E.W. Jackson All Wrong for Virginia GOP

Crystal Wright

5/29/2013 12:01:00 AM - Crystal Wright

Any conservative, who thinks E.W. Jackson winning Virginia's 2013 Republican Lieutenant Governor nomination is a good thing, needs to have his or her head examined. A former marine, lawyer and minister, Jackson has made incendiary remarks in the past about gays, blacks and Democrats and yet refuses to retract anything he has said.

This “firebrand” won’t help the Republican ticket of Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli for Governor and Mark Obenshain for Attorney General in a state that has become more purple than red and in which the race for governor remains rancorous and tight. Jackson referred to gays and lesbians as “sick” and “perverted” people and compared homosexuality to pedophilia. Defending traditional marriage is one thing; encouraging hate is another.

Jackson assailed Democrats for being “anti-God” and said Planned Parenthood “has been far, far more lethal to black lives than the KKK ever was.” Blacks who choose to have abortions do so willingly. Blacks like Emmett Till who were tortured, lynched and murdered by the Ku Klux Klan had no say in their deaths. There is no comparison between the two and I don’t understand how a black Republican like Jackson could make such a comment.

Slavery and the Civil Rights movement was one of the worst times in American history. Democrats and Republicans diminish the historical significance of both using such preposterous analogies. But when black Republican’s like Jackson make these comments to woo black voters, it does the opposite. Blacks tune out conservatives like Jackson as loony.

Telling black liberals they are slaves on a planation or any derivative thereof doesn’t make blacks want to hear the conservative message of economic empowerment through education (school choice), less taxation and less government. I’ll say it again, conservatives need to end the slave talk. That is, talk about the Democrat Party’s history of fighting for slavery, segregation and secession and how even today Democrat policies keep blacks in segregated, failing public schools and falling down America’s economic ladder.

Jackson’s excuse for his offensive comments was he made them as pastor of Exodus Faith Ministries, the church he founded but now as a candidate he vowed only to about jobs and the economy. But Jackson is still the same person. As a native Virginian, born and raised in Richmond, I know something’s wrong when the Richmond Times-Dispatch, one of the most conservative paper’s in the country, is daily deriding Jackson as a right-wing nut.

“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.