In January 2004 in Iowa, an infamous murder-suicide took place. No, not a real one. This was of the political variety. In the final days of the Iowa caucus, Dick Gephardt launched a series of attack ads against Howard Dean. Dean–supposedly still the front-runner–responded in kind. The candidates finished a distant third and fourth. There is some truth and some myth to this theory, but the tale lives on.
Much the same thing happened in Virginia last night. From the get-go, Terry McAuliffe and Brian Moran viewed each other as their biggest obstacles to winning the Democratic primary for governor. In debates, radio ads and TV spots, Moran portrayed McAuliffe as a crony capitalist carpetbagger who vociferously campaigned against Barack Obama. McAuliffe tagged Moran as a hot-headed Richmond insider in the pocket of defense contractors and called his political consultant, Joe Trippi (long rivals from the Dean days), "an ass." McAuliffe claimed he was joking but neither Moran nor Trippi were much amused. The contest seemed oddly personal. The video below gives you a good example of the frequent absurdity of the race.
Voters got tired of the Moran-McAuliffe antics, which reeked of old politics, and rewarded the guy who stayed out of the fight, state senator Creigh Deeds. Mr. Anonymous benefited from being bland and likeable and shot up in the polls after receiving the Washington Post‘s surprise endorsement. McAuliffe and Moran both cratered, coming in at least twenty points behind.