VA7 debate intrigue continues; Brat rallies

Some more developments in the Virginia 7th Congressional race:

  • Jack Trammell and especially James Carr have been complaining that Dave Brat is ducking their calls for more debates. But Brat has now shown that he will at least appear in public with both candidates: he has agreed to attend a Goochland Chamber of Commerce forum. It's not quite a debate -- the candidates will answer questions pre-screened by the debate organizers, and supposedly not really address each other -- but it's at least a public event.  (The candidates have done a couple of private forum-like events, and of course Brat and Trammell will debate at Randolph-Macon in October, with Carr not invited.)
  • Meanwhile, conservative luminaries descend on Hanover County this weekend for a Dave Brat rally. All the campaigns in this race are run by political newbies -- and show it -- but Brat still has been cleverly using conservative networks and targeted media to win over his base. And this rally is a perfect distillation of that strategy. Held at the family home of former Delegate Frank Hargrove, the rally features Laura Ingraham and Doc Thompson. Ingraham and especially Thompson are radio personalities, not well-known to anyone but the suburban and rural conservatives who make up Brat's base in the district. But the rally also features an actual U.S. Senator in Alabama's Jeff Sessions, a strong sign of support from a hardline GOP conservative.

    Trammell has had quiet visits at fundraisers from VA Dems like Tim Kaine and Donald McEachin, and has a brief statement on his website from Mark Warner. But there's been no big public show of support like this rally.
  • One place where Trammell is clearly the victor: Facebook. Jack's page has 17,000 likes to Dave's 12,000. Still, it's hard to see much in that number; it could reflect likes from around the country, as the race has drawn national attention. Even if most of the likes are from the district, it may just reflect demographics. Although maybe less so than in past years, younger voters skew Democratic.  And while more and more people of all ages are going online, older voters tend to be less active on the internet. So Trammell's Facebook lead could just reflect the fact that many Brat supporters are older Republicans. (Although my 75-year-old Dad is the biggest Facebook user I know; go figure.)