One of the traits moderate establishment Republicans engage in every election cycle, like clockwork, is the very public excoriation of social conservatives and fiscal conservatives to line up behind a candidate they find less than ideal. This isn’t just limited to the presidential cycle – it happens at all levels. After the primary is over, if the conservatives didn’t get what they want, the Republican establishment (for reference, for the newbies, whenever I use this term I’m not talking about columnists and such, I’m talking about The Money) shift to talk of sore losers amongst the Bible thumpers and those crazy libertarians who expect fealty to lockstep ideology and the like. The truth, of course, is that if the moderates get the short end, they’re equally poor sports about the whole thing. Instead of falling in line for the team, they deliver their message by closing their wallets – or, just as often, giving to Democrats. Where if the establishment gets its way, a candidate ends up well-funded but with a poor grassroots ground game, the reverse happens when a more conservative candidate wins.
There are numerous examples of this historically, but what’s going on in Virginia right now may be the best one yet. As I’ve noted before, Ken Cuccinelli has never been liked by the Northern Virginia business community and pro-choice money mavens like Bobbie Kilberg, and not just because of his conservative temperament. Cuccinelli opposed the transportation tax hike and other cronyist splurges over the past three years, and before that when he was in the legislature, so the resentment isn’t new. But he re-opened old wounds by pushing through an eminent domain amendment last year in defense of property rights which infuriated Virginia’s well-moneyed developers, who had been abusing the Commonwealth’s laws and exploiting local governments to seize private property for their own purposes. Cuccinelli’s amendment passed overwhelmingly, with 76 percent of the vote.