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HD07: Deja Vu All Over Again

by: Kenton Ngo

Mon Apr 20, 2009 at 09:58:22 PM EDT

Locality % of Total Percentage
2001 2007 2001 2007
Shuler (D) Nutter (R) Frank (D) Nutter (R)
Montgomery Co. 69.1% 73.3% 46.6% 54.3% 45.8% 54.1%
Pulaski Co. 13.9% 11.4% 45.4% 54.6% 47.3% 52.5%
Radford City 17.0% 15.3% 53.5% 46.5% 54.0% 45.9%
Total 47.6% 52.4% 47.3% 52.7%
Peggy Frank is reportedly strongly considering another bid at the 7th District seat currently held by Del. Dave Nutter, covering part of Montgomery County and swinging southwest into Pulaski County and Radford City. Many were surprised by Frank coming within five points of Nutter in 2007 (the 22nd Senate district which overlays the area saw a similar close call for Republican State Sen. Ralph Smith). If Frank were to jump in, the 7th would quickly shoot to the top of rankings.

Winning the 7th would be a spectacular coup for the Democrats. The 7th takes in the more Republican parts of Montgomery County, the Democratic parts packed into the neighboring district represented by Del. Jim Shuler. Shuler once held the 7th District seat, losing to Nutter after the 2001 redistricting. Shuler then moved to the 12th and won.

The 7th is also a Republican-leaning district, handing John McCain a 10-point margin.

However, as the table above demonstrates, Frank's 2007 performance isn't all that surprising. In fact, it is a near perfect imitation of the 2001 election that handed Nutter the seat. Frank improved in the Pulaski and Radford portions of the districts, but her gains were offset by losing ground in Montgomery and Montgomery's increased share of the district vote.

Shuler received nearly exactly the same percentage in 2001, a gubernatorial year, as Frank did in 2007, an off-year.

In order to reach 50%, Frank will need to break out of the 47% ceiling that both she and Shuler reached. Where will she find the extra votes?

Kenton Ngo :: HD07: Deja Vu All Over Again
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I was at the MCDC Potluck on Saturday and she basically said that she is going to run for the position.  I think everyone was surprised the last time she ran and with that behind her, people will be much more enthusiastic about her campaign.  She definitely did not have that within the communities I saw in 2007.  I think the winds are in her favor.

The key to tipping this district...
will be pulling out some of the freshly-registered Virginia Tech students at E-1 precinct, and (hopefully) registering students at Radford University, depending on how the city registrar interprets new guidelines from the SBE as mandated by the omnibus election reform bill that passed through the General Assembly this past session.

The one major change over the past seven years since Shuler first ran against Dave is that neither Montgomery County or Radford City allowed student registration back then. That's no longer the case. If those young voters can be mobilized in a gubernatorial year, it can only benefit Frank.

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