After all its bluster and threats, the Tea Party finally faced something Tuesday it could not overcome: voters. The defeat of Republican Ken Cuccinelli, a Tea Party favorite, in Virginia’s governor’s race has major national implications, and important implications for Republicans in California.
Cuccinelli, Virginia’s attorney general, should have been an easy winner in Virginia’s low turnout gubernatorial election. Four years ago a Republicans won the governorship by 59 percent. But the Tea Party is now so toxic that candidates associated with it cannot win, even in traditionally Republican states.
Early polling earlier this year showed Cuccinelli a clear winner, attorney general is the natural stepping stone to governor. But as the campaign proceeded, Cuccinelli’s positions, especially on issues of importance to women, were just too extreme and an avalanche of Democratic money easily painted him and his Tea Party running mate as too far outside the political mainstream.
While it is only one governorship, this election has important national implications, since the winner is none other than Terry McAuliffe, money man for the Clintons and former head of the Democratic National Committee. Both Bill and Hillary Clinton personally campaigned for him, and he will surely help Hillary on her way to the likely coronation as the Democratic presidential candidate in 2016.
McAuliffe will also help Democrats carry Virginia in 2016 which could decide the presidency. Here’s an interesting little factoid: who was the last Republican to be elected president without carrying Virginia? If you said Calvin Coolidge you would be right, way back in 1924. Every GOP president since then has carried Virginia, as well as few that did not make it, including Gerald Ford in 1976 and Bob Dole in 1996.
Thanks to the Tea Party’s candidate blowing this governor’s race we now have a Democratic operative in charge of the state who will do everything he can to carry Virginia for Hillary in 2016; and it is all but impossible to see a Republican winning the presidency without the Old Dominion. Hillary Clinton will continue the Obama agenda, and move America much farther to the left.
California’s GOP also seems headed toward running a Tea Party extremist for governor next year. That would be Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, best known for having been caught carrying a gun while trying to board an airplane, which, by the way, is a violation of America’s anti-terrorism laws. Imagine the fun Democrats will have with this in 2014.
There are three take-aways from Virginia that are very applicable to California. First, GOP donors will have nothing to do with the Tea Party. The US Chamber of Commerce spent its money this month not on electing Cuccinelli, but fending off a Tea Party challenge in a GOP congressional primary in Alabama. (They won) Cuccinelli was outspent 10 to one by McAuliffe in the final days; he simply had no money to get his message out. And he might have won despite of the Tea Party as he had been a firm opponent of Obamacare. As it has imploded this past month it should have boosted Cuccinelli. It did not.
Second, Republicans will stay home. They have had it with Tea Party types; the exit polls in Virginia showed more Democrats coming to the polls than Republicans.
Third, this means Republicans thought to be safe will lose if the likes of Donnelly top the GOP ticket. The GOP candidate for attorney general in Virginia may have been dragged down by Cuccinelli on Tuesday (too close to call) despite being a heavy favorite. California Republican legislators and members of congress who think they are safe tonight could well suffer the agony of defeat in one year if the California GOP drinks the Tea Party kool aide, as the good voters of Virginia proved on Tuesday.