Friday, September 25, 2009
73rd House District: O'Bannon v. Shields
The race in the 73rd House District is heating up. There has been some considerable interest in this particular race which pits incumbant Dr. John O'Bannon (R) versus challenger Tom Shields. Its a really interesting matchup because if you get the opportunity to speak with these two men you will find that they are very close on many of the issues. In fact, I would say that Shields in my view is the equivalent of a blue dog ( thats politico speak for Conservative Democrat).
As such, Shields is coming under fire from bloggers who understand the threat of his bid for Delegate. Some have resorted to the worst kind of association politics in an attempt to bring irrational debate and take focus away from the real issues at hand facing the Commonwealth.
The two men recently squared off in a rather civil debate at the University of Richmond as compared to many of the recent depictions of the various town halls going into September. If the viewer expected any fireworks they were most likely disappointed.
What did not come up and was quite surprising was the status of the Commonwealth's budget with regard to employee benefits, healthcare and retirement. Healthcare being such a large aspect of the current national debate could have easily been brought into the debate by the Shields camp regarding contributions and donations to Dr. O'Bannon by way of the healthcare and medical industry. This industry according to VPAP represent the biggest donor percentages of any segment to the O'Bannon campaign.
This race could boil over in the next few weeks. The O'Bannon camp must figure out why it is losing support in the City areas of the district while Bob McDonnell in the same canvass is rolling right along. If O'bannon is counting on the top of the ticket helping him out, his campaign may want to rethink that strategy. The groundgame being orchestrated by Tony Coppola and the Shields camp is becoming very effective.
It doesn't hurt that its Tom Shields himself out there knocking on those doors either.
In fact, recently a few bloggers have misrepresented the Shields support as coming from the likes of disgraced groups such as ACORN/SEIU when in fact the Shields camp has never been a recipient of any funds directed either by ACORN of any of its known arms. ACORN currently faces countless investigations and the attempt to link Shields to the organization is simply an attempt to mislead and malign the Shields campaign.
In fact, O'Bannon has secured more donations from organizations and business interests both in and out of the 73rd. Such donors include Medical Society of Virginia, Virginia Dental Assn, Virginia Ind. Insurance Agents, Hospital Corp of America, Virginia Asst Living, Southern Physicians as well as such Richmond mainstays as Ukrops, Goodwin, and Reynolds.
Healthcare related donors account for some 101,000 to the O'Bannon campaign. This makes since given the O'Bannon is of course a Doctor and a Director of Henrico Doctors Hospital. That said, its interesting given the current climate in the healthcare debate whether Shields can leverage the issue regarding exactly whom O'Bannon may be beholden to given these donors and the current state of healthcare. The bills in Congress will likely require State legislators to sign off on certain aspects of the plan with regard to participation.
Tony Copploa, campiagn manager for Tom Shields , has worked an excellant ground game in the 73rd and though Shields has been out-raised by the incumbant, virtually all of the donations Shields has received is FROM the 73rd and from individuals. The largest exception being the donation from the Democrat Caucus, which is seeing the potential in the candidacy of Shields while others in the area have little chance of defeating the incumbant Republican.
Shields recently was endorsed by the Virginia Education Assoc. which has elevated his campaign and local PTA's are enthusiastic about his candidacy.
If you want to understand exactly what kind of guy the 73rd could get in Shields, this says it best:
"We need to reach across the aisle and see what we can do to make the Commonwealth better, not two years from now, but 20"
You got that right. If citizens understood just what dire times lie down the road if the State does not fix its budget woes and have to fund the benefit situation of an ever increasing State employee pool they would get the very point Shields is making.
This race very well may boil down to whom exactly citizens feel the elected Delegate will look after most, them or the those that have contributed for influence. Voters and the Shields campiagn for that matter should examine exactly what the O'Bannon record is on heath related issues during his time in the House and balance that record with his campaigns contributions.
Posted by FoodforThought at 10:07 PM