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Political Insighter – Norment Vs. Saslaw Round 2

Norment VS. Saslaw Round Two

By John Fredericks

Veteran State Senators Dick Saslaw (D-Fairfax) and Tommy Norment (R-York County) face each other through surrogates in round two of their epic swordfight for Party control of the 2014 Virginia state senate on Tuesday.

Saslaw won round one when his candidate for Lt. Governor Ralph Northam swamped the Republican nominee E.W. Jackson in November.

Round three – if necessary – is on January 21 in Loudon County for the former seat of Attorney General-Elect Mark Herring (D).

Round two shifts to Hampton Roads on January 7 when Republican businessman Wayne Coleman and Democrat Del. Lynwood Lewis square off in a special election to replace Lt-Gov. Elect Ralph Northam in the Sixth district.

If Coleman pulls the upset and wins, Norment is Senate Majority Leader by virtue of his 21 GOP senate votes.

If Lewis prevails, Saslaw has to hold serve in District 33 in two weeks to become defacto leader.

Due to the independent candidacy of longtime Republican House of Delegates member Joe May in that race, Norment’s best chance for victory is in two days, not two weeks.

Has Coleman Caught Fire?

While Lewis has the natural advantages of starting with a powerful political base on the Eastern Shore and being elected by voters six times including just a few weeks ago — the crazy election date on the heels of the holiday break — has made the race all about turnout. And who’s got the most ground troops.

This is where Coleman may have narrowed the gap in recent days.

The Republican’s combined paid and volunteer ground game is nearly double that of the favorite, Lewis — and basic GOP angst over the Democratic statewide sweep in November has fueled GOP energy in the race.

Speaking at a Saturday morning get out the vote breakfast sponsored by the Norfolk GOP that featured U.S. Senate candidate in waiting Ed Gillespie, Coleman praised his volunteers and lauded Norfolk Party chair Pamela Brown for leading a late Coleman surge. “She’s works until 1:00 a.m. and is the first one at the office the next morning,” the maritime business owner said.

“It’s been a humbling experience, I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth…I want to be a public servant,” the underdog added, imploring his troops to work the phones.

Coleman campaign manager Austin Chambers said no stone had been left unturned in his team’s quest for the upset. “If we don’t win on Tuesday the district is not winnable for a Republican,” Chambers offered. “We’ve done everything humanly possible to pull this out.”

A Tale of Four Counties

Tidewater based political consultant Brian Kirwin, who ran Ben Loyola’s failed bid to unseat Northam two years ago, says the district is a “tale of four counties” that now leans Democratic based on redistricting after the last census. “Seven overwhelmingly Democratic precincts in Norfolk were added in lieu of four more Republican leaning ones, making this a tough seat for the GOP to pick up,” Kirwin said.

The consultant said the Coleman keys to victory are “keeping it close in Norfolk, counter balancing North Hampton County with Matthews County and surprising Lewis in Accomack County” with a big GOP turnout. “Coleman has every advantage he needs to pull the upset. But he’ll need big numbers in Accomack or it’ll be an early night.”

Chambers said his goal was to make Coleman a “socially acceptable choice” to Accomack voters while highlighting what he claimed was “Lewis’ liberal record of tax and spend in Richmond.”

Lewis, Still in Control, Remains Cautiously Optimistic

Meanwhile Lewis expressed cautious optimism and appeared confident and relaxed at Northam’s appreciation reception on Friday night at the Virginia Beach Aquarium. “I’m very pleased with my campaign and my team,” Lewis said. “We look forward to victory on Tuesday night.”

Lewis questioned his opponent’s decision to duck most live media opportunities. “He [Coleman] appears to be under wraps,” the legislator concluded, referring to high profile editorial board meetings with the Virginian-Pilot and the Daily Press Coleman decided to skip.

Lewis will appear on my show on Monday at 8:10 a.m. Coleman is not scheduled at this time, citing conflicts.

The race at this point is too close to call.

You can catch all the action and get up to the minute results during our live special election night broadcast from 6-9PM on Tuesday on AM 1650 in Hampton Roads and online at

From The Trail: Campaign Musings

Best line of the week- Ed Gillespie, appearing very much like the candidate he’ll soon become, said his career path has been a bit unorthodox. “I went from Republican National Committee Chair to Republican Party of Virginia Chair,” the one-time Bush insider said to the Saturday breakfast group. “I’m shooting for precinct captain.”

Best E-Mail of the week- Dick Saslaw, while vacationing in Hawaii with his family. “John, I just read an article about a Republican running for the Senate in Alaska. He said that Sen. Begich was the 60th vote for the ACA. You had an article a few weeks ago in which you said Sen. Warner was the 60th vote. Just last week I saw where Sen. Landreau from La. was the 60th vote. Question…just who was the 60th vote and while you are at it, who in the heck was the 1st, the 5th and the 26th? Dick.”

Best quip of the week: U.S. Rep. C. “Bobby” Scott (D-Va), looking dapper at the Northam party, says he’ll most likely guest host my radio show in the near future. “I’m trying to talk my staff out of it,” Scott quipped.

Best campaign line of the week- Pam Brown, urging Republicans to GOTV for Coleman; “Let’s make Terry McAuliffe a lame duck before he’s even inaugurated.”

Got a tip or good line? Email your thoughts to me at

On The John Fredericks Show –  Monday, January 6

7:10 a.m. – State Sen. Bryce Reeves (R-Stafford)

7:40 a.m. – Tidewater Businessman and entreprenuer Alan Smith

8:10 a.m. – Del. Lynwood Lewis, Democratic candidate for State Senate (D-6)

8:40 a.m. – House of Delegates Majority Leader Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights)

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John Fredericks is a syndicated morning radio talk show host in Virginia. Heard locally from M-F 6-10 a.m. on WHKT 1650 AM in Hampton Roads or streaming live at

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