Fiddling While the Virginia GOP Burns

National Republicans made their call on Corey Stewart right after he won the Senate nomination. He isn’t getting their money or their endorsements. He’s a loser, and they know it.

Virginia Republicans know Stewart won’t defeat Sen. Tim Kaine (D). The only question is who else falls with Stewart in November. Unless those who once led the party speak very soon, Stewart may take more than a couple of House incumbents with him.

These leaders know Stewart’s failings. They have witnessed his suspect associations with bigots and white supremacists, links Stewart eventually disavowed. They have seen him embrace Confederate imagery and monuments as if they were holy relics. They have seen members of his campaign staff linked to white supremacists and the most recent revelations about a campaign consultant whose views on African Americans would make Archie Bunker blush.

The Washingtonian’s Andrew Beaujon said, it’s “probably just a coincidence that these guys all ended up on Corey Stewart’s campaign.” Yes, it must be. Otherwise, all this would lead us to conclude that Stewart and Virginia Republicans were intent not just on losing the Senate race to Kaine, but also putting the tiki-torch to everything else.

Few of the GOP’s top elected officials have called him and his supporters out. They prefer to focus elsewhere, hoping Stewart and his sideshow won’t affect them. They are wrong.

Some, though, have gone public with their doubts, dismay and disgust. Former lieutenant governor Bill Bolling said of Stewart’s rise, “This is clearly not the Republican Party I once knew, loved and proudly served. Every time I think things can’t get worse they do, and there is no end in sight.”

Former Rep. Tom Davis pinned the GOP’s decline on Ken Cuccinelli’s ill-fated 2013 gubernatorial run, saying, “it’s just been spiraling down” ever since.

It accelerated in 2014. Shaun Kenney, who once served as the Republican Party of Virginia’s executive director, witnessed the plunge firsthand.

Before he took the RPV job, Kenney warned Republicans they needed to “clean house,” casting the nativists and the nascent alt-right out of the party. He was savaged for such heresy.

And he was ignored. The bad elements got stronger. They rallied behind Dave Brat in his 2014 upset of then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and eventually found new champions in Donald Trump and Stewart.

As the fringes grew stronger, the GOP’s statewide fortunes cratered. It is not a coincidence.

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Cover photo by Rick Sincere
2018 U.S. Senate Debate, The Homestead Resort