All sorts of political craziness seemed to erupt while I was away on vacation for Christmas. Virginia’s Republican presidential primary certifies a whopping two candidates, neither which seem to appeal to voters a whole lot and immediately descends into silly lawsuits and an equally silly “loyalty oath”, the US Senate campaign field narrows by one, and a whole lot of behind-the-scenes jockeying starts in earnest in the 2013 statewide races. No doubt this is going to be an engaging year for political junkies like myself.
The whole presidential primary circus is a huge testament to how hollow and meaningless the national Republican party and the “key movers and shakers” within it have become. To think that only the presumptive establishment candidate and a collection of die-hard Paulistas managed to build any semblance of an effective organization in Virginia to do something as pathetically simple as qualify for a primary ballot is utterly ludicrous. No matter how dumb the rules may or may not have been, I’m stunned that so many failed in this rather simple task.
How many campaigns reached out to you personally and asked for your help getting on the ballot? None? That’s my experience, also. I get appeals from campaigns every day for various things, and not just by the usual impersonal emails. From all the presidential campaigns I get nothing. They have no penetration into the grassroots. They’re not even trying, and that’s a huge mistake that must be corrected before November lest this condition be allowed to let Obama escape the accounting for his malfeasance in November.
This top-down approach to presidential politicking creates a curious dynamic in the later statewide races. Bill Bolling is a longstanding Mitt Romney acolyte, and clearly he is attempting to leverage his close association with the Romney 2012 campaign in order to boost his 2013 gubernatorial campaign, or potentially rescue him from defeat by obtaining an appointment in a Romney administration. Romney pretty much got on the ballot because of Bolling lending his organization to support the effort, so he’s got some political chits to play here. If Bolling is looking weak when Romney takes office (if that happens), he has the opportunity to get an appointment to rescue him from defeat, or Romney could even appoint McDonnell to a position during McDonnell’s last year as Governor allowing Bolling to take office as Governor and run as an incumbent, which would be a powerful advantage. It’s even possible that Romney could clear the field and name Ken Cuccinelli as Attorney General in his administration and clear the field for Bolling. In any case, powerful political friends that owe you something are good to have.
Before we settle the 2013 races, we still have the US Senate race to dispense with, however. Donner, who clearly wasn’t going anywhere has finally dropped out, leaving effectively two candidates to challenge Allen for the nomination — Radtke and Jackson. Neither have the resources they need to win although they are interesting alternatives who I happen to like a lot. The key problem with their candidacies however is that both are neophytes who have never been elected to office, and US Senate is one heck of a huge stretch for your first elected office. How often do newbies win a Senate race without some national or state experience under their belts? Hardly ever.
Within that vacuum we see Delegate Bob Marshall pounding out press releases related to this race, which I find mighty encouraging. Marshall has a state-wide following, isn’t a political newbie, has a strong affiliation with the wildly popular Ken Cuccinelli, and some pretty significant grass-roots support that has been largely languishing as this race has developed. We’re not going to see any hard decision from Marshall until the end of the General Assembly session which makes for an awfully short primary effort for him if he chooses to run, but it’s doable, especially since it doesn’t appear that Radtke or Jackson will likely have the resources needed to even get to that point unless their campaigns go into some sort of money-saving and politically deadly hiatus. Jackson is pretty much there already. Marshall could end up being be the single alternative to Allen so many have pined for.
In the meantime Allen rolls on, picking up endorsements left and right from elected officials who (quite reasonably) believe he’s going to win the primary and stand something to gain from being Allen’s political friend. The grassroots largely stands on the sidelines waiting for something interesting to attract their attention, the establishment thinks it has everything under control, while miscues from potential challengers make it easy for the establishment to think it has everything locked up when it doesn’t.
That makes for an awfully unsettled and rather directionless grassroots, which are the key to victory. Someone is going to grab them.
If anyone can do that, it’s Ken Cuccinelli. If he does it’s going to drive the establishment nuts, upset all their plans, and maybe, just maybe, rescue the Republican party in Virginia. Boy, will that be exciting for us political junkies.
The opinions expressed here are solely the views of the author, and not representative of the position of any organization, political party, doughnut shop, knitting guild, or waste recycling facility, but may be correctly attributed to the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy. If anything in the above article has offended you, please click here to receive an immediate apology.
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