Green Room

Attention, grassroots conservatives: The stakes are high in Virginia’s governor race

posted at 12:05 pm on August 13, 2013 by

There has been no shortage of McAuliffe/Cuccinelli coverage around these parts, and for good reason.  It’s the most important 2013 race in the country.  Conservatives may have mixed feelings about the incumbent in this fall’s other gubernatorial contest (as filthy RINO, I’m generally a fan), but there are no “pale pastels” in Virginia.  The state’s Attorney General and GOP nominee for governor, Ken Cuccinelli, is a rock-ribbed conservative.  Set aside for a moment that his opponent is almost surreally flawed as a candidate.  There’s much at stake in this race that has nothing to do with Terry McAuliffe, or even the governance of a single state.   It’s a critical test for those who subscribe to the “conservatives are a sleeping giant” theory of politics, wherein Republicans’ electoral struggles can be traced back to their unwillingness to embrace an unapologetic and aggressive brand of conservatism.  On that score, and regarding this race, National Review’s Jim Geraghty sent a shot across conservatives’ bow in a piece that spun through as a headlines item yesterday:

Does anyone want to argue that Ken Cuccinelli – Virginia’s attorney general, and current GOP candidate for governor – is not a conservative?

  • Led the legal challenge to Obamacare.
  • Defended Arizona’s immigration enforcement statute.
  • Filed legal challenges to the EPA’s findings on greenhouse gases being a threat to human health and thus an emission they have the authority to regulate.
  • Supports right to life from conception until death, supported and pushed several pro-life bills while in the state legislature.
  • Endorsed by the NRA.

We can examine his record further, but that gives you the gist. So if you’re one of those folks who believes that Mitt Romney was a RINO squish, and that Republicans always lose when they nominate RINO squishes, then you really, really, really need Ken Cuccinelli to win this year.  If Ken Cuccinelli – Mr. Conservative Record – loses against a flawed competitor like Terry McAuliffe, in a purple state like Virginia… and simultaneously, Governor Hug-Obama-After-a-Hurricane-and-Move-Left wins in a landslide up in New Jersey… the message to the rest of the Republican Party will be pretty clear. What you fervently believe – conservatives win, moderate squishes lose – will be refuted in the eyes of many Republicans. Proud conservatives like to believe that their like-minded grassroots voters are, collectively, like a sleeping giant; they merely need to be awakened by the right candidate to transform into an unparalleled, unstoppable electoral force.  If the conservative grassroots are indeed a sleeping giant, so far they’re hitting the “snooze” button on this race.

The piece goes on to describe the fundraising canyon that separates Cuccinelli from his opponent.  In a close race, resources could end up being determinative; if it comes down to money, Democrats have a wide advantage.  And if all of that isn’t enough, Geragthy serves up another trenchant reminder:

What, national conservatives, the stakes aren’t high enough? You don’t feel sufficiently invested in the success of Cuccinelli in November? Okay, then think of the Terry McAuliffe 2013 campaign as a dress rehearsal for the Hillary Clinton 2016 effort. Because that’s how the McAuliffe team sees themselves: “She hasn’t said anything about 2016, but Terry McAuliffe’s 2013 gubernatorial campaign is serving as a testing ground for Clinton’s clout, operatives and donors… The success or failure of McAuliffe’s campaign is a chance to measure Clinton’s strength and organization in a critical state that now rivals Ohio as the pivotal swing state for winning a presidential election. In fact,McAuliffe and some of his top allies have suggested to big donors and consultants that supporting his campaign is a way to get in on the ground floor of Hillary 2016, several donors and operatives told POLITICO.”

Geraghty’s exhortations echo a point I made back in March: As cathartic as it may feel for some conservatives to grouse about “the establishment” and bash Chris Christie as a treacherous Democrat-in-waiting or whatever, those frustrations could be channeled far more productively by mobilizing on behalf of a full-spectrum ally who’s locked in a tight swing-state battle.  And, oh by the way, the Democrat in the race is relying on an operation that is explicitly acting as a stalking horse for Hillary 2016.  I’ll leave you with Team Cuccinelli’s latest TV spot:

UPDATEOuch:

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Yep.

22044 on August 13, 2013 at 12:08 PM

Virginia. Struggling to achieve the goal of becoming New Jersey.

Galtian on August 13, 2013 at 12:14 PM

If the GOP wanted my help, then they shouldn’t have passed that awful immigration bill in the Senate. That was the moment I left the party.

Chris of Rights on August 13, 2013 at 12:23 PM

It’s pretty obvious that most conservatives would rather throw rocks and bitch that get out there and support someone like Cuccinelli. He would be Virginia’s most conservative governor maybe ever. He is probably more conservative than Scott Walker. And Lord knows the odious Terry McAuliffe will do nothing as Governor but chair Hillary’s 2016 campaign.

But of course, none of that matters, we have to get these idiots in Congress to defund Obamacare, or something.

rockmom on August 13, 2013 at 12:28 PM

As cathartic as it may feel for some conservatives to grouse about “the establishment” and bash Chris Christie as a treacherous Democrat-in-waiting or whatever, those frustrations could be channeled far more productively by mobilizing on behalf of a full-spectrum ally who’s locked in a tight swing-state battle.

Completely agree.

If the GOP wanted my help, then they shouldn’t have passed that awful immigration bill in the Senate. That was the moment I left the party.

Chris of Rights on August 13, 2013 at 12:23 PM

Then don’t give money to the party. Give money to the candidates trying to do the right thing. Cuccinelli is one of those. Simply choosing not to participate is not an act of patriotism – it’s an act of cowardice.

Get involved or shut up. And if you are deeply involved, attaboy. Work to get more people involved.

beatcanvas on August 13, 2013 at 12:28 PM

Establishment tools like GB and JG just seethe with resentment when discussing the conservative base.
New Jersey is deep blue. THAT’S why Christie does so well there. It’s not because he’s some acceptable Republican, but because he’s an acceptably moderate Democrat.

AmeriCuda on August 13, 2013 at 12:37 PM

Yes, I’ll be seething with self-loathing as I vote for Ken Cuccinelli.

How many acceptably moderate Democrat pols do you know who have fought the unions, oppose tax hikes, and defunded Planned Parenthood?

Guy Benson on August 13, 2013 at 12:47 PM

Then don’t give money to the party. Give money to the candidates trying to do the right thing. Cuccinelli is one of those. Simply choosing not to participate is not an act of patriotism – it’s an act of cowardice.

Get involved or shut up. And if you are deeply involved, attaboy. Work to get more people involved.

beatcanvas on August 13, 2013 at 12:28 PM

Yes, but the point of this article and of Geraghty’s is that conservatives need to nationalize this election for the good of the GOP. I don’t give a frak about the good of the GOP.

As for being involved, I’ve been quite involved. I made significant efforts in 2010, including donating my time and well-earned dollars to Tea Party candidates around the country. My hope at the time was that the establishment GOP would take note and move in more conservative direction. The events of the last few months show that my hope and optimism were clearly misguided.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

I will continue to support good candidates wherever they may be, however I can. But the party can go frak itself.

Chris of Rights on August 13, 2013 at 1:04 PM

Yes, but the point of this article and of Geraghty’s is that conservatives need to nationalize this election for the good of the GOP. I don’t give a frak about the good of the GOP.

Chris of Rights on August 13, 2013 at 1:04 PM

I thought the point of both JG and GB’s articles was that: for the good of Conservatism, we ought to be more concerned about the results of this race.

The GOP seems to be mentioned only in passing. (eg, if McAuliffe wins in VA and Christie trounces the competition in NJ, then GOP power brokers will be forced to wonder about whether hardcore conservatism can actually win against Hillary).

RightWay79 on August 13, 2013 at 1:17 PM

How much support is the GOP giving Cuccinelli?

For all the talk about this being a put-up-or-shut-up thing, when you have establishment statists in a position to withhold support from candidates, the argument for a candidate losing because he’s a squish becomes true…only in a different context.

JohnTant on August 13, 2013 at 1:20 PM

Latest FB update from Cuccinelli:

Rolled out my K-12 Education Policy Proposal this morning. One of the most important keys to Virginia’s long-term economic growth is reforming and modernizing our education system so that every Virginia child has the opportunity to work hard and receive a high-quality education.

I talk about this and more in my op-ed this morning, here: http://buff.ly/13WiLaR

22044 on August 13, 2013 at 1:50 PM

Wouldn’t Cucinelli be winning this race if he wasn’t trying to push the re-criminalization of sodomy?

libfreeordie on August 13, 2013 at 2:36 PM

libfreeordie on August 13, 2013 at 2:36 PM

That’s a lie. But you don’t care.

Now back to ignoring you.

22044 on August 13, 2013 at 2:47 PM

RightWay79 — nailed it.

Guy Benson on August 13, 2013 at 4:08 PM

Sorry, but this race is no more important that the New Jersey race. It is NOT the end of conservativism regardless of the politician that hustles his way into those offices.

Freddy on August 13, 2013 at 4:45 PM