Okay, you've probably been waiting for my two cents worth. May even want to chime in with your own thoughts under Comments. Here I go....
Who won yesterday? Obviously all 6 incumbents. However, what political grouping?
4 of the 5 candidates endorsed by Mayor Sessoms did. However, Bill DeSteph won reelection while chosen successor Dave Redmond finished 5th in the At-Large field.
Obviously not the extremist Virginia Beach Taxpayers Alliance (VBTA), as all of their challengers went down hard. As 2010 was the last chance the VBTA had to even make a half-baked challenge for Council seats (more on that later), fittingly the VBTA as an electoral farce came to an end on All Souls Day. (November 2 is All Souls Day in the Catholic Church, when we remember the dead.)
The biggest story of the day may have been the poor showing of the Council candidates endorsed by the African-American Political Action Council (AAPAC). (More on that later, too.) However, time is on AAPAC's side. Yesterday was an early skirmish in a much broader and longer war.
The only clear winner yesterday was (drum roll, please) City Clerk Ruth Fraser. With all 6 incumbents returning, the old stationary can continue to be used.
You knew I couldn't wait to beat up on my favorite whipping boys, didn't you? With Obama's reelection effort almost certain to drive a huge minority turnout in 2012, any VBTA Council challenges will be stillborn next time out. Most of the angry old men who comprise the VBTA's inner circle will have aged out by 2014. Therefore, 2010 was their last chance to make a Council splash and they largely blew it.
The poll workers pushing the slate of Bill DeSteph, John Moss, and Toni Hedrick yesterday were using sample ballots from the Hampton Roads TEA Party (HRTP). It's telling that they admit that the VBTA brand is ballot box poison for a candidate.
Their astonishing faux pas of the day was further down the sample ballot. They called for the defeat of all three proposed amendments to the Virginia Constitution. That's right: they openly opposed tax waivers for veterans 100% disabled in the line of duty, in this Navy town! That had to be dead weight on their Council candidates!
If you want proof positive of what a joke the VBTA is, George Furman received more votes (31,338) in Bayside District than Hedrick (29,229) did in Lynnhaven. Furman didn't even actively campaign as such until a month out, and had no visible organization. Yet Furman got 2,109 more votes than Hedrick!
How will the VBTA react? We get a hint reading the online comments to The Virginian-Pravda story about the election results. First Reid Greenmun posted a disjointed blathering about the Mayor and Vice Mayor promising a light rail referendum. (Not a word about the candidate loses.) Then Ben Krause repeated his same campaign talking points about Jim Wood. (Yeah, that message played well.)
Yesterday I did an all-day stint at Holland Precinct, at Holland Elementary School, primarily for Andrew Jackson. Jim Wood also asked me to distribute his lit, which I did with Andrew's permission.
I started the day with a Jackson palm card and the Wood piece. Running out of Jackson cards about 10 A.M., I then switched that off to the African-American Political Action Council (AAPAC) sample ballot for the remainder of the day.
Poll workers from the Republican Party of Virginia Beach (RPVB) and HRTP were there for the three busier periods of the day (morning, lunch, and evening). The Virginia Beach Democratic Committee (VBDC) and Kenny Golden campaign had people there morning and evening. Barbara Henley's Council campaign had someone there for lunch and the evening. The firefighters union had firemen there periodically during the day.
Such a day always has it's fun moments. The bizarre one was when the Democratic worker called for a Constitutional amendment prohibiting corporate campaign donations, labeling contributions by corporations "fascism". The most humorous one was using the restrooms at the elementary school. Designed for small children, the urinals are mounted low and the sink even lower. That led a retired sailor to exclaim, "Adjust your aim!" The warm moment was realizing five of us poll workers were Catholic. (We should have brought our rosary beads.)
Todd Davidson came for about 90 minutes at midday, and his time made for some of the better conversation of the day.
He also got corrected a comical problem: the school had it's SOL accreditation flag up the flagpole upside down. (Our Navy veteran had tried to get it fixed earlier, but to no avail.) School Board member Davidson charged into the Office, and within a few minutes a custodian was out to get it right.
James Cabiness and his wife came to vote just before Noon. (Yes, he lives in Holland Precinct.)
George Furman spent about 25 minutes there after 5 P.M. I tried to explain to him that he was getting it wrong. (Hey, it was late enough in the day that the advice was useless.) A candidate is suppose to spend a few hours at a few targeted precincts during the day, but he was trying to hop around a number of them quickly. Anyway, my words went over his head.
I'm always happy to do work for my best friends. Their cause is just, right, and will empower the vast majority of residents. Not only did that take me to Holland Precinct yesterday, but I wrote some basic poll working pointers for the Jackson Campaign last week. As for Andrew, at most I hoped he could slip into the 2nd Place spot in the At-Large field. In the least I wanted to beat a Kool-Aid chugger or two.
Yesterday was a mess. Not only did Tanya Bullock lose, but Jackson (6th) and Cabiness (7th) finished in the last two slots of the At-Large field. Virginia Beach continues to be diversity-challenged.
My consolation is what happened in Holland Precinct. Andrew finished 2nd, just one vote behind Rita Sweet Bellitto. Also, Tanya won Holland. (Her name was at the top of the AAPAC sample ballot.)
We lost a battle, but the war continues. Quite the contrary of the VBTA, our numbers are growing daily. It's not a question of "if" we win, but "when" we win.
The long version of the Democratic sample ballot had a section "Friends of the Democratic Party", which encouraged people to vote for a given list of City Council and School Board candidates. Also, Virginia Beach Democratic Committee (VBDC) Chair Susan Mariner e-mailed out the list on Monday.
Republican poll workers had a list of Council and School Board candidates endorsed by Governor Bob McDonnell.
Having spearheaded the RPVB's 2001 look at endorsing Council candidates, I couldn't help but think "It's about time."