Is Boucher Really Vulnerable?

This week, as talk spread of a real live contested election in Virginia’s Ninth Congressional District, I have had folks ask me one question over and over: Can Rick Boucher be beaten?

My answer: yes. Of course, I would immediately follow that by explaining that it is going to be an extraordinarily difficult task and that we will need all the help we can get from resurgent Republicans, disappointed Democrats and irritated Independents throughout the Ninth District to make it happen. Anyone who thinks that, just because McCain and McDonnell won the Ninth, unseating Boucher will be easy is fooling themselves. Congressman Boucher has represented this District for a long, long time and he is not going down without a fight.

In fact, let’s look at Boucher’s results in the past few elections for a dose of realism.

Rick Boucher – 97% (McCain – 59%)

Rick Boucher – 68% (Allen – 55%)
Bill Carrico – 32%

Rick Boucher – 59% (Bush – 59.5%)
Kevin Triplett – 39%

Rick Boucher – 66%
Jay Katzen – 34%

Needless to say, Rick Boucher is an institution in Southwest Virginia and has consistently lapped his competition despite Republican candidates performing well at the top of the ticket.

So what makes 2010 any different? The difference this time around is that Boucher has actively alienated a significant segment of his constituency. Through his support of Cap-and-Trade and other big government initiatives put forth by this administration, residents of the Ninth are now seeing Boucher for what he is: a down-the-line liberal who bucks his party on the 2nd Amendment but not much else.

In previous campaigns, voters in the Ninth had no real reason to even consider making a change. This time around, however, the idea of sending someone new to Congress from the Ninth District is at least on the minds of voters. What remains to be seen is if someone, anyone, can make an argument to folks in the Ninth, not just to think about making a change, but to actually pull the lever (or touch the screen, as it were) for someone other than Rick Boucher.

We’ll be following closely to see if it happens.

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