Virginia Attorney General Nominee Is An Example Of Aspirational Conservatism

Erich Reimer Contributor
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A lot of national attention has been focused on Virginia’s upcoming gubernatorial election that many, whether rightly or wrongly, see as a referendum on the new orientations of both the Republican Party and Democratic Party. Much of this focus has been on the high-profile battle between former RNC Chair Ed Gillespie and current Virginia Lt. Governor Ralph Northam, as money and endorsements from across the country, including Tweets from President Trump, increasingly intervene.

However a few spots down the ticket, another state-level candidate in Virginia is particularly worth looking at as an example of a new kind of conservative that could increasingly bring an end to the conservative civil wars – John Adams, who is the Republican nominee for Virginia Attorney General.

John Adams’ own personal background is fascinating enough. He is a Partner at the Richmond office of the high-powered corporate law firm McGuireWoods, where he has built an impressive career, including defending important conservative causes in the courts.

One of his big name cases includes the Hobby Lobby case (Burwell et al. v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., 2014) where he successfully helped defend the religious liberty rights of private organizations to not have to follow Obamacare’s contraception mandate.

His career before his time at McGuireWoods is just as impressive– he served as an Associate White House Counsel under President George W. Bush, and before that served as a law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

By credentials alone, that is an extraordinary conservative resume. He is also a Navy veteran, former federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s office, and a graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law, where he served on the Law Review.

I’ve had the pleasure to get to know John over the course of his campaign these past two years and was able to watch how his campaign presented an interesting new coalition approach to conservatives in Virginia, which has long been divided by “establishment-grassroots” internal conflicts.

John Adams is a firm constitutional conservative who believes in the rule of law and conservative principles of life and liberty, and was able to connect with the conservative base because of that sincerity and his rock-solid background on that front. However his accomplished professional career also was able to rally the support of those of a more political/donor class background, who wanted to ensure that there would be a nominee that both appropriately represents the Republican Party and who firmly understood policy intricacies.

On a personal level, John’s graciousness from my experience is remarkable and should leave little doubt that he would act with the same character while in office. At a time when our public discourse is increasingly focused on personal conduct, John Adams is a strong representative for a leader whose personal actions are just as positive as his public actions.

On a broader scale, John Adams’ example is worth thinking about for conservatives as there is increased buzz about the upcoming “Bannon-McConnell” GOP civil war. While it may be too late to calm whatever series of upcoming primaries are coming up for many sitting elected federal representatives, perhaps what has happened in Virginia can be a model for how to reduce future needless conservative conflict between those whose beliefs are not too dissimilar.

I hope John Adams wins in a few weeks here in Virginia. His firm constitutional conservative approach is one that would serve the rule of law well, and his victory would bolster the forces of aspirational conservatism as they add a new model to their repertoire.

Nonetheless, the Republican Party and conservative movement as a whole seem to be facing increasing cracks as the public discord has even reached the chambers of the United States Senate, as with the President’s recent conflicts with Senator John McCain and Bob Corker. Much of this needless hostility is sadly too representative of the direction the GOP has been going in during recent years.

As the party and movement move forward, it is worth looking at candidates who have been able to bridge the divide and bring conservatives together on our common aspirational principles, such as John Adams in Virginia.

Erich Reimer is an American entrepreneur & conservative commentator. He can be followed on Twitter at @ErichReimer.

Views expressed in op-eds are not the views of The Daily Caller.