GOP civil war: The Battle of Virginia

What if the GOP wanted Cuccinelli to lose? Photo: AP

RICHMOND, Va, November 7, 2013 — Democrats all over the country rejoice at the news that Terry McAuliffe defeated Republican Ken Cuccinelli in the race for Virginia governor on Tuesday. To them, this victory is a resounding triumph over the conservative right, and a clear message to all Americans that the radical ideas of the Tea Party have no place at the national or state level. To them, this is a loud and clear message that the Tea Party and their radical agenda are on their way out.

What is the real message of the Virginia gubernatorial race?

McAuliffe defeated Cuccinelli by a “staggering” 55,000 votes, or 3%. It was a nail biter to say the least. But, as stated before, the Democrats are hailing it as a referendum on radical Conservative policies, the negation of which was a tenant of McAuliffe’s campaign.

What is behind the big picture?

Ken Cuccinelli is a hardcore, conservative Republican with what is deemed to be radical views concerning women’s health and abortion issues. And, he is an ally of Tea Party Senators Cruz and Rubio who are what amount to be enemies of the Establishment Republicans. This affiliation was used by McAuliffe to paint his opponent as a political radical responsible for hurting Virginia families over the government shut down and costing taxpayers millions.

Ken Cuccinelli was the sitting Virginia Attorney General, he had experience in office, and was running Republican in a state that usually elects Republican governors despite turning from red to purple as of late.


SEE RELATED: Republican establishment sabotages Ken Cuccinelli in Virginia


So what happened?

You have probably heard it all by now. Cuccinelli was outspent by $15 million, all of the ads were negative, he was too far right on women’s issues, connection to the Tea Party, and there was a third party spoiler.

But what if all of those things were linked. What if Ken Cuccinelli’s loss was orchestrated by both the Democrats and the Establishment Republicans to make way for a major defeat for the Tea Party? Let’s have a little fun with this, and say “what if…”

Do you think it is possible, that in the midst of a GOP civil war, that the Establishment GOP would allow for Virginia to fall into the hands of a Democratic governor?

It is possible, and it is not improbable either.

Virginia is home to thousands upon thousands of government employees and dozens of federal institutions, many of which are reported to have been adversely affected by the government shutdown. The government shutdown was orchestrated by Tea Party newcomers who have proven to be thorns in the side of the business as usual GOP’ers.

Perhaps in an effort to show the Democrats, who hold the bulk of power in Washington, that the Tea Party does not represent them, and in an effort to further cripple the national image of the Tea party, the Establishment surrendered Virginia. And not just surrendered Virginia, they worked with the Democrats to do it.

What if…now hang in there…What if they worked with the Democrats to back a Libertarian candidate in order to draw votes away from the Republican runner? Libertarians in Virginia tend to lean more towards the right, and roughly 140,000 of them voted for Robert Sarvis.

That is not to say that it is the fault of the Libertarian voters, or the Libertarian candidate that Cuccinelli lost, in fact their presence in this election should be seen as an indicator of the movement towards 3rd parties. Now of course there is no way to be sure if all of those, or even half, would have voted for Cuccinelli or McAuliffe, but it is surely something to think about.

So what about the money? Ken Cuccinelli was outraised by McAuliffe by $15 million. Wait? I thought that the Tea Party and the Republicans represented the greedy, white collar, fancy car driving rich people of America? How would they have not jumped in and given more dollars to the Republican candidate? Could it be that the GOP fundraising base was urged not to get 100% behind Cuccinelli? Could it be that the Establishment GOP pulled support during the last four weeks of the campaign?

According to some the RNC did everything they could to get Cuccinelli elected. But a memo published on redstate.com tells about the $3 million that the RNC poured into their “Precinct Team Model” in an effort to find out, through “experimenting” with new ideas, how to better get the voter message out there.

Alright, so the GOP thought it would be a good idea to “experiment” with the Virginia gubernatorial race when the race was as razor thin as it was? Maybe they could have “experimented” in a race that was not so close? Maybe that $3 million could have been used somewhere else in the campaign?

If the GOP supported Cuccinelli, why did the GOP fundraising support dry up as of October 1st? The chairman of the RNC even came out to say that they supported Cuccinelli all the way. They pointed to the Precinct program and the millions of dollars poured in, they point to the support that Rubio and other national GOP faces threw behind him, but it does not change the fact that he received $15 million less in one of the most important governorships in the country.

How could the GOP afford to do this? What does it afford them?

Well, the Virginia legislature is currently leaning to the side of Republicans in terms of composition. They have a majority in the House, and are deadlocked in the Senate. Perhaps the Establishment Republicans felt as though they could lose the governor spot without endangering (completely) the cause of the GOP in Virginia.

What does it afford them? The Establishment GOP takes issue with the Conservative wing’s insistence that the government become smaller and rein in spending. Middle of the road GOP’ers believe that government is still the answer, just in smaller doses than their Democratic counterparts prefer.

Considering that Washington will never change itself or curb its own power from within, many Conservatives believe that change will have to happen at the state level through the power of the governors. So, establishment Republicans would see Cuccinelli’s rise as the beginning of a possible movement towards a “small government” push by Conservative governors and they decided to squash the weed before it took root.

One wonders just how much money the RNC spent on Chris Christie’s campaign, lately championed as the ideal Republican, and how much they spent on Cuccinelli’s campaign. As to the latter, this was not difficult to see. Cuccinelli garnered negligible RNC support.

What deal could have been struck? What agreement was made in Washington behind closed doors that could have urged the Republicans to turn their backs on Virginia?

This campaign was indeed a message to the Tea Party and their allies. You will be going this alone. We do not want your brand of “radical” Conservatism, and we do not need you messing everything up.

That brand of  “radical” Conservatism by the way—smaller government, less taxes, balanced budget, more individual liberties—has resulted in true Conservatives being branded “radical” by the progressives and moderate Republicans. Yet there is nothing “radical” about them. These are the principles which our country was founded on and upon which it was made great. These are not “radical” ideals, they are “American” ideals.

Did the establishment GOP and the DNC get together and make a deal to sacrifice Virginia with the express purpose of sending a message to the Tea Party and halting the effort to expand support for limited government? Who knows? These are conjectural questions at this point. There is no clear evidence for these baseless accusations other than your own imagination. And without evidence, and without hard facts other than objective analysis, all you can ask yourself is…

What if?


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Conor Higgins

Conor Higgins has a B.A. from Catholic University in DC in American History, with a concentration on guerrilla warfare on American soil. He has an M.A. in US History from George Mason University in Fairfax, VA, with a concentration on Cold War insurgency. He believes that all news and all information should be taken with a grain of salt, and implores people everywhere to seek news stories everywhere. 

Higgins is also a fervent believer in the traditional role of media, in terms of acting as a balanced check on government policies and individuals regardless of party affiliation. But in the end, he believes that no matter how heated an issue is, there is nothing that can't be discussed over a smoke and some whiskey. 

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