The Virginia primary for Lieutenant Governor is less than 3 weeks away, and I still find myself undecided. This is rare for me, as I obviously follow politics, including state politics, closely. I have followed the three campaigns nearly every day, and yet, here I am, still looking for something to push me over the finish line.
Vogel has lead most public surveys of the race, and has definitely attracted the fire of a frontrunner from her opponents. That being said, her campaign has been mostly unimpressive. She wasted months responding to counterattacks and seems more focused on the day-to-day of the campaign than any bigger message.
I also have concerns that the Washington Post summed up nicely in their recent highlight of the race:
A mother of four and stepmother to two, she has sponsored bills that fellow Republicans have rejected as “nanny state” measures. One would have required that genetically modified food be labeled. Another aimed to address a safety issue associated with movable soccer goals, a measure inspired by the death of a young player in her district. She has voted to ban discrimination against gay and transgender people in housing and public employment.
In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, Vogel spoke in favor of stronger gun control.
As others have been quick to point out, Vogel has been dragged back to the right on 2nd Amendment issues, and her voting record on gun rights has been perfect. Fine, I’ll accept the conversion on that, but her tendencies toward government solutions to community problems still seem problematic.
On the positive front, however, Vogel is likable, electable, and has a respectable conservative voting record despite a few hiccups. I have no doubt she would be a formidable general election candidate, if she could decide upon a message.
If State Senator Bryce Reeves had run anything even close to a decent campaign up to this point, this would be a no-brainer to me. Reeves is close to where I am on the ideological spectrum, has generally been on message throughout his State Senate campaigns, and leaves me with no doubts about the votes he’d potentially cast if the Virginia Senate was deadlocked.
Unfortunately, that’s not the campaign Reeves has run. I’ve heard it through the grapevine that I’ve irked some Reeves allies by covering his many miscues. The irony of it all is I’m more likely to vote for Reeves than any other candidate, at this point.
Still, I have grave concerns about Reeves in the general election. Terrorists rampaging the suburbs is an absurd ad message, and shows a lack of strategy. Had Reeves run even a boilerplate campaign, I’d have my mind made up.
Delegate Glenn Davis is probably running the best campaign, for what that’s worth. He did lose points with me when he decided to go to war with Vogel over taxes (considering Davis supported the largest tax hike in Virginia history and supports Medicaid expansion). Davis is, after all, the most moderate of the three running.
Davis could have tried to appeal to that moderation. He would have lost me in the process, but in a state that so soundly rejected Donald Trump and even gave squish candidate John Kasich a respectable 96,000 votes in the primary, that could have been a path. Instead, Davis has tried to walk a fine line, not really embracing his record.
He’s actually pulled that off admirably, but that doesn’t distract from the fact that he doesn’t have the money, message, or charisma to pull this thing off. Part of me wants to reward the man for running the best campaign, but that doesn’t equate to a win in November or a win for conservatism.
I have friends working for or supporting each of these candidates. Here I am, a politically active writer and operative who can’t make up his damned mind about a race. Reach out to me. Convince me. Convince me that Jill Vogel won’t let statist tendencies manifest. Convince me that Reeves can find a reasonable message for November. Convince me that Davis won’t sell us down river on Medicaid expansion. Someone earn my vote.