There are so many choices from this year, but we've decided to go with the two operatives most responsible for campaign debacles. Ken Hutcheson, Campaign Manager for Jerry Kilgore, and Alan Moore, head of the Democratic Coordinated Campaign.
Going into 2005 it looked like Ken and Jerry were doing everything right. Jerry picked "The Hutch" as his person early on, and from 2002-2004 Hutch was sent out as the Kilgore person to every major Republican effort around Virginia. He of course, brought back contacts, and lists and had a structure in place that looked ready to run over Tim Kaine.
It's not fair to single out a campaign manager as the lone culprit in the collapse that followed. Gubernatorial campaigns are really run by consultants, all of whom have their own agendas. But the #1 job of a campaign manager in a campaign this large is to be the person who only has the candidate's best interest at heart. Ken Hutcheson had that, but what he failed to have was any vision on what Jerry needed to do. Without a vision, he was completely ineffective against the consultants. There would have been no difference on the vision issue with the Hutch then if the campaign manager position was vacant.
In the end, arrogance brought the Kilgore campaign down, not ideology. George Fitch? Duck. Russ Potts? Duck. Tim Kaine? Ducked until the race was even and the momentum had turned.
When a campaign manager lacks vision on where the campaign should go the candidate's issues also suffer. For example... taxes. Not open to new taxes(pissing off Senate Republicans), but no pledge against it (pissing off conservatives), against Warner's budget (pissing off the legislators and majority of Virginians who supported it), but not willing to repeal (pissing off the conservatives again), and very eager to spend the money coming in from it, which was a double hit (conservatives pissed off, those who supported the budget thought it was hypocrisy). Way to win votes there Hutch!
The campaign became a disaster, and Ken's "Weenie of the Year" award is well deserved. But there's one other person from the other side of the aisle that Ken should share this award with.
Alan Moore, director of the Democratic Coordinated Campaign came back to Virginia this year after failing spectacularly as Executive Director of the State Party. Alan's tenure included the election of Mark Warner (which everyone agrees Alan deserves no credit for) and Tim Kaine, narrowly on Warner's coattails. Outside of that, Alan lead the collapse of the Democratic Party in the House of Delegates, in a year Democrats fell from 47 to 34 seats. Redistricting had something to do with it, but the total lack of support from the party caused the number of lost seats to explode. I ran the only Democratic House pickup of that year, and I can tell you first hand that Alan Moore's Democratic Party was a bigger obstacle to us then our opponent.
So this year, Alan somehow found his way back as head of the Coordinated Campaign. The Coordinated Campaign is responsible for coordinating all the Democratic campaigns, and helping bring any coattails from the statewide ticket down to other Democrats.
After the Kaine victory (which was delivered by Weenie #1) what did Alan do with it?
Loss for Lt. Governor.
Loss for Attorney General.
Won 3 open seats in Fairfax (Bulova, Marsden, Caputo) where Kaine was around 60% of the vote.
Lost three of four races against GOP incumbents where Kaine was around or above a ten point victory in Northern Virginia (won Poisson, lost Porta, Barg and Werkheiser).
Lost every seriously contested House race outside of Northern Virginia.
What did Alan do to lose all these races?
1) Alan's coordinated campaign didn't include other statewide candidates on canvassing or phone calls. No media was spent for the ticket. Places like Roanoke City, where no candidate had a regional advantage saw Byrne and Deeds run about even, which there was 2,000 votes behind Kaine's margin. With Creigh and Leslie even, it's obvious that the remaining voters simply had no idea who they were- the coordinated campaign's largest responsibility.
2) Alan's coordinated campaign included dead people they claimed were ID'd by canvassing. Some of these people included had been dead for well over a year, but Alan claimed they had been ID'd as supporters...
I won't even get into the issues of Alan not returning phone calls, not including local historical ID's to turnout, general lack of effort and other issues. But what we should do is imagine a scenario where Alan pulls in a minimal job performance.
Under that scenario, Democrats should have won both down ticket races. Tim Kaine would have a Democratic Attorney General, and the 24-16 GOP Senate would have a Democratic Lt. Governor breaking the ties. A strong coordinated campaign should have been able to elect Greg Werkheiser and Hilda Barg with Tim Kaine's overwhelming victories in those districts.
That would make the House of Delegates margin 56 Republicans, 41 Democrats and 3 Independents. With special elections now taking place for Preston Bryant and Ryan McDougle's House seats, Democrats would be going in with a chance to reduce the GOP in the House of Delegates to 54 seats.
Instead, the best Democratic opportunities to defeat incumbents Albo and Frederick are gone, and the party is still short of 40 seats in the House.
That makes Alan Moore a "Weenie of the Year".
Congratulations to these two operatives whose efforts will go down as some of the greatest debacles in Virginia political history.