Four years ago, Virginia conservatives were told you couldn’t win with a candidate who excited the Republican base. Conservatives were told that candidates like Ken Cuccinelli spelled certain doom, that the answer was a moderate establishment candidate. Tonight we now know that that candidate Ed Gillespie did worse than Ken Cuccinelli did. And Cuccinelli performed better without the support of the Virginia GOP establishment.
Ed Gillespie is certainly a good fellow. But his campaign used messages from 2004 and tactics from 1996. It seemed to exist outside of the ferocious upheavals of the modern polarized political world.
I don't vote in Virginia, but I followed the races with some interest. The Virginia GOP is the Establishment GOP. Back during the Presidential nominations, Virginia went for Rubio, based on the sickening influence of "NoVa", the area of Virginia that exists to support Washington D.C. One of the local radio hosts (John Fredricks, if I recall) was at the nomination, and was going ballistic over how the Establishment GOP screwed Trump out of Virginia's delegates.
Virginia is a lot like California, politically. A vast swath of low-population, ultra-conservative areas, controlled by the Democrat-Party cancer of NoVa and Richmond.
Let’s be clear. Unlike plenty of other candidates, Gillespie is a good fellow. But Gillespie ran a Jeb campaign in a Trump world. In fact, he avoided the president and the president’s supporters noticed.
Equally gracious is Gillespie’s wife Cathy. But when I got a campaign letter from her in support of her husband, I could only think – some consultant needs to lose their job for writing this and sending it to me. Let’s do the time warp, back to 1996 and the Dole campaign:
The Virginia GOP doesn't like Trump. They're D.C. insider Republicans, and they refuse to acknowledge that their way of doing business doesn't work any more.
Ed Gillespie is a nice guy. But he's been in and around politics his entire life, and he's so enclosed from the real world that his campaign couldn't have hit any worse notes than it did with normal Virginians. Maybe if the Virginia GOP had actually listened to the people who voted for Trump, there would be another Republican in the governor's mansion.
Either the GOP starts listening to it's voters, or it dies. And if it dies, this time it ain't coming back.