John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


Ted Cruz and Jason Johnson Need to Look in the Mirror

Posted on November 7, 2013
Jason Johnson and Ted Cruz

Ted Cruz with Adviser Jason Johnson (Photo by: Bob Daemmrich)


I have never heard anything more pathetic in my life.

Jason Johnson, the brains behind the Ted Cruz operation, inked a column in Red State, blaming the Republican Establishment for Ken Cuccinelli’s loss in Virginia.

This is the same guy who advised Ted Cruz (I assume, since he is the brains in the Cruz operation) that urging House and Senate Republicans to shut down the government would be a smart political strategy.

Of course, Johnson would say that he didn’t want the government to shut down and that all he wanted was Obamacare to shut down while the rest of the government remained open, but we all know how this thing worked out.

The government shut down and Ted Cruz rightfully got blamed for it, because it was his idea in the first place.

Now, Cruz’s operational brain had the temerity to blame the so-called Washington establishment for the loss in Virginia, the same Washington establishment that he and his friends have been fighting so hard to destroy.

Here is the operational quote from the operations guy from the Ted Cruz operation:
“At the urging of the Establishment, far too many national Republican donors declined to support Cuccinelli.  He was outspent by nearly $15 million.  You cannot win if you lack the resources to be heard.  Because many donors—unfortunately, listening to the DC consultants who talk endlessly about the need to “win”—chose not to support his campaign, Cuccinelli was forced to go dark in the DC media market the final two weeks of the campaign.”

It’s all non-sense.

Most Republicans in Washington wanted Ken Cuccinelli to win for one reason and one reason only: they think that Terry McAuliffe will be an unmitigated disaster.

So, the Washington establishment didn’t secretly plan for the destruction of Cooch.

The Republican National Committee gave a million more dollars to Cuccinelli than they did to Chris Christie.

The Republican Governors Association went in big for the Cooch.  They were probably his biggest supporters.

The RNC and the RGA are the Republican establishment, along with the NRCC and the NRSC.  And that establishment gave money, blood, sweat and tears for the Attorney General.

It is true that some traditional funders did not support Cuccinelli with their hard earned cash, but they had their reasons.

Some of them don’t buy into the extreme rhetoric on abortion and some others actually don’t agree at all with his plan to make divorces harder and to outlaw some forms of contraception.

Some sharply disagreed with this economic positions.  The Chamber of Commerce, for example, sees investment in infrastructure to be of paramount importance, but Cuccinelli came out against Governor McDonnell’s highway reform plan.

Why should the Chamber support a candidate who disagrees with their top priorities?

But the party establishment did as much as they could to help a candidate that was deeply flawed in almost every conceivable way.

How did Cuccinelli get the nomination in the first place?  Through a rigged process meant to lessen the power of Northern Virginia voters.   The conservative establishment in Virginia abhors the idea that voters in the entire state might actually want a say in who the Virginia gubernatorial nominee is, so they decided to stay away from a primary process and go to a convention.

In a convention setting, the activists have more power than the people and that’s how you get a Ken Cuccinelli or an E.W. Jackson, who turned out to be a titanic embarrassment.

When Cooch got the nomination, big money donors decided to invest elsewhere for two reasons.  They assumed he wouldn’t win and they hoped he wouldn’t win.

When you have a lot of money, you pick people you both want to win and who you think will win.  Cuccinelli failed on both counts.

And that is why he had a huge funding gap, because he couldn’t raise money from rich people who didn’t want him to win and didn’t think he could win.

The Republican establishment has no control over big money donors.  They don’t tell rich people who to give their money to.  They ask for support for certain candidates or causes, and they make the case as best they can.   The candidates themselves have to make the sale to big donors, and if they can't close the sale, there is nothing the party can do for you, other than give you its own money.

The big money people like Chris Christie because he is a good leader who focuses on getting things done and doesn’t focus on returning America to some idyllic time in the 1950’s.

Cuccinelli still almost won for a couple of reasons:

  1. First, Michael Bloomberg made this race about guns in the last two weeks of the election, thinking that he had a runaway race and that he could make an example out of the Old Dominion.  That plan backfired, and the NRA quietly mobilized and fired up its troops for Cuccinelli.

  2. Second, Barack Obama’s approval ratings sank into the 30's a week before the election and then Obama came and campaigned for McAuliffe, using the same principle that Bloomberg employed and that too backfired.

  3. Third, Obamacare turned out to be a complete disaster, and that gave momentum to the Cooch campaign.

  4. Fourth, Terry McAuliffe turned out to be a terrible candidate, horrible on the stump, uninspiring and flat, shallow on the issues and more ethically challenged than Edwin Edwards.

But the Republican still lost, despite the momentum.

He lost because he didn’t have any money and couldn’t respond to any of the ads that the Macker put up.  He couldn’t raise money because he was a terrible candidate, not because the Republican establishment secretly wanted him to lose.

He lost because he had taken extreme positions on social issues, which was another reason he couldn't raise any money from rich people.

And he lost because the government shut-down, inspired by Ted Cruz, energized opposition to him in the Washington D.C. suburbs, sinking him in the polls just when he needed the momentum the most.

Just imagine if Ted Cruz hadn’t shut down the government.  Just imagine if those federal employees weren’t unnecessarily pissed off at the Republicans and if the polls showed a tight race a month ago.

Just imagine if the media had focused exclusively on the failed roll-out of the President’s health care law, and if the President didn’t have a temporary bump in the polls because he had out-foxed the Republicans on the shut-down.

Had we not had the Ted Cruz distraction, had we put all of our focus on the President, Ken Cuccinelli could have won the race, despite being a terribly flawed candidate.

But that was not to be, because the brains behind the Cruz operation advised the Senator that it was wise to call for a government shutdown.

And now he is blaming the Republican establishment for Ken Cuccinelli’s loss in Virginia.

If he wants to find the true culprit, he should grab his boss, and walk to the nearest mirror and take a deep look.

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