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Kirk Cox UNLOADS on GOP Gubernatorial Candidates
With positive vibes.
As we slowly approach the denouement of the Virginia Republican nomination process, it’s been mildly surprising how tame things are.
Sneaky Pete (sic) and Woke Glenn (sic) — and these are such dumb monikers for two decent men, right? — are pretty much reinforcing their own objections.
Amanda Chase (who requires no pejorative prefixing) is focusing on the admirable substance of her record rather than the deplorable style of her rhetoric — a pleasing change of pace and a far better look for the embattled state senator from Chesterfield.
Meanwhile, Kirk Cox is making the pitch to be everyone’s second choice. But not before unloading on his opposition — with positive vibes, that is.
Amanda Chase – I've known Amanda Chase since she first got involved in politics. She was a home-school mom that just wanted to help out, and she and I have campaigned alongside each other for several years. She was even nice enough to speak at my campaign kickoff in 2019. We may be opponents in this race, and I won't pretend like I've agreed with everything she's said and done, but she's true to herself, and there's something to be admired about that.
Sergio de la Pena – It's been a pleasure getting to know Sergio and his family on the campaign trail. Watching how close that family is, how they travel with him and support him every step of the way, really is inspiring. Sergio's story and his service to our country are also inspiring. I know whatever happens in this race, Sergio will continue to play a role in our party.
Peter Doran – Peter Doran is a smart guy with a lot of ideas, and one thing I've learned from my time in the General Assembly is that smart guys with a lot of ideas tend to do well. I've enjoyed listening to Peter's innovative ideas. He's clearly a guy with a unique perspective on the world and he believes in solving problems.
Octavia Johnson – I first met Octavia Johnson when she ran for the House of Delegates in 2013. She ran in a blue seat, and was unafraid of the fight then and it's clear she's unafraid of the fight now. That's probably because of her background as a Sheriff. She knows how much our law enforcement officers deal with, and I'm grateful for her many years of service in that field.
Pete Snyder – Pete Snyder stepped up in a big way last year when he created the Virginia 30-Day Fund to help small businesses survive the pandemic. He was kind enough to ask me to serve on his board, and I am proud to have had the opportunity to be included in that group. Things get heated in political campaigns, but even in the midst of that I think it's okay to recognize the work Pete and Burson did to help those in need.
Glenn Youngkin – When Glenn and I first sat down and had lunch together last summer, we knew we were both thinking about running for Governor. But during our first and subsequent conversations, I realized we shared something much more than that – a deep and abiding faith. Glenn is a man of faith, and I am so grateful to have him out on the trail. I pray for Glenn – and the other candidates in this race – and I know he does the same.
When you ask Republicans — rank and file — what’s most important in 2021, the answer (despite the divisions on candidates and nomination methods) is always and has always been to beat the Democrats.
Meanwhile, Virginia Democrats are truly at sixes and sevens. McAuliffe is already calling in the heavy artillery with endorsements from the Jeff Bezos owned Washington Post — remarkable only when they break ranks with the Democratic Party — and a series of heavy hitters to remind progressives and minorities not to make too many waves.
Which is more than just moderately despicable, one might add.
Still, Virginia Democrats are taking tremendous pressure from the Department of Education’s plan to lower expectations for minority students by eliminating some advanced math courses.
So here we have an interesting dynamic.
Virginia Republicans are effectively singing kumbaya heading into what should have been a seven-way knife fight, with Kirk Cox leading the chorus and everyone else picking up their respective hymnals.
In contrast, Virginia Democrats find themselves between Scylla (their progressive base) and Charybdis (stark reality) when it comes to implementing a malignant form of Critical Race Theory in public schools via Kendi-style anti-racism. Democrats cannot simultaneously sell their progressive base that “the institutions are racist and need reform” and go back to suburban Virginia and say “but we are maintaining excellent standards while eliminating standards altogether.” It sounds contradictory because it is contradictory.
The real danger for Virginia Democrats at this rate is that progressive criticisms of the institutions — public education specifically — share a great deal with conservative criticisms of the same institutions.
Where the difference lies is in the solutions.
Yet in a true hybrid of RFK and Jack Kemp, if conservative solutions (school choice) can effect progressive endgames (dismantling prejudiced institutions) to improve the quality of education for every Virginian without applying cookie cutter solutions? That — it seems — is the problem in a nutshell.
Meanwhile, McAuliffe and Virginia Democrats are desperately trying to put the woke toothpaste back into the woke tube and maintain power, the progressive left and the conservative right are both ironically making the same argument for decentralization in the face of prejudiced and mediocre institutions.
Progressives are starting to figure out that a few second-place trophies on Monument Avenue was little more than a condescending platitude from the powers-that-be that didn’t lift a single person out of poverty nor did it educate a single child. Credentialism isn’t enough; lowering the bar is disgustingly racist at core.
Maintaining standards of excellence and giving parents the tools and resources to help their children succeed in their own way? Now there’s a path forward. Conservatives have long argued this; progressives are coming around. That puts Virginia Democrats in a tough spot because it means they have to recognize their centralized paternalism and condescension as relics of the old Byrd Machine. They can’t do it, because it means surrendering power to those people.
Time to break the wheel.
If you’re looking for the hook that is going to put McAuliffe and Herring in deep trouble come November? There it is — and it’s a narrative shift that Virginia Democrats will utterly resist for one reason and one reason alone. It shifts the power dynamic away from the institutions they control and back into the hands of families.
Meanwhile, Virginia Republicans sense that something is different. They are right to do so.
Hopefully the RPV Convention moves along without too many people throwing sand in the gears and with tremendous integrity. Better us than the Democrats, I say.
Shaun Kenney is the editor of The Republican Standard, former chairman of the Board of Supervisors for Fluvanna County, and a former executive director of the Republican Party of Virginia.