ABINGDON, Va., May 20, 2013 ― The 2013 Virginia GOP Convention was not as lengthy as the original Constitutional Convention over two hundred years ago. It just seemed like it.
After a fun Friday night dinner and after-parties in the holiday suites, the delegates got to work on Saturday. The doors opened at 8:00 a.m., and the convention lasted until after 10:00 p.m.
The race to succeed Governor Bob McDonnell was settled months ago when Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli got the GOP nomination over Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling. Cuccinelli will face off against Clinton fundraiser Terry McAuliffe in November.
Cuccinelli’s successors for the attorney general position came down to Rob Bell and Mark Obenshain. The name Obenshain is well known in Virginia, with Mark’s sister Kate running the Young America’s Foundation. At the convention it became apparent that Bell did not have the votes. He withdrew his nomination and endorsed Obenshain.
Yet at this convention, it was all about the race to be the next lieutenant governor. The Virginia Constitution does not allow the governor to serve two consecutive terms. Most times after the one term is up the governor just does something else. This gives the lieutenant governor position added significance.
While Corey Stewart was the closest thing to an establishment favorite, this race was wide open. Susan Stimpson was seeking to corral tea party support, but she had tough competition from a very telegenic E.W. Jackson. Jackson is a Harvard graduate with an easy smile and a natural ability to connect with people. He also happens to be black, which will most likely be more of an issue for his political opponents on the left. Pete Snyder also mounted a strong challenge.
After the first ballot, the bottom two candidates were eliminated, reducing the field from seven to five. Yet problems with the voting machine caused a lengthy delay. This was not Florida election 2000, but for over 10,000 Virginia delegates, the day dragged on.
As expected, none of the candidates had a majority. A second ballot eliminated two more candidates, leaving three people standing. Both female candidates had been eliminated, and Jackson had a very strong showing on the first two ballots. Pete Snyder and Corey Stewart were still in the race.
The third ballot saw Jackson try to gain a majority and allow everybody to go home. Yet when the votes were counted he fell short by a hair’s breadth. He was clearly the dominant candidate with 49.76 percent of the vote. Snyder and Stewart split the rest, but with Stewart the low man on the totem pole, his race had come to an end.
While there was always the theoretical chance that the defeated candidates could unite and stop Jackson, he had the momentum. After fourteen hours, Snyder decided to go out the honorable way. Rather than keep everybody past Midnight, Snyder took to the floor to announce that he was withdrawing from the race. He immediately and enthusiastically fell in line behind Jackson.
The night before the voting, Jackson was everywhere. This was retail politicking at its finest, and Jackson connected with the delegates. On Saturday night, in front of an exhausted but cheering crowd, Virginia GOP Chairman Pat Mullins presented the unified 2013 GOP ticket of Cuccinelli, Jackson and Obenshain.
This is a very conservative ticket. Cuccinelli and Jackson are both tea party candidates with solid conservative credentials. While Democrats will call them “extreme” at every opportunity, Virginia is one state where the tea party has a solid presence. Tea party leaders from northern Virginia to Richmond to Abingdon deep in the Southwest are already prepared to barnstorm the entire state.
Jackson was in no mood to wait. Shortly after accepting his nomination, he was outside speaking to every person within a reasonable radius of the convention. He proved on Friday night that he would not be outworked. After besting six competitors and putting in fourteen hours on Saturday, he was now already campaigning hard for the general election.
Americans For Prosperity is also ready. They have a well-coordinated effort to contact over 240,000 individuals who lean conservative but are not registered to vote. As for the candidates, they will begin in Abingdon and hold many rallies between now and November across the state.
Democrats in recent years have taken Virginia from a red state to a purple one. Yet if the 2013 Virginia GOP convention is any indication, Republicans are ready to return Virginia to its very conservative traditional roots.
Brooklyn born, Long Island raised, and now living in Los Angeles, Eric Golub is a politically conservative columnist, author, public speaker, satirist and comedian. Eric is the author of the book trilogy “Ideological Bigotry, “Ideological Violence,” and “Ideological Idiocy.”
Eric is 100% alcohol, tobacco, drug, and liberalism free. Follow Eric on Twitter @TYGRRRREXPRESS. Follow us: @wtcommunities on Twitter
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