Republicans in the Commonwealth of Virginia may have to get used to winning again if Lt. Col. Daniel Gade’s impressive victory in the June 23 GOP Senate primary — the best turnout for a Republican in decades — is any indication. They had been relegated to the minority over several election cycles through a combination of gubernatorial scandals, lackluster candidates, and President Trump’s total alienation of the northern suburbs around Washington, D.C. They had, of necessity, basically, ceded control of all the statewide offices and both houses of the Legislature to the Democrats.
Gade’s motto, his creed, really, is “Same oath. New Mission,” reflecting his taking the oath to serve the nation and Constitution when he was 17 years old. “My mission is different. But the oath is the same.”
I have previously written at The American Spectator how Daniel Gade’s personal story, his heroism and military service, and his broad-spectrum conservative philosophy, not to mention his personal dynamism, drive, and command presence on the stump, made him a strong candidate to challenge the Democratic incumbent, Sen. Mark Warner, who has been less than impressive in his previous winning election campaigns and has gotten on the wrong side of the Second Amendment and the issue of human life, among other issues.
For several months, the Gade campaign, amidst the COVID-19 lockdown, has focused relentlessly on grassroots and online organizing, mobilizing thousands of volunteers to use the personal touch to engage Virginia voters by phone and direct contacts. Gade was live on Facebook streaming nightly in the weeks leading up to election day.
When Sen. Warner did a lame bit online on how to make a tuna fish sandwich, Gade responded with a hilarious send-up, using it as a way to differentiate himself from his opponent.
And, yes, fundraising has been steady and robust.
Gade also accumulated a boatload of endorsements from sitting federal and state GOP officeholders, former candidates, and other worthies, allowing him to develop a kind of consensus or bandwagon effect heading into election day.
This consistent, steady, and targeted work paid off Tuesday as Daniel Gade trounced two primary opponents, racking up two-thirds of the Republican vote in every city and county in the state, amassing the largest such vote by any Republican since 1996. This robust showing of strength in the party is a necessary condition, a box that had to be checked, for victory against Warner in November. It seems that he has revived a previously dispirited and divided party with his message of unity and strength and a message of individual liberty and fidelity to the U.S. Constitution.
Gade’s motto, his creed, really, is “Same Oath, New Mission,” reflecting his taking the oath to serve the nation and Constitution when he was 17 years old. “My mission is different. But the oath is the same,” he says.
So what will it take for Daniel Gade to draw the support of the national party and fundraising sources to Virginia’s Senate race given the unlikelihood of President Trump winning the state this year? Money is always important. Lt. Col. Gade brings a kind of elan not seen in any Republican candidate in the 19 years this writer has lived in Virginia. He is smart, articulate, knows his mind, and speaks with the heart of a warrior who has given up a leg for his country but now rides in Ironman contests. He is, in a word, authentic. Republican voters saw this in him, and the general electorate will, too, if he can use his technological savvy to navigate through the limitations of COVID-19 and connect with a broader array of constituencies who are interested in government reform and serious leadership qualities in these uncertain times.
At some point the strengths of Gade and the weakness of Warner will become hard to ignore. Daniel Gade will get the resources he needs to pull off an upset victory in Virginia this year. You read it here first.