Home 2013 races Can the Virginia GOP Save EW Jackson? Lessons From 1985.

Can the Virginia GOP Save EW Jackson? Lessons From 1985.


(Interesting analysis… – promoted by lowkell)

by Paul Goldman

Here at 200-Proof Politics, we ask the tough strategy questions without passion or prejudice. For some reason, Chris LaCivita, the Cuccinelli strategy guy, decided not to block Jackson’s nomination. Having been in that position, I can tell you this: Jackson could have been stopped. The votes were there on the floor of the Convention to do it. There would have been a price to pay for doing so: LaCivita would have paid a price, Cuccinelli a price, the same for Obenshain and others necessarily part of the coup against Jackson. Still, it could have been done, but it wasn’t done.

SO: Assuming the Cuccinelli camp figures they are stuck with Jackson, the only 200-proof option is to help him become a credible PERSON. Notice I didn’t say candidate. That is not possible right now. But it is also not job #1. Jackson’s real challenge: Become a credible person for the GOP to have on their ticket in 2013. His chances of wining depend a lot on the top of the ticket no matter what. He doesn’t control how that comes down.

Accordingly, based on my experience in 1985 – it may no longer be relevant but assuming it is – there are five things that the Jackson campaign has to do. All an LG candidate can do during the summer is position himself or herself to be able to win if the gubernatorial candidate doesn’t screw it all up for you.

The #1 thing EW Jackson has to do the next 100 days: SELL HIMSELF AS A CREDIBLE PERSON TO BE RUNNING FOR HIGH STATEWIDE OFFICE. The 200-proof strategy goes like this.


1. Get the GOP to fund an advertising effort to tell Virginians about your active-duty military record as a Marine. This is a lost art in Virginia politics. But it proved very helpful for Chuck Robb and Doug Wilder when they ran for LG. Admittedly that was politics from a different generation. But if done correctly, it will help make Jackson a credible PERSON.

2. Challenge the Democratic LG nominee to a series of summer debates on whatever issues and in whatever forum the DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE WANTS TO PICK.  On an historic basis, I don’t recall there ever being a serious of debates between LG candidates so early in the race. The key to winning a debate is this: beating expectations. Given the current realities, it is easy for Jackson to set up the lowest possible expectations for himself for that first debate. The first debate is going to set the tone for the summer.  If Jackson can’t win the first debate given low expectations, he can’t win any debate. The Democratic LG can’t refuse to debate without hurting himself.

3. Jackson should emulate Wilder’s station wagon trip around the state, but with his own unique angle. There is some downside to the copycat thing, but at the same time, Wilder wasn’t the first to do it; most everything in politics is borrowed from someone else. This is a proven way for Jackson to become a man of the people. IT WORKS. But it is hard work and if you don’t do it right, it will cost you big.

4. Jackson needs to come up with a way of saying that his passionate religious beliefs may have led him in the past to say some things that he regrets. He can’t retract them. But he can try to put them into a far better context. This is all lose-lose for Jackson. But damage control is necessary. He needs to take his hit NOW, NOT LATER. It would be easy to do if he were to run the military stuff ASAP.

5. Jackson needs to hire a seasoned, Virginia GOP political person who is identified with the older conservative establishment wing of the party. Normally, a guy like Jackson would go with his rebel team. But my gut says that this is the rare instance with the rebel has to go counterintuitive. He has to show that he is not considered a lost cause by the older conservative establishment that isn’t all that keen on Cuccinelli. The right political guy will know that Jackson is going to need to put together a Committee of 100 GOP types who are seen as having some independence over the years to endorse Jackson. This is going to be one of the few campaigns where this kind of thing will matter. Robb used it every effectively, so did Baliles, Warner also. It is generally something at the gubernatorial level. But Jackson will need it at the LG level. His only hope of getting it is by hiring a top Virginia GOP person who has enough respect to convince folks to take a chance on Jackson.

That’s it: Jackson doesn’t need a lot of position papers, brilliant policy ideas, and the like. He is running for LG, an empty job. He is now the most intriguing political person in state politics. This could change when the Democrats pick their ticket on June 11th. Jackson has a three-week opening here. USE IT OR LOSE IT.

Bishop Jackson was a fringe candidate in 2012 against George Allen, and he has been a fringe GOP activist for even longer. In my personal view, winning the GOP LG nomination may prove to be the worst piece of good luck in his entire political career to date, perhaps his life to date. As I have said before: If he survives as a credible candidate in November, it will surprise me. But if he could follow the above 5 steps, then there is a chance I might be surprised.  

  • FWfromNOVA

    While I usually find yur insights accurate, it is no longer 1985, and the Bishops you tube videos are quickly becoming the laughingstock of the Internet . Politico, TPM, Huffington Post, WaPo , are already all over this guy, and as we have learned with Mitt Romney, you can do all the damage control you want, but first impressions are usually lasting impressions. Those videos tell us all we need to know about Bishop Jackson , and they will be played over, and over, and over.

    Sorry man, the damage is done, and the Cooch is saddled with a lemon.

  • notlarrysabato

    and I didn’t see a moment where they could have stopped E.W.  Paul- look at the rules and votes here and tell us where you think Cuccinelli could have intervened:


  • Glen Tomkins

    They don’t think Jackson’s crazy.  He has the same basic shtick that Rand Paul, et al on the Teabag side like to put out — the Ds are the real racists — but he’s black!  They figure that gives him the credibility to say these things, where a Rand Paul wouldn’t achieve much with them.

    There are reasons that Rand Paul, et al, on their side are pushing this meme about the Ds being the real oppressors, the real racists, and that the Rs are the real champions of minority voters.  The bishop is plenty clever enough to have figured that out, and that’s why he’s onto the same meme.  

    For one thing, this meme helps assuage their guilt over using racism, the Southern Strategy, to win elections.  Ds are the real racists!

    But, more to the point for a post about political strategy, these people actually believe that black D voters live on a D plantation, and that Jackson is going to lead them on that Exodus out of slavery and back into the R camp.  They imagine that blacks and Hispanics are social conservatives and therefore really belong in the R camp, and would be there but for librul domination of the media, oh, that and the imagined narrow short term self-interest of sucking on the govt teat that actually never flowed very freely and has long since dried up.  The bishop is going to lead his people out of the fleshpots of welfare-state Egypt!  Or something like that.

    Maybe NLS is right, and maybe they didn’t try to stop the bishop because they couldn’t.  But it’s possible that they aren’t unhappy having the bishop on board.  Their plan might be to have Cuccinelli stay as centrist as he can, to lure moderates and NoVA voters, while the bishop keeps the white racist crazies hard at the GOTV oars, while peeling off at least some minority voters ready to join that Exodus.

    Maybe that last hope is crazy.  But it’s their exact crazy.  They believe that stuff.  Their involvement in politics makes no sense unless you accept the fact that they actually think that Planned Parenthood commits genocide, and that it is possible for them to convince the electorate of that.  

  • Bwana

    Mr. Goldman is in the right neighborhood, but the wrong street.  The more consistent comparison is 1988 when the GOP chose Maurice Dawkins, an eloquent African- American minister who had never held political office as a senate nominee to face Chuck Robb after Paul Trible chickened out. Dawkins was selected over a senior but not well known John Warner staffer.

    Mr. Dawkins (who sought and lost the 1985 lt gov nod) was nominated in a convention.  First his unusual public statements drew unaccustomed media scrutiny.  Then when he and his staff proved unequal to running a statewide general campaign effort, he blamed RPV for his problems…which served to alienate the GOP both big and small to the detriment of his efforts.

    While Mr. Goldmans ideas are a good start, I think if the Va  GOP forgets what happened in 1988, they will repeat the same errors.  Given ome of Mr. Jackson’s early comments, such repeating may have lready begun…