Governor McDonnell’s strange hard line against Gingrich, Perry, Santorum

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    ( – promoted by lowkell)

    by Paul Goldman

    The quotes in today’s Washington Post by Governor McDonnell lambasting the campaigns of Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry and Rick Santorum for their failure to get 10,000 signatures seem to be quite out of character. First of all, the issue is the right of his constituents to vote, not the incompetence of the campaigns. The Governor has never acknowledged this aspect of the situation. Even one admits the current situation denies Republicans what should be their right to vote for the candidate of their choice. This doesn’t mean a federal judge will find for the plaintiffs. That’s a legal issue.

    But in terms of the politics around the country, attacking your fellow Republicans as incompetent and saying the failure questions their presidential abilities, seems to be a curious political equation for some who wants to be VEEP. Moreover, Romney’s petitions were never counted, that is never going to sell nationally to a lot of people, all of whom will have delegates at the GOP national convention Bad optics really, plus you have the GOP “loyalty” oath issue, clearly aimed at Ron Paul supporters.

    If the Governor wants to be on the GOP ticket, he will need to show he is the guy who can lock down Virginia for the GOP. History says Romney will not take a running mate who doesn’t have sign-off by the GOP leaders. He needs a unified party going forward. McCain had that problem and felt he needed to pick Sarah Palin to keep the GOP base in line.

    McDonnell is not your long-ball VEEP choice. He needs a lot of unity prior to the Convention, he is not someone you take to unify a fractured party.

    There are far better ways to be against any change in the ballot listing from a political point of view; one doesn’t have to belittle three guys who Romney will want to help him should the Mittster get the nomination. You can “feel the pain”, that’s the best way.

    The New Hampshire primary comes before the federal lawsuit. It is possible that one or more of these guys might drop out depending on the results, or be reduced to huge long shots in South Carolina. So why not try to be pleasant to them? There are a lot of ways to do it.

    Moreover, what if the federal judge disagrees with the Governor? Thus, he is setting himself for a possible all downside, no upside equation — since being nasty to those candidates gains him nothing really, but losing the lawsuit would put the Governor in one tough rhetorical spot.

    Why risk it?

    Let’s assume either Santorum or Gingrich or Perry manages to catch fire, and that there is still a big GOP fight come March, when Virginia and other Super Tuesday states are on the ballot. As things stand now, Virginia will be the laughingstock of the country, having forfeited its chance to be a pivotal point in the national debate.

    The press is going to write about the ballot mess and say the Governor showed no concern.

    That will not look good to the rest of the GOP especially those delegates and others associated with the campaigns locked off the ballot. They could blame McDonnell for not trying to change stuff.

    Net net: Since the Governor didn’t cause the current ballot mess, why try to make political points by defending it? That’s the job of the AG in court and others politically.

    The point being: Governors can always play the “good” cop, that’s one of the perks of the job.

    Bottom line: I don’t see the point of McDonnell’s comments in the Post. He gains nothing, not even with the Romney people since they know he can’t influence a federal judge.

    When you start getting yourself in situations where there is no upside and thus all downside, that isn’t good, because sooner or later, you are going to get burnt for no good reason.

    Moreover: There is a Voting Rights Act issue there; the DOJ is looking at it right now or at least should be. It will not matter in the federal case since that is a constitutionally based law suit.

    But the VRA is in play, so again: Why accept all the downside when there is no real upside even if you win?