While the Christofascists at the national level may realize that the sun is setting on their power, here in Virginia, the extremists - many of who have ties to dens of bigotry and racism such as The Family Foundation, Liberty University and a plethora of right wing organizations in Northern Virginia - are on a new offensive which seeks to bar primary elections and purge the Virginia GOP of non-Kool-Aid drinkers. The dust up between Ken "Kookinelli" Cuccinelli and Bill Bolling over how this year's GOP gubernatorial candidate is to be nominated could be just the beginning of a wave of extremism. Hopefully, it will drive moderates away from the GOP and harm Kookinelli whose finger prints can be found on the offensive. A piece in the Virginian Pilot looks at the internecine war now under way. Here are excerpts:
Last year, a loose coalition of Republican activists - Tea Party members, libertarians and supporters of Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli - orchestrated a takeover of the GOP committee that sets the rules for how the party chooses its nominees for governor and other offices.
They secured enough seats to switch this year's process from a primary election to a convention. The change had a big impact: It wound up forcing Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling out of the contest after he determined that he couldn't win the nomination under that format, leaving Cuccinelli with no competition as his party's candidate.
Since then, some of the same factions that pushed for that change have been discussing a strategy that would take that to the next level - though no one has been willing to talk about it publicly - aimed at purging officeholders they consider too moderate, people they derisively call RINOs, or Republicans in Name Only.
Their goal: to get rid of primary elections altogether or severely limit them, a fight that has been waged in the Virginia GOP for years. That would give Republican insiders even greater sway over the selection of General Assembly nominees, leaving many voters with a voice only in general elections.
Some conservatives, though, worry that pushing too aggressively to restrict primaries could provoke a backlash - that establishment Republicans upset at being out of power would try to regain control of the process by pushing to eliminate conventions as an option.
A fight over the rules at the May 18 convention in Richmond would be undesirable for Cuccinelli, who benefited from the switch to a convention but is in a different position now that he is the GOP's presumptive nominee for governor.
Political conventions are choreographed affairs, and Cuccinelli's people want to avoid having the pomp and circumstance of his crowning moment marred by party infighting. "If they do this," said one veteran Republican strategist who spoke on the condition of anonymity, referring to a potential floor fight over the rules, "it would be an unmitigated disaster for Ken."
Publicly, people on both sides question whether an attempt to eliminate primaries will materialize or fizzle before candidates are nominated in May. "It seems clear that, despite what the attorney general has been saying at least since December, there are folks who are intent on trying, anyway," said Mike Thomas, first vice chairman of the state GOP.
One alleged plot to end primaries is sketched out in a Jan. 29 email, purportedly written anonymously by a conservative activist, that has made the rounds among Virginia Republicans. "We must get control of the convention... in order to do what must be done," reads the email, which was obtained by The Virginian-Pilot. "This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and we must get our people to the convention and change the Republican Party and destroy the Republican establishment forever. I have been waiting for most of my life for this moment. With only a few more votes we will be in full control."
The GOP establishment cynically invited these nutcases into the party over the last 20 years and they may be about to pay the price for their short sighted cynicism. The Christofascists and their Tea Party cousins may yet end up being the death sentence for the GOP as a national political party.