Are you ready for E. W. Jackson?

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By Rick Howell

Ken Cuccinelli got what he wanted when he and his supporters manipulated the state GOP into scheduling a convention rather than a primary for their 2013 nominees.
    Everyone knows that a primary is more democratic than a convention. Anyone in your party can show up at their usual voting location and cast a ballot.
    In a convention, delegates have to be chosen at special caucuses and then all gather at one central location and choose their nominees. Cuccinelli, thought to be running against the more moderate Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling at that time, wanted a convention because he knew less people would participate.
    He also knew that most of those people would be the fanatical “Don’t Tread on Me” tea-party types for whom he performs. His brethren, in other words, would be very motivated to show up and help him put one over on Bolling.
    Bolling, who had preferred a primary, knew the fix was in when the state GOP voted for the convention. He even dropped out of the race and considered running as an independent, but ultimately decided against that.
    This is where E.W. Jackson, a perennial candidate for various statewide Republican offices, comes in. He was one of seven candidates for the lieutenant governor nomination, none of whom had any real base of support.
    He had last run for the U.S. Senate in 2012, never having any real chance against George Allen. To the extent that he was “known” at all, it was merely as a fringe, incendiary, right-wing preacher out of Chesapeake who keeps running for office in Republican primaries.
    In the meantime, he had laid down a paper trail of bizarre and extremist remarks that few responsible politicians would ever get caught saying in public.
    Just wait until Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart, cable TV’s political comedians, get hold of some of the remarks that Jackson has made over the years. They’re going to have fun with it, and Virginia will again look like a backward and crazy place for producing such a candidate.
    But let’s put the responsibility where it belongs: with the extremist Ken Cuccinelli, the nominee for governor, and the tea party radicals who support him and apparently control the mechanics of the state party.
    There’s no way this Jackson could have won a primary. So, Cuccinelli got what he wanted as far as his own nomination, but now he’s saddled with a running mate that may even be more weird and extremist than him.
    Jackson has a hit parade of statements that reflect his undying obsession with the religious right’s agenda: abortion and homosexuality. He’s particularly obsessed with gays, calling them “very sick people psychologically.”
    His remarks on Planned Parenthood have probably gotten the most attention, claiming that it has been “far, far more lethal to black lives than the KKK ever was.” There’s a statement from a black man that every white racist will love (See, we aren’t so bad! It’s Planned Parenthood!)
    He has called the Democratic Party “anti-God,” and has suggested to his black congregations that they are “betraying God” if they vote Democratic.
    He thinks Obama is a Muslim (does anyone really want to start that again?), or at least has “Muslim sensibilities,” supposedly because of the way he treats Israel.
    I wrote not long ago that the religious right was essentially dead, and, nationally, that holds up as a good argument. But in Virginia, well, at least among the narrow group of tea-party Republicans who picked Jackson, it looks like it’s still very much alive. Which won’t help the party in November.
    Two lessons ought to be learned from this: Always hold a primary, and don’t nominate preachers. They just bring too much baggage.

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 Rick Howell, a Bedford native, can be reached by e-mail at RickDem117@gmail.coM.