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E. W. Jackson tapped into the soul of the new Virginia GOP

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a column about a long shot candidate for the Republican nomination for Lieutenant Governor: E.W. Jackson. It was an enjoyable piece to write.

There is nothing canned or carefully crafted about this guy. A former Marine, Harvard Law School and Harvard Divinity School graduate and now preacher turned politician. He says what he means, doesn’t mind if it annoys some people along the way and isn’t given to looking back or second guessing himself.

While, maybe not my politics, I am not nearly as conservative as Jackson, not even close, I nonetheless find this kind of approach to politics refreshing. But, of course, I took it as a given that he stood no chance at all of getting the GOP nomination. Right? Not so as it turned out.

E.W. Jackson won the nomination. He managed to capture the passions of the Virginia Republican Party’s new Tea Party base and with it the nod for Lieutenant Governor. However, I probably should have recognized, just after the article ran, that something interesting was happening. We at The Journal watch the number of hits, tweets, and Facebook likes our articles get. And this one got a record number. We had clearly tapped into something we hadn’t expected. The GOP delegates were looking for someone who captured some of their fire and their energy. And in E.W. Jackson they got it.

Republican primaries and conventions can be deceiving. The candidates do their best to out conservative each other. They stake out positions aimed at convincing the party activists that finally there is a candidate that reflects their views. However, the activists more often than not end up disappointed. That’s because as soon as these conservatives are nominated these nominees start tacking back to the middle. It’s frustrating for the activists, many of whom have a passionate commitment to their cause, to see the candidates they thought were going to make a difference all at once trying to distance themselves from the very issues that got them the nomination.

However, E.W. Jackson is one nominee who isn’t going to disappoint them.

Jackson is already under pressure to “explain” his views. That’s a political code word for backing off from your earlier position and changing your views to be more in line with the perceived political mainstream.

But, for those who expect Jackson to moderate his views, or do some complicated explanation of why what he said wasn’t what he meant, all I can say is don’t count on it. E.W. Jackson isn’t your average candidate, and as much as his positions may inflame many Democrats, and make moderate Republicans cringe, he isn’t going to change them.

Jackson, more than almost any other candidate in a long time, is a conviction politician. He knows what he believes and has no intention of changing his views to fit in with the popular wisdom.

With apologies to Margaret Thatcher, “the gentleman is not for turning.” He’s going to run on his strongly conservative stands and he is not going to change them to suit the audience.

There is nothing usual about Jackson’s candidacy. Or, for that matter, about Jackson himself. He is a fire brand conservative. He is also African American. Much of his political career has been spent trying to make the case that the Democratic Party is taking advantage of blacks in America. His view is that the Democrats have created a culture of dependency that makes African Americans beholden to Democrats. He is also, when it comes to social issues, such as gays and abortion, as conservative as you can get.

The press has delighted in some of his more inflammatory comments, so I won’t bother to repeat them. Unlike so many, love him or hate him, you know where he stands.

E.W. Jackson is going to have a hard time this November. He doesn’t have much money and his opponents may succeed in demonizing him. But, that was said when he was after the nomination. And look what happened. There is always the possibility that voters, particularly conservatives, tired of having their more conservative views ignored by establishment Republicans, might make the extra effort for Jackson. Others, may just like a guy who says what’s on his mind.
You may reach David Kerr at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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