Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Payback for Benny

A month after then-Senator George Allen’s infamous Macaca Meltdown began to ruin his chance for reelection, Allen received the endorsement of Benny Lambert. It was a head-scratcher. Why would a longtime state senator, a black Democrat from Richmond, choose to back a white conservative Republican incumbent US Senator, who was then standing waist-deep in troubles to do with racial insensitivity?

Well, I still can’t answer the question. The answer Lambert offered then, about black colleges getting a good deal from Allen, was rather flimsy. So, I can only guess that Lambert didn’t like Allen’s opponent, Jim Webb, all that much. And, like all the pundits, he thought Allen would still win the election.

And, I can only guess that Lambert’s strange move -- to turn against his own party, rather than just sit on his hands -- had to do with some personalities. Namely, they were Mayor Doug Wilder and Lambert’s opponent in today’s Democratic Primary in the ninth district, Donald McEachin. Now I don’t pretend to know what the details are, but Lambert has seemed at odds, publicly, with those two formidable black politicians at times.

Naturally, some Democrats blew their tops and wanted the turncoat drummed out of the party. Some Democrats got so angry about it they acted as if his backing Allen for reelection was tantamount to endorsing a serial killer or a child molester.

Later today push will come to shove. When the votes are counted, we’ll see how much Lambert’s long stay in the General Assembly, and his many connections, will withstand all the payback that is coming his way. And, since anybody can vote in Virginia’s primaries, maybe some Republicans will turn out to thank Lambert for what was his futile gesture.

My guess is that you can stick a fork in Benny -- he’s done.


Jason Kenney said...

I don't know. I don't have my fingers on the pulse of local Dem politics, but I get the feeling Lambert's going to pull this off. His lack of engagement of McEachin may have been calculated or the result of Lambert believing it was not necessary, that there was no race here and he was going to walk with it. I'm not sure, tho. I'll definately be watching the results.

F.T. Rea said...


Lambert is surely hoping the donkeys who were so mad at him last year have mostly gotten over it, which could produce a lazy summer day's low turnout.

Of course, some of the Democratic bloggers haven't forgotten. How much the anger we see in the blogosphere will carry over directly to the street will be tested today.

My thinking is that bloggers or no bloggers, the Wilder arm-twisting factor will be enough to put McEachin over the top. If McEachin wins by a large margin, say 20%, then the bloggers may be due some of the credit.

The contest that has me stumped is the five-ring-circus that is the House race in the 72nd.

Jason Kenney said...

The bloggers worked wonders to motivate people outside the district to care, but inside Richmond there doesn't seem to have been a lot of buzz on the campaign other than a once in a while post on the deal. Not that I've noticed, but it could just be chalked up to that lack of inside knowledge thing.

In the 72nd, that's a toss up. I think Massie will pull it off due to Blackburn's turnout helping him more than Stosch's helping Wheat (even though I think Stosch will pull the win). That's one that'll probably come down to the wire.