National Catholic Reporter

The Independent News Source

Post-Mortem: VA-5

Congressman Tom Perriello, a one-time Catholic missionary and human rights activist, lost his bid for re-election in Virginia’s Fifth Congressional District. Republican Robert Hurt took 51% of the vote in the sprawling Virginia district to Perriello’s 47%. Perriello was the only member of Congress to have the President come to his district to campaign for him, but the election-eve rally in Charlottesville was not enough to generate Democratic enthusiasm at the polls.

In fact, Perriello did worse this year in Albemarle County than he did in 2008, polling 57% to Hurt’s 42%. In 2008, Perriello won the county with 63%. In Charlottesville City itself, Perriello won 80% of the vote but the turnout was not strong enough, despite the President’s visit, to offset his losses in the more rural parts of the district.

The winner, Mr. Hurt, is a mainstream Republican, currently a state Senator. Hurt fended off a Tea Party challenger in the primaries but echoed many of their concerns in the general election. He called for limited government, less regulation and reduced spending, and extolled the free enterprise system. Mostly, however, he campaigned as the un-Perriello, tying his opponent to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Obama at every turn.

In Congress, Perriello voted for the economic stimulus, the health care reform legislation and for climate change legislation. Instead of backing away from those votes, he campaigned tirelessly to explain why he believed they were in the best interests of his constituents. But, subtle arguments got lost in a race that saw more than $4 million of outside campaign cash, almost all of it spent on highly negative ads that only increased voter disgust with politics and Washington.

In his concession speech, Perriello spoke of the religious motivation behind his politics. “Judgment Day is more important than Election Day, and it’s more important to do what right than what’s easy,” he told a crowd of disappointed supporters. Perriello’s campaign was assisted by a variety of faith-based groups including the ecumenical organization, Matthew25, and Catholics United. President Obama praised Perriello’s political courage during his campaign appearance. But, it was not enough.

facebook_roundicon.jpg Like NCR on Facebook for news updates, conversation and fun prizes.

Virginia’s Fifth Congressional District is conservative territory, voting for John McCain two years ago. Perriello won the seat in 2008 by only 727 votes, defeating a long-serving incumbent in a year when the Democrats were carrying the banner for “change.” With parts of his district suffering from double-digit unemployment, the voters still wanted change in 2010 and, as the incumbent, Perriello felt the lash of the same desire that had propelled him to office two years prior.

NCR Comment code: (Comments can be found below)

Before you can post a comment, you must verify your email address at Disqus.com/verify.
Comments from unverified email addresses will be deleted.

  • Be respectful. Do not attack the writer. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the original idea will be deleted. NCR reserves the right to close comment threads when discussions are no longer productive.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report abuse" button. Once a comment has been flagged, an NCR staff member will investigate.

For more detailed guidelines, visit our User Guidelines page.

For help on how to post a comment, visit our reference page.

 

Feature-flag_GSR2.jpg

NCR Email Alerts

 

In This Issue

April 11-24, 2014

04-11-2014.jpg

Not all of our content is online. Subscribe to receive all the news and features you won't find anywhere else.