2017 Virginia Primary Race Predictions

Disclaimer: My legendary, world renowned and highly coveted political predictions – at 96 percent since 2012–are based on the following not so scientific criteria: total hearsay, unconfirmed rumors, conspiracy theories, pure innuendo, personal insight, Trump White House leakers, DPV moles, RINO’s, Bernie Sanders’ supporters, my high-voltage tin foil hat wired directly into the mother ship (aluminum comes from Chi-Coms), William at the dry cleaners, Wayne from the Virginia Zoo, my postman, my random radio show callers, pure instinct…and my secret sauce.

TUNE INTO EXCLUSIVE VIRGINIA PRIMARY NIGHT
ELECTION COVERAGE
ON TUESDAY JUNE 13 FROM 6-11 PM

It all adds up to a nearly flawless track record! I’m right a whopping 96 percent of the time.

Finally, my predictions do not necessarily reflect my endorsements or my preference as a voter. It’s just my cold analysis.

Governor

Democrat

Ralph Northam over Tom Perriello

Leave no doubt: former Congressman Tom Perriello has run a great race and put the fear of political Gods into the sleepy and scaredy-cat Ralph Northam campaign.

From his surprise Christmas announcement to his opposition to pipelines and his mocking of Virginia’s Democrat establishment, he put Northam on defense early. Northam has had to respond to Perriello by pandering in the worst way, including calling POTUS a “narcissistic maniac” in a recent television ad.

Perriello had 16,000 Facebook live viewers in a campaign talk from headquarters Sunday night. Perriello should win this race.

But he won’t.

The Washington Post’s full-throated endorsement of Northam carries significant sway with undecided Democratic voters in Northern Virginia, and is, in my view, a game changer. Northam wins.

Perriello will be back. He is formidable.

Republican

Ed Gillespie over Frank Wagner and Corey Stewart

Wow. What a difference a second statewide campaign in three years makes.

Ed Gillespie and his campaign manager, Chris Leavitt, have run a textbook flawless campaign. In sports terms, they’ve played mistake free ball. In so doing, their team has run up the score. This is a blowout. Gillespie should eclipse 60 percent in the three-person field. After losing two squeakers in four years (Obenshain ’13 and Gillespie ’14), Tuesday night is Chris Leavitt’s moment. He’s earned it.

Gillespie has put a huge and impressive Election Day ground game in place to buttress his significant airwaves financial advantage in the closing weeks.

State Sen. Frank Wagner has run one of the most principled primary campaigns in recent memory. He spoke his mind, he pandered to no one and he’s advanced some great ideas in this cycle, including his call for high school technical training standards for achievement. He’s passionately defended Dominion energy and the 2015 rate deal he brokered as Energy and Commerce Chairman.

Frank has come on my radio show every time we have asked, has taken calls from listeners and has been personally accessible on the campaign trail.

He deserves a better fate on Election Night. Although he’s closing, he won’t get one.

Fatigued after a bruising state senate re-election campaign in 2015, Wagner started too late in the cycle, never raised enough money to compete effectively with Gillespie and never put together a ground operation.

We look forward to working with Frank in the 2018 General Assembly.

Corey Stewart’s last television ad attacking Gillespie with the frontrunner’s head bobbing and eyes crossing was very clever – and very funny. I laughed the few times I saw it.

Stewart never put together the broad coalition he needed to compete, many Trump voters have abandoned him for various reasons and his obsession with civil war era statues is too narrow a platform to win a Virginia primary.

As the next coming of Jeff Davis, his campaign message never broadened.

General Election

Regardless of past Virginia voting trends, Gillespie has a shot in November. Here’s why:

The Democrats say their base is on fire, and they will turn out in November. No doubt.

But the untold story: so are Trump voters. They will turn out in huge numbers, too.

As bad as Virginia was for Trump in 2016, consider this:

Hillary Clinton and Green Party candidate Jill Stein garnered 1,969,473 votes in the 2016 Virginia general election.

Donald Trump, plus Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson and Independent conservative Evan McMullin received 1,941,771 votes. That’s a 27,638-vote difference out of 3,911,244 votes cast, or a less than one percent differential.

Northam’s bizarre denunciation of President Trump in television ads may have saved his primary bacon, but it will arouse the wrath of Trump voters in November.

We’re not stupid, Ralph.

Lt. Governor

Democrat

Justin Fairfax over Susan Platt and Gene Rossi

Justin Fairfax, after losing a barnburner primary race to Att. General Mark Herring in 2013, has never stopped running. He’s logged tens of thousands of miles crisscrossing the Commonwealth and has had in-depth voter contact. He appears to have at least a competitive GOTV ground game, and he’s ID’d the most voters of any of the three candidates. His resume is impressive and he’s already run a statewide race. This is a tough race, but Fairfax should prevail by holding his own in NOVA and blowing out the field in southeast Virginia where he runs particularly well for some reason.

Susan Platt made the centerpiece of her campaign the impeachment of President Trump. What on earth does that have to do with running for Lt. Governor of Virginia? Nothing.

So it’s either a stunt or a desperate campaign Hail Mary? Neither option bodes well. Her first name gets her second place.

Gene Rossi says he’s the comeback kid. He says call him “Seabiscuit,” the famous racehorse who came furiously off the pace to gain Thoroughbred fame and lore.

Rossi has a run a spirited, upbeat and energetic campaign. In a time of political negativity and seemingly around the clock hate, he’s made politics fun again. He’s an inspiring candidate with the right experience for the job. The surprise of the night will be how well he does on primary day. My message to Gene: please don’t quit, stay involved, run again. You have taught us all something during this campaign: Make Politics Fun Again. Good luck, Gene Rossi.

Lt. Governor

Republican

Jill Vogel over Bryce Reeves and Glenn Davis

What a nasty campaign this has devolved into. One would have thought going in that this would be an inspiring race, with three very qualified – and different candidates.

Instead – save Glenn Davis – it’s a mud bath.

The last mailer by Sen. Reeves attacking Sen. Vogel for voting for a qualified gay judge in Virginia because of his sexual orientation was really beyond the pale. Are we still at this place in Virginia? Do Republican primary voters really respond to this?

Everyone knows I am a pro gay-rights, pro gay marriage Republican – and have been fighting this battle for 30 years in my Party—so am I looking at this through rose-colored glasses? I guess we shall see.

That being said, Vogel is going to win this race based on her financial advantage, her late advertising campaign on television and her personality. The woman is tough not to like.

Her campaign team, led by up and comer campaign manager Pat Trueman, has been stellar. Trueman learned a lot from is former boss, Rob Bell. It has shown in this race.

Glenn Davis has run a great race – short on resources and long on ideas. He attempted to brand himself early as the jobs candidate – and it stuck. Driving around Virginia in his RV, dubbed “Mellow Yellow,” Glenn, his wife Chelle and his energetic staff have really made a name for themselves. More money would have given him a real shot on Tuesday.

He’ll be back.

Like Stewart’s, I never got the Reeves campaign. They got off message early on with this email fiasco and never really recovered. Reeves has more resources than Davis which gets him second place.

But one candidate made a future while the other dug a grave.

Selected House of Delegate Races

District 72 – Jimmie Massie Not Seeking Re-election  

Eddie Whitlock over Ernesto Sampson

Ernesto Sampson is a formidable candidate. Eddie Whitlock is a beast. Landslide Whitlock.

District 56 – Peter Farrell Not Seeking Re-election

Party in the 56th! Six Republican candidates are vying to replace Peter Farrell in this GOP district. Five are viable.

  1. Matt Pinsker. Like the energizer bunny, Pinsker just keeps going and going and going…right to primary day. He kind of grows on voters. His consultant, Aaron Gulbransen has done a nice job in this large field in separating out his candidate. He’s done enough of just everything to win. But his down home, gee whiz Boy Scout humble personality is the factor you can’t quite quantify. It’s there and in a crowded field, it’s enough to notch the win. Plus Ron Hedlund backs him. Need we say more?
  2. John McGuire. Should win. Won’t. Never closed the deal with voters. All show, not much legislative go.
  3. George Goodwin. What’s not to love? He’s the most qualified of all the candidates. All of us Richmond general assembly insiders love George, who now serves as Sen. Mark Peake’s legislative aide, after having the same role for then Sen. Tom Garrett. George is very popular with his friends and colleagues. We are all rooting for George! But not enough of us vote in D-56.
  4. Graven Craig. What Trump voter will ever forget the Harrisonburg Heist?
  5. Dhaker. He’s a great dentist!

District 64 – Rob Morris Not Seeking Re-Election

UPSET ALERT!

Upstart Emily Brewer; a millennial wins in an election night stunner, upsetting heavy favorite Rex Alphin, an Isle of Wight supervisor.

Brewer – outspent by about 10:1, has outworked Alphin in the district and has the enthusiasm necessary on primary day to pull this off.

On paper, Alphin, with the endorsement of fellow farmer and powerful Delegate Barry Knight (R-Chesapeake) should easily win this race. But paper doesn’t win primaries. Voters do. Alphin generates very little enthusiasm.

District 28 – Speaker Bill Howell Not Seeking Re-Election

This is easy. Cecelia Howell endorsed Bob Thomas to succeed her husband. Do you have any idea of the influence that Cessie has in that district? That’s all I really need to know.

Paul Milde has the lead – which he keeps until Cessie’s network drops from heaven shows up on Tuesday.

Susan Stimpson? Had she waited – and not tried to knock off the Speaker in 2015, she would have won this race. Hindsight is 20-20. Thomas wins.

District 21 – Incumbent Ron Villanueva over Bill Haley

Bill Haley has become of the Harold Stassen of Chesapeake politics. Oh wait, Harold Stassen actually won a race. Villanueva, who serves as the House of Delegates Chairman of Transportation, wins 65-35 percent.

TUNE INTO EXCLUSIVE VIRGINIA PRIMARY NIGHT
ELECTION COVERAGE
ON TUESDAY JUNE 13 FROM 6-11 PM

Perriello, Gillespie Poised for Epic Showdown

New Odds on Virginia Governor Race: Perriello, Gillespie Poised for Epic Showdown

Blue Virginia Now Fully In Charge of Sleepy, Scaredy-Cat Northam Campaign?

CNU’s new Judy Wassen Public Policy Center poll out last week may be an early portend of things to come.

Our new morning line odds on the 2017 Virginia gubernatorial races are out!



WASHINGTON, D.C. — The primary election for both of Virginia’s major political parties is Tuesday, June 13. Any Virginia registered voter can request a ballot for either party. The nominations are decided by plurality, there is no run-off. The highest vote getter wins. Primary voters are not bound in the general election.

GOP Governor- Primary

Ed Gillespie – 1:5

Gillespie is now the overwhelming prohibitive favorite to be the GOP nominee.

The CNU poll has him at 38 percent, with 38 percent undecided. Opponents Corey Stewart and Frank Wagner are at 11 and 10 percent, respectively.

If Stewart and Wagner evenly split 80 percent of the undecided vote, which is highly unlikely, Gillespie still romps with 45.6 percent.

The Gillespie campaign has assembled a significant 15 strong paid statewide staff, and they claim they have signed up 6,000 active volunteers. These ground game numbers dwarf their opposition.

The former U.S. Senate candidate seems to have learned much from his “close but no cigar” loss to U.S. Senator Mark Warner in 2014.

Gillespie’s message of “for all Virginians” may not be awe inspiring, but it beats “G squared” of 2014, which I thought was some sort of an isosceles triangle equation from my freshman college geometry class.

The cornerstone of Gillespie’s campaign is a 10 percent across the board personal state income tax reduction. This will certainly appeal to both the heart and pocketbooks of working class Republicans.

The wonkish, dry and overly scripted campaign of ’14 has given way to a more passionate candidate with some pop and pizazz, energized by his tax cut plan. A typical Virginia family of four would pocket $1,300, or just over $100 per month. For many struggling middle class families, that makes a real difference in their lives.

The front-runner’s cash on hand advantage is significant, and I predict he’ll drop around $1.5 million on television in the final weeks to increase his already high name profile. The other campaigns can’t match this outlay, which has the potential to put Gillespie over the 50 percent mark.

Something dramatic has to occur – and fast – to deny the GOP nomination to Gillespie.

Frank Wagner – 7:1

I never, ever count Wagner out.

But this race is getting tougher for him as each day goes by.

The Virginia Beach state senator has run a gutsy campaign where he has stuck by his positions and told the truth. Where that eventually lands him in a statewide Republican primary remains to be seen, but he’ll continue to be a force to be reckoned with in the General Assembly if he does not capture the governor’s mansion.

Wagner has defended the 2013 transportation tax, the 2015 Dominion rate freeze, and now calls for a gasoline tax increase in lieu of tolls and bonds to rebuild Virginia’s crumbling infrastructure.

While you may not agree with him, he has earned immense respect from his followers in this campaign. What you see is what you get: no focus groups, no poll tested lines, no consultant driven positions. His voters are solid, like an immovable object.

Wagner is a “tell it like it is” man of great legislative and intellectual substance. He calls it like he sees it.

The above gets him 20 percent. He has little in the way of campaign infrastructure, and he’s going to get buried by an avalanche of Gillespie’s ads in the closing weeks of the campaign.

Corey Stewart 12:1

If Corey were running against Jefferson Davis for President of the Confederacy in 1860, I’d have him as the odds on favorite.

According to the CNU survey, The Prince William Chairman is underwater in his favorable vs. unfavorable ratings, and he trails Gillespie big in NOVA.

Outgunned financially, he has decided to make the preservation of Confederate statues the centerpiece of his campaign.

While hailing from the North, I like the Confederate statues, and I appreciate and respect Virginia’s history – good or bad. History is history.

Truth be told, though, I’d rather have the $1,300 tax reduction then the statues.

Stewart never caught fire, the Trump voters he hoped to capture have scattered, and his long-shot gubernatorial bid is fading. He’ll need to catch lightening in a bottle with an issue that people care about to get back in the race.

Denver Riggleman – Scratched

Democratic Governor – Primary

Tom Perriello – 4:5

Ralph Northam 6:5

Former Fifth District Congressman Tom Perriello is now the favorite to win the Virginia Democratic nomination for governor on June 13.

He has picked up the endorsement of progressive icon Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) plus many of his pals from the Obama administration and former Obama campaigns.

But the real story is The CNU poll, which spells disaster for Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam.

After holding a high profile statewide office for four years, winning two statewide elections in 2013, and assuming to be chief executive heir apparent, Northam finds himself in a dogfight he never fathomed.

The CNU survey has both candidates tied at 26 percent of the vote with another 45 percent undecided.

Do you really think a majority of that 45 percent is going to break for Northam?

No. You know why?

His campaign is not credible.

Dr. Northam is a centrist candidate running to the far left, afraid of alienating the progressive wing of his Party, in a Democratic climate of protests, anti-Trump town hall meetings and pink hat rallies.

Here’s the rub: if you are going to vote for the most liberal candidate in the race, you might as well vote for the real thing. That’s Perriello.

Perriello is fearless. Northam is tentative.

Bottom line: The Northam campaign doesn’t know how to deal with Perriello.

BLUE VIRGINIA RUNS THE NORTHAM CAMPAIGN?

The Northam campaign is petrified of Virginia’s progressive blog Blue Virginia.

In fact, the case can be made that Blue Virginia’s founder and president, Lowell Feld, defacto runs the Northam campaign. They are scared of what Lowell might write about them so they toe his line.

Lowell runs the show.

The first sign of Northam campaign feebleness was the Atlantic Coast pipeline. The Virginia Chamber of Commerce did a survey last year showing the pipeline favored by a whopping 2:1 margin in Virginia, including by the popular outgoing Governor Terry McAuliffe. The entire Hampton Roads 33 strong state legislative caucus supports the ACP, an unprecedented achievement.

Perriello came out against it, rallying his environment-first base, at the expense of job creation for Virginia’s craftsmen and women.

What an opportunity for Northam to contrast his McAuliffe jobs first message with Perriello’s extremist no pipelines position. Instead they punted, and said the governor does not make that decision and refused to take a position. Really, Ralph?

To win this race, Northam needs a campaign shake-up. I’d rip Clark Mercer from the now lame duck LG’s office and put him in charge. Then, I would elevate veteran communications director David Turner and get out of their way. They are both tough, battle tested, and savvy.

Short of that, or something dramatic, Perriello is going to win the Democratic nomination for Governor. A last minute endorsement and campaign appearance from former President Obama turns it into a Perriello landslide.