David Frum

05.30.13

Republicans Cede Swing States

The Republican revival isn't quite going as planned, reports Josh Kraushaar in National Journal:

The most glaring example took place earlier this month in Virginia, where Republican Party leaders nominated for lieutenant governor E.W. Jackson, a minister whose thunderous opposition to gay marriage and invective against Obama threaten to damage the Republican ticket. His emergence was enabled by party leaders opting to choose their statewide candidates at a convention filled with single-issue activists instead of through a primary involving a wider swath of Republican voters. The party's gubernatorial nominee, Ken Cuccinelli, who engineered the convention process, is trying to downplay his socially conservative background, but is struggling to do so with his new ticket mate. Meanwhile, Republicans are empty-handed in next year's Senate race against Sen. Mark Warner, not even entertaining the notion that term-limited Gov. Bob McDonnell could follow in his predecessor's footsteps and pursue a congressional career.

Less noticed, but equally as damaging, is the party's persistent inability to contest statewide races in Colorado, which is rapidly becoming a Democratic-leaning state—in large part because of GOP mismanagement. The party's brightest recruit, Rep. Cory Gardner, just opted to pass up a Senate campaign against Mark Udall, leaving the GOP empty-handed. Even more startling is the reemergence of immigration hardliner Tom Tancredo as a legitimate gubernatorial candidate, jumping in the race this month against Gov. John Hickenlooper. (Tancredo won 36 percent of the vote as a third-party candidate in 2010.) If Republicans can't contest the Senate and governorship in 2014, it would mark eight straight setbacks in presidential, Senate, and gubernatorial contests dating back nearly a decade. An 0-8 record would get the Denver Broncos coach fired, but there hasn't been a comparable shakeup in the state party's practices in a long time.