On the Democrat side of the 2017 Virginia state elections, our good friend Ralph Northam, the current Lt. Governor is the likely gubernatorial candidate, with current Attorney General Mark Herring running for re-election. On te GOP side of things, there seems to be much uncertainty. Mark Obenshain, who was the failed GOP candidate for Attorney General in 2013, has announced that he will not be running for governor in 2017. That leaves an opening for failed U.S. Senate candidate Ed Gillespie who some would see as the savior of the Virginia GOP since he might prevent the party from nominating another far right lunatic like Ken Cuccinelli. A column in the Washington Post by Jennifer Rubin - who some times lives in her own fantasy world - would have readers believe that Gillespie is not an extremist even though he was on board with every far right agenda item of the most extreme elements of the Virginia GOP. He simply tried not to talk about it. The column is right, however, in that it notes that Virginia has changed even if the Virginia GOP still thinks its the 1950's, an era to which it would return the Commonwealth. Here are column highlights:
The last few years have been dismal for Virginia Republicans. Both of Virginia’s U.S. senators are Democrats. Its governor is a Democrat. The last GOP governor, Bob McDonnell, went from rising star and potential presidential aspirant to disgraced felon. The one bright spot, if a loss can be called “bright,” was the 2014 Senate race mounted by former George W. Bush adviser and Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie.
Now Gillespie offers a light at the end of the tunnel for the GOP. Like McDonnell (who engaged Gillespie as campaign chairman in 2009 and prevailed by nearly 20 points), he has managed to clear the field of his principal Republican rival in a race for governor. Mark Obenshain . . . .announced he would not run for governor.
While competition is usually healthy, in the Virginia GOP a contested primary usually means a race to the far right. As each contender tries to one-up the other on extreme positions, hopes of a general-election win recede. Gillespie seems to have avoided that problem, provided no other credible GOP contender emerges.
It is fair to say that Virginia Republicans will be somewhere between relieved and elated at the prospect of a Gillespie campaign.
Republicans should not underestimate how difficult a gubernatorial race will be. Virginia has seen an influx of younger, more diverse voters for whom diversity, excellent government services and improved transportation are as important, if not more important, than low taxes or social issues. To win, a Republican will need to convince those voters that conservative solutions will offer superior results.
For Gillespie, that will mean once again convincing voters that he is not the stereotypical Virginia Republican pol of yesteryear.
Let us all hope that a right wing challenger emerges who will force Gillespie to reveal that he is in reality fully in bed with the extremists at The Family Foundation and every other nutcase far right organization in Virginia.