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“Is the rural vote still important in a Democratic primary?” asks the Washington Post this morning. The Virginia primary, that is, where three candidates are running for the nomination for governor, but only one, state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds (above, left), comes from outside the cities. Fredrick Kunkle reports that being from rural Virginia “is one of Deeds’s best assets,” but it “might also be his biggest weakness.”

How’s that? Kunkle explains: “Deeds’s opponents characterize him as a nice guy but subtly depict him as a bumpkin whose conservative views are out of step with modern Virginia. They doubt that suburban voters will be much impressed by his proposed constitutional amendment to guarantee Virginians the right to hunt or by a previous endorsement from the National Rifle Association. They like their odds in a debate, believing that Deeds’s unpolished style might be a turnoff in big media markets.” Deeds is running against Terry McAuliffe (former head of the DNC) and Bryan Moran (former member of the House of Delegates from Alexandria).

 Deeds lost by only 360 votes for attorney general in ’05, but the state has continued to suburbanize. “I think Creigh Deeds is making the best of something that two or three decades ago would have been an asset,” said Quentin Kidd, a political science professor at Christopher Newport University. “But in recent years, and especially in the last decade, the suburban voice has become dominant in Virginia politics. Deeds can say, ‘I’m the only one who represents the rural segment of Virginia.’ But on the other hand, that’s not the part of Virginia that’s growing.”

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