Virginia’s 5th Congressional District Race Is a Toss-Up
It doesn’t help matters that the man Good and his fellow apparatchiks ousted in a drive-up convention — incumbent Denver Riggleman — has refused to endorse him against Webb. Yes, many Republican officeholders have done their good soldier turn and lined-up behind Good. But as much as snagging Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert’s endorsement may thrill some in the GOP, Riggleman’s very public snub shows not all is well on the Republican side.
All of these items have combined to convince at least one election watcher, the Cook Political Report’s Dave Wasserman, that the 5th District might actually be a toss-up rather than leaning toward the GOP.
It’s truly and deeply tempting to think Webb will defeat Good — soundly, and not by the wafer-thin margin by which Perriello defeated then-incumbent Virgil Goode in 2008. But that contest a dozen years ago tells us just how difficult it is for a Democrat, even one as promising as Webb, to win the 5th District.
Perriello’s win caught everyone by surprise, even the 5th’s resident political guru, Larry Sabato. As Politico’s Ben Smith reported:
For most of 2008, Goode’s was viewed as a safe seat and Perriello — a young, urbane lawyer who had practiced in New York — as the longest of long shots. But as polls suggested the race was tightening, and as Charlottesville mobilized to vote for Obama, the Crystal Ball held the line: “How optimistic should Democrats be? That remains to be seen. But if history is any predictor: not very,” the tipsheet stated Oct. 28, putting the race in its safer category: “likely Republican.”
It was, Sabato pronounced Nov. 3, a “Republican hold.”
Perriello had plenty of help. Barack Obama was at the top of the ticket and became the first Democratic presidential nominee to win Virginia since Lyndon Johnson in 1964. Statewide, in a matchup of former governors, Mark R. Warner cruised to victory over Jim Gilmore.
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