Matt Mackowiak

Only two candidates are slated to be on the 2012 Virginia Republican presidential primary ballot. The mainstream media is choosing to frame this predicament as evidence of which GOP candidates are running "serious" campaigns and which are not. But this media-driven narrative largely misses the mark.

The real loser in this ordeal is likely to be the eventual GOP presidential nominee.

Given that Virginia voters don't register by party affiliation, the presidential primary is an important tool for identifying potential Republican general-election voters. With only Mitt Romney and Ron Paul on the ballot and no way to write in votes, turnout will likely be low, thereby guaranteeing limited new data.

Add in the fact that the Democrats are not running a competitive primary on the other side, and this situation quickly morphs into a serious predicament for the eventual Republican nominee from a general-election organizing perspective.

Unfortunately for the eventual GOP nominee, knocking Obama out of the White House will be next to impossible without winning Virginia, a state he won in 2008.

Prior to this fiasco, Team Obama had signaled its intent to compete in Virginia in 2012. Many observers believe the Obama campaign has the inside track on winning what is projected to be a tightly contested battle for the Commonwealth, since it will undoubtedly have a larger war chest than the GOP nominee's campaign and will likely need to cover significantly less terrain given the demographics of the northern and eastern parts of the state.

Winning Virginia has just gotten a little bit easier for Team Obama.

The campaign of one contender, Rick Perry, has already filed suit against the Virginia Board of Elections and the Republican Party of Virginia, challenging the constitutionality of the state's ballot access laws, which may have been altered in late 2011.

This problem will likely require a solution. With a Republican governor and Republicans in control of the Virginia House of Delegates and the Virginia Senate, the GOP should be able to fix this when the Virginia legislature meets in January 2012.

The financial, political and organizing impact of an unexpectedly low primary turnout on the Republican Party of Virginia, which was counting on a contested primary to build for 2012 and refill its coffers after an expensive (but successful) off-year legislative election this past November, cannot be overstated.

Matt Mackowiak

Matt Mackowiak is a Washington, DC and Austin, TX based political and communications consultant and the founder and President of Potomac Strategy Group, LLC, providing political consulting, media relations and crisis communications assistance to campaigns, companies, groups and individuals. Since he arrived in Washington, DC, he has served in senior roles for two U.S. Senators, a Governor, in the executive branch, in winning political campaigns, and in the private sector. Over his career Matt has developed deep relationships with national, state and local media and political figures.

Most recently Matt worked with PSG client Gov. Sean Parnell (R-AK) as a senior communications adviser, providing counsel on strategy, speechwriting and media relations during the 2011 legislative session in Juneau.

In 2010 Matt served as Campaign Manager for Bill Flores, the Republican nominee in Texas’ 17th Congressional District. After winning a 5-way primary, Flores defeated 10-term incumbent Rep. Chet Edwards (D-TX) by 25% in November, the largest margin of victory for a GOP challenger in 2010.

In addition to offering counsel to individuals and corporations, Matt provides political analysis for the Fox News Channel, MSNBC, ABC News, CBS News, BBC News, and radio stations throughout the country. Matt’s on-therecord political analysis has appeared in Politico, the Washington Times, the Los Angeles Times, Bloomberg News, The Hill, Congressional Quarterly, the Washington Examiner, the Dallas Morning News, the Houston Chronicle, and on He is a syndicated columnist and has had opinion columns published in the New York Post, New York Daily News,, Chicago Tribune, Philadelphia Inquirer, Politico, Roll Call, Austin American-Statesman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Des Moines Register, National Review online, Congressional Quarterly and on the popular blog sites The Daily Beast and The Huffington Post. Matt has lectured and given speeches at the University of Illinois, the University of Texas, Texas Christian University, Georgetown University, Catholic University, the University of Denver, American University and the University of North Texas.

From 2005-2009 Matt served as Press Secretary to U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (RTX), the fourth ranking member of the Republican Leadership, and three-term former U.S. Senator Conrad Burns (R-MT). Earlier in his career he was a political appointee at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for Under Secretary Asa Hutchinson and Assistant Secretary Stewart Verdery, managed the second largest county in Iowa on the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign, counseled corporate clients at international PR firm Burson-Marsteller, and performed White House Presidential and Vice Presidential advance nationwide.

Matt is a Director of the Center for Public Policy and Political Studies at Austin Community College, and is a sustaining member of MaverickPAC. He serves as a member of the Board of Advisors for the non-profit Luke’s Wings and enjoys helping Becky’s Fund and USA CARES.

A native of Austin, Texas, Matt graduated with a B.S. in Communications Studies (Political Communication track) from the University of Texas in 2003. Aside from his professional work, he owns and manages the popular blog site, which the Washingtonian has called “one of the best political blogs.” In his free time, Matt enjoys sports, live music, reading biographies, and is an avid supporter of the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Pittsburgh Penguins and the University of Texas.