Peter’s Take: Gov’t Shutdown Hurts GOP in Arlington

Peter’s Take is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of

Peter RousselotIn a May column written immediately after Virginia Republicans nominated their extreme statewide ticket, I predicted that ticket would be a turnoff for many Arlington Republicans. Prior to the federal government shutdown, this GOP extreme team more than fulfilled my predictions.

The Arlington GOP was unable to recruit anyone to run alongside the extreme team for any other elected position on the Nov. 5 Arlington ballot: no state Delegate candidates, no County Board candidate, and no School Board candidate. All of that was before the national GOP engineered the government shutdown.

By overwhelming margins in two recent independent polls, the public has assigned primary blame for the shutdown to the national GOP — not to President Obama or national Democrats. This common-sense conclusion is very likely shared by even more lopsided margins in Arlington — and not just because Democrats in Arlington have won recent general elections with roughly two thirds of the vote.

Compared to those polled nationally about the shutdown, Arlington has a much higher number of voters in private sector jobs that depend—directly or indirectly—on the federal government. Many Republicans hold those Arlington private sector jobs. A lot of those Republicans have lost money or been furloughed because of the loss of federal contract revenue attributable to the shutdown.

If the Republican candidate for Virginia governor had been a moderate with a long record as a problem-solver and bi-partisan consensus-builder, he credibly could have distanced himself from the GOP-led shutdown disaster. He could have minimized the damage to his candidacy in our community.  Alas for Arlington Republicans, that is not the case.

With less than three weeks to go before Election Day, Arlington Republicans instead find themselves saddled with Ken Cuccinelli at the top of their ticket. He is a candidate who has embraced for years the most extreme faction of the Republican Party that:

  • engineered the federal government shutdown, and
  • remains defiant and proud about that “accomplishment.”

On Election Day this year, the effects of the shutdown still will be quite fresh in the minds of Arlington voters. While Ken Cuccinelli has preached the gospel of job creation, he has practiced the politics of job destruction.

All three extreme GOP statewide candidates — Cuccinelli, Jackson, and Obenshain — will suffer at the polls because of the Cruzification strategy pursued by their national Republican leaders.

Peter Rousselot is a former member of the Central Committee of the Democratic Party of Virginia and former chair of the Arlington County Democratic Committee.

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