(Admin's note: This was posted under a different heading on March 12, but because of a technical glitch, we lost it. It is re-posted here in an edited form, but with basically the same content. Sorry for any confusion.) Early returns often are misleading, not to mention election results themselves so soon after a major campaign. However, there are some signs GOP candidates maybe running effective campaigns in Northern Virginia and elsewhere.
First, there was the skin-of-the-teeth, 16-vote-win by Democrat Charniele Herring over Republican Joe Murray to win the lock-stock Democrat 46th House of Delegates district seat in a January special election necessitated when Brian Moran resigned to run for governor full time. Not long after that, Democrat Sharon Bulova barely defeated Republican Patrick Herrity in a special election for Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman.
Moral victories for Republicans, maybe, but then came an actual win: Last week, Republican John Cook squeaked by Democrat Ilryong Moon in the Braddock district supervisor seat vacated by Bulova (see Washington Post here). It's a district that went 57 percent for Barack Obama. His win changes the Fairfax County Board from an 8-2 Democrat majority to a 7-3 majority. Cook's win shows Northern Virginia may still be competitive and just as Republicans may have taken central Virginia and Hampton Roads for granted in recent years, allowing Democrat candidates to gain significant vote totals there, perhaps Democrats have taken its base lightly as well.
Republican statewide candidates don't need to win Northern Virginia to win elections, but they must be competitive and not get blown out, as were George Allen and Jerry Kilgore. Holding Dem victories to small margins upstate will be the test of the GOP ticket this fall; restoring large margins the test for the Dems.
Nationally, the moribund House Republican Campaign Committee may finally win a special election of its own. One indicator that it was in trouble leading up to the 2006 and 2008 campaigns were its losses in special elections in districts that had been Republican for years, including the one held by former Speaker Dennis Hastert as well as one in Mississippi.
Now comes word the GOP may be favored to pick up the New York House seat vacated by former Representative Kirsten Gillibrand to fill Hillary Clinton's Senate seat. According to The Post's The Fix blog (click here), while the Democrats' House campaign kitty is more than $16 million in the red, the GOP has some money to spend. It's a district that typically votes Republican in presidential elections, but Gillibrand proved to be an effective campaigner. Pundits say victory here could create momentum for yet more fundraising, which could be directed here in Virginia, a win considered especially crucial if the national GOP has intentions of a full rebound.