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Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Campaign 2015 Post Mortem

After spending $43 million, including over $2 million dumped in by Michael Bloomberg's Everytown for Gun Safety, we wake up to the status quo - a state senate with 21 Republicans and 19 Democrats.  The biggest win of the night goes to 10th Senate District GOP Candidate Glen Sturtevant, who overcame a $700,000 negative attack funded by Everytown and a 3500 vote deficit after 24 precincts in Chesterfield and 30 precincts in Richmond had been counted.  It wasn't until the Powhatan registrar confirmed to a local television news reporter at approximately 9:00 PM that Sturtevant overwhelmingly beat Gecker in the county that the AP and other outlets started calling the race for the GOP candidate.
Because of the large number of votes cast in Powhatan, and the amount of time it took to report the totals, Senate Minority Leader Dick Saslaw told the Washington Post that Democrats had hopes that outcome would be reversed due to "irregularities."  Gecker has yet to concede the race and sent staff to Powhatan to examine the returns.  Sturtevant ended up with 73.8 percent of the vote in Powhatan where turnout was boosted by tightly contested local races.

In the other race that Bloomberg invested heavily, his chosen candidate won.  Everytown immediately went to Twitter to claim victory, but was quickly reminded that spending over $2 million to hold a seat already held by an anti-gun Senator, while losing the bigger battle of flipping control of the state senate, was not a victory.

So, who is the real winner in last night's election?  In the short term, the GOP, and gun owners, because Governor Terry McAuliffe got nothing for all of the money he spent from his PAC and that he convinced Bloomberg to spend to help him flip the Senate.  We can thank the gun owners in Powhatan County for that. 
“Amazing Powhatan turnout. Definitely Bloomberg backlash,” longtime Democratic political operative Paul Goldman said in a text message.
And as the Richmond Times Dispatch editorialized about Powhatan gun owners part in the Gecker loss:
The Democrat made a massive mistake when he accepted campaign swag from an interest group affiliated with former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who seeks tougher gun control laws. Gecker might have lost anyway, but the Bloomberg intervention gave Powhatan voters a reason to rise up in indignation. Sturtevant also received funds from outsider sources but the Bloomberg connection vividly cast Gecker on the wrong side of an issue of vital concern to Powhatan’s citizenry. A campaign focused on guns redounded to Gecker’s despair. This is not a surprise.
From a gun owner perspective, we still can't override a McAuliffe veto of good 2nd Amendment related bills.  And, as Brian Schoeneman wrote in his election post mortem on Bearing Drift, regarding the GOP, maintaining the staus quo is not really something to be popping the corks over. 
We maintained the status quo.  That’s it.  In every seat that was held by the GOP, we won.  In every seat held by the Democrats, we lost.  A few of those State Senate seats were open seat races (whether through retirement or the primarying of an incumbent Republican), but they were also in heavily partisan areas, where the non-incumbent party had only a slight chance to pull off an upset (for example, the 8th, 11th, 12th, 29th, and 36th).

The two most competitive challenger races – at least by media standards – were the Nancy Dye/John Edwards battle in the 21st District, and the Frank Wagner/Gary McCollum battle in the 7th District.  Neither of the challengers came close to unseating the incumbent, with both Edwards and Wagner winning by approximately 8 points.

Maintaining the status quo in the Senate was a must win, and we won it.  But we gained no ground, and the millions poured into the Commonwealth by outside groups didn’t have an overall impact on the final outcome.  In the two races they targeted, they went 1-1.  The only people really pleased with that outcome should be the TV stations in Richmond and Northern Virginia.
Gun owners were challenged this election and with the exception of one race (remember the gun ban lobby originally targeted four seats) we won.  Everytown and the national gun ban politicians are already trying to spin that one race as a major victory, which was expected.  This election was a wake-up call to gun owners.  Hopefully we heeded it and are prepared for war in 2016. That campaign starts today.

I had the opportunity to speak with NRANews Cam and Company host Cam Edwards about Tuesday's results:

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