Not Larry Sabato, an anonymous blogger who focuses solely on the House races this year, has the usual handicapping of the 37th race in November with its over reliance on “the fundamentals.” If the fundamentals were so prescient, Chap Petersen would have never won in 2001, let alone slaughter his opponent in 2003. This race is David Bulova’s to lose, in my book.
First and foremost, it’s walkable. Chap knocked on 14,000 doors to engineer his 2003 upset. Bulova is about 34, I think. His GOP opponent, John Mason, is 70. He’s not walking apace with David.
His last name (his mother is a county supervisor representing about two-thirds of the 37th district) means a lot in the southern half of the district (the Braddock sueprvisor district). She’s popular and “never tested” recently because no one dare.
The 37th district has been trending Democratic.
*Gilmore took Fairfax City by about 6 points.
*Gilmore won Braddock District by 7 points.
*Jack Rust, who Chap beat in ’01, was considered so powerful he was unopposed in 1999.
*Bush won the city in ’00 by three points, winning every precinct.
*Bush won Braddock District by about 4 points.
*Warner won 5 of 6 Fairfax City precincts.
*Kaine won 4 of 6 city precincts.
*Warner won Braddock by 5 points.
*Kerry won Fairfax City by more than 3 points and 5 of 6 precincts
*Kerry won Braddock district by about 51-49%.
The part of the 37th that is not in Fairfax City or the Braddock District spans two districts that are solidly Democratic, including Chairman Gerry Connolly’s old district.
The Braddock portion of the 37th is politically active; in fact, some of us are thought of as a pain in the ass to pols. We whine. But we listen, too. Nobody wins this district because of the initial next to his/her name.
Education is a big issue in the 37th. We’re like the parents in a cartoon I saw recently. Parents are tucking their little girl into bed saying, “We want you to get the best grades in pre-school so when you get older you can afford the best psychiatrists.” Bulova’s focus on schools, along with his young family, will resonate with voters here.
The youth vs. experience choice certainly didn’t hurt Chap against the older Rust. In fact, I think it helped him. I suspect it will with Bulova, too. He has the same demeanor as his mother, soft spoken. It comes across to some as lacking the fire, but people here like his mother’s approach, which is to listen first and then lead. Folks will make the connection, and like I said, she’s solid here.
Plus, the Democratic committee in Fairfax is getting its act together.
I think it leans Bulova.