Virginians will vote for governor on Tuesday. If Bob McDonnell wins, as seems likely, he will be the first Republican to succeed a Democrat in the office in 16 years. The last one was George Allen. Here’s what I wrote about that moment when I profiled Allen in 2000:
Republicans around the country stood up and cheered for George Allen when he was elected governor of Virginia in 1993. For the GOP, this wasn’t just another race: It was a huge morale boost twelve months after losing the White House. Virginia is one of the few states that elects officials in odd-numbered years, which means that every other November it receives rapt attention from the political classes anxious for something to talk about. Allen’s victory snapped a streak of three straight gubernatorial losses for Virginia Republicans, and gave the national GOP reason for hope at a time when Democrats seemed ascendant.
Allen won his race for the Senate in 2000 but lost his re-election in 2006, when he self-destructed by uttering a single word: “macaca.”
Funny story about this article: I joined the staff of National Review in 1998. During that first year, I covered a number of political races that featured candidates from both parties in pursuit of several federal and state offices. When the elections were over, I went back and read my clips. I wanted to see how my observations and predictions had turned out. One thing in particular struck me: Every candidate I had profiled or covered for the magazine had lost.
It was like my presence on the campaign trail had cursed these candidates.
So I did the logical thing. I called my editor and asked him to put me on the Al Gore beat for the next two years. He didn’t (though I did write about Gore from time to time). In 2000, I was back on the campaign trail with my reporter’s notebook. I learned that most press secretaries don’t do their homework because they didn’t try to keep me away from their bosses. It turns out that I covered some losers in 2000. But also, at long last, I covered a winner: George Allen. The streak was broken. I breathed a sigh of relief.
Then there’s the headline: “Conservative of the Future?” Uh, not quite. Maybe I really do curse these guys.
And no, I haven’t written on McDonnell or his opponent for National Review. Unless you count blogs.