“Bobby Jindal and his political team totally blew it,” harrumphed one advisor for Ken Cuccinelli the morning after a closer-than-expected loss.
Cuccinelli, who narrowly lost last night’s gubernatorial election to Terry McAuliffe, was badly outspent in the days and weeks leading up to the election. The New York Times‘ Jonathan Martin described Cuccinelli’s plight as having been “close to abandoned at the end.” He was. As Politico’s James Hohmann reported, ”The Republican National Committee spent about $3 million on Virginia this year, compared to $9 million in the 2009.” And as the Roanoke Times noted, in 2009, the Chamber of Commerce spent $973,000 on Bob McDonnell, but “[t]his year, the chamber gave Cuccinelli nothing.”
But it was the Republican Governor’s Association (RGA) and chairman Bobby Jindal who drew the most ire from a Cuccinelli advisor I spoke to on Wednesday morning — this, despite the fact that the RGA spent millions on the race.
The gripe against the RGA is that it spent money on ads itself, rather than giving the money to the Cuccinelli campaign directly, as the Democratic Governors Association did for McAuliffe, who used the money to hammer a war on women strategy.
These are details, details, details.
The bigger issue with Republicans is that it’s a one-way loyalty. When an establishment candidate wins a primary, Tea Party and others are expected to fall in line. And that did in fact happen with the Romney presidential campaign.
But it doesn’t work the other way around. When an establishment/incumbent Republican loses a primary, there is no rallying around the insurgent nominee with any enthusiasm.
That’s not the way it works for Democrats. First, there are few if any insurgents in the Democratic Party. Once in a while you’ll get a true progressive, but those are dwindling. There is a greater homogeneity of thought in the Democratic Party.
And when you do get a whack job like Alan Grayson, Democrats circle the wagons instead of creating a circular firing squad as Republicans do.
Closeness of VA-GOV means GOP recriminations will be about how an electable candidate lost a winnable race.
— Dan McLaughlin (@baseballcrank) November 6, 2013
In the recent government shutdown fight I found myself in polite (on my part at least!) disagreement with the elements of the right inclined to denounce the “Republican establishment.” No need to rehash all that again. But, I will say that in the wake of the Cuccinelli defeat, I think the critics of the establishment have the better side of the argument.
If the folks running the party want the tea partiers to support their preferred candidates — when they’re the nominee, at least — it should work the other way around as well. It now appears that Cuccinelli, a flawed candidate running against an even more flawed human being, could have pulled this thing out if he’d had more help at the end….
For all the talk about how the base needs to cooperate with the establishment more, it’s worth remembering that the base almost always does its part on Election Day. Its the establishment that is less reliable in returning the favor.
Maggie Gallagher, The Betrayal of Ken Cuccinelli:
The Republicans, starting with Bill Bolling, who undercut Cuccinelli as unelectable have egg all over their faces.
This was a winnable election. How did we give this away to Terry McAuliffe? Some serious soul-searching should be taking place among the anti-tea-party faction.
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