When I spoke to him on Saturday, Deeds clearly liked the prospect of now being ahead but also the idea of being the underdog, and he accurately said that nothing had been decided. He did not strike me as particularly progressive. He is the local boy for rural Virginia, of course, and people here want to like him. Meanwhile, Moran did not at first appeal to me because he shares a last name with his brother Jim Moran whose performance in the U.S. Congress leaves much to be desired. On the other hand, in Moran's favor, Deeds has been endorsed by the Washington Post and extensively bragged about it as if that were a good thing.
But all of these superficial prejudices ought to give way to consideration of the candidates' positions on issues, with some concern for their past actions and proven ability to get things done. McAuliffe is, of course, such a disgusting sold-out corporate stooge that few progressives will support him. The few who do, seem to base their support on the idea that he'll fight hardest against Republicans. But what policies will he fight for? I haven't seen any good answer to that question. The key question right now is how to beat McAuliffe on Tuesday. If, between Moran and Deeds, one of them were clearly better than the other, we could all get organized behind that one and work to defeat McAuliffe. Otherwise, we could end up seeing our third choice candidate win.
This dilemma could also be solved, in a way, with Instant Runoff Voting (IRV). Back when Deeds was trailing, Rob Richie <a href="click here arguing</a> that both McAuliffe and Moran supporters would choose Deeds as their second choice and thus give him the victory if IRV were used. But so might supporters of Deeds favor Moran as their second choice. In primaries conducted on paper and counted locally (as in a recent Charlottesville City Council Democratic primary at a single polling place that used IRV) the integrity of an election can be protected while considering second choices and ensuring majority support for a winner. But in a state-wide race, votes could only be counted at a central location if IRV were used. If you can't ensure the results by having them counted publicly where they are cast, what good is improving the method of calculation?
Looking at Deeds' and Moran's positions on various policies, one finds above all else overlap. I'm surprised neither one has sued the other for plagiarization. But there are differences, and they favor Moran. His positions may be full of hypocrisy and exaggeration. He's opposing things he's supported in the past. But that's true of all three of these candidates. Only Moran is saying he will oppose off-shore drilling and new coal plants and nuclear plants. Only Moran is supporting repeal of a hateful anti-gay rights amendment. Only Moran, as far as I know, is talking about the rights of the accused and the need to lock fewer people away for many years in prison. If those positions win in the primary, they will be made stronger. Deeds' positions on these issues are closer to those of the Republican he would compete against in the general election. Guns in bars may sound like fun to certain people, but should we elect someone who thinks it's a smart idea?
Moran has accepted more legal bribes (campaign contributions) and significantly more from military contractors. But Deeds has accepted military money, he just hasn't been able to accept as much of it -- no doubt because he doesn't have a brother in Congress on the Appropriations Committee.
My recommendation is to find anyone who would vote for either Moran or Deeds (but especially Moran) and make sure they vote on Tuesday. I'd save most of the energy that could go into debating the merits of these two imperfect candidates and invest it in turning out their supporters. Volunteer here now: