Thoughts on the aftermath of the 2013 Virginia Elections

The 2013 elections in Virginia are in the books. For anyone living under a rock and just poking their nose out into the world, Democrat Terry McAuliffe was elected Governor and Democrat Ralph Northam was elected Lt. Governor. At the moment of this writing, Republican Mark Obenshain is leading Democrat Mark Herring in the race for the Attorney General by a razor-thin margin and the results are being confirmed and validated. The results are available from the Virginia State Board of Elections but I’ll report the numbers here in case the SBE retires the page in the future.

Governor Votes %
Terry McAuliffe (Dem) 1,067,114 47.74%
Ken Cuccinelli (Rep) 1,011,377 45.25%
Rob Sarvis (Lib Dem Plant) 145,773 0.49%


When you consider that the press and various other opinion pundits were, up to the last minute, saying that Cuccinelli was going to be pounded into dust, losing by double-digits and that McAuliffe was able to outspend his opponent to the tune of $15 million dollars, a loss by a margin of just 2.5% is remarkably well done. I’ll have more to say about that a little further on. What I would like to say right now is that Rob Sarvis was nothing more than a political ploy. He was a Democrat plant into the race, counting on some of our fellow conservatives of the Libertarian bent to pounce onto anyone who was singing their preferred tune. With damned little information to actually back up that he was, in fact, an actual Libertarian (and ignoring some decent evidence that he wasn’t one), they touted him in their writings and they ran to the polls to vote for him. I don’t give a damn whether people thought he was the perfect candidate or not. There was no way – zero chance – that he was going to be elected. I understand completely the impulse to vote your values but reality has to enter into this as well. The choice wasn’t whether we were going to elect Sarvis to the Governor’s seat, it was whether or not McAuliffe was going to be allowed to win. If Libertarians wanted to avoid having Mr. Big Government/Obamacare-Bloomberg calling the shots in the Commonwealth’s government, then the decision to make that happen was to vote for Ken Cuccinelli. Note the numbers: had they done this, McAuliffe would be reporting to the local “Hillary 2016” campaign office instead of 1111 East Broad Street in Richmond. Do I hold the Libertarians responsible for Cuccinelli’s loss? Not entirely, no. But they certainly carry a lot of that load. How does a Libertarian candidate get funded by Democrat fundraisers and them not know that they’re being played? Next time, Libertarians, how about you vet your candidate?

As for you, Mr. Sarvis… I recommend you consider a different line of work than politics. You’re radioactive in the Commonwealth.


Lt. Governor Votes %
Ralph Northam (Dem) 1,209,386 55.08%
E.W. Jackson (Rep) 977,591 44.52%


The Lt. Governor’s race was certainly not close, not at all. I must admit that, while I had no problem with E.W. Jackson, he was not my first choice for the nomination, nor even my second. Susan Stimpson was my choice for the nomination and, when she didn’t get the support, I was hoping Pete Snyder would get it. That said, I thought Jackson spoke well and he stands in positions I support on a variety of matters. Maybe things would have closer with one of the other 2 but I’m not sure they would have won, either.


Attorney General Votes %
Mark Obenshain (Rep) 1,100,800 49.90%
Mark Herring (Dem) 1,100,119 49.87%


The AG race is still being tallied and validated so it’s going to be a bit before we know. That said, it’s looking good that Obenshain will win.

There’s a lot of post-mortem going on, right now, complete with the “if we’d only nominated by a primary instead of a convention” crowd basically saying this election is a validation that their approach of worrying  about “electability” over all else is the only way to win. I completely disagree and contend that the numbers support my assertion. Cuccinelli won with Independents by 9%, according to the exit polling. Forget those polls and just look at the actual results. In 2008, John McCain – the paragon of “electability,” so we were told – lost by over 6%. Four years later, Mitt Romney lost by close to 4%. Cuccinelli? 2.5%. He did a helluva lot better than either of the 2 “electable” candidates did. So, what was missing?

Support from the Republican Party, both inside and outside Virginia. I know all about the arguments being made that dismiss such a claim but those arguments don’t address the facts. In 2009 with Bob McDonnell running for Governor the Republican National Committee (RNC) put $9 million into the race in support of his candidacy. This time, they barely put a third of that into Cuccinelli’s campaign, and there’s strong evidence that they didn’t really even spend that much. The Republican Governor’s Association (RGA) offered some assistance, but their money went to buy ads that weren’t even coordinated with the Cuccinelli campaign. Their Democrat counterparts simply put their money to McAuliffe’s campaign and let the campaign decide how to best spend it. The RGA’s efforts, while appreciated, were effectively useless. And then there was the Republican Party of Virginia (RPV) who pretty clearly didn’t like the grassroots of Virginia overriding their vision. Bill Bolling, the currently-seated LG, got his panties a bunch when Cuccinelli didn’t step aside for him and took himself out of the race. He never even endorsed Cuccinelli – the duly nominated candidate of the party Bolling claims to be a member of – and there’s some circumstantial evidence that he actually worked against him behind the scenes. Based on the people who donated to Cuccinelli, it’s pretty clear that he influenced powerful Republican backers to withhold their support.

There’s also the ethics scandal of the McDonnell administration. While I don’t think it was a huge hit on Cuccinelli, it did r
epresent an additional burden that he had to overcome in the minds of Virginia’s voters.

And even with all of that, he came close enough to winning that it scared the crap out of Democrats across the country. It is not unreasonable to think that had the RNC stepped in, had the RGA offered its support in a fashion that the Cuccinelli campaign could have directed, had the RPV – and particularly Bill Bolling and crew – gotten behind their nominee that Cuccinelli could have pulled this out and been the winner in this race. I think it’s time that the people suggesting that we should just get blander candidates ought to be taking a good, clear look at the conditions and try to work with those of us who would like our issues addressed rather than putting winning at any cost at the top of the priority list.