“Note to aspiring Republican politicians: When Ken Cuccinelli says you have gone too far, you might want to take a few steps backward,” wrote the Richmond Times-Dispatch May 24, 2013 editorial page.
The GOP ticket should be unified in its message. Instead Jackson is an unwelcome distraction causing more harm than good. Cuccinelli has been mum on his running mate. Pictures of the three GOP candidates convey a chilliness between Cuccinelli and Jackson. For conservatives who need their memories jogged, after decades of Virginia voting Republican in presidential elections, President Obama won Virginia in 2008 and again in 2012. Mitt Romney lost because he lost the minority vote to Obama. Looking at these results, not to mention Tim Kaine’s victory over George Allen in Virginia’ 2012 Senate race, one would think Republicans in the state would learn their lesson and nominate candidates that would attract -- and not repel -- more voters.
As political analyst Larry Sabato said: “Cuccinelli brought this problem on himself.” Cuccinelli successfully got the Virginia GOP to change the nomination rules from a primary to convention format to ensure his victory over Lt. Governor Bill Bolling for the gubernatorial nomination before Bolling decided not to run. Fewer conservatives voted in the convention than would have voted in a primary. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reminded readers, “Jackson came in fourth in a 2012 primary for the Senate and probably would have fared about the same this time around.”
In a May 28, 2012, letter to the editor, John Bloom, E.W. Jackson’s Newport News, Va. coordinator wrote “Jackson is a uniter.” (More like a divider my mother laughed.) Describing how Jackson bested seven other candidates for the Lt. Governor nomination, Bloom gushed, “Something special was happening.” I’d argue disastrous. Nominating a candidate who has a record of preaching hate toward Americans isn’t going to win the GOP votes in Virginia or anywhere.
I’ll say this again for thousandth time, GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney lost the 2012 election for many reasons but one was Romney’s “willful neglect “of minority voters. Republicans need to lean in to more Americans with compelling candidates. Jackson isn’t one of them.
During a recent visit to a Virginia women’s Republican club, a few white conservatives mentioned Jackson to me, assuming I would like him because he’s a black conservative like me. I didn’t know who Jackson was. But what I find ironic is the same Republicans blasting black liberals for only voting for Obama because he’s black expect me to do the same with Jackson. Candidates matter and I don’t vote on race.
Many Republicans still believe they can win elections ignoring the black vote. Blacks and whites make up the largest proportion of the electorate. Latinos are trailing both groups because many are in the US illegally and ineligible to vote. In 2012, for the first time blacks voted at a higher rate than any other minority group.
Aside from the Jackson fiasco, I have read precious little about Cuccinelli taking his message beyond Virginia’s white electorate. With polls showing an exceedingly close race between Cuccinelli and Democrat Terry McAuliffe, every color vote will count in Virginia. Have Virginia Republicans learned any new tricks? If Jackson is the best they’ve got, then the GOP is more doomed than I thought.