Attention, grassroots conservatives: The stakes are high in Virginia’s governor race
posted at 12:05 pm on August 13, 2013 by Guy Benson
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:
UPDATE – Ouch: