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.
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.”
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.