RICHMOND, VA, November 8, 2013 ( – The defeat of Ken Cuccinelli brought predictably gleeful statements from Planned Parenthood and other pillars of the abortion lobby. But it also brought more than a little joy to the hearts of those on the Republican side of the aisle.

Outspent by $15 million and down at one point by double-digits in the polls, Cuccinelli rallied to come within two-and-a-half percentage points of the election. His defeat, which Planned Parenthood considered its top priority, was met with warnings that all Republicans should jettison support for the unborn and any issue deemed “too conservative” by the media and the party's increasingly liberal megadonors.

“Tonight, Virginia has told politicians in all 50 states that you can’t win elections by opposing women’s health and rights,” Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards said. “Ken Cuccinelli’s opposition to affordable birth control, funding for Planned Parenthood’s preventive services, and access to safe and legal abortion cost him the election. The lesson for candidates in 2014 is unmistakable: Dismiss and demean women at your peril.”


Ilyse Hogue, the president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, echoed those sentiments, saying that Cuccinelli's loss should “serve as a warning to future candidates: Voters want a governor who will commit to addressing their real priorities, and trusts women to decide the direction of their own lives and families.” The group's executive director in Virginia, Tarina Keene, said, “Ken Cuccinelli's views are out of step with those of the people of Virginia, and tonight the voters made that clear.”

The Feminist Majority Foundation endorsed Democrat Terry McAuliffe in the race, along with the National Organization for Women. FMF President Eleanor Smeal said, “The gender gap, led by young, unmarried, and minority women and the abortion and birth control issue, was decisive in the Virginia governor's race.” Page Gardner, president of Women's Voices Women Vote Action Fund, told Ms. Magazine, “Once again, unmarried women are a major political force in American politics that can make or break a race.”

Democrats focused on the squeaker in Virginia, rather than the landslide re-election of Republican Chris Christie in New Jersey. Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin, who leads the Democratic Governors Association, previewed the message Democrats will use in 2014, saying that Tea Party Republicans propose a “radical social agenda that alienates women, minorities, immigrants, and gays.”

But some Republicans and independents echoed the sentiment that Cuccinelli was irresponsibly extreme.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-Independent who favors abortion-on-demand, gay “marriage,” and nanny state health regulations, donated $1.1 million to beat Cuccinelli. After the election, Bloomberg boasted that McAuliffe – whom the billionaire supported – would restrict gun rights in Virginia.

“If I had said to you 20 years ago that that a Democrat that is ‘F’ rated by the NRA…could win governor, you would have laughed me out of the room,” he said.

Some current Republicans, whom conservatives blame for the sabotage of Cuccinelli's campaign, similarly blamed the candidate's conservative bona fides.

Former George W. Bush strategist Karl Rove faulted “the way in which [Ken] has presented” his views “for years — with polarizing language and an acerbic tone that even allies found off-putting.” His two superPACs, CrossRoads GPS and American Crossroads, did not contribute to Cuccinelli.

Former Mitt Romney adviser Kevin Madden put the blame on Cuccinelli and all social conservatives. He said, “One of the problems was Cuccinelli comes from a wing of the party that has problems with business groups and outside organizations that could have either donated or spent on his behalf. That could have made a difference.”

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National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors President Dirk Van Dongen told Politico business lobbyists could not be counted on to support socially conservative candidates, especially if a less conservative candidate is in the race. “It makes no sense to us to primary incumbent Republicans who have a very, very solid pro-business” record, he said. “Sending people to Washington who are just grenade-throwers accomplishes absolutely nothing in terms of furthering an agenda embraced by the business community.”

In recent months, the Republican Party has asked for the business community to become involved in primaries to stave off Tea Party challenges against middle-of-the-road Republicans.

Many have openly expressed their hope the party's grassroots base will show up to vote for Republicans but recede into the background otherwise.

Orrin Hatch faced just such a primary in Utah. “Hopefully,” he said, “the Tea Party people will start to realize that it’s better to work within the Republican Party than to continually make it very difficult to elect Republicans.”

“I think the Tea Party could be a great asset to the Republican Party,” he said.

South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, who faces a bruising primary himself, praised the fact that Tea Party social conservatives faced an uphill battle. “If you have an unlevel playing field, then you get predictable results,” he said.

Others have said the voters are entitled to nominate candidates whose overall views – and votes – match their own preferences. Sen Jeff Sessions, R-AL, said the GOP should be reticent about intervening in primaries “People sometimes are offended by that, and sometimes the anti-establishment candidate wins,” he said. “And they might turn out to be a very fine senator — as opposed to the Democrat.”

Cuccinelli's future, like that of the GOP, remains uncertain. However, many of his admirers hope he will remain active in politics.

Conservative columnist Quinn Hillyer urged Cuccinelli to run for Virginia's U.S. Senate seat against Mark Warner in 2014.