I have been rather quiet of late, since Thanksgiving anyway. I had eye surgery the Monday after Thanksgiving which went quite well and have been taking a bit of a sanity break from politics the past couple weeks. Sometimes you just have to take a break to prevent burnout. It has been quite an eventful and stressful period for political insiders during the presidential election cycle.
As most of you know, I jumped on the “Trump Train” very early on and it was a bruising, bone crushing ride. And still is given the left’s insanity at their loss. It was especially rough because the primary on the GOP side was the most contentious event I have ever witnessed among people who are all supposed to be on the same side. Most of us have lost friends and allies and will most likely remain estranged from one another for some time to come. Perhaps for good, and in spite of a Republican victory that will give the Republicans control of the White House and both Houses of Congress for at least the next two years.
And even before the 2016 General Election took place, here in Virginia the 2017 race for Governor, Lt. Governor and Attorney General was already underway. There were a lot of folks in the Republican Party that did not care to support Trump and found the 2017 race a brilliant diversion to help them remain involved in politics and, at the same time, avoid campaigning for Donald Trump.
And of course, we all know that Virginia voted for Hillary. And the finger pointing began early as to who was to blame. And at the center of the controversy we find some of the hardest workers Trump had in Virginia locked in heated battle over one of the declared candidates for Governor, Corey Stewart.
Some of the Trump state team are backing Stewart for governor, others apparently take issue with Stewart’s leadership during the campaign and are not backing him. And it has reached a level that comes close to the Trump – Cruz primary skirmish. The one that drove a wedge between GOP allies.
Trump won the primary with all of these guys working together. I was proud to be a part of the team that took such a flamboyant and controversial candidate across the finish line in Virginia and set him on a trajectory to win the GOP nomination. I don’t think any of us escaped that battle unscathed. And we gave our all. Watching the results with a hall full of Trump supporters at the Trump Winery in Charlottesville was one of those memorable nights that offsets the losses.
November 8th was another one of those memorable nights that makes the whole sordid business of politics worth the price we all pay. But still, it would have been far sweeter had Virginia picked Trump. And many of us are loathe to admit it, but Virginia is a blue state, no longer red or even purple. And although blue states Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania went Trump, Virginia was a tall ask. The blue bedroom communities in NoVa have long been a major hurdle in statewide elections for the Republican Party and grew even more blue as Obama expanded the size of the Federal Government.
And the Virginia governor’s race is now front and center in the Commonwealth and we find ourselves once again picking sides. It is the circle of politics. And Virginia has elections every year. There is no off year like some states have. And we have long time Bush friend Ed Gillespie running against Corey Stewart for the right to be the nominee. And we also may have another candidate, maybe, named Denver Riggleman who owns a distillery in Nelson County. It certainly is a field that might make one consider turning to the bottle.
By most accounts, Ed Gillespie is a card carrying member of the swamp we are planning to drain. He is an establishment insider with deep connections to the creatures that live in the swamp. But two years ago he surprised everyone and came within an alligator’s scale of defeating Mark Warner for US Senate, losing by less than 1%. And despite early polls that favor Democrats, all the polls in 2014 showed Warner had no worries. So Gillespie has a chance to win next November.
Corey Stewart has always had a knack for drawing lightning for his strong Conservative beliefs and has a reputation for being headstrong in his core beliefs. And that sometimes gets him into trouble. What some see as sticking to his principles, others see as unyielding.
Denver Riggleman is supposed to be a Conservative, but at this point it is hard to know if he is planning to run or still being “drafted”. So far his campaign seems to be playing coy about his candidacy which isn’t doing him any favors. He needs to fish or cut bait…
So at this point, the race seems to be between Ed Gillespie and Corey Stewart. And my assessment is that Gillespie has to be the favorite at this point and has shown that he can be competitive in a statewide race, and perhaps even win, if given proper support. However, Ed Gillespie has no voting record and a host of friends from the black lagoon. But he can raise money and has a machine in place already.
Corey Stewart has a pretty good Conservative voting record and is a strong proponent of the 2nd Amendment and has cut taxes to the point that he made the Liberals squeal. And some Republicans. Stewart is also strong on illegal immigration and has been a leader in enforcing America’s immigration laws in Prince William.
So while I think Ed Gillespie has a better chance at this point of winning the general election, he has no voting record and would be a roll of the dice.
Corey Stewart, on the other hand, has a proven record that most Conservatives demand. But may not have the numbers at this point to win a statewide election. And while Gillespie tries to be all things to all people, Stewart is a “take it or leave it,” no nonsense type of guy.
We know what we are getting with Stewart, but the big question is, can he win statewide? Gillespie has a legitimate shot at winning, but with no voting record is an unknown quality.
So the former Trump Virginia Team members who are currently beating one another up over the governor’s race need to chill. Stewart is a viable and attractive candidate for Conservatives. And Gillespie is also a viable choice who, at this point, has a good chance of winning Virginia for the GOP.
And I will not mention any names, but neither will I point fingers at the team that worked so hard to elect Donald J. Trump. He may not have won Virginia, but he won America. And without the primary victory here in Virginia, the nomination may have been a different story.
Personally, I am undecided in this race. I can see pros and cons for either candidate and do not have enough of a feel for which one tips the scales and earns my support.
But I would ask that those who are locking horns consider supporting the candidate that you want, respect the choice one another makes and know that you all did a fine job and deserve a spot in history for the Trump victory.
A damn fine job, one and all.