Last week Corey Stewart called on the RPV State Central Committee to stick to the 2015 compromise, and to go with a convention for the nomination of candidates for Governor, Lt. Governor, and Attorney General in 2017.
This week, after a primary was chosen, Stewart is pleased. Here he is, on WMAL yesterday:
I think there were a lot of establishment Republicans who thought they were doing me a tremendous disservice by giving us a primary,” he says. “For me personally, this is a very good thing. I’ve got a lot of name recognition throughout the state, and name recognition is everything in a primary.”
This comes on the heels of State Sen. Frank Wagner’s announcement that he is, for some reason, running for Governor. His candidacy will continue to divide the Virginia establishment and eat up the margins in Virginia Beach that someone like Ed Gillespie could really use to fend off Stewart.
Proponents of a 2017 convention warned that with a primary the GOP nomination for governor would turn into a multi-man race where name ID and money would trump (ahem) grassroots support. This may or may not be true with Stewart, who might be able to scramble the established divide enough to win this nomination.
It is certainly much easier now with Gillespie, Wagner, Rob Wittman and potentially Pete Snyder all running from roughly the same ideological and political terrain, leaving Stewart free to hit the roughly 37% he needs to win this nomination. More worrisome for some Republicans, particularly many of the establishment who supported this primary vote, has to be the lack of tea party-type candidates to truly activate the grassroots base.
Why do I continue to bring this up? Because it just exposes the way the party is fighting amongst itself—so focused on winning the argument for their preferred method of nomination without actually thinking about the practical effects of that method. The reality of the convention versus primary divide never matched the perceptions out there among partisans and media alike. We, as a party, are more focused on winning internal battles rather than actual elections.
Do I think Corey Stewart can win the 2017 gubernatorial election? No candidate emerging from a contested primary of either party ever has before. (Seriously…look it up. The winners have all been uncontested nominees, or nominated by convention). But because 2017 is an off-off year election with low turnout, the GOP nominee—even if it’s Stewart—will have a chance.
The problem is that many of the fissures which Trump has exposed and exacerbated on the national level will likely be replicated on the state level with Stewart as the party’s standard-bearer. I just find it utterly fascinating that so many who support the primary don’t understand that in doing so they are enabling a candidate who represents so much of what they are against in the party.
But hey, you get to talk sh*t on Facebook so it’s all good, right?