E.W. Jackson really doesn’t want to win the LG’s race.
Well, let me take that back. Apparently, some of the people around Bishop Jackson don’t want to win this race.
How can I say that? Simple. This quote, from today’s Washington Post:
“If your central focus is restoring liberty, it’s impossible to put that on the back burner,” the campaign representative said. “That’s one of the things that make him radically different than most people who are actively engaged in politics. Compromise is the order of the day for those people. And we’re not talking about whether a road should go through one county or another. We’re talking about compromising about whether you’re going to follow the Constitution.”
Last time I checked, this is the Jackson for Lieutenant Governor campaign, not the Jackson for Senate campaign. What role does the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia have in “following the [federal] Constitution?” What role does an officeholder who has a total of two Virginia Constitutional authorities (two!) – to preside over the Senate and to succeed the Governor – actually have? That’s all this is. The LG doesn’t propose legislation, he doesn’t sue the federal government in court, he doesn’t make amendments to bills, he doesn’t even vote to break a tie on the budget – none of that. In terms of policymaking, the LG has less of a role than anyone in the state government – whatever role he has is given to him by the Governor. That is the job, whether you like it or not, whether you wanted to run for that or not. So what does Jackson’s staff think he’s going to be doing all day?
The only reason the job even has a limited level of power today is because of the 20-20 split in the State Senate. That split could potentially go away if Jackson loses, Ralph Northam is elected, and Republicans win Northam’s seat – which isn’t that farfetched an outcome. That would render the LG job as toothless as it has been for most of its existence. And for more and more people, that outcome is becoming more palatable. It shouldn’t be. We shouldn’t be ceding any seats, regardless of how little actual power they command, to the Democrats.
I don’t care about Jackson’s message. I don’t care how much he flirts with libertarians, or how he’s fighting for “principles too heartfelt to soft-pedal.” That’s fine. His message is his message and every candidate has their own issues they care about. But when you have campaign staff out there who have no idea what you’re actually running for that they say something that ridiculous to the press, it undercuts your credibility as a candidate.
The staffer who uttered that quote should be fired – not for talking to the press or speaking anonymously, but for being so absolutely clueless as to what the candidate is actually running for that they’d be willing to say something so insane, something that actually did end up on the front page of the Washington Post.
As for the “blame game” nonsense the Post article discussed, we are two months away from November. Nobody should be setting anybody up to take the fall for Jackson if he loses. If Jackson loses in November, the reason why he lost will be Jackson. Not “the establishment,” not the mainstream media, not “statists,” or the GOP consultant class (none of whom seem to have the stones to talk to Laura Vozella on the record, by the way), or anybody else. It will be on Jackson. Because in every political campaign, the buck stops with the candidate. If Jackson loses, he’ll have no one to blame but himself. And as for the other campaigns, if they lose, they will have nobody to blame but themselves, too.
Let me be clear – I want Jackson to win. I want every Republican to win. I’m often accused of being a party hack, an “establishment” guy, a party sycophant or whatever else folks want to call me, and to that I am guilty as charged. I want to see Republicans win, and that includes E.W. Jackson. But if he’s going to win, things have got to change, and that includes getting rid of the deadweight campaign staff that don’t seem to have any idea what Jackson is actually running for.
Jackson’s campaign is not off the rails – yet. The real campaign just started this weekend, and most voters aren’t paying any attention. But when they do, they’ll see Jackson is doing a lot of good stuff. He’s posting pretty good fundraising numbers – as good as Ralph Northam, who hates fundraising almost as much as he seems to dislike campaigning – and he still has the hearts of the many grassroots activists. In what is shaping up to be a turnout election, Jackson can still win this thing. But if he’s going to win it, he needs to start acting like he’s in it to win it. And that starts with recognizing what you’re running for and getting a team assembled who understands and is working to get you elected, not advance some amorphous agenda that doesn’t seem to have victory in November as it’s top priority.