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Monday, October 18, 2010

This is Such a Non-issue

The Richmond Times Dispatch ran an article on Saturday about NRA-PVF endorsed 7th District Representative Eric Cantor's decision not to debate his two opponents.  This has been the rallying cry for supporters of Democrat Rick Waugh and independent Floyd Bayne - "Why won't Cantor debate?"  Cantor is not the first incumbent that won't debate his opponents and he won't be the last. 

Virginia's 7th Congressional District is not competitive and has not been for almost 20 years.  Micheal Barone wrote in the Almanac of American Politics in the 90's that it was "the most Republican District" in the nation.  Cantor has never been tested since winning the 2000 Republican primary for the opportunity to run for the seat.  He raises gobs of money from the district which stretches from West End of Richmond and its suburbs in Henrico and Chesterfield Counties, through James Madison’s home Montpelier, and northward to Page and Rappahannock Counties.

To date, Waugh has raised $87,422 and has $2,168 on hand as of September 30.  Floyd Bayne has raised $9,319 and has $1,474 on hand as of September 30.  Cantor on the other hand has raised over $5,3million and still has nearly $1.5 million on hand. Cantor doesn't believe (rightly so) that it is his responsibility to give his opponents free media time and a forum to present their message when they can't do it themselves.

Five-term incumbent Rep. Eric Cantor, R-7th, says that people know where he stands on the issues and that he won't debate his opponents and give them a "platform for a food fight."

"My positions are well-known as far as the issues in Washington and the issues affecting the people of this state and this country right now."

For those not familiar with the history, the 7th Distict was dramatically altered in 1991.  At that time, the 7th District was represented by Congressman George Allen and the 3rd District (Richmond Area) was represented by Congressman Thomas J. "Tom" Bliley, Jr.  The Democratic majority in the House of Delegates wanted to do away with at least one of the Republicans in the delegation and Delegate Bob Ball was overheard saying, "by the time we are done, Bliley is going to need a seeing eye dog to get around his district."  The General Assembly ended up drawing Bliley and Allen into the same district.  Allen having the lesser seniorority bowed out and let Bliley run in the District.  The Assembly Democrats outsmarted themselves however because Allen ended up being elected Governor in 1993.

The 7th District has never been competitive since that time.  In fact, Bliley did not debate his lessor funded opponents, using much the same reasoning as Cantor - that his positions were well known by his contistituients. Bliley regularly won with over 70% of the vote and his last election, 1998, he won with 78%.  Cantor first won the seat in 2000 with 67% of the vote.  He pumped those numbers up to 75.5% in 2004 and won with 63% of the vote (his lowest margin of victory in five elections) in a bad year for Republicans in 2008.

Cantor represents his district well.  He has been a friend to gun owners for his entire time in elective office.  Waugh would offer the district full support for President Obama's policies.  He failed to respond to the NRA-PVF Candidate Questionnaire which means, despite statements on his web site, his support for our rights is suspect.  Bayne is an interesting candidate.  He is the darling of the Tea Party and WRVA radio talk show host Doc Thompson.  Cantor is endorsed by the NRA-PVF.  Cantor deserves the support of gun owners in the 7th District.

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