As I have said before on this blog, the Virginia governor’s race will not be a referendum on President Barack Obama. The latest flap in that race suggests as much. A few days ago, the Washington Post published a story on Republican candidate Bob McDonnell’s master’s thesis written in 1989. The thesis is worth a read. It reads like a Republican playbook from the end of the Reagan era. McDonnell concedes as much. Its attack on Democratic policy is full-throated. Its critique of women outside of the home and homosexuals everywhere is not kind. The ideas expressed in the thesis are not necessarily kooky, they are just very conservative. The thesis was not written by a callow 24-year-old. It was written by a 35-year-old man who would begin elected public service just a few years later. Virginia Democrats have argued that McDonnell has followed his thesis through his 14 years in the Virginia legislature followed by his 3 years as attorney general. They claim that his work reflects rather than repudiates his thesis. Not surprisingly, McDonnell claims otherwise.
The race will be fought over the next 60 days or so over issues that are peculiar to Virginia. Virginia politics is not just local, it is special. Regardless of whether McDonnell wins or his Democratic opponent Creigh Deeds wins, the outcome of the Virginia governor’s race is unlikely to hinge on any general feeling regarding President Obama and his policies.