Virginia's marquee governor's race got a jolt of the unexpected
on Saturday, as Republicans added E.W. Jackson, a political novice
and conservative firebrand, as the GOP's lieutenant governor nominee
alongside lightning rod gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli.
But whether that jolt will be a burst of enthusiasm from Mr.
Jackson, a minister and attorney, or a fatal shock to a ticket
Democrats already derided as extreme and out-of-touch will be a
fundamental part of the commonwealth's 2013 gubernatorial race.
"It's like the Herman Cain phenomenon," said Quentin Kidd, a
Virginia political analyst and pollster at Christopher Newport
University, "only this time he got the nomination."
The nomination of Jackson and the fate of a ticket lead by Mr.
Cuccinelli, no stranger to incendiary rhetoric himself, emphasizes
Virginia's place in the middle of the Republican Party's ongoing
debate about whether electoral success will come through bolder
conservative champions or less ideologically rigid candidates.
"Cuccinelli may be drawn into the Jackson orbit in a way that he
doesn't want to be," says Professor Kidd.
That could prevent Cuccinelli from emphasizing the economic
issues and the more personal side of his campaign, which he has
highlighted in recent weeks.
On the other hand, "Cuccinelli may be able to tack to the middle
by contrasting with Jackson," Kidd says, and in that way the
lieutenant governor "could provide a very helpful foil to Ken
Cuccinelli as well."
Jackson's addition to the ticket underlined where the Virginia
GOP stands in the Republican Party's ongoing discussion about its
future: In the commonwealth, conservatives showed they wanted a more
forthright, defiant brand of conservatism.
"I think we learned that the conservative core is far more
conservative than people thought it was" in Virginia, Kidd says.
Jackson's meteoric rise, helped along by a fiery speech on
Saturday afternoon, was met with a withering critique from
The party's first African-American nominee for statewide office
since the 1980s was savaged by Democrats over his history of
controversial statements on a number of topics - he once likened
Planned Parenthood to the Klu Klux Klan, said that President Obama
harbors "Muslim sensibilities," and has made a host of statements
"Frankly, I'm rather appalled with the results, with the
ideologically narrow scope of the Republican ticket that emerged
from Richmond this weekend," said Vince Callahan, a long-time
Republican state legislator who is backing this year's Democratic
nominee, Terry McAuliffe, on a conference call with reporters.
"You're turning off not only the vast majority of all Virginians
but a significant portion of the Republican base," he added.
Jackson is going to have to stand for his record, said Chris
Jankowski, the president of the Republican State Leadership
Committee, which works to elect Republicans at the lieutenant
governor level and lower.
"I saw some things yesterday that I hadn't seen [about Jackson's
past statements]," said Mr. Jankowksi at a discussion with reporters
"No matter how deeply held our views our, politics is about
addition and not subtraction," said Jankowski, a veteran of Virginia
politics who attended the convention. …