Yes, Virginia, the GOP Establishment did stick a shiv in Ken Cuccinelli
By Matthew Vadum
It's really that simple.
Cuccinelli campaign strategist Chris La Civita suggested on election night Tuesday that the federal government's partial shutdown last month may have hurt his candidate in parts of Virginia where many federal employees and contractors live.
He also suggested that Cuccinelli could have won if he had received more money from national GOP sources, which he said dried up as of Oct. 1.
"There are a lot of questions people are going to be asking and that is, was leaving Cuccinelli alone in the first week of October, a smart move?" La Civita said. "We were on our own. Just look at the volume [of ads]."
Cuccinelli lost by a mere 2.5 percentage points in a state that until somewhat recently had been solidly Republican. Even with Cuccinelli's various tactical mistakes (and there were many), it is still very difficult to believe that the GOP machine couldn't have gotten another fifty-odd thousand voters to the polls to support him if it really wanted to.
Predictably, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who won re-election comfortably on Tuesday, refused to lift a finger to help his vulnerable fellow Republican in Virginia. Even with mountains of cash, Christie had no electoral coattails, which is not exactly a resume-builder for a presidential candidate.
This is, of course, the same politician who betrayed GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney on at least two occasions. Christie spent his high-profile speech at the Republican National Convention last year talking about himself instead of Romney. He also won President Obama lots of votes by cozying up to him during the Tropical Storm Sandy saga. But his personal popularity didn't do a thing for the rest of the New Jersey GOP slate this week.
What happened to Cuccinelli wasn't some back-room conspiracy shrouded in smoke and euphemisms; it was a conscious, overt effort to do serious damage to a Tea Party standard-bearer.
Virginia Republicans tend to value hierarchy and tradition. Cuccinelli the upstart was punished for his impertinence. Instead of waiting his turn, as the aristocratic gatekeepers of the Virginia GOP demand, Cuccinelli asked his party elders to value merit and good policy proposals over seniority and rank. The powers that be within the Virginia Republican establishment responded by smearing the archetypal conservative as an extremist and trying to squash him.
Remember that the establishment came out hard four years ago for the now-tainted RINOish governor Bob McDonnell, but this year largely left the cash-strapped Cuccinelli to his own devices against the fabulously wealthy Terry McAuliffe, the Democrats' Daddy Warbucks.
According to the Virginia Public Access Project, key GOP fundraising organs lavished funds in the 2009 election cycle on the ethically slippery McDonnell. The Republican Party of Virginia and the Republican National Committee gave McDonnell $2,704,348 and $2,253,500, respectively.In the 2013 election cycle, the two big political committees were stingy, according to available data. As of Oct. 23, the Republican Party of Virginia had given Cuccinelli $843,085, and the RNC had coughed up a paltry $85,098 for the gubernatorial candidate. (The Republican Governors' Association was not stingy. RGA gave $1,994,312 to McDonnell, who leaves office in disgrace in January, and a healthy $8,066,772 to Cuccinelli.)
But the Republican National Committee is putting the word out that it did everything it could to help Cuccinelli.
The RNC claims that it spent $3 million on the so-called ground game to help Cuccinelli and the rest of the Republican ticket "while building the party's presence in Virginia." The non-Cuccinelli-specific effort included testing a "new precinct-based voter contact model." The RNC gushed that its "Virginia-based staff included four dedicated to Asian-Pacific American engagement, two for African American engagement, and one for Hispanic engagement."
Radio talk show host Mark Levin says the RNC is trying to "punk" conservatives by trying to "to persuade you that the RNC has been vigorously fighting for Cuccinelli's campaign in Virginia. They think you're so stupid that you'll buy this self-serving BS."
Even if we generously give the RNC the benefit of the doubt and assume it did everything it could to boost Cuccinelli's chances, there is no question that there was heavy institutional resistance among GOP apparatchiks to the mainstream conservative contender's bid.
Cuccinelli's worst enemies were just as likely to be found among Republicans as Democrats. There was no shortage of prominent, important Republicans crossing the aisle to endorse Democrat McAuliffe.
Boyd Marcus, former chief of staff for House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), joined the McAuliffe campaign after the gubernatorial candidacy of his pick, sore loser Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, flamed out. Bolling himself petulantly refused to endorse Cuccinelli and worked hard against him, demoralizing the grassroots and depressing turnout by badmouthing the nominee on conservative talk radio every chance he got.
Other Republicans who endorsed McAuliffe include Dwight Schar, former RNC finance chairman; Judy Ford Wason, a GOP strategist who worked for McDonnell; former state senate president pro tempore John Chichester; state senator Russ Potts; and former House of Delegates members Vince Callahan, Katherine Waddell, and Jim Dillard.
Karl Rove, the corporatist Wile E. Coyote of the political consulting world who nearly lost George W. Bush the presidency not once, but twice, did nothing to help Cuccinelli. That's because the generally useless strategerist and other establishment figures have declared war on the Tea Party.
And virtually no one defended GOP lieutenant governor candidate E.W. Jackson when his Democratic opponent, Ralph Northam, viciously slimed him for his mainstream Christian beliefs. It is a core tenet of Christianity that original sin is responsible for a host of maladies in the world and, unsurprisingly, Jackson, head pastor of a Christian church in Chesapeake, believes in that doctrine.
But Northam ran a disgusting TV ad that amounted to an attack on the very precepts of Christianity itself. Building on Jackson's otherwise unremarkable belief in original sin, Sarelle Holiday, mother of a disabled child, absurdly accused Jackson of considering her son "a punishment." Northam, who is white, is such a class act that he even refused to shake the hand of Jackson, who is black, during a joint public appearance in Hampton Roads.
Even before the polls had closed Tuesday, GOP operatives were already armed with excuses to explain away Cuccinelli's approaching loss. The D.C. echo chamber reverberated with accusations that Cuccinelli was a woman-hating religious kook and an irresponsible loudmouth.
One said a "fire-breathing conservative turned populist unable to defend his positions on birth control" and women's issues was doomed to lose. The RNC, in his view, was right to save its money for "races they can actually win." Of course, a race decided by a mere 2.5 percentage points is pretty well winnable by definition.
With Cuccinelli's totally avoidable loss, Terry McAuliffe, whose lifelong profession is Clinton operative, will be in position to secure Virginia for his puppet-mistress, Alinskyite neo-Marxist Hillary Clinton, in the 2016 presidential election.
McAuliffe is now a safe bet to take over the Democratic Governors Association and the National Governors Association. Both perches will give him even more access to high-dollar donors than he has now.
Cuccinelli's humiliation at the polls gives plenty of ammo to left-wingers. The media is already saying Tuesday's election results show that voters have repudiated the Tea Party.
This is abject nonsense. Cuccinelli was able to almost close a huge gap in the polls with McAuliffe only by campaigning hard in the final days on the monstrosity that is ObamaCare and linking the hated wealth- and health-redistribution program to his opponent.
Also on Tuesday in Mobile, Alabama, a relative nobody, a Tea Party guy named Dean Young, with no money and no big fancy political machine behind him, scored an impressive 47 percent of the vote in a GOP primary runoff against Bradley Byrne, the well-funded choice of big business, who will almost certainly win the general election in the ultra-safe Republican congressional seat.
Of course, the fact that a Tea Party activist came out of nowhere to almost score an upset against a pillar of the Republican Party establishment is nowhere to be found in the New York Times article about the election.
The narrative is always more important than the truth.
Matthew Vadum is an investigative journalist in Washington, D.C., and author of the ACORN/Obama exposé Subversion Inc. Follow him on Twitter.