I’ve heard from multiple sources, and Dana Beyer confirmed, that Del. Jeff Waldstreicher (D-18) offered to run on a slate with Dana if she would run for delegate instead of senate. Instead, Beyer is pressing ahead full-steam with her Senate campaign. When I mentioned the rumored offer in passing when I saw Jeff, he neither confirmed nor denied it.
Jeff’s offer makes perfect sense from a political perspective. While Jeff is the favorite against Dana, why not get a candidate with a fair amount of name recognition from previous races and very deep pockets – Dana has self-funded to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars – out of the way?
It’s reminiscent of Jeff’s first run for delegate, as James Browning reported that an MCEA political operative tried to talk him out of running in 2006 as part of his effort to ease the path for Jeff, who had been endorsed by the teachers union. (Browning used pseudonyms in his write-up of the race.)
Jeff’s offer makes it somewhat more awkward for him to attack Dana in the Senate race. After all, if she is so awful, why was he willing to run on a ticket with her? It probably won’t stop Jeff’s campaign from sending out negative mailers attacking his opponent but should make people a bit more cynical about them.
While Jeff’s offer makes sense, Dana’s rejection is more perplexing. Having spent a fortune running thrice previously, she is clearly extremely intent on winning election to the General Assembly. Running on a ticket with an established incumbent with two open delegate seats would seemingly put her on a strong path towards that goal. So why joust with Jeff? Why not take yes for an answer?
First, Beyer has long been no fan of Waldstreicher. She ran against him not just in 2006 but also in 2010. Jeff strongly supported Rich Madaleno in 2014 when Dana challenged him. Beyond there being no love lost, Dana undoubtedly views herself as a stronger progressive leader with better credentials as both a doctor and an activist. Alliance building has never been her strong suit and she’d would have had to swallow hard to make the strategic decision to accept Jeff’s offer. In any case, Dana wants to conduct the orchestra – not play second violin to Jeff.
Second, my guess is that Dana thinks she can win. She was utterly convinced that she was going to win in 2006 and angry and flummoxed when she came in a strong fifth. In each new campaign, Dana has believed that she has identified the silver bullet– be it more professional polling or spending buckets more money – and come back again. Jeff may be an extremely focused campaigner but one cannot overstate Dana’s determination.
Finally, having run for the Senate last time, I suspect that Dana would view it a step down to run for the House. Running for Senate, moreover, gives Dana the opportunity to become the first transgender senator, as Danica Roem has stolen Dana’s thunder with her fairy-tale story of a David versus Goliath victory over an incredibly bigoted incumbent in Virginia, instead of the second delegate.