My buddy Valerie Garner has an interesting post today, talking about 5th District Congressman Tom Perriello's (right) uphill battle to retain his seat in a year when Jesus would be challenged if he had a "D" after his name.
The 5th is one of those nutty, gerrymandered districts that the Repubs devised in an effort to smother Charlottesville's liberals with Southside's Rebel flags, tobacco culture and milltown education levels. It worked every time Virgil Goode was sent to Congress as perhaps the least competent representative in a body that hardly pushes the envelope on intellectual sophistication.
Perriello, as it turns out, is the darling of a whole lot of people, most of whom don't live in the 5th--though he has a nice following there, as well. He's a guy who doesn't bring to the party anything that Goode flaunted (including an accent that yelled, "I'm from around here, ain't I?"). Perriello is bright, accomplished, educated, and a man of considerable courage in a number of arenas (including helping to cast out an African despot while George Bush was cutting brush back on his ranch).
The Tea Party and its minions consider Perriello a perfect--and perfectly vulnerable--candidate for just those reasons. He ain't like us, they say. And that has him trailing, in one respected poll, 61-35 percent. Fact is that those are big numbers, but Perriello has trailed before and if he's anything, he's a good campaigner. Frankly, I've never seen a candidate with better TV ads ... the kind that don't foster hate, but that give you a good indication that the guy's bright and he's on your side.
We'll see how this works out in the long run, but if Robert Hurt beats Perriello, the 5th will have told us that George Bush and Virgil Goode were good enough for its sensitivities and that the Repubs really do know where our worst instincts are.