Bradley Rees has finally come clean. His campaign manager has finally admitted Rees is just another typical politician playing identity, coalition politics.
A while back, I wrote a few posts about Rees and some of the Tea Partiers more extreme rhetoric, such as calling Tom Perriello a “traitor” and “coward,” and Catherine Crabill’s call for armed revolution. I didn’t immediately ask that Rees condemn the group; rather, I merely pointed out that his (and other Republican candidates’) close association with this group carried baggage.
Here is what his campaign manager, Michael Ernette, posted on The Virginia Democrat in response:
Wow, Alan! Trying to tie campaign rhetoric to an extremist that believes that the use of arms is necessary to get what we want. Interesting chess play, but easily defendable. … I have stated before and will reiterate, Bradley Rees and his campaign do not consider Rep. perriello to be a traitor to his country. We respect and applaud those in the TEA party movement and agree with most of what they are trying to accomplish.
Well, since Michael was kind enough to state his position on my blog and offer this high-minded, ostensibly principled defense, I felt justified in asking him and Rees to specifically condemn the rhetoric. Neither would do so. In fact, Michael would not even specifically call Crabill to task, although he did condemn, as a general matter, the overthrow of the U.S. Government.
So, in response to that, I wrote:
The fact is, I understand why Mr. Rees doesn’t want to answer these questions plainly. He is running for office as a Conservative, and the Tea Partiers are a core part of the GOP base. Rees wants their votes, and perhaps more importantly, their enthusiasm and energy.
* * *
Bradley Rees is trying to have it both ways – pandering to the extremist Tea Partiers who are an important core constituency of the RPV while trying at the same time to appear “reasonable” to the vast majority of mainstream Virginians who reject the group’s excessive, dishonest and confrontational anti-government rhetoric.
Dialogue between me and Michael broke down at that point, in part because we had both made our points and had nothing left to debate, and in part over an imagined insult by Michael to a comment to my post on Blue Virginia made by a third party, a commenter named Steve. Still, Michael got upset at Lowell and I over it (unjustifiably, IMHO) and went all Dean Wormer on us, stating:
“Write whatever you want, we will no longer be responding to either of you, but we will be watching for further evidence. I will be consulting with our attorney to determine further action. You have had your opportunity. Good day to you both.”
Well, in any event, Ernette finally came clean with respect to Rees’ strategy in an article yesterday at GoDanRiver, and in doing so, explains Rees' inability to level the condemnation at this groups' rhetoric that it so richly deserves. As it turns out, I hit the nail right on the head:
Winning the GOP nomination to challenge Perriello will almost certainly be an uphill battle for Rees’ campaign, Republican officials say. Rees lacks name recognition and, unlike some of the other possible candidates, he has not proven that he can win an election.
Yet Ernette thinks Rees might be able to tap into the coalition of conservatives who are attending Taxed Enough Already — or TEA — Parties in the 5th District. Rees has spoken at TEA Parties in Charlottesville and Danville.
“That’s where the coalition is going to come from,” Ernette said.
My work here is done.