A strategist for defeated Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli says the Republican Party turned its back on the tea party favorite during his election campaign.
"There are a lot of questions people are going to be asking," said the candidate's campaign strategist Chris LaCivita during an interview with The Washington Post
. "Was leaving Cuccinelli alone in the first week of October a smart move?"
LaCivita said that there are also questions about whether Cuccinelli would have been able to defeat Democratic winner Terry McAuliffe had he received more financial support from national GOP sources, noting that the money from the national backers dried up in the final month.
Further, he said his candidate may have had a better chance if the federal government's shutdown had either been avoided or rapidly closed.
But even without the national support, LaCivita pointed out, the candidates ended the fiercely fought race within a point and a half of each other, with Cuccinelli picking up momentum after the shutdown ended and as the nation's attention turned to Obamacare.
“There was definitely a national mood that was moving, that is moving, that is continuing to move, against the White House and the Affordable Care Act," said LaCivita. "And I can’t help but ask myself, what would have been the result had he had five weeks of this discussion instead of just 2-1/2?”
Meanwhile, McAuliffe had heavy money and key Democratic supporters behind his campaign. President Barack Obama campaigned
for the Democrat just days before the election. In addition, campaign finance reports showed Democrats were outraising and outspending Cuccinelli by a wide margin, and television airtime was tilted toward McAuliffe's campaign by a 10-1 margin. New York City Michael Bloomberg's pro-gun PAC
also poured $1.1 million into McAuliffe's campaign.
The Republican National Committee denies it abandoned Cuccinelli. Spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski said the committee spent millions of dollars in both New Jersey and Virginia, "working in coordination with both campaigns to identify and turn out voters."
According to a memo
issued by the RNC Tuesday, the national group spent $2.5 million helping New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie defend his seat and on the state's Republican campaigns, and $3 million on Cuccinelli and Virginia Republicans.
And GOP stars including Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, former Texas Rep. Ron Paul and his son Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky all came out to campaign for Cuccinelli
in the campaign's final days.
Talk show host Rush Limbaugh also complained
Wednesday that the national GOP "betrayed" Cuccinelli, saying it wanted him to lose in Virginia because it wanted to "claim the tea party is an albatross around their neck."
He said the Republican establishment wanted to prove that Cuccinelli was "unelectable, he's tea party."
Limbaugh claimed the Republican "establishment" was "perfectly comfortable with a Christie win and a Cuccinelli loss because to them that's a tea party loss."
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