On the campaign trail, Devolites Davis describes herself as an independent, a moderate who can best represent a centrist constituency. At a forum Thursday night before Equality Fairfax, a gay-rights organization, she called herself a "RINO" -- Republican in Name Only -- a derogatory term used by members of the GOP's conservative wing.
As the Richmond Times-Dispatch article correctly notes, "RINO" is normally a "derogatory term," yet JMDD has resorted to calling herself one in order to pander to the increasingly "blue" electorate of the 34th State Senate district. But voters aren't going to be fooled by the Davises blurring tactics. People in the 34th district are well aware that if they want a real Democrat and not a "RINO," they've got a superb option in Chap Petersen. Why vote for someone who's ashamed of who she is when you can vote for a proud Democrat?
By the way, Jeannemarie can run around calling herself a RINO all she wants, but the super-conservative Family Foundation of Virginia gives her a solid 64, higher than Republicans John Watkins and Fred Quayle, not to mention higher than any Democrat in the State Senate! Among other things, JMDD is praised by this right-wing group as having voted for the anti-gay marriage amendment. I wonder what the Family Foundation thinks of JMDD calling herself a RINO.
Politically, JMDD, her husband, and the Republicans in our area are in a bad way that's getting worse by the day. I think they're luckier than the right-leaning Democrats (DINOs, Bush Dogs, etc.), because, while there are true blue (red?) Republicans who will denounce RINOs and would rather lose a seat than compromise their principles, there seem to be a lot more true blue Democrats who attack their own, but maybe that's just my skewed perspective based on the blogs I frequent.
Ideally, JMDD should be pounded on her outing herself until she either loudly and proudly confirms it or recants. The RPV should be the one leading the pounding. It's their party line she'll be representing on the ballot. Surely, they've given her plenty of support over the years. The Republican leadership in the VA Senate should also voice their expectation that if JMDD does return, she'll be expected to support her party with her votes. At the very least, they can state that absent a recanting, she won't be in the leadership or chairing (or being ranking minority member of) any committees.
Dems shouldn't wait (probably in vain) for the Republicans to corral their wayward member. Instead, we should point out that more important than any position on any particular issue, constituents deserve a State Senator who has integrity and is as honest as a politician can be expected to be. JMDD calling herself a RINO is essentially her saying "I'll tell you whatever I think you want to hear." No thinking Dem could be persuaded by that, and it ought to scare independents away from her.
The Republicans around here, knowing they've been dealt a losing hand this cycle, are playing the only way they can if they hope to win, that is, dirty. They've sought to keep Republicans away from challenging certain Dems, like Dave Marsden in my District, because they can only win if they depress turnout. Sometimes this works. Not this cycle. I think we're too damn angry, and JMDD's latest "strategies," bringing up Chap's religion and denying her own party, may motivate more people to vote for Chap.
I think Chap should stick to the high road, as he has throughout this campaign. It is only by campaigning decently, and, if our guys win, serving honorably that we can hope to purge the dirty politics out of future campaigns and make people feel good about our government again. Not everyone will agree with all the votes of their representatives, and no one likes paying taxes, but this is a time-tested system of maximizing our ability to govern ourselves. There's no guarantee that long-term Dem majorities will make us proud, but I think it's clear that the Republican strategy of sowing cynicism about government and public service while asking us to vote for them is about to hit bottom.