Today’s Washington Post takes a look at the race in Virginia’s 11th Congressional District:
In Northern Virginia’s 11th Congressional District race, Democrats are aiming to extend recent gains while Republicans hope a wealthy businessman who is already advertising on television can help the party hang on to a seat held for seven terms by retiring Rep. Tom Davis.
As the Post notes, there is reason to believe that the advantage in this case lies with Democratic candidate Gerry Connolly:
Connolly heads into the fall election season with several advantages. He was reelected to the county chairman’s seat overwhelmingly last year, a feat that included enough exposure on television and in print to give him an edge over Fimian in name recognition. Connolly has led an award-winning county government that satisfies most residents, according to polls. He has emphasized school quality and such progressive initiatives as expanded public transit, storm water protection and “green” building standards. He also has earned broad support among business leaders, in part by advocating for a Metrorail extension to Dulles International Airport and pushing for a dramatic redevelopment of Tysons Corner.
As a result, independent political analysts such as the Rothenberg and Cook reports have given Connolly the advantage.
“Getting things done together,” Connolly said earlier this year about his style of governance. “That’s the measure, I hope, of the kind of congressman I’ll be.”
Most importantly, perhaps, Connolly, 58, is a Democrat. The 11th District encompasses Fairfax communities including Vienna, Oakton and Annandale as well as part of Prince William. It is an affluent and diverse stretch of suburbs characterized by a large federal workforce, government contractors and, increasingly, Democrats.
Voters in the 11th District rewarded Davis again and again for his moderation on social issues and his boosterism for federal workers and contractors and such bread-and-butter issues as highway construction. But they also overwhelmingly elected Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) in 2005 and Sen. James Webb (D) in 2006.
Or, as I noted back in June:
In 2004, Bush/Cheney won Virginia 53.68% to 45.48%, with 252,217 separating Bush/Cheney and Kerry/Edwards. In the 11th District, Bush Cheney barely won the 11th District, grabbing 49.92% (161,104 votes) to Kerry/Edwards’ 49.29% (159,055 votes).
In 2006, Jim Webb beat George Allen in the 11th District by more than 24,000 votes, in a year when Tom Davis won re-election by over 30,000 votes — which indicates a sizable portion of Davis’s voters also voted for Webb that year instead of George Allen.
And, well, we know what happened in 2007.
If this were any other year, and if the Republican Party were in much, much better shape than they are right now, then there might be a chance of holding on to Davis’s seat in November. As things stand right now, though, it’s looking as though the 11th District, which started it’s life out in Democratic hands in 1992, will turn blue once again in 2008.
And when you add in the fact that Mark Warner is likely to do very, very well in Northern Virginia, the odds of Fimian winning this thing start to become more and more remote.