WASHINGTON, November 3, 2013 — On Tuesday there will be two states selecting governors. The stories of the two could not be more different. The two states also tell a story about the state of the Republican Party and why it is dying.
On Tuesday, Barack Obama’s best bromance buddy New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is expected to cruise into a crushing defeat of a virtually unknown Democrat. His opponent Barbara Buono is a sacrificial lamb. No serious Democrat ran against Christie.
The media is now falling all over itself to name Chris Christie the Republican next in line. Chris Cillizza, in the Washington political blog, “The Fix” has swooned over Christie, calling him the Republicans’ “Bill Clinton.”
Conservatives in New Jersey have been muzzled. When New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg died, Christie had to set a date for a special election to replace him. Christie could have set that election date for the same date as the regular election. This could have been beneficial to the Republican nominee, Steve Lonegan. was a conservative who got exactly zero support from Christie and the Republican establishment.
All that mattered to Christie and the Republican establishment is that Chris Christie run up the score against his hapless Democrat opponent. Newark Mayor Corey Booker, a popular New Jersey Democrat, was expected to run for the Senate seat and did. His coattails might have helped Barbara Buono, just as Christie’s might have helped Lonegan.
Instead Christie gladly sacrificed what chance the Republicans had for winning that seat just so his own career could be advanced.
Chris Christie, as soon as he is reelected, is expected to start campaigning for the White House in 2016. Conservatives are shaking their heads as many in the Republican establishment try to ensure that another liberal northeastern governor is the nominee.
Didn’t Mitt Romney teach them anything?
Meanwhile in Virginia, the establishment has abandoned conservative Ken Cuccinelli. Cuccinelli was never the establishment choice. That was supposed to be moderate Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling. However, Republican activists changed the rules and insisted that the Republican nominees be selected by a convention of Republicans, instead of Democrats crossing over to vote in the primary.
Bolling knew he could not win when the base was deciding who the nominee would be so he pulled out of the race and has been doing everything he could since then to help Terry McAuliffe. The Republican establishment has been right there, on the sidelines at best or at worst actually helping the Democrat.
Virginia is the only competitive gubernatorial race this year and the Republican establishment is nowhere to be found. Terry McAuliffe has a huge fundraising advantage with liberals throughout the nation sending him money. The Republican establishment is doing nothing.
Some conservative groups, like the Conservative Campaign have come in to help and so have some conservative Republicans. Ron and Rand Paul have both campaigned for Cuccinelli. So has Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Florida Senator Marco Rubio. In a shocking move, the Chairman of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus came to Virginia and campaigned for Cuccinelli.
On Tuesday, you will see the Republican establishment, along with the drive by media congratulating Chris Christie for defeating an opponent who had even less of a chance of winning than General Custer did at Little Big Horn. Christie will immediately be crowned as the front-runner and soon to be inevitable Republican nominee.
If Ken Cuccinelli wins in Virginia, he will receive muted congratulations from the establishment and the media will talk about what a tough time he will have governing because of his “extreme” positions.
If Cuccinelli loses, the GOP establishment will not blame themselves for his loss. Instead they will blame the convention process where the base chose the nominees instead of Democrats crossing over. They will demand that Virginia Republicans go back to primaries that deliver “better candidates.” In other words, they will demand a system that allows the establishment to control the system and ensures that moderates are the nominees.
If Cuccinelli loses because the Republican establishment would not support him, the establishment can forget about getting help from the conservative base the next time they want to nominate a moderate.
In fact, by the time they will want to nominate another moderate, there may be no conservative base left in the GOP to support a nominee.
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