These darned tea partiers have jumped the shark in Virginia

But pretty much everything else that has gone wrong for Cuccinelli can be attributed to the tea party. Republicans were up against a weak Democrat in a strong year (in the past nine gubernatorial elections, Virginians chose the party that didn’t control the White House), but they tossed away their advantage.

I’ve known McAuliffe for almost 20 years, and I admire his boundless enthusiasm. But he shouldn’t have a chance in this race. He’s a liberal from New York, a McLean millionaire, a former Democratic National Committee chairman who served as chief moneyman to Bill and Hillary Clinton. A company he led as chairman until last year, GreenTech, is under federal investigations, and he failed to disclose his investment in a Rhode Island insurance scam that used the identities of dying people.

On May 9, the Daily Beast published an article titled “How Terry McAuliffe and the Dems Lost Virginia.” It cited a Post poll showing McAuliffe trailing Cuccinelli by 10 points among the likeliest voters.

But then came a fuller examination of Cuccinelli’s positions (opposing transportation spending and immigration reform and proposing to bestow full “personhood” on fetuses), the Jackson nomination and a split in the tea party movement that allowed for the emergence of a Libertarian candidate, Robert Sarvis. Sarvis has forced Cuccinelli, in the closing days of the campaign, to shore up his conservative base by bringing in Ron Paul, a former Republican representative from Texas, and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky).