The Ninth Congressional District in Virginia, tucked into Virginia's southwestern corner, is the home of one of Virginia's three Democratic Congressmen, Rick Boucher.
VA-9 is geographically one of the largest congressional disricts in the eastern U.S., encompassing more than twenty counties.
Rep. Boucher is a co-chair of the Congressional Internet Caucus. He is an eleven term incumbent and won handily in 2002 with 66% of the vote against Jay Katzen, who you may know as Tim Kaine's unsuccessful Republican opponent for Lieutenant Governor in 2001.
In 2004, Congressman Boucher faces a potentially much stronger opponent, NASCAR executive Kevin Triplett. The National Republican Congressional Committee has targeted this seat for Republican takeover, and Dick Cheney is expected to raise money for Triplett in a trip to Southwest Virginia later this month. Triplett's got a sophisticated Web presence and his NASCAR background has the potential to have very strong appeal. (On his online volunteer signup form, he asks respondents to name a favorite NASCAR driver. If you donate $10 to his campaign, you become eligble for a monthly drawing of NASCAR autographed items. "Crew Chiefs" and "Team Owners" can win race-used car tires.
At this point, Boucher has more money in the bank, but Triplett is raising money at a fast pace and can expect a large influx of out-of-state money from Republican leaders nationwide who view this as Virginia's one vulnerable Democratic seat.
In our primary in February, voter turnout in VA-9 was the lowest of all of Virginia's Congressional Districts, at 6.78%. In contrast, the two other districts with Democratic Congressmen, VA-3 (Bobby Scott) and VA-8 (Jim Moran) had the highest turnouts in the state at 11.92% and 15.96% respectively.
This comparatively low voter turnout in the Democratic primary may be an initial hint of trouble for Boucher's re-election. Kerry's results were also lowest in VA-9 at 46.2% while Edwards did best in this district, carrying 38% of the vote.
Dean earned 1002 votes, 3.9% of the total in VA-9. Interestingly, Dean ran really well in Montgomery County, earning 8.5% of the vote there, higher than his state average of 7%. Kucinich also did extraordinarily well, earning 7% himself. If you're from the Montgomery County area, to what do you credit such comparatively high results? Is there a secret bastion of progressivism down there? How can we learn from your success?
Most importantly, what can we do to make sure that we hold on to this Democratic seat?