Rove: Narrow Cuccinelli Loss in Va. Provides Clear Lessons for GOP in 2014
Wednesday, November 6, 2013 11:52 PM
By: Todd Beamon
Republican Ken Cuccinelli's narrow loss to Democrat Terry McAuliffe for the Virginia statehouse on Tuesday provides many lessons for the GOP if it wants to win next year's congressional elections, political strategist Karl Rove said on Wednesday.
"Virginia shows that if Republicans overreach, it will hurt," Rove, founder of the Republican super PAC Crossroad GPS, said in an op-ed piece in The Wall Street Journal. "A candidate's history and way of expressing his views matter.
"GOP candidates must unite all the party's factions — established conservatives and new arrivals, business and grass roots," Rove said.
Despite projections of a large victory for McAuliffe in Tuesday's gubernatorial election, the former Democratic National Committee chairman won "by a mere 2.5 percentage points," Rove said.
McAuliffe outspent Cuccinelli, the attorney general, by $34 million to $20 million, he added.
"The Republican did not lose because he ran a lousy general election campaign," Rove said, calling it "a disciplined effort [that] focused on jobs, Mr. McAuliffe's checkered business career and, in the closing days, Obamacare's incompetent implementation and the law's negative consequences for Americans."
He noted how Cuccinelli lost because of the "ill-devised strategy some Republicans employed to shut down the federal government unless Obamacare was defunded."
The federal shutdown occurred over 16 days last month.
Because the Commonwealth has over 300,000 federal workers and retirees living there — coupled with "a large military presence" — Virginia was "particularly sensitive to a shutdown," Rove said.
Further, Cuccinelli did not benefit from outgoing Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell on several fronts: an ethics investigation deprived him of raising money and votes for the attorney general — and as a role model in expressing his conservative positions.
As a state senator and attorney general, Cuccinelli "was well known for his conservative social views," Rove said. "His positions weren't the problem. It was the way in which he has presented them for years — with polarizing language and an acerbic tone that even allies found off-putting."
But McDonnell was "equally conservative on social issues, but he advocated them in a way that won respect and encouraged civil discussion," he said. "As a result, he won 54 percent of women four years ago (compared with 42 percent for Mr. Cuccinelli) and 66 percent of independents (compared with 47 percent for Mr. Cuccinelli)."
Cuccinelli also was not helped by Libertarian candidate, Robert Sarvis, who won 6.6 percent of the vote on Tuesday, Rove said.
Sarvis "got on the ballot with funding from a wealthy Texas Democrat," he said. "Democrats will help libertarians get on the ballot next year wherever they think it will hurt the GOP."
"In the 2014 midterm elections, Republicans have many things in their favor," Rove concluded, including President Barack Obama's low job-approval ratings and the continuing Obamacare debacle. "Over the last several elections, Republicans have lost too many winnable races."