While Halloween is right around the corner, the real tricks and treats will be a few days after for Krystal Ball and her opponent Representative Rob Wittman (VA-1), both of whom are vying for this districts representative seat.
This is a unique contest because most of the incumbents worrying about their seats are Democrats that voted in favor of the healthcare bill, not fiscal hawks like Wittman. Ball does not have it easy, however, and she faces a huge uphill fight against a well-entrenched opponent who has won the trust of many people in the area.
Wittman signs are much more prevalent in Fredericksburg, even around the University of Mary Washington campus-no doubt an advantage heightened by the benefit of incumbency.
If that were all there was to it, then perhaps the race would be closer. Wittman’s popularity is more than smoke, mirrors and a good PR campaign.
The truth is that voters in the first district prefer Wittman’s platform of cutting runaway spending, cracking down on illegal immigration and a general opposition to the political norm in Washington.
Wittman is a proven opponent to the runaway fiscal problem, so voters know they can rely on him to show their frustration with the party in power.
As a member of the Democratic Party, this leaves Krystal Ball in a political pickle; no matter how much of a ‘folksy,’ local presence she can drum up, she still symbolizes and represents wild Democratic government spending when compared to Wittman.
While this is a weakness for Ball’s campaign, it really speaks more to the strength of Wittman’s message. Having done nothing that truly angered his constituents, Wittman remains a solid, straight-forward candidate with open, debatable policies that are favored in this district.
Ball now has the problem of trying to dig up controversial material to throw in his face, a tactic that has already bitten her in the form of some racy college pictures.
Trying to regain momentum, Ball awkwardly tried to turn the blame for those pictures of herself, and onto her opponents and the ‘glass ceiling’ of sexist politics.
Those deflections and accusations contrast with Wittman, who called for the same photos to be removed, and remained “adamantly opposed to their display.”
This move away from personal, below-the-belt politics sucks air out of Ball’s accusations and moves the debate towards what she could do better than Wittman.
This leads to another weak spot in her campaign, as many of her election pamphlets spouted anti-Washington rhetoric, claiming she would stand for something different than what is already rampant in D.C..
Compared to Wittman’s stance, that does not sound much different.
As a Democrat, her party ties in Washington may compel her to vote otherwise. Why would voters back her when they know Wittman will definitely oppose the exact same proposals on spending that she claims to dislike?
It is laudable that Ball has put such a campaign together to challenge Wittman, but her more experienced foe simply has more reasons to stay in office. In the end, Wittman’s voting record remains too solid to be cast out.