(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.