When the Virginia GOP nominated right-wing Bishop E.W. Jackson for the state's lieutenant governor post last weekend, it might have anticipated outrage from progressives upset with Jackson's outright antigay, antichoice, Islamophobic stances.
But Virginia Republicans likely didn't expect to defend their choice from harsh criticism coming from members of their own party.
The Washington Post published an extensive report Monday citing numerous GOP operatives who were worried about the impact Jackson's nomination would have on Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli's chance at winning the governor's mansion.
"'We're in deep [expletive],' said one Virginia Republican strategist," according to the Post. "'The only good news is that the Democrats have Terry McAuliffe. It's the only thing keeping us glued to a chance of victory.'"
When the Post asked another senior Republican in Virginia if the party was in trouble with its nomination, the legislator responded, "Oh. My. God. Yes." The Republican pointed out that Jackson's right-wing ideology may well mobilize more moderate and liberal Democrats to turn out on Election Day to combat Jackson's extremism.
Cuccinelli told the Post in a different article that he would not be answering for Jackson's extreme views. "I am just not going to defend my running mate's statements at every turn," said the conservative Republican. "They've got to explain those themselves. Part of this process is just letting Virginia voters get comfortable with us, on an individual basis, personally."
But there's a chance Virginia voters won't like what they find when they delve into Jackson's positions. The bishop has a long history of incendiary statements, including comparing Planned Parenthood to the Ku Klux Klan, claiming that gays and lesbians have "perverted" minds and are "very sick people psychologically, mentally, and emotionally," that openly gay and lesbian soldiers are "sexually twisted," and advocating for a law that would have required women to report miscarriages to police or face jail time.
Just before last November's election, Jackson released a scathing video on YouTube claiming that Democrats have "manipulated" black voters into supporting progressive causes — like immigration reform and marriage equality — by demanding that they "violate everything that we believe as Christians." In the same video, Jackson claimed the "civil rights establishment" had sold African-American voters to the Democratic party for "30 pieces of silver," likening Democratic support within the black community to the slave trade.
Virginia's outgoing lieutenant governor, who is not seeking re-election, blasted Jackson's extreme stances as "simply indefensible."
"Bishop Jackson is certainly entitled to his views, but you should be able to express your views without insulting people, and some of the things he has said are simply indefensible,” Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, a Republican, told the Post. “These kinds of comments are simply not appropriate, especially not from someone who wants to be a standard-bearer for our party and hold the second highest elected office in our state. They feed the image of extremism, and that’s not where the Republican Party needs to be.”
Some did come to Jackson's defense. “It is no secret that E.W. Jackson has deeply held Christian conservative beliefs," Virginia GOP spokesman Garren Shipley told Politico in an email. "But the race for lieutenant governor will be fought on economic ground as opposed to social policy. In the weeks and months ahead, Jackson will focus on ideas that produce more quality jobs for Virginians and make life easier for families and workers.”