The Republican lieutenant governor nominee for Virginia, E.W. Jackson, has made some waves in the news recently. He is virtually unknown in the world of politics but already has critics highlighting his very conservative stances on issues such as abortion, race, and homosexuality. Additionally, Jackson’s critics have used his 2008 book Ten Commandments to an Extraordinary Life, which has statements comparing abortion, pornography, in-vitro fertilization, and cloning to Hitler and Stalin, to show Virginian voters that Jackson’s views are “extreme.”
Jackson has responded saying, “I say the things I say because I’m Christian, not because I hate anybody, but because I have religious values that matter to me. Attacking me because I hold to those principles is attacking every church-going person, every family that’s living a traditional family life, everybody who believes that we all deserve the right to live. So I don’t have anything to rephrase or apologize for. I would just say people should not paint me as one-dimensional.”
Because of the Democrats' quick criticisms of Jackson, this could create complications for his running mate, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. Cuccinelli is up against Democrat Terry McAuliffe and has been sticking to the middle of the road in his campaign. The focus for Cuccinelli has been on the economy, not the social conservatism that Jackson has been promoting, which is giving fuel to Democrats who want to paint Cuccinelli as an extremist as well.
When asked about the possible complications Jackson brings to the ticket, Cuccinelli told the radio station WMAL that he would “absolutely” want to be judged independently by the voters. The questioned was asked a week after Jackson also spoke to WMAL, saying that there was “no stark disagreement” between the two candidates. But he did acknowledge that their positions differed based on “some nuances here and there” and agreed the two men will need to be elected independently.
Despite the two candidates stating they will work on being elected independently, the Democrats have worked on tying Cuccinelli to Jackson, focusing particularly hard on Jackson’s controversial comments on abortion and homosexuality. To further separate himself from Jackson, Cuccinelli has stated that he would not defend Jackson’s comments. However, the Democrats have pointed out that Cuccinelli has not specifically denounced the comments.
The question to ask now is, can Cuccinelli win with Jackson on the ticket? Personally I think it might be too early to give a definite yes or no. As written above, Cuccinelli has actively tried to separate himself from Jackson’s platform. This could be just want he needs to win. On the other hand, Jackson’s “extreme” views on social conservatism could push otherwise uninterested Democrats to the voting booth.