Sunday, April 19, 2009

Clearing out the smoke

This past Wednesday, the annual Wakefield Shad Planking, a time-honored political right of passage in Virginia, was held just off Rt. 460 in a Sussex County grove. Rain had dampened the pines, but you can be assured those in attendance enjoyed the beer, the smoke, thousands of yard signs jamming the roads, and the shad.
Enjoyed the shad? A oily and boney fish smoked all day with a over-salted basting sauce! Must be an acquired taste - one I will probably never come by. But, I must say their fried fish is great. No, I wasn't there this year - last time I made it was 2006 when only Jim Webb gave himself much of a chance and even Cooter's bluegrass music lured few to his booth. George Allen was working the crowd with his arrogant smirk of confidence that would be wiped off his face a few months later.
So, this must-attend event brought together all the gubernatorial candidates for a day of beer, banter, and bluster. Well, not quite. Actually, the biggest news to come out of the Shad Planking was about the candidate who chose not to attend - Senator Creigh Deeds. While Democrats Terry McAuliffe and Brian Moran shared the stage with Republican Bob McDonnell for speeches that nobody remembers, Creigh Deeds was about as far away as you can get and still be in Virginia - the beautiful town of Abingdon.
Deeds joined U.S. Representative Rick Boucher for a day of campaigning in the great southwestern corner of the Commonwealth. The themes of the day were Deed's plans for jobs and education, but the real messages were (1) Deeds marches to his own drummer, (2) one of the most respected Virginia Democrats is squarely in his corner, and (3) Deeds prefers trout to shad (well, I just made the last one up... but once I did attend a Deeds' event with delicious grilled trout). Boucher endorsed Deeds last December and this was a great opportunity for the two men to send a message not only to folks in Abingdon, but to all small town and rural Virginians that Creigh Deeds has the best chance for a Democratic win this November:
Creigh Deeds does indeed march to his own drummer. It is the same drummer that kept him working in the Virginia Senate rather than resign for more campaigning and fundraising. It the same drummer that finds him taking up issues for regular families all across the state. It is the same drummer says raising big campaign dollars is less important than listening to and talking with Virginians. It must be the same drummer he learned in mountains of Bath County that served him (and his constituents) well through many years in the General Assembly.
So while his opponents were speechifying and blowing enough political smoke to outdo theguys doing the shad, Deeds was doing what he does best - talking with real folks about real issues and real solutions. Yeah, the big out-of-state money may be betting on another horse, but on June 9 this dark horse may just surprise everybody.

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