Did Virginia Republicans just throw the 2013 governor's race?

A few thousand GOP activists pick controversial preacher E.W. Jackson to run alongside Ken Cuccinelli

E.W. Jackson delivers his acceptance speech for the GOP nomination for Lt. Gov. in Richmond, Va. on May 18.
(Image credit: AP Photo/Steve Helber)

The race for Virginia governor, one of the marquee contests of 2013, was already shaping up to be a contentious showdown between two fairly polarizing figures, Clinton acolyte Terry McAuliffe for the Democrats and Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli for the Republicans. Then, at a GOP nominating convention last weekend, "a small turnout of party die-hards picked a nominee for lieutenant governor who is nothing short of outrageous," says Jennifer Rubin at The Washington Post.

To make sure that Cuccinelli would prevail over more moderate challengers, the GOP agreed to hold a nominating convention instead of a primary. The move worked even before the several thousand Republicans gathered to vote last weekend — Cuccinelli's main GOP rival, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, dropped out of the race weeks ago — but "it might also sink his chance to win," says Rachel Weiner at The Washington Post. That's because the several thousand GOP activists also selected E.W. Jackson, a socially conservative black preacher, as Cuccinelli's running mate.

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Peter Weber, The Week US

Peter has worked as a news and culture writer and editor at The Week since the site's launch in 2008. He covers politics, world affairs, religion and cultural currents. His journalism career began as a copy editor at a financial newswire and has included editorial positions at The New York Times Magazine, Facts on File, and Oregon State University.