Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie’s loss to Ralph Northam represents a repudiation of the Republican establishment; Gillespie lost by more points than Donald Trump and Ken Cuccinelli.
Ed Gillespie lost to Ralph Northam 45 percent to Northam’s 54 percent, a stunning nine-point loss. Gillespie rose in the polls in the last few weeks of the election by taking President Donald Trump’s approach to combat MS-13, ban sanctuary cities, and preserve Virginia’s historical statues. However, reports suggested that Gillespie kept his distance from conservative outlets such Breitbart News.
During the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton won Virginia with 49.8 percent of the vote, while Donald Trump won 44.4 percent of the vote, a 5.4-point loss.
In the 2013 gubernatorial election, Republican nominee Ken Cuccinelli lost to Democrat Terry McAuliffe, 45.5 percent to McAuliffe’s 48 percent, a 2.5 percent difference. Cuccinelli campaign strategist Chris La Civita argued that the Republican party abandoned the Cuccinelli campaign in its final days.
“There are a lot of questions people are going to be asking and that is, was leaving Cuccinelli alone in the first week of October, a smart move?” La Civita said after Cuccinelli’s concession speech, according to the Washington Post. “We were on our own. Just look at the volume [of ads].”
La Civita added that there was “definitely a national mood that was moving, that is moving, that is continuing to move against the White House and the Affordable Care Act. And I can’t help but ask myself, what would have been the result had he had five weeks of this discussion instead of just 2 ½?”
Andrew Surabian, senior adviser to the Great America Alliance and former White House adviser, said, “Ed Gillespie had no message, was inauthentic, spoke from both sides of his mouth, and at the end of the day, even the deplorables couldn’t save him. Gillespie campaigned with George W. Bush, [but] ran from President Trump.”
David Bozell, president of ForAmerica, argued that GOP establishment candidates like Gillespie cannot gather the conservative grassroots support. Bozell said:
All elections are base elections now. Guys like Gillespie, Jeb!, Kasich can’t muster needed energy with lackluster message.VA GOP doesn’t have it anymore. Gillespie had no message. No social media presence. No authenticity. Also, Swamp extends to Haymarket, apparently:
President Donald Trump tweeted on Tuesday that Gillespie lost because he did not embrace Trump or Trump’s nationalist-populist base. Trump tweeted, “Ed Gillespie worked hard but did not embrace me or what I stand for. Don’t forget, Republicans won 4 out of 4 House seats, and with the economy doing record numbers, we will continue to win, even bigger than before!”:
Ed Gillespie worked hard but did not embrace me or what I stand for. Don’t forget, Republicans won 4 out of 4 House seats, and with the economy doing record numbers, we will continue to win, even bigger than before!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 8, 2017