Knock-knock: “I’m fed up with all of you,” says Tony Smathers, a retired research physicist at the Naval Research Lab.
Knock-knock: “It must really suck to be a Republican right now,” says a federal worker who, truth be told, is a Republican herself.
Knock-knock: “Lifelong Republican,” says the woman at the door, a senior executive in the military. “I’m sorry — I have to tell you, I’m not apt to vote for anyone in my own party this year. Can’t do it.”
These voters will help choose a new governor in two weeks, and they are gearing up to send a message about the most recent horror show in Washington.
At many doors, voters tell Anderson that they plan to hold his party and its candidate for governor, Ken Cuccinelli II, to account for the D.C. follies. Anderson winces and explains that Virginia does business differently from the jokers in Washington. Things get done, budgets get balanced, opponents work together.
At some doors, there’s a grudging nod, maybe even a thin smile. But at many, this genial state delegate is the convenient guy to vent at.
Thirty-five miles from downtown Washington, Richard L. Anderson’s turf includes Virginia’s most reliable political barometer, the ultimate bellwether: the Coles Magisterial District, which happens to have voted right — that is, for the winning candidate, no matter his party or philosophy — in a dozen statewide elections in a row. People here voted for Barack Obama, twice, for George W. Bush, twice, for gubernatorial candidates Robert F. McDonnell, Timothy M. Kaine, Mark R. Warner and James S. Gilmore II, and for Senate candidates Kaine, James Webb, Mark Warner and John W. Warner — winners all.
So the men who want to be governor — Cuccinelli, the state attorney general, and his opponent, Terry McAuliffe, the former Democratic National Committee chairman — need to know: What are they thinking in Coles?
Answer: They do not like you. They cannot stand you. They want you to go away.
In interviews with more than 40 voters in Prince William’s Coles District, one — one — expressed actual enthusiasm for either candidate.
Coles voters are people of all walks, living in all kinds of settings. Prince William is part winding rural byways, part densely packed townhouse clusters, part cookie-cutter estate homes in developments that haven’t made it onto the road maps quite yet.
As more northerners, Asians, Hispanics and blacks have moved into new developments in Coles, the pattern of picking winners has persisted, a reflection of Virginia’s overall shift toward a more ethnically and politically diverse electorate. That change, which has turned a solidly Republican state into one with two Democrats in the U.S. Senate and two Democrats among the last three governors, is poised to alter the political lineup in Richmond, with Democrats in strong contention in all three statewide races this year.