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A Virginia GOP Option for Ditching the Con Man: Run an Independent Candidate?


( – promoted by lowkell)

By Paul Goldman

Here at 200-Proof Politics, we like the tough jobs. And there is no tougher trick than to do what Houdini couldn’t do, escape from a checkmate position. Anyone with some skill can hang upside down from a wire in Times Square, wrapped in a straitjacket, and get out if you know the trick. Houdini discovered the straight jacket while on a trip to Canada, immediately sensing the value for his illusion business. He was a smart Jewish kid who lived in the upper Midwest but longed for the bright lights of the big cities back East. Houdini was a master Con Man, who understood illusion as a political statement.

The problem with the new GOP con man, E.W. Jackson, is simple: he ISN’T AN ILLUSION, but rather a flesh and blood con man. This is why the Virginia GOP is going to need more than Houdini to get out of the straight jacket posed by their having to awaken every morning to the realization that ‘WE NOMINATED WHO?!!!!!” as their candidate for Lt. Governor.

“Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” is the theme song of the day for the Virginia GOP, as in the Grand Over Party. Just wait until they discover the real E.W. Jackson, Sr. You think they are getting freaked out now? Here at 200-Proof Politics, we accept any mental challenge. So this morning, we accept this challenge – whether, legally speaking, the GOP is stuck with Mr. Jackson as the party’s LG candidate.

Our analysis starts this way. Bishop E.W. Jackson Sr. is a con man. And the worst kind of con man, because he has been using the trappings of the African-American church to spread his vile hatred about good, decent, God-Fearing, African-American church leaders, African-American civil rights leaders, indeed African-Americans in general. As the truth emerges about the true Mr. Jackson, the GOP is going to desperately want to review its options.

Can the governing body of the GOP – the party’s central committee – legally strip him of the party’s LG nomination? No. That horse has left the barn. HOWEVER: The clever lawyers at 200 Proof have a few legal options never tried before in Virginia. But legal.


1. Do a Massive Signature Drive to Get an Independent GOP LG Candidate on the November Ballot. It would be a monumental organization feat. The current deadline for qualifying for the November ballot as an independent candidate is June 11. By state law, someone wishing to be on the ballot for Lt. Governor has to submit 10,000 valid signatures of registered voters by the time the polls officially close for the Democratic primary that day. Assuming the GOP high command could agree on person X for this role as independent GOP candidate, they could get that many signatures in time. Again, it would be a massive and historic organizational undertaking. However, if you had a 100-200 committed volunteers going all out for just 7 days, it would be possible. If you had more, surely doable. There are easily that many in the GOP who would do it IF the Cuccinelli campaign or the GOP high command made the decision to do it. Indeed, give me $100K and I will guarantee to get the signatures in time. There are groups you can hire to do it. I will just take my lawyers cut and move on.

2. In Connection with the Massive Signature Drive, Gov. McDonnell Could Call the General Assembly Back into Session to Change the Law for Qualifying as an Independent Candidate for the November Ballot. Legally speaking, this poses some very interesting possibilities for the brain guys here at 200 Proof. As a matter of law, there would be nothing in the federal constitution, the state constitution, federal law or state law that would prohibit the General Assembly from doing the following.

A. REDUCE the number of valid signatures, to 5,000, that must be submitted to the Virginia Board of Elections by by June 11th to get on the ballot as an independent for this November. As a matter of federal law, such a change would have to be cleared by the U.S. Justice Department before becoming state law. But there would be no grounds for the government to refuse to approve the change since they have already approved a similar change to take effect this July 1. All the GA would have to do is make the change retroactive. Thus, if someone submitted 5000 such signatures by June 11 but was ruled off the ballot due to the law at the time, they would be then be ruled on the ballot. It would be hard for the Democrats to refuse in good conscience assuming there votes were needed: in terms of the math, the GOP alone has enough votes, with LG Bolling breaking a Senate tie, to change the law.

B. Extend until say August 15th the time to qualify for the ballot as an independent statewide candidate for the November election. Again, this would require US DOJ approval, but again, there is no creditable opposition to such a change. Those trying to qualify as independent candidates for President get that longer, indeed longer. These are typical types of state election laws, and they differ among the states based on their individual decisions. Expanding the time to allow independent candidates to qualify for the ballot has generally been considered a good thing by Democrats. So again, there is no real basis for any opposition.

3. Ain’t Nothing the Con Man Can Do To Stop It. As a matter of law, neither Mr. Jackson nor his supporters would have a creditable legal argument to oppose these laws, much less anyone else in Virginia. They have no “right” being violated, there is no right to face a two way race or to have the election laws frozen at a point in time unless somehow it takes away a right you had.

These legal changes would of course all but concede the LG’s election to the DEM nominee if leading to another GOP persona of real stature on the ballot. But as a practical matter, it is the smart game theory play.

Why? Because in reality, the GOP is not really giving up anything in terms of winning an office – – the risk – while getting in return a way to better re-position the party ticket and supporters for the general election – the reward.

CONCLUSION. The best option is for Jackson to drop out. Or agree to leave under pressure. He is a con man, so he thinks he now has a way to make a lot of money quick as the nominee. But in theory, this is his 15 minutes of fame: if he loses big, which is the most likely scenario right now, he is FINISHED IN GOP POLITICS, except with the fringe of the fringe. No money there.

In time, Jackson will realize he is taking a huge risk for what is a very slim chance of victory although a chance. As I wrote yesterday, if he can rally the money quick enough and get on TV with the right ad, he might give himself the chance to lose with dignity as the most likely result, even win if his DEM opponent crashes. As Dr. Sabato points out, “stuff happens” in politics and people get swept into lower ballot offices because voters aren’t paying close attention down ballot.

ALL THINGS CONSIDERED: The best option for the GOP is to force him from the ticket. But that is not something likely to happen soon if it happens at all. Thus, from a game theory perspective, the best available option is for the GOP high command to rally behind a petition drive to get an independent candidate on the ballot.

It would be easier if the GUV and the GA helped the effort. But they are likely to be gutless, even though in theory they could do it AFTER THE June 11 elections and BOTH EXTEND/REDUCE as discussed above what is needed to get on the November ballot. Jackson and his supporters would scream. But so what?

ONE MORE LEGAL OPTION: The GOP high command, or a group of concerned Republicans, could do their best to get as close to 10,000 valid signatures by this June 11. They submit them, the Board of Elections denies certification, and then they sue on the grounds the state laws are too onerous in that regard, and that this is shown by the new reduced signature requirements by then in effect. If you got the right local GOP judge, I would think you could win that suit at the trial level.

By then, Jackson would know he can’t win with his own party in open revolt. With his meal ticket about to be taken away, he might come to his senses and agree to quit the ticket. I would sign the petition to get a legitimate Republican on the ballot as an independent. Why not? As Dr. Sabato says, in a two way race, Jackson might win. That is too big a risk for me when he is a sure loser in a three way race: and the Democratic nominee a sure winner.

Heck, I will even take the time to circulate a petition. I once got 3,000 to save African-Americans in Richmond from a process that denied them the right to vote.

So when I say 10000 is doable by June 11, it is. But as ACDC sang, they “ain’t got the guts.”

  • Jim B

    To help the GOP out of the bed they made? It seems most conservatives today believe the stuff Jackson is peddling. It is getting to the point where there are no longer any moderates because they hate liberals almost as badly as the tea baggers.

  • kindler

    The GOP is stuck with this guy.  Today’s Republican party is owned by the Tea Party, Jackson’s constituency — and they just chose him at the RPVA convention!

    Any Republican leader who tries to sink him risks the furor of their base.  And anyone who thinks Jackson will go quietly needs to watch a few more of his YouTube videos.  

    Yeah, it’ll be painful to have him on their ticket, but trying to remove could likely be even more so.

    Aw, poor babies…

  • ir003436

    The GOTP made this bed, let ’em die in it.

    I’m in the process of copying to DVD every wackadoodle E. W. Jackson video I can find, then, I’m reproducing copies and handing them out to my friends so they can spread ’em around.

  • Glen Tomkins

    Insofar as the other side thinks the bishop is bad for their chances of winning in November, the right strategy for them is to keep him out of the public eye, not make him front-page news for, at a minimum, from now until he’s ousted.  

    And, if I understand the proposed strategy correctly, the Rs could place an Independent brand R on the ballot, but that doesn’t get the bishop off the ballot.  The bishop won’t really be ousted, he’ld still command the R line on the ballot.  Assuming he can find even one lone wingnut billionaire to bankroll him who believes mightily with the true Tea Party faith, the bishop gets to continue to make his case in the paid media that the GOP regulars have done him dirt.  Unpaid media will surely follow suit, for what more delicious story will there be out there in this year’s campaign?  And at the end of that long media run, the Rs have to get enough votes for their Independent R to win, despite the bishop siphoning off Tea Party R voters, and R voters who will just vote the party line.

    Better by far for them, even if they think the bishop is a liability, to grin and bear it at this point.  Trying to shake the bishop just makes them lose more surely than even leaving him on the ticket.  What you recommended to them yesterday — try to keep this guy as under wraps as possible — is much better advice, liability or not.

    That said, I’m not at all sure their people think the bishop is a liability in the LG spot.  Sure, the top of the ticket has to be more restrained and centrist, if only in tone.  Cuccinelli seems to be trying for that, and nothing would indicate he hasn’t succeeded in putting his fiery rhetoric past behind him, at least for those low information swing voters who ever stood any chance of voting for him.  Why are you so sure that the other side wouldn’t like to have the bishop around in the #2 spot, playing attack dog, making a tonal contrast with the top of the ticket?  His ideas aren’t really any more extreme than Cucinelli’s, he’s just more unrestrained in his rhetoric.  And he has two factors going for him that largely serve to protect him from the Ds attacking his extreme ideas.  He’s religious, and the American electorate bends over backwards to excuse extreme views if only they derive from religion (well, okay, maybe it’s just the Christian religion that gets a pass) rather than just about any secular ideology.  And he’s black, which protects him from attacks on views that would be seen as stone cold racist if they came out of a white politician’s mouth.  He’s vulnerable if he goes on offense with extreme views, but as long as he’s just on defense, the black bishop can get away with extreme extremism.

  • DJRippert

    The only way any of this happens is with Bolling behind the effort.  Bolling considered an independent run then dropped the idea.  prior to the convention he said that maybe he’d decided to drop the independent idea too quickly.  Now we have EW Jackson.  Bolling could try to blitz the election with himself and a more moderate LG and AG candidate.  Why not collect 3 signatures instead of one?  He could say, “It was bad enough when Cuccinelli hijacked the nomination by holding a convention.  Then, we got EW Jackson as the LG nominee.  We are on the verge of a disaster and twenty years of one party rule.  I am forming the Virginia Independent Party to give people a real choice.”.

    I think the odds of this happening are about 1%.  However, it would be great theater if it did happen.