|Neo-Confederate Corey Stewart|
The base of the Republican Party of Virginia has transformed in the years since I left the GOP. One could argue that much of it is unrecognizable as sane and moderate people have fled the party, leaving the base with the appearance of the mental patients now running the asylum. All signs are that things are not going to improve given The Family Foundation's - Virginia's leading hate group - efforts to whip up Christofascists and the neo-Confederates and would be white supremacists who seemingly predominate in rural regions. Any primary will bring out the most rabid crazies and make it very difficult for a traditional Republican to secure the party nomination. As noted, the GOP primary to select a candidate to oppose U.S. Senator Tim Kaine already has all the makings of a three ring circus with two of the announced candidates, Corey Stewart and E.W. Jackson (a self-consecrated "bishop") almost guaranteed to give national Democrats sound bites and photos ops that can be used against the GOP across the country to highlight GOP extremism if not out right insanity. A piece in The Daily Beast looks at the coming GOP nightmare. Here are excerpts:
Primary campaigns can be testy, messy affairs. But few, if any, begin with one candidate accusing his opponent of having dealings with the Muslim Brotherhood and that opponent responding by saying his accuser was “off his meds.”Such was the beginning of what promises to be an outrageous GOP Senate primary in Virginia, one that Republicans worry will further harm their national brand. Earlier this month, the party experienced as much in Alabama, with the remarkable loss of Senate candidate Roy Moore. Virginia is hardly a similarly Republican-leaning state. And none of the candidates running for the nomination there have quite the same amount of baggage as Moore, who was accused of sexually preying on teenagers.
Then again, few would describe them as non-extreme.
This past week, E.W. Jackson, a conservative pastor with a history of controversial remarks announced that he would be challenging Corey Stewart, former gubernatorial candidate and Trump acolyte, for the Republican primary which is roughly six months away. Jackson, previously the GOP’s 2013 nominee for lieutenant governor, has said in the past that people who want to be referred to by gender-neutral pronouns indicate that they are possessed by “multiple demons” and that gay and lesbian citizens are “frankly very sick people psychologically, mentally and emotionally,” . . . . and that Planned Parenthood “has been far more lethal to black lives than the KKK ever was.”
Stewart, meanwhile, is closely aligned with Donald Trump’s former top strategist, Steve Bannon, and helped shape a campaign on the preservation of Confederate monuments in Virginia, despite hailing from Minnesota. . . . . Stewart was fired from the Trump campaign for, as he put it, standing up against “establishment pukes” at the Republican National Committee when the Access Hollywood tape came out. Most recently, during his brief stint supporting Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore, Stewart revived unfounded claims made by Trump that Obama’s birth certificate is fraudulent.
The two are vying for the right to square off (in all likelihood) against Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), who will be running for re-election with high approval ratings and in a state where Democrats won sweeping victories just a month ago. Political observers say they wouldn’t be surprised if the national Republican Party avoided the contest altogether.
[B]oth local and national Republicans are frantically trying to recruit or prop up any other breathing human to run as an alternative to Jackson and Stewart. . . . . There is a path for victory in the Republican primary if the two most fringe candidates divide their base and essentially cancel each other out.
John Fredericks, a conservative radio host out of Hampton Roads, Virginia, noted that Corey Stewart remains the “clear favorite” owing to his recent, surprising, gubernatorial run. But he observed, “E.W. Jackson is really his worst nightmare that he could go up against. He’s going to be very difficult for Stewart to attack. Jacskon’s entry into the race strips away the evangelical base that would have probably went with Corey Stewart.”
“I think the Republicans in Virginia are on their way to losing yet another statewide race,” Fredericks predicted. “That would be 11 in a row. Now you become the Cleveland Browns of politics. They’ve got to find a methodology to win a race statewide.”
Republicans in the commonwealth are deeply aware of the demographic trends which make a statewide win such a tough challenge for the GOP. And putting up any candidates with limited appeal who align themselves with the deeply unpopular Trump administration is essentially a death wish.
But still, what the party is trying to avoid is another loss from a candidate like Moore who will serve as a weight around their necks in 2018.
“Either Stewart or Jackson would be perfect for national Democrats to use to show the Roy Moore face of the Republican party,” [Larry] Sabato told The Daily Beast.
The hope for Republicans is that a more respectable candidate with electoral successes would enter the race, at the very least to help save face in a challenging midterm environment. But that is a task easier said than done.