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I’ve accepted that Virginia Democrats were disgusted enough by Trump to make our gubernatorial election about him and ride that wave to electoral victory.

It was our Tea Party victories against Obama in 2010 and beyond. I get it.  It was a Kobyashi Maru scenario – unwinnable, but something from which to build character, leadership, insight.

But what if…

What if we could have looked in the future, back when Trump won, to see this outcome? Could we have cheated the test and figured out a way to beat the Democrats?

I’ve been racking my brain trying to come up with something.  What if Ed Gillespie had courted Democrats, specifically? His campaign was “for ALL Virginians” and that was a great slogan, but, should he have truly campaigned for Democrat votes? Would it have made a difference, instead of trying to rally the base, to try to court Democrats who didn’t even know who Ralph Northam was?

I keep seeing die-hard Trump supporters go on and on about how he should have embraced Trump, and of course that would have been disingenuous at best, and career-ending at worst. However, one thing Trump did, that may have been successful, was looking at a crowd of Democrats and saying, “What the hell have you got to lose?” by voting Republican, knowing that Democrats have simply been horrible at governing?

Isn’t that how Trump won Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania? By getting Democrat voters to actually see a glimmer of conservatism again, the famed “Reagan Democrats?”

I personally think Ed Gillespie had the chops to perform such a feat. For Democrats, it was an anti-Trump vote. For die-hard “anti-establishment/swamp” voters, the motivation wasn’t there, we probably were never going to get their vote.

In hindsight, could Ed have convinced those anti-Trump Democrats to switch their vote? To see a smart guy with smart policies for exactly the wonk that he is? What would have been the result of Gillespie truly running a campaign for ALL Virginians, targeting Democrats with the truth about governance, the truth about conservatism, and knowing that he had the Republican vote locked up?

I think Captain Kirk would have tried it.


Rick Canton lives in Northern Virginia.