John Feehery: Speaking Engagements

Va. GOP Dug Own Grave – Cuccinelli for Governor

Posted on November 4, 2013
Ken Cuccinelli, E. W. Jackson, Mark Obenshain

Mark Obenshain, Ken Cuccinelli, E. W. Jackson



“Don’t it make my brown eyes blue.”  That’s what Crystal Gayle sang in the 1970s.

“Don’t it make my Red State blue,” is what the Republican Party will probably be singing on Wednesday morning.

If Ken Cuccinelli gets within 10 points of Terry McAuliffe in tomorrow’s election, it will be a pretty big shock.

And, you never know.  It will be a low turnout election, and low turnout elections tend to work out pretty well for the Republican Party.

The Macker is a notoriously weak candidate, but he is likeable guy who is exceptionally good at raising money.

With McAuliffe, ethics has trumped issues to be become the number one reason to vote against him.

With Cuccinelli, it’s the other way around.

Some polls have shown the Republican closing fast, although the Washington Post is pretty skeptical of those surveys.

If those polls turn out to be true, it will because of two people:  Michael Bloomberg and Barack Obama.

Both the New York Mayor and the President saw the McAuliffe race as an excellent opportunity to burnish their own credentials, perhaps at the expense of the Democratic candidate.

Bloomberg wanted to make this race about him and his effort to ban guns.  Obama decided late that doing a few rallies for the Macker would give his Presidency a boost.

But if this race were about guns and Obamacare, Cuccinelli would have won in a landslide.

Sadly, it hasn’t turned out that way.

McAuliffe’s fund-raising acumen has given him a huge lead in the money department, and he has effectively turned that money into a bludgeon with which to beat Cuccinelli on his positions on abortion and more importantly birth control.

If Republicans are fighting on birth control grounds, they are going to lose the election.

And as it turns out, the gender gap in this race is especially vast.

McAuliffe is pounding the Republican among the fair sex by 25 points. Among men, the race is tied.

The Republican Party in Virginia dug its own grave early on in the process when it decided to pick its state wide nominees at a convention instead of in a primary.

By putting the decision in the hands of the most conservative activists in Virginia, the GOP made it pretty difficult for the party to compete, even against Terry McAuliffe.

The final straw came when they selected a fiery African-American preacher to be the nominee for Lieutenant Governor.  E.W. Jackson’s flamboyant and erratic statements have come in handy for the Democratic ticket in the closing days of the campaign, including a particular statement about how kids with Downs Syndrome are a message from God about sin.   Not very helpful for a Republican Party that is trying to appeal to more rational voters.

Should the Republican Party want to compete more effectively in places like Virginia, it needs to take the nomination decisions away from the narrow few and open it up to the people.

If the party wants to continue on its strategy of turning a former Red State blue, it should probably continue down the same path.

For the national Party, the sudden surge by Cuccinelli in the last days of the campaign must be frustrating.  It knows that Cooch has no chance, but if doesn’t suddenly donate hundreds of thousands of dollars to the race, it knows it will be blamed in what is most assuredly a defeat. But Cuccinelli is going to lose anyway, and that money could be better spent elsewhere.

I would put the betting line of this race at 10 points.  If McAuliffe wins by more than 10 points, the President, Hillary and Bill Clinton and Michael Bloomberg can rightly claim victory.

But if Cuccinelli loses by less the 10 points, Bloomberg and Obama won’t be able to claim any victory.   A close victory for McAuliffe is a big rejection of Bloomberg’s gun obsession and Obama’s terribly flawed health care law.