VA-GOV: Another Slow Start for Deeds

As Democrat Creigh Deeds has fallen behind in the Virginia governor's race, I've been wondering in the back of my mind whether he ...
by | August 13, 2009

As Democrat Creigh Deeds has fallen behind in the Virginia governor's race, I've been wondering in the back of my mind whether he was once again playing the role of the tortoise -- and playing political prognosticators for fools.

Deeds, you'll remember, trailed badly just weeks in advance of the Democratic primary before surging to a dominating victory. He conserved his resources and waited to push his message until voters actually were paying attention. Could his slow start in the general election all be part of the plan?

If you believe this report from Larry Sabato, the answer is no:

One good way to separate happy, successful campaigns from troubled ones is to watch for staff upheavals. Often, these occur in the summer when polls go south for one candidate. Right on schedule, Democratic gubernatorial nominee Creigh Deeds -- suddenly trailing badly in poll after poll -- has shaken up his staff. Thirty-something wunderkind Joe Abbey, Deeds' manager for his upset June primary victory, has been shunted aside. (That victory was engineered by the Washington Post's editorials, not Abbey or even Deeds.) Party activists have blamed Abbey, fairly or not, for Deeds' listless campaign. Abbey will apparently retain a title and a role in the campaign, but the decisions will be made by Monica Dixon (a close associate of Sen. Mark Warner), longtime Democratic party staffer Kevin Mack, and Mo Elleithee.

The Deeds campaign, however, denies the report, as the Washington Post notes:

The Deeds gubernatorial campaign is shooting down a report by University of Virginia professor Larry Sabato that campaign manager Joe Abbey is keeping his title but is being supplanted by Monica Dixon, who headed Mark Warner's political action committee and has been serving as a senior advisor to the campaign since around the time of the primary.

"Joe Abbey is the campaign manager, and I work for him," Dixon said this afternoon.

Josh Goodman
Josh Goodman  |  Former Staff Writer
mailbox@governing.com

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