2011 Elections / Hampton Roads / Local / Norfolk / Politics / Virginia

Predictions on Pilot endorsements

It’s that time again, when I try to pick who The Virginian-Pilot will endorse in the upcoming elections. As a guide, I refer you to this editorial from last year by editorial page editor Donald Luzzatto:

If you read the editorial page regularly – and I hope you do – you probably have a good idea what the editorial board thinks is important: Good roads, effective schools, safe streets, a clean environment, an adequate social safety net. Taxes should be only high enough for government to do what only it can do: Building roads, for example.

From politicians, we like integrity, both in governance and promises. We want leaders, not followers. We prefer problem-solvers to flame-throwers. We want government to be small both in its spending and in its intrusion. We favor folks who get stuff done. We like smart people.

Incumbency is important – deep understanding of the issues typically tilts in that direction – but experience is not a clincher. It can be if a challenger’s knowledge deficit will take years to overcome. Seniority matters, at least where it provides power used for Hampton Roads’ benefit. Again, not a clincher.

Last year, I went 11 for 14 – not bad, especially considering my Suffolk choices were just guesses. Let me see if I can improve my average this year. Although I write a weekly guest column for the opinion pages, I was not  privy to the interview or decision-making process.

One other quick point: the editorial board does not appear to take electability into consideration, so an endorsement doesn’t mean the candidate will win, just that the paper thinks s/he is the best person and should win.

General Assembly
We have eight contested races in Hampton Roads this year, but not all of them are within the Pilot’s circulation area. Here are the ones that are:

Senate district 1

A little piece of the redrawn 1st district is in Suffolk. The district is currently represented by John Miller, who will get the endorsement. Besides being the incumbent, Miller has put forth a plan for fixing the transportation problem in Virginia, a key issue to this editorial board.

Senate district 2

Mamie Locke represents this district, which includes a portion of Portsmouth. In this case, the power of incumbency is hard to overcome, especially since Locke is part of the Senate leadership. Being the former mayor of Hampton doesn’t hurt, either, as it gives her a perspective about local government and its needs that is sorely needed in Richmond.

Senate district 6

Here’s a race where that “problem-solvers” over “flame-throwers” thing comes into play. Incumbent Ralph Northam tries to be a problem-solver, reaching across the aisle – sometimes to the chagrin of members of his own party – to try to get things done. Northam helped to solve the judgeships situation in Hampton Roads. He’ll get the nod.

House of Delegates district 21

Ron Villanueva won this race in a squeaker two years ago and I expect the Pilot will endorse him this time around, for two reasons, the main one being that he’s the incumbent. The other is that he’s a member of the majority party in the House and the newspaper has shown a propensity for supporting candidates whose party is in the majority.

House of Delegates district 64

This is another district whose boundaries include a portion of the newspaper’s circulation area. A part of Suffolk is now in the 64th. Bill Barlow has represented this district since 1992 and should garner the Pilot’s endorsement, based on his “deep understanding of the issues.”

Local races
There are just a few contested local races on the Southside, since the Clerk of Court in the various localities are all running unopposed. These are the races in which I expect an endorsement (I’m guessing the board is not going to endorse in a couple of races for Soil and Water Conservation Director ;) ):

Portsmouth City Council

A special election to fill the seat left open last year as the result of the special election for mayor is on the  ballot. Appointed to fill the seat was Curtis Edmonds, Sr., who I expect will get the endorsement.

Virginia Beach City Council

Again, we have a special election to fill an open seat. I think the endorsement in this race is going to surprise a lot of folks. I predict the board will endorse John Moss, a former council member who has engaged in a spirited campaign since Rita Sweet Bellitto resigned earlier this year. Moss is a smart guy and has a deep understanding of the issues. You don’t have to agree with his conclusions to recognize that.

So there you have it. We’ll find out soon enough if my batting average has improved. :)

By the way – according to the State Board of Elections, 2,278 citizens have volunteered to run for local office. Kudos to each and every one of them for being willing to serve.

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18 thoughts on “Predictions on Pilot endorsements

  1. Is Don going to read this and change the nods, to mess up your averages?

    I think I would have guessed the same, but I wondered if the left wing pinko paper would not support Villanueva
    :)

  2. Vivian,

    In serious society in Virginia Beach, the argument is Sherrod vs. Free. No rational person is arguing Moss.

    Given The V-P’s track record of endorsements in Council races to prop up Virginia Beach’s status quo, Moss doesn’t have a snowball’s chance.

  3. I agree with all your guesses except for the VB City Council, where I think Sherrod will get their endorsement. Moss is a joke, this is, what, his third or fourth run for office in the past few years? He can join French Donald Mackes in the Virginia Beach perennial candidates’ clubhouse.

    • Fourth: Moss lost in 2004, 2008, and 2010.

      Another piece of the puzzle for Vivian: last year, The V-P Editorial Board rubber stamped the slate being pushed by Mayor Will Sessoms.

      • Yes, the Pilot endorsed the same slate as Sessoms.

        As for Moss – I don’t really follow the VB races that closely. My pick was really a wildcard one. And now that I’ve been told that Moss didn’t participate in the editorial board interviews – that information, by the way, did not come from any member of the editorial board – I can say that I’m definitely wrong on that. The board would never endorse a candidate that they didn’t interview.

        So no perfect score for me :( If I were given a mulligan in this race, I still wouldn’t know if they would pick Sherrod or Free.

  4. Say what you want about John Moss, the simple fact of the matter is that he knows more about Virginia Beach City Government than everyone who has posted here and probably most of the City Council combined. Like Vivian said, you can disagree with him all you want, but he’s still going to know more than you at the end of the day. That guy reads those 100+ page city reports in his spare time for fun. And despite having lost before, based on my turnout models for the city, this is his race to lose. His supporters are much more motivated, he’s got 100% name ID among people who will turn out to vote, and he’s got the most cash on hand. If he gets anywhere close to the number of votes he’s gotten in the past, adjusted for turnout, there’s almost no way anyone else can win unless Free or Sherrod totally bomb on election day. Although looking at Sherrod’s report and having heard a few things through the grapevine, that could be a very real possibility.

  5. I can predict the Daily Press’s endorsements: they’ll go straight Republican except for Mamie Locke, since they like to throw a bipartisan bone to their readers in an unwinnable race for the Republicans (like their half-hearted Bobby Scott endorsement last year).

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