Democrats used the 2012 election to fine-tune a strategy for beating conservatives in conservative-friendly states. A handful of GOP players are now using Virginia’s off-year gubernatorial race to trial-run a strategy for defeating that Democratic tactic.
Virginia so far has been a carbon copy of what Democrats did so successfully in last year’s Senate and House races. The approach runs thus: A Democratic candidate, assisted by unions and outside partisan groups, floods the zone with attack ads, painting the GOP opponent as a tea-party nut who is too “extreme” for the state. The left focuses on divisive wedge issues—like abortion—that resonate with women or other important voting constituencies.
As the Republican’s unfavorable ratings rise, the Democrat presents himself as a reasonable moderate, in tune with the state’s values. A friendly media overlook the Democrat’s reliably liberal record, and the lies within the smears against his opponent, and ultimately declares the Democrat unbeatable.
Enter a new conservative Super PAC, Fight For Tomorrow, which last week began running a creative TV ad against Mr. McAuliffe in the Washington and Richmond areas. Little is known about FFT (as a national Super PAC, it will be required to disclose its backers in January), but one thing is clear from conversations with those involved: The organization’s primary focus is to directly take on the Democratic bare-knuckle strategy—and not just neutralize it, but throw it back at the attackers.
The concept behind FFT’s ad is to give Virginia voters a context in which to view the McAuliffe attacks. The group’s TV spot notes that there is a “gang” supporting Mr. McAuliffe: the leaders of the Democratic Party; an elitist media; Wall Street liberals; outside partisan groups; Hollywood.
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