Since Saturday, September 4, I’ve had this post sitting in my drafts. I’ve cleaned it up a bit and added a little bit of new information but the substance from two months ago remains. No, I’m not clairvoyant, but it was clear to me – from all that I had observed around the district – that Glenn Nye was going to lose.
This is the reason he lost.
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Glenn Nye, the freshman Congressman representing the 2nd district, was beaten pretty badly in Tuesday’s election. While the video above speaks specifically of his health care vote, it is representative of how Nye turned his back on Democrats in the district time and time again, despite pleadings from myself and others for him not to do so.
He ignored our advice and instead listened to that of his chief of staff, Angela Kouters, who has a history of steering candidates to the middle. From that link:
I figured that Kouters, who is young, ambitious, inexperienced and thoroughly under the influence of Inside-the-Beltway conventional wisdom, was urging him to take so-called “moderate” positions in an attempt to pander to the DC perception of conservative CA-11 residents.
Unlike the writer of that post, I believe that Nye was completely under the influence of Kouters, whom I have never met. That alone should be telling: despite my efforts to reach out to the Nye office, I was rebuffed. As a small business owner in the 2nd, I received a single invitation to his numerous small business roundtables – and that was only after I requested it. I was never put on his press list. I’m told that I was specifically to be excluded.
Talk sometime to the revolving door of employees in Nye’s Congressional offices and you will quickly get the sense that Kouters ran off anyone who didn’t agree with her. I’ve heard the place described as a “hostile work environment.”
But that didn’t stop me from speaking with Nye at every opportunity about his unwillingness to engage the base. Every single time I ran into him, I reminded him that while Republicans may vote for him, it would be the Democrats who would work for him. I begged him to throw us a bone – and to stay away from rightist propaganda groups like the NFIB, a group I had belonged to years ago when they first started and before they coined the term “death tax.”
He didn’t listen.
Nye’s single-minded focus on veterans to the exclusion of everyone else in the district was a problem. Job fairs for veterans – but not for anyone else. Meetings with veterans – but not anyone else. No previous occupant of the seat had such a narrow focus when it came to constituents.
Interesting are the quotes in an article this morning about Nye’s loss:
“Nye just parachuted in, and now he’s parachuting out,” said former Del. Glenn Croshaw, who once served as Democratic chair for Virginia Beach.
“I don’t have the slightest idea who’s on his staff,” Croshaw added, noting that Nye was not someone who “worked the district” or got to know local Democrats.
Worse, said Geroe, Nye’s own votes in Congress alienated liberals.
“The Democratic base had absolutely no reason to vote for him,” [former VB chair Ken] Geroe said. “If you turn off your base, you’re done.”
But there is something beyond that with Nye, something I observed in him that day in December 2007 when he sat at my dining room table and told me he was going to run: he lacked core values.
Nye ran for office based on his opposition to the war in Iraq. Outside of that, his positions were developed from reading briefing books. But he had nothing to guide him, no core beliefs that helped him distinguish right from wrong. To be honest, there are a lot of elected representatives who do the same – and it shows. But that’s not what I want in my Congressman. Thelma Drake and I are friends – we go back a long way – and she’s as quick as I am to tell you that we don’t agree on much, if anything. But as my representative, I pretty much always knew how she was going to vote. I haven’t known Scott Rigell long enough* to call him a friend but I know what his values are and how he’s going to vote (probably 99% of the time in opposition to the way I’d want him to). I never knew how Nye was going to vote.
I never knew why Nye called himself a Democrat.
I’m from the school of “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all,” so I’ve kept mostly silent during this election. That has not stopped people from accusing me of not being a “good Democrat.” While everyone is entitled to their opinion, they are not entitled to their own facts. The fact is it was Glenn Nye who was not a good Democrat. As he reminded us repeatedly, he voted against everything that Democrats hold dear.
He turned his back on us.
*In the interest of full disclosure, Scott Rigell contacted me late last fall. I sat with him for more than three hours as he discussed his background and what he wanted to accomplish. Because this was well before the handlers got hold of him, well before he won the nomination, I got an unvarnished look at the man. We talked about a lot of things – nothing was off the table. I walked away with a sense that he would do whatever was necessary to win the election. And once again, I have the cell number of my representative.