‘Republican establishment’ blamed for Cuccinelli’s slim loss

Alex Pappas | Political Reporter

A prominent tea party leader says the Republican establishment deserves blame for Republican Ken Cuccinelli barely losing the Virginia’s gubernatorial race on Tuesday.

“Reports that the Republican National Committee spent $3 million in 2009 to help the Republican nominee, compared to $1 million this time, tells the story,” said Jenny Beth Martin, national coordinator for Tea Party Patriots. “The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, who spent $1 million in 2009 and nothing in 2013.”

“Even against such extraordinary odds, Cuccinelli came within roughly 50,000 votes and 2 percentage points of McAuliffe,” Martin continued. “Just think what would have happened if the business and donor classes of the Republican Party would have helped.”

In the weeks before the election, polls indicated that Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe would handily defeat Cuccinelli. But as returns came in Tuesday night, observers were surprised as Cuccinelli held his own.

McAuliffe — who way outspent Cuccinelli in the race and bombarded the airwaves with negative TV ads painting the Republican as harmful to women — ended up winning 48 percent to Cuccinelli’s 46 percent.

An adviser to Cuccinelli told The Daily Caller’s Matt Lewis on Wednesday that people and groups like Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal — and the Republican Governor’s Association (RGA) he leads — also deserve blame.

“Bobby Jindal and his political team totally blew it,” the adviser said.

A memo questioning the RGA strategy — authored by Democratic Governor’s Association Communications Director Danny Kanner — was being circulated in conservative circles on Wednesday. It mocked the GOP strategy in the race.

“Despite laws in Virginia that allow for unlimited financial contributions and complete coordination between the campaigns and outside groups, the RGA tried to run a different campaign than their own candidate – a puzzling strategy that made both the Cuccinelli campaign and the RGA less effective,” the memo stated.

Cuccinelli strategist Chris La Civita is lamenting how national Republican groups didn’t spend much money on the race in the 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?” he said. “We were on our own.”

NBC’s Chuck Todd also reported that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie — who won re-election Tuesday night and who is popular among independents and moderates — refused to campaign for Cuccinelli.

Conservatives argue Cuccinelli was gaining momentum. His focus on the rocky rollout of Obamacare in the final days of the campaign helped close to gap, they say.

“It looks like if Cuccinelli had another week to tag McAuliffe for his unflinching support of President Obama’s unpopular new entitlement, the race might have ended differently,” Chris Stirewalt of Fox News wrote on Wednesday.

Another establishment Republican who harmed Cuccinelli: incumbent Gov. Bob McDonnell, whose personal problems relating to the Johnnie Williams/Star Scientific gift scandal hurt Cuccinelli’s brand and stopped McDonnell from really campaigning for the Republican.

In a lengthy statement after McAuliffe’s win, McDonnell barely mentioned Cuccinelli except to say, “I wish my friend Ken Cuccinelli the very best as he moves forward from tonight. I hope Ken will continue to stay involved in the public life of our state, and I thank him for serving our administration well as attorney general, and giving his all to public service and the campaign.”

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