electoral votes next November? Even if it's a woman named Clinton?

What a concept. Virginia hasn't voted for a Democrat for president since Lyndon Johnson in 1964, but it has elected two Democratic governors in a row, and five of the last seven. And these are not your old, Byrd-style, pay-as-you-go, status-quo-loving Virginia Democrats, but progressive Democrats who offered voters just the right touch of Virginia conservatism to get elected.

This week's special election held to complete the term of the late Rep. Jo Ann Davis proves once again the GOP's stranglehold on the First District. Del. Rob Wittman won easily, but at least this time the Democrats had a viable candidate to put out there in Philip Forgit.

A year from now, Virginia appears poised to replace Republican Sen. John Warner with former Gov. Mark Warner, completing the conversion to a Democratic Senate delegation that was wholly Republican until just a year ago. Warner, the Democrat, gets credit for brokering a bipartisan tax plan in 2004 that closed a huge state budget gap and preserved Virginia's credit rating.

Though the Democrats elected in recent years won because their platforms and personalities resonated with Virginia voters, they were given a leg up by Republican candidates and a GOP that self-destructed.

Former Sen. George Allen gave away his seat to James Webb in large part due to his "macaca" comment during a campaign rally. Now Allen has resurfaced as a possible candidate for governor in '09. While Virginians still give his previous term high marks, that was long before his Senate career crashed and burned last fall.

Former Gov. Jim Gilmore, whose car-tax-repeal mantra catapulted him into office in 1997, thought he could do that without replacing the lost revenues. The ensuing near-calamitous aforementioned budget shortfall should have catapulted him into obscurity, but here he is prepared to serve as the GOP's sacrificial lamb in a Senate run against Mark Warner.

Gilmore says that since he doesn't have the personal bank account that Warner does, he'll have to run on his record. Yikes. Virginians should demand a special box on their touch-screen ballot that lets them vote



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