It’s been many weeks since it became clear that 9th HoD candidate Catherine Crabill is a dangerous right-wing kook. You’ll recall that she believes that the government is responsible for the Oklahoma City bombing (Tim McVeigh was set up, apparently), and threatened to overthrow the government by force if she and her fellow Republicans fail to take control democratically. (“Vote for me or I’ll kill you” isn’t what you’d call fair campaigning, I think.) At last, the RPV has distanced themselves from this woman, as Rosalind Helderman writes in the Post:
[T]he Republican Party of Virginia has formally decided it will be giving Crabill no support for her campaign against Del. Albert Pollard, and chairman Pat Mullins has sent word to Crabill that he would prefer that she step aside and not run for the seat.
On the one hand, it should be a source of embarrassment to Virginia Republicans that it took so long. On the other hand, I had absolutely no expectation that the RPV would condemn this sort of thing, because Crabill’s opinions have become increasingly mainstreamed within the marginalized Republican Party. The RPV of years past would have given her a pass, or quite possibly supported her positions, at least quietly, among their activists. All three statewide Republican candidates have wisely refused to have anything to do with the woman, and they’ve each issued statements condemning her statements in pretty strong words. (“It’s absolutely wrong,” “rejects [her] comments in the strongest possible terms,” and “our campaign does not believe in using violence or threats of violence in a manner to entice people to vote,” one from each campaign.)
While I’m on the topic of campaigns distancing themselves from foolishness, I want to call up a pet peeve. There are no shortage of pundit-activists—Democrats and Republicans alike—who look for somebody of the opposing party to say or do something stupid and, upon spotting it, demand that a prominent political figure of the same party disavow the stupid thing in question. It’s an asinine game. The fact that one candidate out of 140 districts in Virginia is clearly out of her mind does not mean that everybody within her party and everybody who has ever known her agrees with her, and nor does their silence indicate support. Now, if Bob McDonnell had campaigned with her after this, then I think it would be totally fair to start asking hard questions. But the fact that none of these statewide candidates have anything to do with her—to my knowledge—shows how asinine any calls from Democrats “demanding” that they say something mean about her. Campaigns shouldn’t get sucked into those sorts of games, and activists should stop making themselves look foolish by trying to play them.