In Blogs, an Early, Passionate Turnout

By Michael D. Shear
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 23, 2006

The battle for the heart and soul of Virginia's Democratic Party -- and the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate -- is underway.

At least it is in the Democratic blogosphere, where passions are running high.

It began, oddly enough, at an event sponsored by Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Gerald E. Connolly (D), whose St. Patrick's Day fundraiser has become a must-visit event for many Fairfax Democrats.

That's where the two Senate candidates found themselves last week, canvassing for votes in a straw poll taken during the event. Former telecommunications lobbyist Harris Miller and former Navy secretary James Webb faced off in an early test.

A very early, and small, test: a straw poll at a Fairfax event where a few hundred highly motivated activists cast ballots before anyone goes to the polls in the June primary.

But that hasn't stopped the liberal bloggers from going crazy over the results.

"Jim Webb Crushes Harris Miller," screamed the headline written by Ben Tribbet on his Not Larry Sabato blog. "Harris Miller should withdraw."

As noted on that and many other blogs, Webb won the straw poll by 58 percent to 42 percent. Webb's communications director, Kristian Denny Todd , sent out an urgent e-mail to reporters moments after the results were tallied.

Over on the Raising Kaine blog, Lowell Feld -- an early and vocal supporter of Webb's who organized a petition drive to urge him to run -- was gaga over Webb's performance. A blog post about the event featured a picture of a startled-looking kitten.

"The Morning After: Last Night Was Truly Shocking," read the headline on Feld's post.

"It may have marked the beginning of a populist-progressive, 'Jacksonian Democratic' revolution in America, what may be seen in a few years from now as Virginia's 'shot heard 'round the world,' " Feld wrote in a post.

Even Feld admitted that that was over the top.

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