With yesterday's recount over and Ron Villanueva now officially a Delegate-elect (by a whopping 16 votes), I can do the promised first look at the 2010 Virginia Beach City Council races.
Incumbent: Louis Jones
There are a number of interests that have problems with Louis. The catch is finding a single candidate that they can all unite behind.
If Jones runs for reelection, he probably wins.
Incumbent: John Uhrin
I've heard a couple names tossed around on the grapevine, one who probably now won't run. A quality, well-financed challenge could give Uhrin a run for his money. However, that probably won't happen.
Incumbent: Jim Wood
If you can think of a plausible scenario under which Wood loses next November, post it under Comments. I certainly can't.
Princess Anne District
Incumbent: Barbara Henley
The weakest of the four district seat incumbents. I thought she could be beat in 2002 (I was right), and I think a strong challenge can beat her in 2010.
However, it's not Henley's direct ties here, but who in her inner circle can pull levers. She's stronger that you might think at first glance.
At-Large (2 seats)
Incumbent: Bill DeSteph
This could be where the real fun is.
Council will now have to make an appointment to serve the remainder of Villaneuva's term. Tradition has it that City Council asks the interim appointee not to seek a full term. However, they could appoint someone they want to give a leg up to for next November.
If you thought what happened to Andrea Kilmer in 2002 was ugly, you ain't seen nothing yet! A nuclear-level sliming awaits Bill DeSteph. (It's a given that we'll see that genie photo again.) I would expect to see a PAC formed that would run anti-DeSteph ads.
DeSteph? Parrots the Deaniac line, liked by some at the Republican Breakfasts, despised in top business circles, leading the charge against light rail, etc. Can you say "Don Weeks?" I thought you could.
While DeSteph gets nuked, newcomers will fight it out for the two Council seats. Pull up a chair.
The X Factor
The one looming item that could mean trouble for the incumbents is the FY 2011 Budget. What does Council do, and how do they sell it to the public?
Something struck me after the fact: none of the incumbents up for reelection in 2010 were at this year's NAACP Freedom Fund Banquet. The red letter event in the African-American community, but no one at all showed up. Say what?
Then, it's not like the VBTA can take advantage of it. Not only are they wrong on too many issues, but only one VBTAer has been endorsed by a major minority organization in the 21st Century. That was John Moss by the African-American Political Action Committee (AAPAC) in 2004, and that endorsement was primarily anti-Rosemary Wilson, not pro-John Moss.
Speaking of our favorite bunch of racist kooks, I expect them to challenge for every seat they can throw a warm body at. However, what issues will they run on? My guess is taxes and light rail, but:
1. Taxes - with assessments set to go down for the second consecutive year, how do you get traction on it? If they couldn't win on it when assessments were increasing double digits annually, they won't now.
2. Light Rail - the SDEIS isn't scheduled to be completed until December, 2010 - after the election. The irony is that all the incumbents have to do is mouth the "wait and see" position the VBTA is pretending to take.
Bottom line: there's nothing there that the VBTA can even start to win Council seats on.