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By now you should be familiar with bishop E.W. Jackson, the Republican nominee for Lieutenant Governor of Virginia. In case you are unfamiliar, here’s a perfect primer for you to have a central place for his…well….greatest soundbytes.
When you read this, the one question that you will have is “how the hell did someone like this get chosen for such a notable position?”. To make sense of this, remember that Virginia Republicans nominate their candidates by convention, not public primary. Most states, as you probably know, have primaries in which voters go to the polls to choose from a swath of candidates.
How did Virginia get to nominate its Republicans (Democrats utilize a primary system) via convention? Let’s take you back to the 2009 election (Virginia and New Jersey have elections the year after presidential ones) when Bob McDonnell was elected to the Governor’s Mansion.
McDonnell, who before being the Governor was the Attorney General of the state, avoided a contested primary with then-incumbent Bill Bolling by essentially agreeing to sharing a ticket with Bolling and then would endorse Bolling for 2013. After Bolling filed papers to run for Governor back in 2010, it seemed a given that he would be the Republican nominee.
Enter Ken Cuccinelli, the conservative firebrand who succeeded McDonnell as Attorney General of Virginia. Cuccinelli is as ambitious as he is conservative and decided late in the year 2011 that he would enter a primary against Bolling who was preparing to formally kick off his gubernatorial campaign.
So you can imagine that Bolling, who appears to be more of the establishment type, was infuriated that Cuccinelli was infringing upon the nomination that Bolling assumed occupied. Bolling was probably more prepared for the general than an intraparty scuffle and given the far-right’s success in primaries, definitely felt threatened.
Still Bolling stayed in the race and looked like he was on his way to a competitive primary until the Republican Party of Virginia’s State Central Committee voted 47-31 to change its primary to a convention format.
Conventions are a bit like caucuses. When all you have to do is press a button or pull a lever like you do in standard primaries and elections, you will get a higher turnout. When it comes to sitting through speeches and then potentially voting on numerous ballots, most people would rather stay at home unless they are diehards.
So that move to switch to a convention essentially all but gave Cuccinelli the nomination, and with the later withdrawing of Bolling; he had it all to himself.
With the gubernatorial nomination all but locked up, the marquee race became the race for the Lieutenant Governor. With a convention, there really was no idea who the “frontrunner” would be but right before ballot number four, E.W. Jackson was the last candidate standing in what could only be considered a fairly big upset.
But why was it an upset? Well, after that preview on how Virginia politics works, let’s take a look at exactly who E.W. Jackson is.
Before Lieutenant Govenor Nomination
Well, before he was the nominee for Lieutenant Governor, E.W. Jackson was a vanity candidate for U.S. Senate (in which he earned under 5% in the Republican nomination that was won by former Senator George Allen). Here are some of his comments from around that time.
- The claim that African-Americans had a “slavish devotion” to the Democratic Party
- Called gays “ikky”, stated he was threatened by the “homosexual religion”, considered Barack Obama the first ‘homosexual President”, and blasted Islam in a series of tweets.
- Called the “homosexual movement” a cancer.
- Compared Planned Parenthood to the Ku Klux Klan
- Lauded the three-fifths compromise as an anti-slavery measure
- The reason that why he, as a minister, does not believe in evolution? Because monkeys don’t talk.
Since securing nomination
But in regards to his follies, E.W. Jackson might be a boon or hindrance to Ken Cuccinelli depending on your perspective. The race between Cuccinelli and presumptive Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe seems to be classified as up in the air as neither candidate is exactly “clean” nor likable.
Now Cuccinelli might have to spend too much time walking himself away from the candidate that his party activists picked. The fact that Jackson will hang over him like a rain cloud will not make matters easy as well but remember the Lieutenant Governor isn’t like the Vice President, instead there are two separate elections. Cuccinelli has made an effort to “moderate” himself (so he’s not as ultrasound-y as he truly is, I assume) and being next to Jackson will make Cooch look like Bernie Sanders by comparison.
Still, keep an eye out as we update you on the odyssey that is E.W. Jackson.