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May 22, 2013 11:51 AM Red-Meat Offering

By Ed Kilgore

In more widely-discussed signs of the conservative zeitgeist, the dubious results of last weekend’s Virginia State Republican Convention, which in the deliberate absence of primaries nominated candidates for three statewide offices, are drawing much-needed attention to the kind of message and policies the GOP “base” would prefer when left to its own devices.

As quoted by Mother Jones’ Tim Murphy, a prominent Virginia GOP “moderate,” former Rep. Tom Davis (who had a particular bone to pick since his wife, Annemarie Devolites Davis, was one of the candidates beaten by E.W. Jackson for nomination as Lieutenant Governor), pointed out these are precisely the kind of nominees you can expect from a convention, and went out of his way to note Jackson doesn’t even particularly stand out:

Davis is voting for Jackson anyway, for a simple reason: “It’s control of the state Senate. The lieutenant governor doesn’t vote on anything. I certainly don’t agree with his comments, but I don’t agree with some of Cuccinelli’s comments either…And frankly just to tell you, what E.W. was saying isn’t much different from what most of the others were saying.”
“This is where the party is gonna go,” Davis said. “I would marginalize myself in the future if I come out here and don’t support the ticket. So we support it. I mean, how active I’m gonna be remains to be seen.”

So in effect, practical-minded Virginia Republicans are treating their ticket as a red-meat-offering to the Great Idol of the “base.” They have no one but themselves to blame when even the most minimal oppo-research turns up items like this bizarre ad Jackson ran as a candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2012:

Yes, Jackson is splitting watermelons in this ad. The Atlantic’s Garance Franke-Ruta calls this “‘possibly the worst campaign ad since Herman Cain’s campaign manager smoked a cigarette on camera.” I think that’s a terrible insult to Cain and to Mark Block, whose coffin-nail-puffing tribute to his boss became an instant hipster classic. Perhaps there are people who will think similarly of Jackson’s ad, but if so, they have a capacity for irony far exceeding mine. And we’re just beginning to come to grips with the Jackson oeuvre. No telling what’s way down in the weeds.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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