Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 11, 2016

Todd Akin, Virginia Style?

Until Saturday night, I had never heard of E.W. Jackson, a Harvard Law School graduate and minister who served three years in the Marine Corps and attended Harvard Divinity School.

I’ve never met the man, but I already know that Republicans in the commonwealth of Virginia have a problem with their new nominee for lieutenant governor.

The combination of material on Jackson’s own website and the videos of Jackson speaking for himself suggest that Republicans have nominated a no-holds-barred social conservative who seems destined to utter the sort of controversial comments reminiscent of former Missouri Republican Rep. Todd Akin.

Nominating conventions are inherently dangerous for political parties. The activists who show up invariably are more ideological than most in their party, and they seem to care little about nominating candidates with broad appeal or proven electability. (The Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party had this problem for years, which is why the winner at the state convention often lost in the primary.)

As I have noted in recent columns and posts, many Republicans believe their party has been too compromising and needs nominees who are more conservative. Jackson would appear to fill that bill. He is an admirer of Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck (both of whom have endorsed him, according to his website), and religious themes are an important part of his agenda.

His bio includes the following: “On July 4, 2009, he launched S.T.A.N.D. — Staying True to America’s National Destiny (, a national organization dedicated to restoring America’s founding values which were informed by the principles found within the Jewish and Christian faiths.”

And this: “Among his current accomplishments, Jackson chairs the historic Conservative Emergency Task Force (CETF), which held a Summit in Washington DC on March 15, 2011 bringing together Congressional Representatives — including Michele Bachman, Allen West and Senator Rand Paul, Tea Party leaders and social, economic and national security conservatives to address what Jackson calls ‘the present national emergency’.”

I don’t know whether Jackson will damage the chances of his two Republican colleagues running statewide this year. But if I were a national or Virginia-based GOP strategist, I’d be worried that Jackson plays right into Democratic efforts to paint the entire ticket, and much of the Republican Party, as too extreme.

At the very least, Republican strategists must be worried that instead of having an upbeat, honeymoon period after the convention, GOP gubernatorial nominee Ken Cuccinelli and state Republicans are on the defensive about Jackson’s views and conservatism.

One Democratic political insider with experience in the Old Dominion argued that Jackson’s nomination is a significant short-term problem for the Republicans’ statewide ticket.

“It certainly makes it harder for Cuccinelli to move to the middle, if that is what he wants to do,” the Democrat said. “But over the long run, it probably won’t matter much. The cake is already baked on Cuccinelli. He has a record. We won’t let him move to the middle anyway.”

Conservatives certainly got what they wanted in terms of Virginia’s GOP ticket, and many factors will go into the outcome of the November contests. But it’s hard to believe that establishment conservatives in the GOP feel comforted by Jackson’s nomination as they wonder what kind of appeal the ticket will have in the suburbs generally, and in Northern Virginia in particular.

  • Sharon Tomalavage

    I have a question for Mr. Rothenberg: If you sir were transported back to the 1800’s, wouldn’t it be a fair assumption to conclude you would be a slave owner, after all, that view of slavery being quite acceptable would have been the “norm”, wouldn’t it? Or perhaps during the days of Jim Crow, you would have supported that, right? In case those on the left including Mr. Rothenberg, don’t get it yet–just because something is considered “mainstream” or “normal”, doesn’t make the person who has the opposite view wrong. Remember, Jesus would have been considered “extreme” as well. After all, didn’t he preach ” Love One Another” , ” Thou Shalt Not Kill”, or Love Your Enemies as you Love yourselves”. Pretty extreme I would say, even for this day and age. I submit that it will be the Jackson’s and others who are like Jesus (considered extreme), who will truly Change The World and not those who want to ” go along to get along”.

Sign In

Forgot password?



Receive daily coverage of the people, politics and personality of Capitol Hill.

Subscription | Free Trial

Logging you in. One moment, please...