The In-Fightin' 37th: So Long To The SenateJan 14, 2010
Rumors are bouncing off the statues in Capitol Square and, for some Republicans, the inauguration bloom of its statewide sweep has come off before the big event Saturday. It all has to do with the loss of Stephen Hunt to Dave Marsden in the 37th Senate district special election Tuesday to fill the seat left vacant with the election of Ken Cuccinelli as attorney general. A 300 vote loss which may put some close votes out of reach of Republicans in a Virginia Senate with an expanded Democrat majority in the will do that.
Among the small talk in the GAB and Capitol Square is that Cuccinelli wanted to "run" the campaign since he has an extensive and dedicated grassroots network in place, while the McDonnell people said it was now their turf as head of the party. Others say the loss belongs solely to those responsible for the lack of an absentee ballot apparatus that lost those votes by more than 400, more than the margin of difference. Others blame the Fairfax GOP, that they were lethargic and/or overconfident: While Hunt did well in Dem precincts, even winning some Cuccinelli lost in 2007, he didn't have anywhere near Cuccinelli's margins in Republican precincts.
Adding to the frustration — and infighting — is the other hot rumor: That a Democrat senator would have retired if Hunt had one, apparently one who represents a conservative district, allowing for another special election which would've tipped the chamber back to the GOP. Instead, the Dems, despite their November shallacking, are as emboldened as ever in the Senate, and prepared to stifle the new governor's agenda.