Why Not a 435-District Strategy for the GOP?

by Jim Geraghty

One last point I didn’t make in my piece on the home page discussing the race to replace the departing Representative Jim Moran in Virginia’s eighth congressional district. Yes, it’s a heavily Democratic district. Yes, Micah Edmond or any other Republican candidate will face an extremely steep uphill climb.

But just as a sports team wants its best players on the field regardless of the odds, a political party wants its best candidates on the ballot. You never know when the opposition will have an unexpected scandal, make some horrific gaffe, or just turn out to be bad on the stump (like, say, Martha Coakley). Republicans like Joseph Cao, Charles Djou, and Bob Turner won in heavily Democratic districts because the circumstances were just right (admittedly, in low-turnout special elections). Still, a Republican representing a heavily Democratic district for one term is better than a Republican never representing it. If parties want to pursue a “50 State Strategy,” fielding candidates for every major office in every state, and conceding as few races as possible, why not try to find 435 solid, accomplished, compelling candidates, regardless of the district’s demographics?

Finally, a good, serious, credible Republican candidate helps bring out Republicans who won’t come out for a gadfly, an unserious candidate, or a blank space on the ballot. Ed Gillespie is expected to announce his bid for U.S. Senate from Virginia today. Do you think he (or any other GOP Senate nominee) is better off with Arlington and Alexandria Republicans staying home or coming out and voting?

If Micah Edmond turns out to be a good campaigner as well as a guy with a sterling résumé, there will be some office, somewhere, that he can win. Maybe it’s a local office, maybe it’s a state legislative race. If he makes it close, he’ll turn a lot of heads.