If it takes place, the firefighters endorsement could be a huge boost for McAuliffe's campaign.
In past races, the firefighters' union have provided valuable grassroots support to political candidates, including President Barack Obama last year. In 2006, the firefighters appeared to be an major assett to Sen. James Webb (D-Va) in his race against former senator George Allen (R).
The firefighters could help McAuliffe neutralize concerns about whether he has enough experience to oversee a major crisis. They could also serve as an important validator in rural Virginia.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
VPFF to Endorse McAuliffe
Tim Craig of the Washington Post is reporting that Terry McAuliffe will receive the endorsement of the Virginia Professional Firefighters Association on Wednesday at a ceremony in Richmond.
I'm not sure I agree that it will erase concerns about whether or not McAuliffe can handle a crisis, and I definitely don't buy that it will validate him in places like the 5th and the 9th--I'm not aware of a large VPFF presence in the Southside (correct me if I'm wrong, Jim), and I think rural voters will be wary of him for a good long while. Plus, the fact that Deeds already has IUPA and other public-safety endorsements just brings the two candidates to parity in my mind, at least in terms of labor endorsements.
But what it does do is take some wind out of his opponents' sails. It also mobilizes a statewide canvassing army marching under McAuliffe's banner. Ground game is everything, especially in low-turnout primaries--these guys alone could give McAuliffe the turnout edge to win the nomination and will be a big power in November. This could make McAuliffe look stronger to in the eyes of the base. But there's the rub: whoever gets the nomination will presumably have VPFF support anyway, and Moran has already responded by saying the Fairfax branch broke from the state union to endorse him instead. At first that struck me as a weak response, ringing of "me too" desperation. But from a turnout perspective I think it's significant: in vote-rich, blue-leaning Fairfax, the defectors could drive up Moran's numbers and cause a real trench fight on Primary Day.