It is an end of an era in Loudoun County, VA. Scott York, Chairman of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors will step down after 24 years of serving on the Board of Supervisors and the Planning Commission.
As a Planning Commissioner, Supervisor, and later as a Chairman, York presided, managed, and ushered in an unprecedented era of growth that saw the county go from a rural backwater to the richest county in Virginia and one of the richest in the nation.
Perhaps York’s finest moment was seeing Metro extended into Loudoun County. This was a project York worked on since 1992 and completed in 2012. Loudoun County would finally be connected to Washington, DC via public transit and Loudoun County is ensuring it will not be left behind as a young, knowledge-based, freelancing economy is demanding more transportation options so that they can leverage their time, grow their businesses, and improve their quality of life. Hey, you can work on your computer on the train. You can’t work while you drive.
Unfortunately, the Metro project became unnecessarily controversial as the Loudoun County Republican Committee, a dominant but small local party unrepresentative of mainstream business-friendly Republicans in Loudoun, rallied in fierce opposition against Metro in 2012. Driven by cultural animus against public transportation, extremist right-wing Loudoun Republicans mounted a dirty campaign and threatened retribution against every Republican on the all-Republican Loudoun County Board who voted for Metro.
It almost worked. What looked like a 7-2 or even an 8-1 victory for Metro (Eugene Delgaudio is his own brand of crazy.) ended up being 5-4 victory that drew intense media coverage. A Loudoun citizenry that was anywhere from 54% to 87% in favor of Metro depending on where they lived were befuddled at how an important infrastructure project for the economy was nearly hijacked by extremist right wingers fighting a losing culture war that continues to alienate the Republican Party brand with urbanites and knowledge-based working professionals and entrepreneurs.
It was no surprise that York decided not to run for reelection. The Republican primary electorate is not a reflection of the general electorate in Loudoun. While York consistently won with over 60% of the general electorate, his primary fights have always been brushes with political death.
York’s major life accomplishment is complete. Metro is coming to Loudoun County. It is time to end on a good note and on his own terms.
Here is what I think will happen politically from here to the near future in Loudoun County.
1. Scott York will NOT run for the State Senate seat in the 33rd District currently held by the Democrat Jennifer Wexton. There is guaranteed to be at least two people in that Republican primary.
Ron Meyer, a laughable candidate upon further inspection, has already declared his candidacy. The one-time Congressional candidate turned failed State Senate candidate is one loss away from perennial candidate land. Youth and energy are his mantras, but many are leery of the fact that Ron Meyer has never held a Real, non-political job in his life. (A token non-political client is just window dressing. People look at the totality of your work life and your circle.)
Because of the lack of confidence in Ron Meyer, Stephen Hollingshead might jump into the race and try to claim front-runner status. Hollingshead would be a formidable primary candidate. However, Jennifer Wexton is a likable State Senator representing an increasingly Democratic district. She will be very difficult to unseat.
The only Republican who could theoretically unseat Wexton is Scott York. However, why would Scott York want to do this?
Why would York want to go through another politically life-threatening GOP primary after he has accomplished all he needed to accomplish as Loudoun County Chairman?
Why would York want a demotion? Going from Lee County Chairman to State Senate is an upward move. Going from Loudoun County Chairman to State Senate is a downward move. York would be going from having dual executive and legislative roles as the head honcho of the richest county in Virginia to representing a smaller piece of Loudoun County as one of 40 Senators.
Plus he would have to commute to Richmond. Richmond is not pretty and is a lonely place to be. The first day I saw Richmond as a legislative aide was the day I wanted to come back home.
Scott York would be wise to ride off into the sunset with a cushy private sector job and his state retirement benefits.
2. Look for Democrats to make a serious run at the Loudoun County Chair seat and possibly win it. Scott York was untouchable in general elections because he garnered tons of crossover support from Loudoun Democrats.
I would go out on a limb to say that Scott York was solely responsible for the inept, non-existent Loudoun County Democratic Committee. How are you supposed to build a Democratic Party when a significant chunk of your constituency votes for a Republican County Board Chair?
Scott York’s pro-business policies and public transportation advocacy has single-handedly crippled the Loudoun County Democratic Committee for 20 years.
And extremist, public-transit hating culture warriors of the Loudoun County Republican Committee keep trying to burn York at the stake every four years. This is why Republicans can’t have nice things.
So far, Charlie King has stepped forward to carry the banner for the Loudoun GOP. A member of the extremist, establishment cabal that is the Loudoun County Republican Committee, he is of the china-breaking ideology that will undo every positive thing in Loudoun County in the name of “conservative principles.”
There is no word if a sitting member of the currently all-Republican Loudoun County Board of Supervisors will look to move up to Chair. Suzanne Volpe would cannibalize Charlie King’s support so her candidacy would not make sense. Ken Reid has been described as “oafish” by a politically knowledgable supporter of his. Geary Higgins represents a rural district and would not gain traction in a county that is increasingly suburban. Eugene Delgaudio, as ridiculous as he is, knows he has his own constituents hoodwinked and will continue to hold on to a safe seat he has no business holding as long as Democrats continue to put up equally ridiculous challengers.
The most practical options to challenge Charlie King from the pro-business, pro-public transit wing of the GOP would either be Shawn Williams, Matt Letourneau, or Ralph Buona. Only one of them should run as to avoid cannibalizing each other, but such a candidacy for the GOP nomination for Board Chair against Charlie King would still be challenging for the following reason.
3. Elected Republican leaders who have influence in Loudoun County and can provide valuable support for a challenger against Charlie King are embarrassed by their own base, but are deathly scared of challenging them.
Notable exceptions are Dick Black, Eugene Delgaudio, and ignorant, belligerent, anti-public transit advocate Dave LaRock who are all of the extremist wing of the GOP that controls the local party apparatus. Bob Marshall, whose district formerly included Loudoun County prior to the last redistricting, is still influential and revered among the base in Loudoun County. Ken Cuccinelli is still a hero to many in the Loudoun GOP. The Virginia Citizens Defense League, a gun group that makes the NRA look like a bunch of liberal hippie peaceniks, flexes hard in Loudoun County Republican politics.
David Ramadan seemed to have mastered the art of throwing red-meat to the knuckle-dragging base while cozying up to the Cocktail Party crowd (the Cocktail Party wing of the GOP is in its own way, just as bad as the extremists).
As for other Republican elected officials with Loudoun influence from the bottom to the top, they are in a quandary. They secretly ridicule and despise their own base, but know they cannot survive a general election without them in an increasingly Democratic Northern Virginia. There are not enough moderates and independents to make up the deficit of losing the base in a general election, provided you can survive the primary challenge in the first place.
These Republican elected officeholders also know they cannot survive a primary challenge if they piss off the cultural sensibilities of their base even as they vote the values of the base. Hey, it is not enough for you to vote for gun rights, you also have to go to their ridiculous open-carry breakfasts on a Sunday morning (when you should actually be in church) and openly pack heat with them.
Elected Republican officeholders on the sane side would very well want to rally behind and publicly endorse a Shawn Williams, Matt Letourneau, or Ralph Buona primary campaign for Loudoun County Board Chair, but are fearful of retribution and strong primary challenges against them in the event of a failed coup.
John Boehner did NOT deserve another term as Speaker of the House. Boehner retaliating against his opponents is obscene and creates the “go along to get along” mentality in Washington that is destroying good governance. This is wrong.
Likewise, the extremists in the Loudoun County Republican Committee are holding the survival of their own cause hostage with their open threats and retaliation against Republicans who do not go along with their anti-public transit lies and cultural animus. This is wrong.
I do not like the Cocktail Party wing of the GOP and I do not like the Tea Party wing that much either. I am a RINO-hunter AND an extremist-hunter. It is time for fundamental change in the GOP.