City Republicans Can’t Find a Council Candidate

It’s official: Charlottesville Republicans will, for the second election in a row, not field a candidate for the election, Henry Graff reports for NBC-29, leaving the two Democratic nominees challenged only by a pair of independent candidates. Charlottesville consistently delivers the second-highest percentage of Democratic votes of any locality in the state (Petersburg always trumps us), usually around the 75% mark. This fact of demography understandably leaves Republicans uninterested in running anybody.

The trouble here is that Democrats and Republicans are given a special privilege in Charlottesville (as in most—all?—localities in Virginia) which is that they can field candidates who they select. Independent candidates Bob Fenwick and Andrew Williams have to get the signatures of 125 registered Charlottesville voters and submit that paperwork to the State Board of Elections to get on the ballot, simply because they are not affiliated with a party. So with Republicans opting out of elections, I think it’s time to seriously consider whether a third party—whether to the left or the right of Charlottesville Democrats—need to be given the right to nominate candidates, taking over that duty from the unwilling Republicans. I don’t know how that process works, but if Democrats are to be seriously challenged in an ongoing fashion, exchanging Republicans for a third party seems like a route worth exploring.

10 thoughts on “City Republicans Can’t Find a Council Candidate”

  1. Has Cville ever thought of switching to a non-partisan election model? Lot’s of localities around the country do it, and it seems to particularly work best in areas with a significant majority in either national political party.

  2. Libertarians should run candidates; they spend time on the mall trying to talking me into joining but should really try and make a difference. I don’t think Greens would be that much different then what we have now.

    Waldo, why you call the republicans unwilling? Why would a really good republican run and get savaged? Everyone knows that with rare exceptions, all you have to do is get the democratic nomination. To peel off 30% off the democratic built in advantage is an enormous undertaking. Hell, Darden Towe couldn’t get a 2nd term and they named parks after the man. You be hard pressed to find another republican that was better loved or did more for Charlottesville.

  3. Waldo, why you call the republicans unwilling?

    Um. Maybe I’m misunderstanding your question here. I call the Republicans unwilling because they’re not willing to run. There’s really no question about that here. :)

  4. What you call unwilling, I call unable. They want a canidate they just can’t find one.

  5. That’s not always true, Perlogik. For example, there’s several willing and qualified candidates the Republicans could run in the current Sheriff’s race. But the Republican party knows the Democratic candidate always has and always will most likely win the election, so why should they bother? Baird could run as a Republican now that the Democrat voters handed his butt back to him with a “no thank you!” in the recent caucus. There’s plenty of candidates willing to run on the Republican ticket for a $100,000 a year job. You have to ask yourself why the Republicans aren’t interested in running a candidate, not why they can’t locate a candidate.

  6. I can assure you that the city republicans would run a candidate if they could find one. Were the democrats “unwilling” to find someone in previous years to run against Rob Bell or merely “unable”?

    I will concede that republicans are unwilling to run someone against David Toscano but that’s about it.

  7. Perlogik, we’re talking past each other, I think.

    When I say “Charlottesville Republicans,” I’m talking about the people who comprise that group. When you say “Charlottesville Republicans,” you’re talking about an entity. So when I say that they’re unwilling, what I means that the individuals who comprise the party—presumably nearly all of whom are eligible to run for office—are not willing to actually run. What you read that as is that the group itself is not willing to support a candidate. That’s not what I mean. The group as an entity doesn’t interest me, since—like Charlottesville Democrats—it’s the individuals who make it up who explain its actions, motivations, etc.

    The aspect in which the group entity does interest me is insofar as they have an obligation to field candidates, as I believe they should in order to maintain their privilege of getting candidates on the ballot by simply naming them.

    Democrats were unwilling to run against Rob Bell two years ago, but were willing four years ago. By which I mean people said to me, “hey, Waldo, you should run against Rob Bell.” But knowing that I would lose—as they knew as well—and not being a good enough human being to run a losing campaign, I was not willing to run. The same was true of every other Democrat in the 58th District, implicitly, since they, too, did not run.

    Note, FWIW, that there’s a big difference between conceding a seat to a single incumbent and conceding an entire class of seats. Charlottesville Republicans aren’t giving up on running candidates against, say, Dave Norris. They’re giving up on the whole of City Council. With two election cycles having gone by, with no candidates fielded, it’s perfectly clear that they consider the whole of Council unwinnable. They’re likewise fielding nobody in the sheriff’s race, as Demopublican notes. Ditto for school board. In fact, do they have any candidate for anything in Charlottesville? When was the last time that they had a candidate for any city seat?

    In other news, the word “unwilling” has lost all meaning to me. Unwillingunwillingunwilling. Yup.

  8. The use of a collective noun can complicate communications- you’re correct in my meaning. I think we are talking past each other in this case. I also agree as well with your lament on a class of seats verse one candidate.

    However, Charlottesville democrats can turn out nearly 80% of the electorate for a candidate like Obama. That makes asking republicans to run like asking one to scale Everest without oxygen. It can be done but the person and the conditions have to be nearly perfect. The only way a sane person would want to run against the democratic hegemony is for the democrats to field candidates so unacceptable to the moderates that it swings the balance. If you were unwilling to run against Rob Bell (kudos for your honest disclosure) how can you really be that upset when city republicans decline to run in a much more unfavorable climate? I share your disappointment, just not your angst.

  9. Small note- the democrats or republicans don’t field school board candidates in a technical and legal sense but I get your point.

  10. The county has a ward system which makes it easier for candidates to run by appealing to their neighbors, regardless of party for the most part. The elections in the city are city-wide, so the majority of voters can put in democrats. It may be a different story if the city was to convert to some type of ward system.

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