The election was the worst of all possible worlds for the GOP

The fight between the Tea Party and establishment wings for the control of the Republican party is now well out in the open. It was hoped by the GOP establishment that the Virginia and New Jersey governor’s races would break decisively in their favor.

The Virginia governor’s race was seen by the establishment as a chance to show that Tea Partiers were leading the party down a losing path. The Republican candidate Ken Cuccinelli was a Tea Party darling, wholeheartedly embracing both its economic platform (lower taxes, shutting down the government and pretty much cutting all spending except for the military) and its GRAGGS (guns, race, abortion, gays, god, sex) social values platform and of course repealing Obamacare.

The Democratic candidate was Terry McAuliffe who represents all that is sleazy and corrupt about politics and who by all rights deserves to lose any election for any office. It was to the benefit of the GOP establishment if Cuccinelli lost by a huge margin to McAuliffe since that would enable them to argue that a loss to such a weak Democratic candidate represented a resounding repudiation of the Tea Party strategy. In order to get this result, the party withheld both financial and political support, pushing Cuccinelli to depend even more on the support of the likes of Ted Cruz and Tea Party financial interests, sharpening the differences even more.

Meanwhile, a big win by Christie, who is viewed with deep suspicion if not outright disdain by Tea Partiers, would reinforce the view that Tea Party was on the losing side.

But unfortunately for the GOP establishment, Cuccinelli lost by a very close margin of less than 3% and now the tables are turned. The Tea Partiers are claiming, with some justification, that they would have won the governor’s race if the party establishment had enthusiastically supported Cuccinelli, and that it is the establishment that is pursuing the losing strategy. They dismiss Christie’s win as meaningless since it was in a strongly Democratic state.

But the establishment is not going to concede the point. Former GOP congressman Steve LaTourette has formed a PAC that slams the Tea Party for putting forward losing candidates and is trying to have their candidates defeated. He was interviewed this morning on NPR where he still pushed that anti-Tea Party line.

So election night, rather than settling the issue decisively in the party establishment’s favor, has only made the fissures even wider and the disagreement more acrimonious. This fight is not going away any time soon and we should settle in for the long haul as the 2014 elections approach, as this is going to be repeated in congressional races all over the country.


  1. raven says

    The Tea Party primary candidate in Alabama also lost.

    Alabama, where Jefferson Davis is regarded as too left wing and soft on communism.

    I don’t know what that was all about. No one outside of Alabama seemed to care much, one way or another.

  2. moarscienceplz says

    The GOP needs to split. Just like pulling an infected tooth, it would hurt them in the short run, but in the long run it would be much better for the country because there would be a return to a sensible conservative counterbalance to the Democrats and the Tea Baggers (and that is indeed what they originally called themselves, no matter how much they try to rewrite history) would be shunted off to the side until they all die off.

  3. sailor1031 says

    In the end most republicans voted for Cuccinelli – tea party affiliations or not – as they always will. As did some of the swing voters. The democrats held their noses and voted for McAuliffe as did other swing voters. Here in Virginia Cuccinelli is rated an egotistical, ignorant idiot by most folks. NcAuliffe, OTOH, is rated much as you depict him. If the democrats had chosen a good candidate instead of paying their accumulated debts to carpetbagger McAuliffe, this would have been a landslide that buried the republicans.

  4. colnago80 says

    Re sailor1031

    I’m not so sure about that. In the lieutenant governor’s race, the nutcase Jackson got 44% of the vote against a sitting member of the Virginia legislature.

  5. M can help you with that. says

    a sensible conservative counterbalance to the Democrats

    No. In what frame of reference, exactly, is “moderately far-right” supposed to be a “counterbalance” to “center-right”? Because that’s what you’re saying here.

    Given the current U.S. political climate, an appropriate “counterbalance” (provided one were to worship at the altar that you seem to, i.e. “balance” over truth) would be a hard-left socialist party to “balance” the hard-right and center-right corporate-capitalist Republicans and Democrats.

    A “counterbalance” to the Democrats alone would be center-left, not just slightly less far-right than the Teabaggers.

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