In addition to Chairman Corey Stewart (R – Prince William), who has already officially declared, rumored Lieutenant Governor candidates seeking the RPV nomination in 2013 include:
VA Victory 2012 Chairman Pete Snyder (R – Alexandria)
Former State Senator Jeannemarie Devolites-Davis (R – Fairfax)
Delegate Scott Lingamfelter (R – Prince William)
Senator Jeff McWaters (R – Virginia Beach)
Senator Steve Martin (R – Chesterfield)
Some activists like the idea of seeing E.W. Jackson make a run for Lieutenant Governor.
The rumor mill surrounding the Lieutenant Governor race has mostly been centered around Northern Virginians thus far. Given the cultural divide and underlying tensions between Northern Virginia and the rest of Virginia in the General Assembly, look for a strong candidate to emerge from downstate to make a run for Lieutenant Governor. This candidate will most likely be Jeff McWaters.
I have friends who are involved in politics in Hampton Roads. Folks who happen to like Jeff McWaters have been real frank in their assessments with me and told me that McWaters is an extremely ambitious politician. He is independently wealthy and can finance his entire campaign with personal funds if necessary. He is close to the Richmond power brokers and really wants to be Governor. I am told by fans of McWaters that his critics would say he is power hungry.
McWaters’ first run for public office was in the 2010 special election for a seat in the Senate of Virginia. He briefly considered a run for Congress before running for the State Senate out of the 8th District. The district is Republican and he was going to win this race easily.
Nevertheless, he blew a significant amount of his own money in the race to blow out his opponent and make a statement. McWaters’ was the #1 donor in his special election. He exceeded $1 million in expenditures for a two month special election campaign with a low turnout. Granted, he planned in advance knowing that the seat would be vacant if then-Senator Ken Stolle won his campaign for Sheriff, but this is an unheard of amount of money for a General Assembly special election. One third of his expenditures went towards a bloated team of consultants and staffers.
I was told that the Senate of Virginia is merely a stepping stone and temporary stop in McWaters’ well planned course to achieve his dream of being Governor. The next logical step is to run for Lieutenant Governor to raise his statewide profile. A victory would provide a natural launchpad to run for Governor in 2017. With several Northern Virginia candidates expected to compete for the job, this presents a large window of opportunity to consolidate the rest of Virginia against a fractured Northern Virginia electorate.
The fact that the 2013 nomination process for RPV statewide candidates is now a convention presents another advantage for McWaters. The weighted votes require candidates in a convention process to compete vigorously in every county and city in the Commonwealth. One cannot win by running up the score in densely populated areas. Unless a Northern Virginia candidate is an ideological firebrand like Ken Cuccinelli, Republican candidates from the urbane and cosmopolitan Northern Virginia have inherent challenges in attempting to connect with the rest of Virginia’s Republican electorate on a base cultural level. If McWaters can indeed consolidate the rest of Virginia against Northern Virginia, he will have a distinct advantage.
Senator Steve Martin’s consideration to jump into the Lieutenant Governor race throws a wrinkle into every candidate’s plans regardless of where they are from. Martin has strong appeal among socially conservative voters. Social conservatives are reliable convention attendees. None of the current declared or potential Lieutenant Governor candidates for the Republicans are known for being outspoken social conservatives though some vote straight down the line on these issues. Corey Stewart made a bit of a national profile for himself for his stance against illegal immigration, but neutral observers and critics regard him as a one-trick pony. Steve Martin could make inroads among convention attendees by being the only outspoken social conservative in a field of candidates that just wants to talk about fiscal issues.
On the issue of E.W. Jackson’s appeal among the activist base, a run for Lieutenant Governor appears to be a good fit at face value. Because the Lieutenant Governor is elected separately from the Governor and has few official responsibilities, a campaign for this office has been suitable for the more ideologically inclined candidate.
The success of the gubernatorial candidate is not dependent on the electability of the Lieutenant Governor candidate and despite the excitement the base feels after hearing one of Jackson’s fiery sermons, Jackson has not shown that he can compete. The best example is Mike Farris’ run for Lieutenant Governor in 1993. He lost while George Allen won his gubernatorial race comfortably. Leslie Byrne lost to Bill Bolling for Lieutenant Governor in 2005 while Tim Kaine won the race for Governor.
The idea of Jackson running for Lieutenant Governor is an idea born in the grassroots, but one cannot help but think that the elevation of Jackson to any office that is available is just simply reaction by emotionally-charged conservatives who would rather have their elected officials launch ideological potshots against people they don’t like rather than display quiet competence to unite. Jackson ended up in the single digits for his U.S. Senate campaign. Imagine how much lower he would be if he did not have any speaking skills. There is no telling what Jackson’s immediate plans are other than that he is staying involved in politics.
The switch from a primary to a convention does not affect the gubernatorial race as polls have shown Ken Cuccinelli leading by a wide margin regardless of the method of nomination. However, this greatly affects the Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General races and has increased the viability of downstate candidates and the more ideologically inclined.