Dan Gecker and Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe.

Scott Elmquist

Dan Gecker and Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

6 Takeaways from Sturtevant's Senate Victory

Forget big outside money and try to understand the voters.

Posted By on Thu, Nov 5, 2015 at 11:45 AM

Republican Glen Sturtevant’s win over Democrat Dan Gecker Tuesday for a seat in the state Senate's 10th District is still reverberating locally and across the state. What does it mean?

Here are some takeaways about what happened, why and what’s next:

1. Big money, especially from outside the state, doesn’t mean squat in influencing Virginia voters. Gecker spent $2.3 million to Sturtevant’s $1.3 million, making the 10th District race the most expensive ever. But Sturtevant’s win shows that Virginia voters don’t care about spending. They won’t be treated like little cogs in a giant machine managed somewhere else.

2. Michael Bloomberg, stay home. The progressive former New York mayor and media mogul had one of his groups spend $734,000 on pro gun-control ads for Gecker. It backfired. Voters in the more rural and gun-loving parts of the 10th n-- amely Powhatan County and parts of Chesterfield County -- aren’t going to cotton with an outsider with a Nanny State mentality telling them what to do. The GOP concentrated on them, boosted their take and got 5,000 votes that were able to turn the tide against bluer parts of Richmond that went to Gecker. Without Bloomberg’s “help,” Gecker might have won.

3. The results mean status quo, not a quantum leap in any direction. Democrats failed to get the Senate, but the power balance remains exactly where it was the day before the election. Republicans held, but didn’t gain, foretelling roadblock city on legislation.

4. McAuliffe must face up to reality. His plan to push for tighter gun control isn’t going anywhere. He’s going to have to drop Medicaid expansion too. No choice. He has also shown how little he understands voters, which is unfortunate -- especially, perhaps, for Hillary Clinton.

5. Sturtevant is only 33. Does he represent the new kind of Republican in Virginia? Maybe. But let’s hope he doesn’t morph into the usual old conservative mossback who takes money from Dominion or Altria and muddles along in a business-as-usual fashion or turn into a right-wing nutbar.

6. Dems need to learn from the right. As Anna Scholl, executive director of Virginia’s ProgressVA puts it, committed conservatives “are voting all the time, they are making their voices heard, and they are a loud minority.”

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