In a disappointing but hardly surprising result, Ed Gillespie got crushed running for governor in Virginia on a night where the Trump gains were put to an end and the Democrats strengthened their hold on blue states. Here are six lessons from last night that can be applied to the future.
Virginia is a Blue State
Trump didn’t win Virginia, nor did Romney. Virginia hasn’t swung Republican in a Presidential election since 2004. Therefore, the Democrats really only won in already blue states. They can claim Virginia is a battleground state but it hasn’t swung in 13 years. Much has changed in Virginia since then. I’m going to give Laura Ingram credit on her spot on assessment.
Virginia is a blue state now for two reasons: 1.) mass immigration (legal & illegal) and 2.) massive, growing dependence on Big Gov't.
— Laura Ingraham (@IngrahamAngle) November 8, 2017
Virginia is becoming Maryland 2.0. If Republicans ever want to win in Virginia, they are going to have to shrink the Federal government. Northern Virginia is heavily Democratic for that reason. Part of this fault lies in the pre-Trump Establishment which beyond a doubt withheld support from Ken Cuccinelli. Certainly, if they had embraced him then, the Democrat takeover of Virginia could have been thwarted or at very least forestalled. Instead, Gillespie is in some ways a victim of this failure, and likely a contributor to it.
Polling still inaccurate
If this were a game and the polls were a spread, the final RCP Average showed Northam ahead by 3.3%. Northam doubled the spread and then some winning by 8.9%. This removes any chance for Gillespie apologist to claim he did a decent job. This is a failure by all measures for him. Ralph Northam exceeded his projection beyond the margin of error of the most recent polls.
Be Yourself, Be Local
Let’s be real, Ed Gillespie is merely a mainstream republican who bent the knee to Trump and joined the Establishment. He’s no fiery Trump supporter. Gillespie was a former RNC Chairman. And as far as Trumpism goes, he’s a phony. Instead of being down to earth and local to the voters, he focused on national issues, making it a referendum about Trump. he copied Trump’s language with “law and order” and other issues. He highlighted illegal immigration in a non-border state. This is the most pressing point if conservatives want to win in 2018. Folks like Paul Nehlen, Paul Ryan Challenger, need to be themselves and not Trump. Lay off the MAGA and focus on being local, sincere, and human. Candidates need to focus on themselves and their opponents, at least or especially if, their party’s president is unpopular. The problem in Gillespie’s case was he has no record to run on or worth bringing up.
Campaigns Need Winners
Ed Gillespie has never held an elected office before. He was a lobbyist before rising the Republican ranks. As Chairman of the RNC, Gillespie in 2004 was the first GOP chairman in 80 years to preside over a party that won the White House, House of Representatives and U.S. Senate. Pretty good resume a decade ago. But I find election losses to be a red flag on any candidate’s resume. Mitt Romney lost a senate race in Massachusetts. Carly Fiorina squandered a senate race in California. Hillary lost to Obama. Past election failures, to me, are an indication of future election failures. Gillispie narrowly lost the Senate campaign in 2014, the year the GOP took the Senate and governorship neighboring Maryland. To many Republicans, he lost a winnable race. Virginian conservatives lay blame on his establishment record and uninspiring campaign. Despite losing, Ed Gillespie was looking to build on that momentum. A lot of candidates are looking for rebounds, like Roy Moore. However hindsight shows this may have been a (another) mistake.
Trump took an L
Trump can claim all he want that Ed Gillespie distanced himself and didn’t take Party Boss Steven Bannon’s help, but he’d be wrong. Gillespie used a Trump style campaign in a state where Trump lost. In doing so, he made the race not about him but about Trump. Liberals put everything they got into the race because of how much they hate him. Trump comes out losing in Virginia, not because a Republican lost but because the race was about him. This should be a massive wakeup call for Republicans deep in the blue.
Outside factors are impactful
No doubt Sutherland Springs played some role as the media continually presses for gun control. Guns and healthcare were two top issues for Democrats on Tuesday. Other uncontrollable factors include bad weather. Some studies show this has a small effect. A cold rainy day doesn’t quite encourage voters to vote for incumbents. Since Trump is the incumbent in a race about him, general unhappiness recent events and bad weather conditions did not work in favor of Ed Gillespie.
Conservative Picks for the Nevada Primary
Nevada is full of competition. There are no shortage of quality candidates in Nevada, only quality politicians. Nevada isn’t a strong blue state or red state. It usually sides with the winner in a presidential election. In fact, given Trump’s upset, it was surprising Nevada wasn’t one of the states where polling was wholly inaccurate. Nevada is home of Las Vegas, the country’s fastest growing metropolitan area. So the future political leanings of the state are up in the air. This primary features vacancies which offer a nice opportunity to grow conservative ideals among the population.
Best Picks: Danny Tarkanian, Joel Beck
Worst Picks: Mark Amodei, Cresent Hardy
Best Race: District 3
Worst Race: District 4
Dean Heller is an incumbent Republican and in all likelihood will keep his nomination. Heller is running on a rather unimpressive Senate record showing that he is part of the problem, not the solution. There are four challengers but only a few are worth talking about. The first is Sarah Gazala. She is somewhat running as a conservative, but her emphasis on education shows that she isn’t the right fit for the Senate. A local office would be a better calling. Then there’s Vic Harrell. The only discernible fact about Harrell is his devotion to Trump. This zeal isn’t wrong but it doesn’t make him a good candidate. The strongest challenger is Tom Heck. Heck ran and lost in 2016 in a tight race. It’s very possible Heck could maintain the seat, and probable that he would do a superior job.
Conservative Pick: Tom Heck
Two challengers seek to red pill this district. The first, Joyce Bentley, has a decent platform and is like to side with Trump on several key issues. The issue is whether she will deviate when necessary. The second is Freddy Horne. He is likely the more viable candidate here having a history of running a campaign, but its a moot point in this district.
Conservative Pick: Joyce Bentley
Mark Amodei has held the seat for a while and is a RINO. He faces three challengers. Sharron Angel is the first. She was a failed Senate candidate in 2016 losing to Heck. She seems as though a strong Conservative. But she may be a weak candidate. Joel Beck is a veteran running on a solid small government platform. He has a more thorough understanding of veterans issues and immigration than most. Beck would be an outstanding defender of the Constitution.
Conservative Pick: Joel Beck
This vacated seat has caused a feeding frenzy of an election. but this race is between Scott Hammond and Danny Tarkanian. Hammond is a State Senator with a decent record and the backing of the NRA. But from this article which he promoted, he doesn’t seem to be a strong defender of liberty, though its hard to get a clear picture with the bias writing. In a rare instance of strategic planning by the Trump administration with regards to the 2018 race, Team Trump convinced Tarkanian to seek the House as opposed to the Senate. Danny Tarkanian, being a team player, obliged. Nothing wrong with that. Playing along earned him a Trump endorsement. And while Heller gets by with one less challenger from the right, Tarkanian has a better chance at reducing government spending as he campaigns heavily on. Overall, Tarkanian may be a sycophant, but Hammond is more likely a RINO climbing the ladder.
Conservative Pick: Danny Tarkanian
Congressman Ruben Kihuen will not seek reelection as the result of a sexual harassment scandal. This presents a golden opportunity to flip this blue seat. Many Republicans have entered but there is no clear frontrunner. First up is Jeff Miller. He’s running to prevent Nevada from becoming East California. With all the candidates, the Las Vegas Review-Journal made this one easy. The former Congressman refused to answer. If Cresent Hardy believes he’s too big to answer yes or no questions, he probably thinks he’s too good to talk to his constituents. The only thing that is concerning is the question on DACA recipients.
Conservative Pick: Jeff Miller
Conservative Picks in the South Carolina Primary
South Carolina is one of the nation strongest overall states for Conservatism. Out of nine representatives, eight of which Republican, only two are complete RINOs (Joe Wilson and Lindsey Graham). Conservatism is strong in South Carolina just as it is in North Carolina. This primary presents a good opportunity to maintain and grow. Trey Gowdy is exiting, presenting a good chance for an upgrade at the position. Since the GOP took the Whitehouse, Gowdy stopped being fiscally Conservative, and is an unfortunate voice of support for the expensive Mueller investigation.
Best Pick: Mark Sanford
Worst Pick: Katie Arrington
Best Race: District 4
Worst Race: District 7
After five years, Mark Sanford has been a solid Conservative. He is being challenged. His main opponent is Katie Arrington. Arrington is a full blown Trumpist. If she had a shred of Conservatism in her she would be satisfied with the performance of Sanford. But instead she is challenging him because he, like most decent Conservatives, has been reasonably critical of Trump. Arrington’s fanaticism is not worth the risk of losing Sanford.
Conservative Pick: Mark Sanford
Joe Wilson is an unchallenged product of the swamp. He is running to complete his second decade.
Jeff Duncan is a steadfast Conservative who didn’t compromise under Obama and has remained strong under Trump. He is unchallenged.
There are numerous candidates seeking to fill Trey Gowdy’s shoes. The first of which was written about back in February, Mark Burns. I had a lot to say about Trump’s top pastor:
I remain optimistic about Mark Burns joining the ranks of Congress. Previously, Burns announced he was praying about challenging Lindsey Graham, a notorious warmongering RINO. But it appears either prayer or opportunism has landed him in a different race. Due to his political amateurism, not many of his positions are clear. Oddly enough, he has suggested Federal takeover of public school security. Though his heart seems in the right place, his position shows a lack of localism which small government believes in. It’s safe to speculate that Mark Burns isn’t all that fiscal conservative which isn’t unfamiliar.
On social issues, however, Pastor Mark Burns could be a strong tool for conservatives, so long as he can graduate from being a Trump surrogate. Burns has a more unifying persona than a lot of Republicans adding the possibility of broadening the base. On the issues of race and abortion, Pastor Mark Burns is a powerful voice. Though a strong personality does not make one the best candidate, Burn has tremendous potential to make a difference in DC.
I have a poll under Zakrey Bissell poll for June 7th 2018 to June 12th 2018 for #SC01 Republican Mark Sanford 70% Republican Katie Arrington 30% and poll for #SC04 Republican Lee Bright 50% Republican Mark Burns 30% Republican William Timmons 15% Republican Dan Hamilton 5%
— Zakrey Bissell (@BissellZakrey) June 8, 2018
Another formidable candidate is Lee Bright. He has the backing of Steve King (IA) and Thomas Massie (KY). Massie is a strong Conservative so this endorsement means something. Bright’s political career was put on hold when he got primaried in 2016. To be frank, he got voted out probably for being a nutjob. This guy is all rhetoric and no substance. He will maybe vote the right way, but he is not a leader on Conservative legislation. Furthermore he is a weaker candidate due to his propensity to act a fool. Bright isn’t likable but he at the end of the day, he wouldn’t be a RINO.
Then there’s William Timmons. He has the endorsement of Marco Rubio which indicate that he is the RINO in this race. Timmons campaigns on fiscal responsibility but champions Trump for it who has not been fiscally responsible this year. Either he’s pandering or misinformed. Either way, it’s an indication he will e a big spender. His attack ads on Dan Hamilton are baseless, though he is likely correct that Hamilton is not that Conservative. But Timmons record isn’t Conservative either.
Conservative Pick: Mark Burns
Ralph Norman is unopposed. He’s actually been solid in his brief tenure.
Gerhard Gressmann is the only Republican running.
Tom Rice has been a halfway decent Congressman but not without fault. He is being challenged by Larry Guy Hammond. Hammond is running from the right but not with a level head. Tom Rice isn’t fantastic, but populism won’t do the job better. And Hammond is more populist than Conservative. His website offers no real solutions. It merely trashes the state and asks for money.
Conservative Pick: Tom Rice
Conservative Picks for the North Dakota Primary
North Dakota is considered flyover country often neglected by those on the coasts. One would stereotype North Dakota for being Conservative, but Conservatism is almost dead in North Dakota. All of their Congressmen are reckless spenders who are poor defenders of liberties. This primary will not change that. Kevin Cramer stole the show before it even began. He’s vacated the at large seat in favor of the Senate seat. He is sure to win, and no one dared challenge him for one of the easiest to flip Senate seats. It’s almost like there’s a lack of political ambition from everyone other than Cramer. But with that lack of ambition comes the acceptance of mediocrity.
Best Pick: Thomas O’Neill
Worst Pick: Kevin Cramer
Honorable Mention: Paul Schaffner
Best Race: None
Worst Race: all of them
North Dakota is perhaps the Senate seat that could flip with the most ease. Rep. Kevin Cramer is seeking the promotion. Since 2013 he has held a Liberty Score of 37. The unimpressive, if not outright RINO mark comes from his reckless spending. He is sure to contribute to the Senate’s lack of Conservatives. The most we can expect from Kevin Cramer is orthodox Republican voting, nothing more. His opponent is Thomas O’Neill is a minister after retiring from the Air Force. His campaign is limited to fighting corruption, specifically mentioning Congressmen using taxpayer funds to cover up their own misconduct. He also has a strong focus on maintaining defense. Lastly a big focus is on scaling back out of control government agencies. O’Neill stands almost no chance of winning, especially after his sad showing at the ND GOP convention.
Kevin Cramer is a formidable candidate winning the at-large House seat multiple times. This race is basically the same thing with less accountability.
Conservative Pick: Thomas O’Neill
North Dakota At Large
With Cramer vacating the seat, four Republicans vie for the opportunity to fill the seat. Tom Cambell likely would have been the pick until he withdrew.
— Rob Port (@robport) April 11, 2018
Tom Cambell endorses Kelly Armstrong in order to untie Conservatives. There may yet be some strong conservatism in this state after all. Kelly Armstrong is a state senator, but isn’t a strong Conservative, nor are many others. Then there’s Tiffany Abentroth. She’s running a campaign focused on agriculture, education and veteran issues. When candidates run on agriculture, they usually tout maintaining government regulations as the case in Nebraska. She isn’t as specific but there’s reason to be cautious. Lastly there’s Paul Schaffner. This clown was found guilty of soliciting a prostitute. This race sucks ass. Tiffany Abentroth is a veteran, so for that reason, she’s the pick.