There is some debate as to whether Leslie Byrne could win the 11th District seat that is likely to be left open by a Tom Davis Senate campaign. Well, I did a little digging this morning and it doesn't seem like Leslie Byrne is as bad a candidate as people tend to think.
People seem to forget that Leslie has actually won more elections than she's lost -- by my count, 6 wins to 2 losses, not counting primaries. In 1985, she defeated an incumbent Republican (by a ten-point margin, no less) to win the 38th House of Delegates seat, which she then won three more times. Her best margin of victory was in 1991, when she won 60% of the vote. In 1992, she ran for the newly-created 11th District and won by a 50-45 margin. She lost the seat in 1994, due to the "Republican Revolution".
In 1999, Leslie came back and won the 34th District Senate race by 37 votes. I know what people like to say -- she only won because Virginia Dobey split the vote. Well, in politics, a win is a win, not to mention the fact that Republicans weren't looking to face off against Leslie, so they gerrymandered her out of her own district and into a Senate district with another Democratic Senator.
As we all know, she ran for Lt. Governor in 2005, losing by 22,359 votes, or about 1.2% of the vote. Despite this, she took 54.7% of the vote in the 11th District, winning the Fairfax part of the district by double digits, and losing the Prince William part of the district by only a 51-49 margin, or a little over 1,000 votes. If Creigh Deeds had ran this well in the 11th District, he would be our Attorney General today. And Leslie did this well despite raising only $1.5 million for a statewide campaign.
The 11th district is the third most Democratic district in Virginia, won by Tim Kaine (twice), Mark Warner (soon to be twice), Creigh Deeds, and Jim Webb, and which will probably be carried by whoever is the Democratic nominee for President in 2008. The district, along with the rest of Northern Virginia, is trending blue. It seems to me that Leslie Byrne is a fine candidate, and a good fit, for the 11th district.