PALM BEACH, Fla. – The Republican Party “betrayed” its own candidate, Ken Cuccinelli, in the race for Virginia governor, says radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh, claiming party leaders want to make New Jersey’s Chris Christie the GOP frontrunner for president in 2016.
“It’s a shame what happened to Ken Cuccinelli,” the top conservative voice said in his post-election analysis Wednesday. “He was betrayed by his own party. … Here was their chance to have a Republican governor in the state of Virginia, and they didn’t care.”
Cuccinelli was defeated Tuesday by Democrat Terry McAuliffe with a thin margin of just over two percentage points, 47.74 percent to 45.29 percent. Robert Sarvis, a Libertarian candidate, collected 6.52 percent of the vote.
Meanwhile, Christie cruised to re-election as New Jersey's governor, with a landslide victory over Barbara Buono.
Limbaugh lashed into the GOP establishment's treatment of tea-party favorite Cuccinelli, saying, "They didn't want him to win, this is the dirty little secret. I don't even think it's a secret now. Such is the animus toward the tea party in the Republican Party establishment that they are perfectly comfortable with a Christie win and a Cuccinelli loss, because to them, that's a tea-party loss. So now the Republican establishment can run around and claim the tea party is an albatross around their neck. The tea party is the death knell, they'll say."
Video of Ken Cuccinelli's concession speech:
He noted the Republican Party spent three times as much money four years ago as they did on this year's race, and that the Chamber of Commerce didn't contribute anything for Cuccinelli this time.
"It could have been won. That's the really frustrating thing," Limbaugh said. "Now they're just going ape [in the Republican establishment]. They're so happy, they can't see straight" because "Chris Christie is the frontrunner for the Republican nomination."
He also said public opposition to Obamacare had a "huge impact" in putting Cuccinelli in contention.
"Do not fall for this notion that Obamacare didn't play a role," Limbaugh explained. "This election could have been won, folks, with just average effort from the Republican base."
"The Republican Party would not mind at all if the takeaway in Virginia was it was a Terry McAuliffe landslide against the tea party. I'm not exaggerating," he added.
He noted some people might wonder if the Republican brand was tarnished for their role in the recent government shutdown, and explained, "Republicans in exit polls were not blamed for the government shutdown. But the Republican establishment wants people to think that tea party was responsible for it. I never thought I would live to see this kind of self-sabotage."
Video of Terry McAuliffe's victory speech:
Meanwhile in New Jersey, Limbaugh said the Democrats "didn't even mount a real opponent."
"The Democrats never once attacked Chris Christie in that state," he said.
"There was no real Democrat effort to unseat Christie. Now what does that tell you? And now you've got so many people in the media celebrating the Christie win as the road to the future for the Republican Party. What does that tell you? I'm tired of the media picking our [presidential] candidate for us, and they're trying to do it here. ... The Democrats didn't want to defeat Christie. What does that tell you?"
He noted that despite Christie's easy win Tuesday night, exit polls in New Jersey had Hillary Clinton beating him by 4 to 6 points in a potential presidential matchup in 2016.
Limbaugh also criticized Christie, who reportedly refused to campaign for Cuccinelli in Virginia.
"So Christie refuses to help another Republican, joins in this fray that the Republican wackos caused the shutdown, and [suggests], 'There isn't going to be any of that childish behavior if I get there. We're never gonna shut down the government. We're gonna work with the Democrats."
Limbaugh did see a ray of hope for those on the political right, though, noting "more people voted against McAuliffe than voted for him."