The far right, feeling the sting of Ken Cuccinelli’s defeat in the Virginia gubernatorial race, have decided to blame the Republican National Committee. Understand it was the Virginia right wing that insisted on a closed convention and chased Bill Bolling out of the race. Understand that right-wing talk show hosts often implore their listeners not to give money to the RNC. And further understand that no poll before the final couple of days showed the race close. So why exactly is the RNC to blame?
I spoke with people knowledgeable about the Virginia gubernatorial fundraising activities and reviewed the figures currently available at the Virginia Public Access Project Web site .The RNC spent, in hard dollars, more than $3 million. Beginning in the spring they set up 50 offices and deployed 60 staffers around Virginia. Cuccinelli also was able to access money from the Republican Governors Association to the tune of $8.5 million, according to an association spokesman.
Cuccinelli had the benefit of some independent soft money as well. For example, Americans for Prosperity put in about a million dollars. The National Rifle Association spent money, as did Focus on the Family and Citizens United. The real difference in money was Cuccinelli, who could raise only $8 million on his own. By contrast, Gov. Bob McDonnell raised $24 million. Cuccinelli’s paltry results are understandable, given that Northern Virginia businessmen and groups, for example, who backed McDonnell actually backed McAuliffe. Had he raised as much as McDonnell he would have outspent Cuccinelli, $35 million to $32.8 million.
The people who didn’t spend money, at least none that has been reported, are the various tea party groups that now complain Cuccinelli was abandoned. They frequently solicit money touting firebrand candidates like Cuccinelli, yet the expenditures aren’t there, at least not as of the present.
Just as in the shutdown when things went south for the far right, they strained for an excuse to blame the “establishment.” But in this case, that dog won’t hunt. It’s hard to argue that a race in which no one (not even the Cuccinelli camp) realized would be so close until Election Day that the RNC should have poured in gobs more money. The RNC, RGA and some mainstream conservative groups actually did their work raising money. Cuccinelli and the tea party outfits did not. And of course, it was the Virginia tea party supporters who insisted on a convention that delivered Cuccinelli in the first place.