Richards Loses to Goode

Vice Mayor Meredith Richards lost the Fifth District Congressional race to incumbent Virgil Goode in yesterday’s race with just 36.5% of the vote. Though Richards carried Charlottesville (with 66% of the vote) and Brunswick County (a poor, largely black district on the North Carolina border known primarily for Brunswick Stew), Goode won by 65% to 70%+ throughout the remainder of the district. Richards has gone on record saying that she intends to run again in 2004, though, as Democratic party chairman Lloyd Snook said, the percentage that she got is “not real encouraging.” Bob Gibson has the story in today’s Progress.

23 thoughts on “Richards Loses to Goode”

  1. Though Richards carried Charlottesville (with 66% of the vote) and Brunswick County (a poor, largely black district on the North Carolina border known primarily for Brunswick Stew), Goode won by 65% to 70%+ throughout the remainder of the district.

    So, does that mean that Charlottesville (and Brunswick County) are out of touch with the rest of Virginia? Or is there some other reason for the fairly consistent discrepencies with our voting and the rest of the state?

  2. This is irresponisble of Meredith Richards. She lost with just 36%- that is what would technically be called a crushing defeat. This wasn’t just a matter of funding- she does not have the support or the qualifications to hold a seat in the Congress. Period. She lacks the most basic understanding of economics, foreign policy and the functions of the Federal Government.

    It is irresponsible for her to seek the nomination again because her party is going to need every seat that it can get in 2004. We can’t waste a race indulging the pipe dream of a candidate who has been proven unable to win this seat against Goode. Even talking about returning in 2004 is destructive to the Democratic party- it may discourage new candidates from seeking the nomination who would have a shot in the general election. It is a pointlessly divisive gesture.

    Ms. Richards, we appreciate your stepping up to the plate for this past race. But let’s not spoil it by doing it again.

  3. I actually originally wrote the headline as "Goode Defeats Richards," but changed it because a) the Progress had that headline already and b) on, Meredith is obviously the character of interest in this race, and so I chose to make her the focus of the headline.

  4. would then have been much more prescient had I any idea of the Progress headline. Alas, once again, my ignorance or laziness has held me back.

  5. Alas, once again, my ignorance or laziness has held me back.

    Typical, beyotch.

    It’s just instinctively hard to trust that the Progress copy editors did something right, though, isn’t it?

    Ship them all off to Greece, I say!

  6. Having "Meridth" and "loses" in the same sentence is much more effective, anyway. Good choice of words!

  7. It would have been bad to Charlottesville’s already over-inflated ego to have a Congresswoman from here.

    Dave Matthews AND a member of congress – my God, heads would swell.

  8. That’s an interesting spin on the right of a citizen to run for public office! I’ve never heard wanting to run described as an irresponsible act before. Do you deny her that right? I could see it if you said that the Democratic Party would be irresponsible if they nominate her again, but even that’s quite a stretch. If the party believes she’s their best candidate, they have an obligation to run her with full support.

    If she’s the best Democratic candidate in two years, then by all means she should run again! If somebody thinks he or she would be a better candidate, let’s see a hat tossed into the ring.

    Give her credit – she came from nowhere, with almost no funding (and don’t kid yourself – funding is a huge factor in a Congressional election). I thought she was a joke at first, but she ran a great race, kept to the issues, and going from 0% to 36% in a few months isn’t too shabby.

    It’s nearly impossible to defeat an incumbent Congressman, and the way this district was successfully gerrymandered it’s going to be terribly difficult for a Democrat, especially one from Charlottesville, to win. That’s by design, I can assure you.

    If she’s the only candidate in two years, do you suggest that Goode just be given a free ride, and the opportunity to save campaign funds for the 2006 race, when he’ll have a larger war chest to campaign against a candidate you might be happy with?

    Instead of trying to cast shame upon the Democrats for running Ms Richards, how about casting some shame upon them for giving John Warner a totally free ride? He didn’t have to spend a penny on this race, and he’ll have a huge treasury upon which to draw in 6 years – or even worse to transfer to his annointed successor.

    Should she wish to take another shot at Goode, I would hope she would start running the 2004 race next week, raising money, kissing babies, and eating rubber chicken. What qualifications does she lack? I believe she’s a US citizen, lives in the district, is over 25, and has the desire. There are NO OTHER QUALIFICATIONS she needs to meet.

    By your remarks, it seems that you feel Goode understands economics, foreign policy, and the government. Upon what do you base that assumption?

  9. C-ville is just a relatively liberal island in the very conservative ocean of Virginia. Not the only island, but maybe the biggest island in this congressional district.

    And the political reality is that redistricting usually tends to protect incumbents – making republican districts more republican and dems more dem.

    By the way, there’s considerable debate about the Brunswick Stew thing – there’s a city in Georgia that argueably makes a better claim on the title than Virginia.

  10. Virgil Goode probably has a great understanding of economics… he just doesn’t bother to use it.

    I will support Meredith Richards if she chooses to run again.

    How about Creigh Deeds as a candidate? I’m sure he’d have much more support from the more rural areas of the district, and he did crush Jane Maddux, not that she ran much of a campaign.

  11. Well… to answer my own question. Bath County is in the 6th US Congressional District, so Creigh Deeds obviously couldn’t run against Goode. Oops.

  12. Wow. Nowhere did I read that Guest supports Goode. Am I missing something? I ttok the writer do be a concerned democrat. Go figure.

  13. It was this that sort of set the tone. Sorry if I misunderstood. :)

    "By your remarks, it seems that you feel Goode understands economics, foreign policy, and the government. Upon what do you base that assumption?"

  14. You seem to be very excited about something that I neither stated nor implied. I’m not talking about whether she has a legal right to run. Obviously she does. That is a non-issue. I said that it would be irresponsible of her to run again.

    She got about 36% of the vote. Any Democrat with a pulse will get 36% in the general election. Those are the die-hard party faithful with very little company. Ms. Richards is a very nice, intelligent person who worked very hard during the last 6 months but she failed to accomplish anything that any other Democratic nominee would have done. I see not the slightest glimmer of hope that things would be any different in another run in 2004. If anything, fundraising would be even more difficult.

    My concern is that her enthusiasm for a second run may garner enough actual support within the local party leadership early on that other qualified candidates may keep their heads down. What many people do not realize about party politics is that the line-up for a primary is usually determined by strange politics among a very few people.

    It would be best for the party if Ms. Richards were to quietly step aside and enjoy a lifetime of local notoriety as the gal who gave it her best shot. Nature abhors a vacuum and within the next year or so new blood would emerge to pursue the nomination that would otherwise be entangled in internal debates over ‘whose turn it is.’

    I make no effort to cast shame on the Democrats for having nominated Ms. Richards. Quite to the contrary, I think that it is important that the party always field a candidate for every race. But once a candidate has proven that she is only able to attract the support of die-hard party faithful, there is nothing to lose and everything to gain by rolling the dice again. I would hope that Ms. Richards will realize this and give her support early on to a new candidate for the Democratic Congressional primary.

    P.S. Purely as a hypothetical, I offer the suggestion that there may be such potential candidates in the woodwork who would prefer not to betray a friend.

  15. Creigh Deeds would know better. He could definitely get the nomination, but he wouldn’t appeal very well to the large, crucial segment of swing voters in this district. Probably he would come in at around 43% if he worked hard at it.

    Within his own state Senate district he is exactly what can win again and again. The smart thing to do would be to focus on his very successful career in state politics. The Democratic party obviously has to put somebody out there, but anyone with an ongoing successful career in regional politics that isn’t a shoe-in should know better than to be a sacrificial lamb. A possible exception here could be L.F. Payne, who has less at stake and might have an even chance at getting his old seat back if he took his sights off of the Senate and the Lt. Governor’s office.

    What you need to beat Virgil Goode is something like military experience or a background as a farmer. Something that would appeal to swing voters and moderate conservatives who are tired of Goode. Someone who knows the issues inside and out, knows rural economics and can campaign throughout Southside Virginia on a grassroots level making a strong, confident impression wherever he or she goes.

  16. Meredith Richards ran a very energetic race here in Charlottesville. I was working the precincts for Virgil out in Ivy and was quite surprised by the high turnout and apparent support for Ms. Richards (though she ended up losing the precinct by 12 votes). However, in other parts of the district, she embarassed herself. She either needs to change her approach to this race, or not run again in 2004.

    The 5th is a very conservative district, made more so by redistricting. I know political experts say you build a campaign from the base up, and I know Charlottesville is Meredith’s base, but the fact is, she will never get more than 36% of the vote if she runs as a Charlottesville Liberal. I would venture to say that Charlottesville Liberals will vote for her over Goode anyway, so she really needs to moderate if she wants a chance at winning. Bragging about being Pro-Abortion in Charlottesville might win you votes, but it will disqualify you from the ballots of most voters everywhere else in this district. I hate to say it, but the environment is not a big issue for most 5th district voters, and most rural voters actually loath environmental activists because of the way they badger farmers (try going to a Farm Bureau meeting and you’ll see what I’m talking about).

    Secondly, Meredith needs to quit making herself look insignificant. That chicken money issue was chicken s*** to 99% of the voters. That company had an American plant for American consumers, Virgil knew it, she knew it, and the voters knew it. If a candidate EVER has to run on an issue like chicken money, they’re going to lose because it means their message isn’t catching on with the voters. It’s also really stupid to accuse a member of the appropriations committee with an extensive record of bringing in services for the district of failing to do so. Especially when you’ve sat on a City Council that has failed for years to build the necessary Meadowcreek Parkway. She picked insignificant or unwise issues to run on, and that’s why she didn’t do well among Independents and Republicans, votes she will need to win. Her namecalling (divisive, hypocritical, etc.) also made her look petty.

    Meredith either needs to pick a new strategy or never run again because she will waste the money of her supporters and her party. I hope she’s too principled to change her views on abortion and the environment, and I think she is. However, she needs to hide those positions next time, not highlight them. She needs to pick an issue like jobs and run on her idea to hire an economic advisor (I thought it was a good one) or to invest in education, instead of trying to convince people she will have more influence to bring in money than a member of the Appropriations committee! My prediction is that she will not run in 2004, I think the Dems will realize their mistake and run someone more moderate from Southside. Of course Virgil will win again, but it might be closer.

  17. You are quite right in most of what you are saying about Meredith’s mistakes. But once you’ve run through all of the changes that you are suggesting, the best way to summarize them is to say that she needs to stop being Meredith Richards.

    Transforming a candidate is never an easy task, even in small ways. Especially when a candidate has deep, heart-felt moral convictions about issues that will certainly be unpalatable to a key bloc of voters. Even if you can talk the candidate into it and get moving, you will encounter serious resistance if the public has seen the candidate’s ‘true colors’ in a previous campaign.

    I guess my point is that if you have a cow and you want a horse, you could in theory try to saddle up the cow. But you’re better off just getting a horse.

  18. Actually, I was responding to your statement that “she does not have the support or the qualifications [emphasis added] to hold a seat in the Congress. Period.” Perhaps she doesn’t meet your qualifications, but there have been many, many people elected to Congress (House and Senate) and held seats with far less impressive resumes than Ms Richards has.

    I do, however and sadly, agree that the local Democratic party is seriously saddled by a “whose turn it is” mentality. At the very least, that cost them one seat on Charlottesville’s City Council this May. Until leadership emerges that can overcome that, Democratic prospects will continue to falter – and the fact that the local leadership has not changed in face of that egregious strategic error is certainly cause for concern. And it had better happen quickly, as it’s very possible that 2004 could be a golden opportunity for Democracts all over the country.

    For any Democrat to win Virginia’s 5th, it will take extensive compaigning to overcome years of the “Ain’t Virgil doing a great job up there” pablum (pronouonced “ian’t Vuhgil doin’ a grueate job up theah”). The district was designed to make that seat safe for a Republican, and one has to say it is working. To his credit, Goode knew exactly what he was doing when he shifted to the Republican party.

    As for her potential candidacy keeping other possible candidates out because they don’t want to get in her way or otherwise offend her, I would suggest that any such people have neither the sack nor the guts to win the general election, much less actually serve in Congress in any case.

  19. Went down to the Nook Restaurant the morning after the election and the place was empty. At that point I realized that alot of democrats must dine there. I could only figure that the dems were at home curled up in the fetal position licking their wounds !!

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