November’s off–year Virginia governor’s race is what conservatives would have faced in 2016 if Trump had done a Hillary as he descended the escalator for his announcement and wound up in A Place for Mom instead of the Oval Office.
Our nominee would have been a bland, white, country club Republican who talked lukewarm TEA Party. A nominee that would have looked just like “Establishment Ed” Gillespie the caretaker conservative running as the Republican in Virginia.
These off–year elections are supposed to send a message to Washington and specifically the White House. If a Democrat wins nationally and Virginia elects a Republican the following year, the result is supposed to mean voters are angry because Democrats went too far.
Conservative voters dissatisfied with the nominee are given a binary choice by party leadership: Hold your nose and support some housebroken Republican or be personally responsible for electing the Democrat.