So, tell us again how the liberal Establishment was “electable.”
Tell us again how outspending our opponents 2-1 and 3-1 and 10-1 was going to save the House of Delegates. How money was everything, right (Dominion money, at that)?
Tell us, Pravda. Tell us.
Tell us again how the candidate who didn’t have a message or a compass but had lots of money was going to win. Because moderates always win. They are “electable.”
Let’s put election day 2017 in perspective: the worst loss in Virginia Republican history, authored by Ed Gillespie and the Virginia Republican Establishment. The moderates who were shoved down our throats are directly responsible for this calamity. And they should all be thrown to the trash bin of history because of it. All of them.
Look, we will get told “it’s all Trump’s fault,” or “it’s the burn-it-down crowd.” The DC Republican Establishment that Gillespie comes from were quoted in the Post last week as calling the Republican base “rank scum.” But all of us were all on board the 2017 Titanic, captained by Ed Gillespie, whose campaign didn’t have a message, didn’t have a backbone, and didn’t have a clue.
He thought his problem was lack of money? Nope. All the money in the world wouldn’t have carried that lack of message. $100 million more wouldn’t have helped. Did you see those ads? Egads.
Listen, I rooted for us to do well. I voted for the ticket, I bit my lip about the flaws I saw, but now? Someone has to pay the price. We handed the Establishment the keys to the kingdom, a relatively unified effort from the party, and they had lots of money. The Democrats authored the worst political ad I’ve ever seen last week- it was an unprecedented gift.
We took away EVERY EXCUSE.
And see how they rewarded us? They decimated the Republican party in the Commonwealth. Decimated.
Tell me this: what was the message? What was the overriding idea or issue that FORCED people to go vote for Republicans?
Was it Sanctuary Cities, which we don’t have?
Was it our corrupt, Dominion-owned Republican legislature?
How about that super-productive Republican Congress we have in DC? The one that is full of corruption, infighting, and backbiting?
Guess what: We didn’t have a message or ideas or any coherence. Ed Gillespie ran the same rudderless, meaningless, puke candidacy he did in 2014. The difference was that 2014 was the best Republican year of our lifetimes. 2017 was the worst.
Look, NoVA had Presidential-level turnout among Democrats. They came out because they were told that Ed Gillespie was a racist neo-Nazi. Now, that is a ridiculous charge—Gillespie has many faults, and being a racist isn’t one. But did he fight back? NO.
He didn’t fight back, he didn’t fight their dirty pool, he didn’t fight their crazy. He tried the same ole Bushie playbook. V-neck sweaters in front of a tree with elevator music in the background.
He had no coherent message or compelling reason to be elected governor. And now, I never want to hear the term “Ed Gillespie” associated with Republicans or Virginia ever again. Seriously, stick him in a boat, push him across the Potomac and make Donald Trump build a wall to keep him and Barbara Comstock there. Their time in Virginia is done.
So he lost, and he dragged his ticketmates (Jill and John were much more worthy) and the House of Delegates down with him. We can blame the moderate Establishment entirely for this loss: the Democrats blamed them for Trump no matter what they did, but they also did not get the benefit of the association with him. All the squeeze, all the pain, none of the juice.
Ed Gillespie underperformed Donald Trump across Virginia, and especially in his home of Fairfax. Ed Gillespie managed an anemic 25% in Northern Virginia.
There are now no more Republican delegates in the DC suburbs or exurbs, except Dave LaRock and Bob Thomas (who won retiring Speaker Bill Howell’s seat by 100 votes) and my good friend Del. Mark Cole, part of whose district is in Stafford and Fauquier. Almost solid blue north of the Rappahannock.
This was a burning down of the old Republican guard, a burning down—on the part of the voters—of the old meaningless, corrupt Republican order.
Can we rebuild?
We sure can.
We have had a deep bench for years, but we now have to think in terms different from the consultants of old.
Consultants used to tell us we had to get 45% in Northern Virginia. But that’s not possible.
Instead, we need to make the turnout in the 9th, 6th, 5th, and 7th match the turnout in the 8th, 11th, 10th, and 3rd. That’s how we win now, but we have to be bold enough to try.
One more thing.
We are a state party bereft of ideas. We have had none for two decades and Ed Gillespie exposed that. We need to become the party of political innovation again. Of reform. We need to become the party of ideas, and then we need candidates willing to go and convince people of our ideas—not merely look for existing Republicans to turn out.
Trump won because he tried something different. In 2017, we lost because we refused to try anything different, as a party.
It’s time to DO something different. The old ways, the old candidates, the old Establishment is dead. Rest in peace.
Let’s build the new party on new ideas that will carry the next decade.