Democrats in Roanoke City voted for unification over division at their reorganization meeting last night. This is good news for elected Democrats like Councilman Bev Fitzpatrick, Mayor Nelson Harris and Delegate Onzlee Ware. It's probably not the best news for Roanoke City Republicans.
I believe it's clear from this outcome that Fitzpatrick and Harris will run for re-election as Democrats. The question now is how do Bowers, McFarland etc run. With their allies removed from power, do they risk challenging incumbents Fitzpatrick and Harris for the Democrat nomination? Or, do they take a turn running as "Independent Democrats"?
I have heard that Councilman Brian Wishneff will not run for re-election. And all indications are that Rich Cranwell, Dickie's son, will run. A united Democrat ticket of Harris, Fitzpatrick, Sherman Lea and Rich Cranwell is the worst case scenario for City Republicans.
Can Republicans win next year? Sure they can. But it's going to be hard. I think Harris will be very difficult, if not impossible to beat in a 2 way race. Throw in Bowers as an Independent, and the GOP may have a shot.
Republicans would be wise to run one candidate for Council and maximize the Republican vote. This strategy was not successful in 2006, but it can be. When recruiting candidates, we need to look for a respected member of the business community that is well known in the Valley. School Board Chair and business leader Dan Carson is the first name that comes to mind. It also wouldn't hurt to look for a young professional with charisma and fresh ideas; an individual that could appeal to that increasingly vocal and active voting block. One thing is for certain. We've got to steer clear of nominating an ideologue, which will only ensure defeat.