Commentary – Virginias day in the sun


An ice storm leading to jammed traffic on the Beltway leading to two-hour commutes from the District on Route 1 and the Parkway took nothing away from Virginia being in the spotlight on Presidential Primary Day 2008, nor over the past five days in this most extraordinary of Presidential campaigns.

Sen. John McCain and Gov. Mike Huckabee on the Republican side and Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama on the Democratic side were each looking for something out of the Commonwealth they could count as good news.

Three of the four did find something positive:  McCain and Obama won, so that counts, on its face, as good news.  Huckabee lost to McCain but did far better in the western and southern counties than anyone had suspected, so he got some bragging rights.  

Clinton lost.  Not good news.

I had an appearance on Fox News Channel scheduled for 7:15 Tuesday morning, so I got to the Lyles Crouch School polling place in Alexandria at about 6:10.  There were about eight people ahead of me in line in the A-K line, although the L-Z line was empty.

When I picked up my ballot I saw that about 14 A-K Democrats had voted, but I was only the 4th Republican.   I didnt take a peek at the sheet in the L-Z line.  14-4 is about the right ratio of Ds to Rs in Old Town, so I was not surprised.

A year ago Gov. Tim Kaine endorsed Obama.  Obama returned the favor on Monday claiming, according to CNN, that Kaine was on Obamas short list for potential Vice Presidential candidates.

Obama raised a crowd of over 4,200 in Alexandria in the run-up to the primary.  At Virginias Democratic Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner in Richmond the other night, according to the Washington Post, Obama supporters appeared to outnumber Clinton supporters by about 3 to 1.

As the results came in, it appeared that Virginia would give Obama his first actual lead among the elected delegates (as opposed to Super Delegates) which is something the Clinton campaign never, ever thought would happen or it would have to explain.

A Maryland judge ordered that states polling places to remain open for an additional 90 minutes so people who were stuck on an ice-covered Baltimore-Washington Parkway could vote, so a local victory party at the Holiday Inn in Alexandria for John McCain to address the crowd (and claim all 60 of the winner-take-all delegates from Virginia) was delayed until the returns from Virginia and Maryland warranted it.

The Presidential primary circus will move on, but the Commonwealth of Virginia will cast a long shadow over the process on both the Republican and Democratic sides.