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Foley Fallout in Virginia?

By: Philip Stewart
By: Philip Stewart

October 5, 2006

The Allen-Webb race in Virginia is a virtual dead heat. It seems that a scandal in Washington may not have an effect on races in the Commonwealth.

"I'm going to run, and presumably win in this election," said Hastert at a press conference Thursday afternoon. "When we do, I expect to run for leader, for speaker."

Hastert also announced an investigation into allegations against Mark Foley. The comments came near the end of a week that's been particularly tough for the speaker.

"If it wasn't for the Washington Times being one of the very first organizations calling for Dennis Hastert to resign, I think you could say this is the democrats trying to score political points," said Sean O'Brien, the Executive Director at the Sorensen Institute in Charlottesville. "But the Washington Times is a very conservative newspaper."

However, a scandal on Capitol Hill may have little effect on campaigns in the Commonwealth.

"The latest polls show that people are separating what happened with Mark Foley, from the individual races in their area," explained O'Brien. "I don't think that Mark Foley probably has any bearing on the Allen-Webb race."

In even more localized campaigns, like the Goode-Weed race, O'Brien said expect little or no impact at all.

"It's hard to imagine that the Foley scandal will come down to the fifth congressional district," he said.

The scandal is affecting Washington. Enough that Speaker Hastert had to ensure the public Thursday that he was taking action.

"The bottom line is that we're taking responsibility," said Hastert. "As someone in Washington said before, 'The buck stops here.'"

A week of negative political press could have a positive impact, at least when in comes to voter turn-out next month.

"If these scandals get more people interested in the race, and they take the time to learn about the two candidates, and make an informed choice about who they want to vote for, that would be a silver lining," said O'Brien.


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