As the nation focuses on the upcoming elections this fall, the Senate Republican Caucus is focused just as intently on laying the groundwork for our 2011 State Senate campaigns. In 2011, the entire Virginia Senate is up for election, and Senate Republicans are intently focused on the goal of regaining a majority in the Senate by picking up at least three seats.
“Our members are actively campaigning for Congressional candidates in their districts,” commented Senator Ryan McDougle (Hanover), Senate Republican Leader Pro Tempore. “But at the same time, we have to start early if we are going to be successful in 2011. Traditionally, the Senate Republican Caucus has waited until an election year is upon us to start focusing on campaigns. But to be successful in our efforts retaking a majority in the Senate, we need to start now.”
One of the biggest undertakings for the Caucus has revolved around raising the funds necessary to wage aggressive campaigns next year. Last spring, the Caucus rolled out “Team 21,” a new annual giving program named for the number of seats that we need for a majority in the Senate. Members of Team 21 agree to make an annual financial commitment to the Caucus of $5,000 or more. In less than five months, the Caucus has attracted over 15 new donors to join Team 21.
In addition to Team 21, the Caucus has sought other methods to raise new money for our efforts including direct mail fundraising and a series of regional events. Just last week, former Senator Jeannemarie Devolites Davis and former Congressman Tom Davis hosted a very successful fundraiser for the Caucus at their home in Vienna. In addition to raising critical funds for our 2011 campaigns, the event also demonstrated a contagious enthusiasm for our efforts in Northern Virginia – an area where there are currently few Republican Senators.
Apart from fundraising, the Caucus has been working on furthering outreach and communication with supporters throughout Virginia. Our Caucus newsletter, website, and Facebook page are all examples of this new outreach. All of these communications tools are intended to provide you with better access to information about our Caucus and about our individual members.
One challenge that the Caucus faces is the decennial redistricting process which will take place in the spring. New district lines will be drawn to reflect population shifts since 2001. The district lines will not be fully known until late spring or early summer and elections will be conducted in those districts less than six months later.
“Redistricting will pose a challenge,” Senator McDougle noted. “In recent election years, we have known well in advance where district lines were. We could pick districts to target and begin to identify candidates who could win in those districts. Not knowing the district lines makes it harder to lay the groundwork. The short campaign season once the districts are known will make the elections even more difficult. But both parties and all candidates face the same challenges.”
“We have not let redistricting impede our preparations for 2011,” noted Senate Republican Leader Tommy Norment (James City). “Regardless of what the districts look like, we know we will need money to fund campaigns and we are raising it. We will need to communicate with supporters statewide and we are doing it. We will need a strong team on the ground and we are fielding it.
“The 2011 election cycle poses a great opportunity for us,” Norment continued. “There are eleven Senate districts currently held by Democrats that Bob McDonnell carried last year. No Republican represents a district carried by Creigh Deeds. We have real opportunities to pick up three or more seats, and we are excited to take advantage of this unique opportunity."