They need to raise the tone and level of the conversation in their race, and they need to do it now. I am heartened to see that one or more of them has already started to do that. (Shaun’s post is here).
But I felt the need to clear up a number of things about EW Jackson’s 2013 LG run.
I should know- I was on the inside as EW’s fundraiser for that run.
- EW was not a drag on the ticket- he brought something to the table.
The central premise that EW was to blame for our losses in 2013 is a false one, and one spread by establishment-leaning opponents of conventions, largely. The problem is, the facts don’t bear it out.
To believe that argument, you’d also have to ignore the 24 localities where EW outperformed the rest of the ticket. The fact was, our base was not revved up that year (I’ll get into that in a moment), and EW was the one speaking to them. We heard this all the time on the trail; how meeting EW was the only reason some folks were coming out to vote. Folks were volunteering for EW specifically, and the campaign had a massive ground game. You may or may not have agreed with EW, but he helped Ken and Mark.
- External factors played a much larger role in hurting our ticket.
EW was tied in the polls with Northam in mid-September. Then, the Federal shutdown happened. After that, the Federal workers were looking to take their anger out on any Republican they could find. In 2 weeks, we were down 11. Similar tales were told for Ken and Mark. We then rebounded once the Shutdown ended and the problems with Obamacare became the story. All 3 campaigns just ran out of time; another 2 weeks and we all might have won.
Another issue we faced was the McDonnell corruption charges. We could not use the sitting Republican governor for support or fundraising because he was tainted by those charges, which dragged thru the whole campaign. This hurt us in a lot of ways, because the GOP brand in Virginia was tainted (and still is).
The massive tranny tax hikes earlier that Republicans in Richmond gave us that year hurt us substantially also. They did not gain us a single vote in Northern VA, and lost us tons of votes downstate. Politically stupid, and awful policy, people complained that promises were broken and principles were violated- and they were right.
- EW’s campaign could have done some things better, but it was not bad overall.
No one is perfect. I will volunteer I could have done some things better as EW’s fundraiser. Everyone on the campaign made mistakes, because that’s what happens on campaigns (I’m on my 3rd statewide campaign at the moment). But EW raised $1.5 million with close to zero help from the RSLC (headed by Ed Gillespie) or other establishment donors. For those of you wondering, $1.5 million raised was the average of the last 5 Republican LG candidates.
We made up for that loss by setting a record for number of total donors to an LG candidacy in Virginia. The grassroots came to EW’s rescue and really carried the campaign. Massive volunteer support and a very savvy digital presence made up for TV advertising, and thus the campaign was viable. We showed, in other words, how to be competitive with a grassroots candidate. Was it perfect? No, because we were writing the book as we went. But it wound up being a hell of a read.
- Division within our own ticket was a large issue.
This year, look at the Democrats’ yardsigns. All 3 candidates, on the same sign, same color and logo. They play to win. The Republicans? 3 different logos, and one of the campaigns wouldn’t even give out those signs. That goes for Federal elections too.
The Dems figured out that they will win or lose AS A TEAM. Republicans in Virginia, in general, still haven’t figured that out, and until we do, we will lose, and lose with total abandon. Time to ditch the selfish, consultant-driven behavior and act as a team, pool resources and play to win.
- The top of the ticket always rules the roost.
No matter what anyone says, the LG candidate (or AG candidate too) has ZERO to do with how the ticket does. The governor candidate always takes the lead, and justly so. Ken Cuccinelli and Mark Obenshain are good, solid men of principle. They, and EW, deserved our support.
However, the whole ticket was abandoned in 2013 by milktoast establishment access donors, including the DC Republican establishment, many of whom wound up supporting Terry McAwful rather than support a man of principle. Those corrupt access donors produced a bad environment we could not overcome. And nominating a milktoast establishment liberal or a corrupt career politician in 2017 will wind up with the same disjointed bad environment this year.
- Scapegoating does not help us.
The circular firing squad of Republicans after 2013 was disappointing. No one likes to lose. But pretending those losses were anything but a confluence of factors is a mistake. We are Republicans. We are supposed to be the party of personal responsibility.
So instead of pointing fingers, people need to take responsibility for their own part in those losses. The finger pointing by establishment figures who did not donate, did not knock doors, did not make phone calls, and actively worked against our ticket rings hallow. Take some personal responsibility guys.
/rant, as edited 1/26/2017