- - Tuesday, July 1, 2014

A week has passed since the unbelievable Mississippi Senate runoff election. For the Republican Establishment, the news just keeps getting worse.

Now stories are emerging of actual payments for votes: The campaign of RINO Sen. Thad Cochran was paying Democrats to cross over and vote for him.

Chris McDaniel, Cochran’s opponent in the runoff, is preparing to challenge the election. If McDaniel’s challenge fails, Cochran may have won the nomination at the cost of a permanent split of the Republican Party in Mississippi.

Conservatives are refusing to vote for Cochran and may even cross over and vote for the Democrat if McDaniel does not succeed in invalidating the runoff.

While Thad Cochran and his patron, former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, are doing a remarkable job of fueling a civil war in the Republican Party of Mississippi, in Virginia something remarkable is happening.

In Virginia, the civil war in the Republican Party is moving toward an end, thanks to an unexpected leader.

Ed Gillespie is the quintessential Republican insider. He is the former chairman of the Republican National Committee and an appointee in the George W. Bush administration.

This year, he is the GOP nominee to run against liberal Democratic Sen. Mark Warner. When Warner’s seat last came up for election in 2008, the Republicans used a primary system to pick the nominee. Since then, conservatives have taken control of the party and now use a convention to nominate candidates for statewide office.

Last year, when it was time to elect the governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general, the Establishment Republicans went bat guano crazy. Then-Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling was the anointed successor to Gov. Bob McDonnell.

Bolling threw a temper tantrum when it became obvious that rank-and-file Republicans would not nominate him because he acted more like a Democrat than a Republican. Bolling paid the party back by supporting Democrat Terry McAuliffe.

This year, instead of acting like a spoiled child over the convention, Ed Gillespie went out and methodically set about winning the nomination.

But he did more than try to win the nomination. He ran with principle.

He did not demonize his Tea Party opponent. He did not attack the base.

He made it very easy for conservatives to come out of the convention and support him. And Gillespie has taken this one step further.

If anyone is a symbol of the change in the Republican Party of Virginia, it is Dave Brat. The economics professor from Randolph Macon College upset the political world when he defeated then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the primary last month.

Gillespie stayed out of that primary, but it is a safe guess that his choice would have been Cantor.

Since the election, Gillespie has endorsed Brat and is enthusiastically supporting him.

The civil war in Virginia Republican politics is not over. Cantor supporters last week voted to transfer out almost all of the money in the 7th Congressional District Republican committee’s bank account. Instead of having that money to help get Republicans elected in the 7th District, some of Cantor’s allies were proving that they could still payback the District for turning Cantor out.

If Ed Gillespie can beat Mark Warner this fall, he probably will not be the next Ted Cruz. His voting record will probably be closer to that of Mitch McConnell rather than that of Cruz.

But he will be a substantial improvement over Mark Warner.

Ed Gillespie has shown that you can run as a Republican with principled leadership, not attack your own base and still win.

For that reason, conservatives everywhere should support Gillespie.

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