Rep. Connolly kicks off reelection bid with St. Pat’s eve party
Hundreds of Northern Virginia Democrats turned out for Rep. Gerry Connolly’s annual St. Patrick’s Day party Friday evening, and their bubbly mood could not be explained by beer alone.
The gloom of 2010, when Republicans seized the House, seemed more and more a memory. With the 2012 election looming, Democrats toasted a steadily improving economy and a president who has regained his footing.
But above all, they savored a feeling of momentum on their side after Republicans pushed their luck with socially conservative legislation that backfired.
“You had the feeling they tried to repeal the 20th century,” state Sen. Barbara Favola (D-Arlington) said, adding that the GOP-dominated Virginia General Assembly alone has played a huge part in motivating Democrats, particularly among women.
Many said they now like their odds that President Obama would again put Virginia in the victory column, and that former governor Timothy Kaine would be on his way to the Capitol.
“How pumped up are you for this 2012 election?” once and (probably) future gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe said to a roaring crowd. “How pumped up are you for Barack Obama to carry Virginia again? And for Tim Kaine to be a U.S. senator?”
When Connolly took the microphone in the cavernous Kena Shrine Temple, he introduced McAuliffe as the commonwealth’s next governor.
“Some Republicans think that 2008 was a fluke, that Virginia lost its head,” Connolly said. But he said Virginia’s shift in presidential elections from a reliably red state toward the blue end of the spectrum was “a permanent trend” that would help Obama.
“I think this country is going to look at the other side, and see [we] have the right guy in the White House,” Connolly said.
The annual event raised money and marked the informal launch of Connolly’s campaign for a third term in Congress. Two years ago, Connolly won by fewer than 1,000 votes amid a powerful backlash that swept many Democrats from office. But the climate has changed, and redistricting may have made his seat a little safer, Democrats said.
Two years ago, Connolly
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