Senate 2012: How Did It Go So Wrong So Fast?


It’s not even 2011 and that’s my sentiments about the 2012 Republican nomination battle. While most of the state is not paying attention to this intra-party nonsense, the posturing by the candidates and soon-to-be candidates has been awful. There’s no other word for it, simply awful from top to bottom. With the selection of a primary, the stage was set for former Senator George Allen to ascend. Bob Marshall and Jamie Radtke’s only chances were a convention, so with State Central opting for a primary, that in theory would have preempted any candidacy. Whoops.

So with a day before the New Year, the news media who always loves Tea Party insurgency has allowed Jamie Radtke a quick five minutes of fame. In return, she underwhelmed. Frequent glances at notes, inability to articulate and general lack of a message. Corey Stewart did the same thing last month. Allen is ‘under the radar’ while he allegedly contemplates a run (let’s not kid ourselves…he’s running) while Bert Mizusawa has yet to decide one way or another which way he’s leaning.

With a year and half until primary day, the four assured candidates (Allen, Radtke, Marshall and Stewart) have done little to make this a healthy, spirited debate. Let’s take a look, with odds.

George Allen (1:3) – The hero of the modern Republican Party of Virginia, he is revered in old school circles for what he did for the party and bringing about the modern conservative movement to Virginia. His tenure as Governor is nearly universally lauded for his accomplishments. The ascension to Senate nominee seemed preordained. Then the Bush Republican Era brought about a litany of votes from Allen that were horrifying in conservative eyes, including rapid expansion of government through the Patriot Act, Medicare, Homeland Security, No Child Left Behind, to name a few. These votes make many of the newly involved conservatives, especially amongst the Tea Party, wary of Allen. This is a great example of some outreach for Allen needs to do, to win over not only the old guard RPVers but the newer arrivals in the Tea Party. Given this opportunity, when the WaPo calls about the situation, Allen responded:

“Some of the things they are saying – it is laughable when you look at my record,” said Allen, 58, a former congressman and governor.

Opportunity wasted. Not near as bad at the macaca incident, but a wasted opportunity nonetheless.

Bob Marshall (100:1) – To describe his candidacy at this point as DOA would be understating it. Earlier this year, Bob Marshall disclosed to everyone he felt children with birth defects were God’s punishment for abortion. After this disastrous story, rather than apologize, first Marshall tried denying saying it. Then, when confronted with audio and video, Marshall attempted to spin semantics over his quote, alleging it was taken out of context. The story fell by the wayside, particularly in light of the health care debate, but Marshall’s hopes for any higher office were bludgeoned. Then last week, Bob Marshall felt he needed the limelight, calling for a huge overreach of government in a pathetic attempt to ban gays from the National Guard. Including in his quotes bits about sodomy and worrying about the guy behind him in a foxhole, Bob Marshall made himself to be a caricature, rather than a candidate. At this point, only the zealots are still backing Bob Marshall, but given his track record, he’ll have another public relations disaster in six months.

Jamie Radtke (25:1) – Fundamental issues, particularly grassroots opportunities. I’ve given my theory about the problems with a Tea Party candidate in Virginia to a number of Tea Party and C4L associates, who grudgingly have admitted I may be correct. The Tea Party in our state is national in nature; little attention has been paid to local and state issues in the nearly two years since it surfaced. The odds are against a sudden awakening towards state politics, particularly in a non-statewide year. By and large, with the exception of any national events, the Tea Party will be dormant in 2011 within the state. Sure they’ll have meetings and whatnot, but they’ll have little impact in any state legislature races, and little desire to even get involved. This leaves a gaping hole in the grassroots components for 2012 amongst Radtke’s people. To jump start an organization from nearly scratch presents a logistical nightmare. That’s not even to mention the Sharon Angle/Christine O’Donnell comparisons that are sure to come in droves over the next year. Radtke follows two unfortunate Tea Party candidates with national profiles, particularly O’Donnell, and will spend much of the next year trying to differentiate herself from that amongst the media.

Corey Stewart (50:1) – Stewart’s coming out party was a universal disaster. Knocking George Allen, Ken Cuccinelli and Bob McDonnell left jaws dropped across the state, perhaps with the exception of those in NoVa who are used to Stewart’s ill-timed outbursts. The messaging seemed to drastically over-estimate’s Stewart’s name ID, yet much of the state and party hack’s were more like ‘who?’ Despite any truth Stewart might have had in his message, it didn’t resonate because too many people didn’t know who he was. There was a collective ‘huh’ from across the state with his back to back interviews knocking on individuals that the party structure holds in high regard. Luckily for Stewart, he’s gone dark and there’s plenty of opportunity to get things back on track. However, Stewart’s signature issue is immigration, putting him at the rear of the field in hopes that immigration will hurdle the economy, transportation, the economy, jobs, spending, etc as the most important issue in the election (i.e. not likely)

There’s problems across the board. It’s always been Allen’s to lose and that hasn’t changed. But with the missteps and logistical problems before we even reach 2011, the race is getting that much easier for Allen. (you’ll note from my odds the chances I think each candidate has, with Radtke, Stewart, Marshall, in that order. If Mizusawa jumps in put him at 15:1ish)

That pits the party with the uncomfortable prospect of scorched earth, ‘anyone but Allen’ mentalities.

It’s going to be a long year.


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