Some Virginia Republicans have perfected the art and science of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. With control of the state Senate up for the taking in a special election on Jan. 21, Joe T. May is running as an independent for an open state Senate seat, which almost certainly ensures that Democrats will win. Republican votes will be split between Mr. May, an outgoing Republican member of the House of Delegates who lost a primary, and the Republican nominee, John Whitbeck. Jennifer Wexton, a liberal Democrat, will likely win with a plurality, almost by default.
The special election will fill the seat that Mark R. Herring, a Democrat, is vacating to become the state attorney general. The winner of the special election will provide the edge in the state Senate, now neatly divided between 20 Republicans and 20 Democrats. The edge is important, because the new lieutenant governor will be Ralph S. Northam, a Democrat with the tie-breaking vote. In the unlikely event that a Republican wins the special election, that would give the party a 21-19 majority and control of the state Senate.
To be sure, there's enough blame to spread among Republicans if they lose the special election. The Republicans chose their nominee at a one-location mass meeting, in Sterling, rather than hold nominating meetings in more than one location. This would have enabled more Republican voters to participate in nominating their candidate. The decision to restrict participation was roundly criticized by Mr. May at the time, and prompted him to run as an independent.
Mrs. Wexton, the Democratic nominee, says she's running to stop the "continuation of the Tea Party extremist takeover" and its "backward social agenda." Mrs. Wexton is the candidate of Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia and their radical extremist agenda.
Some Virginia Republicans are not the quick studies candidates have to be to succeed in politics, having learned nothing from the damage done by another rump Republican, Robert Sarvis, whose Libertarian Party candidacy for governor in November siphoned enough votes from the Republican nominee, Ken Cuccinelli, to enable the election of Terry McAuliffe, the ethically challenged Democrat.
Mr. May's bid reflects the flavor of the sour grapes that Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling imbibed, when after losing the Republican gubernatorial nomination to Mr. Cuccinelli he petulantly refused to endorse him in the general election. Losing a race hurts, but when vanity and personal ambition trumps party loyalty, everyone loses. Learning to deal with disappointment is what being a grown-up is all about. Republicans, and not just in Virginia, stubbornly refuse to learn this lesson. That hurts them most of all.