On February 8, I posted an article entitled "John Edwards Concedes Election," arguing that Roanoke-area state Senator John Edwards had effectively handed the Democratic nomination for Attorney General to fellow state Senator R. Creigh Deeds (D-25) by voting against the anti-gay constitutional amendment on marriage.
Sure enough, the Roanoke Times reported on March 5:
Roanoke state Sen. John Edwards has dropped plans to seek the Democratic nomination for attorney general, concluding that he could not devote enough time to mount a competitive campaign.
Edwards' decision leaves state Sen. Creigh Deeds of Bath County as the lone candidate for the party's nomination, which will be determined in a June 14 primary. Two Republicans, Del. Bob McDonnell of Virginia Beach and Richmond lawyer Steve Baril, also are running for attorney general.
Edwards said Friday morning that the demands of his Roanoke law practice prevent him from making the necessary full-time commitment to the campaign trail.
"I've come to the conclusion that, to do this right, I've got to go full time from now on out, and I don't have the time to do that," Edwards said in a telephone interview Friday morning. "You cannot do this part time in any meaningful way."
Edwards, 61, added that he has "a lot of unfinished work" in the Senate, where he has served for nearly 10 years. His district includes Roanoke, parts of Roanoke, Montgomery and Pulaski counties and all of Craig and Giles counties.
There's a suggestion in that article that money problems were at the root of Edwards' decision:
Deeds had raised more than $433,000 through the end of 2004. McDonnell had raised nearly $1.2 million through the same period and Baril had raised more than $1 million.
Edwards had raised only $82,590, and $36,000 of that was transferred from his Senate campaign committee, according to data compiled by the Virginia Public Access Project.
The lack of money had demonstrable effects: The Edwards campaign did not even have a web site for potential voters (and contributors) to visit.
But what was at the root of the fundraising deficit? My best guess is that Edwards was too liberal for a statewide constituency, while Deeds has been cultivating his image as a right-of-center Democrat who represents a largely rural district. (The largest -- and most liberal -- jurisdiction in Deeds' district is Charlottesville.) So the smart money has been going to Deeds while Edwards lags behind.
Now the question is, if Deeds wins the general election for Attorney General, who will run to succeed him in the 25th state Senate district, which winds from Bath County on the West Virginia border eastward to Albemarle County? Names floated to run in a potential special election in December include former Charlottesville City Councilors Meredith Richards and David Toscano and Albemarle GOP committee chairman Keith Drake. (Toscano, however, is the leading candidate to succeed Delegate Mitch van Yahres, who announced his long-awaited retirement last Saturday in Charlottesville, in this November's General Assembly election.)
And what about candidates from outside the Charlottesville-Albemarle metroplex? The 25th district can't be lacking in ambitious town councilors, county supervisors, and school board members looking to climb the ladder of political success.